The Secret to Loving Your Spouse When You’re Angry
Have you ever balled up your fists at something your spouse said?
Have you ever felt the rush of heat to your face in the middle of a conversation?
Marriage is a relationship unlike any other. You get to see all sides of your spouse, the good and the not-so-good. And you don’t get to run away when things get rough.
You have to brush your teeth at the same sink, toss and turn in the same bed and eat from the same refrigerator.
So how do you deal with the undeniable anger that rears its head when you least expect it?
How do you continue to love your spouse the way God intends when all you want to do is scream?
So many marriages are hurting. If you're looking to overcome anger and transform your marriage, keep reading.
First, Remember This
Anger is normal. It’s okay to get angry. In fact, many times it is a normal and warranted feeling.
Oftentimes, we are ashamed of our anger. We aren’t taught how to handle it because we’re taught not to show it. And many times, the need to hide our anger morphs into the thinking that we’re not allowed to feel it.
But anger is a perfectly normal emotion and there is a godly way to express and work through it. Before we dive into this, let’s understand the purpose of anger.
This is Why You’re Angry
Anger is an emotion that surfaces when there is typically something underneath the surface.
Think about it:
When your spouse says something hurtful, you grow angry. But, why? Because you’re hurt.
When your friend cancels plans for the fifth time you grow angry. But, why? Because you feel unloved.
Anger always reveals an underlying emotion. Whether it’s hurt, sadness, betrayal or disappointment, anger rears up as a way to cope with or to express the hidden emotion.
So How Do You Deal With Anger?
Let’s face it, anger makes us say and do things that we all regret. It’s not a pleasant emotion. No matter how simple or how extreme the offense, in a moment of anger, it is much harder to control our words and our actions.
That is why it is extremely important to find a way to cool off that works for you. Some simply need to take a deep breath. Others may need a break in the conversation, a moment alone. Some pray, some cry, some walk.
Find what works and don’t let the surge of adrenaline, the rush of intensity and the heat of the moment drive your actions.
God calls us to this in Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin.”
Don’t let an angry heart cause you to act in an unloving way. It’s okay to be angry, but you must first center your heart and your mind on God before responding in anger.
Then, discover what’s underneath. What emotion is the anger covering up? What is causing the anger? Sometimes this takes time. But the time is worth the effort. When you can discover what is underneath the anger, you can find a concrete way to solve the problem.
If it’s hurt, your spouse needs to know how they have hurt you. If it’s betrayal or feeling last on the list of priorities, sharing this will allow for an opportunity to mend it.
If you can discover what is underneath the surface, you can find a way to work through it.
Communication is Key
Communication is essential here. If you hide your true feelings, you aren’t giving your spouse a chance to love you.
Communication opens a door to resolving the problem in a healthy way. Don’t just wait for your spouse to change. Take a step and communicate your feelings. But be sure to do this in a loving and gentle way. (For example, use “I feel” statements instead of attacking statements)
Ephesians 4:26-27 ends with "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Allowing your anger to fester will open a door to Satan’s schemes. Instead, understand what is behind the anger and share what is on your heart. This will lead to an opportunity for your spouse to respond in love to you.
Anger is an emotion that seeks to awaken you to the problems underneath the surface.
Don’t sit in your anger and allow Satan a foothold into your marriage. Face the anger and look beneath it. You will find that there is something inside you that is gnawing at your heart. Something that can be addressed.
And through this, you will bring the glory of God into your marriage.
Such wonderful reminders, Nicole! And wonderful comments, everyone. Thank you for posting. I needed this reminder. It’s frustrating how quickly we can forget to do these very important things; but then the devil is the accuser of the saints, a skilled fallen emotions tour guide and a highly adept hurt whisperer. Praise God for His mercy and the fruit of the Spirit!
Wow! This is so good! Love the part that anger is the underlying of something else. That seriously opened my eyes to look at me and my husband with a little more compassion next time. Next time I think he is anger I hope to calm down and ask him with compassion, “what is really bothering you?” No more surface stuff! And next time I think I am anger, I hope to calm down and truly think about what my real issue is so that I am not purposely dragging out a argument but instead using wisdom to stop and find the root. Great post!!
This is great. I’ve read that anger is a “secondary emotion”, like you express here. When the toddler runs into the street, the first feeling is FEAR. Then when the child is back safely in your arms, you get angry. Instead of over-reacting, deal with that first emotion, the fear, and express THAT to your child. I try to remember this and it always helps me – expressing that FIRST emotion leads to deeper communication.
Great input, Carrie! Thanks!
Thank you so much for these reminders. Keeping lines of communication open is so important in marriage.
It is so very important, Veronica!
I love these reminders so much. So important to remember in marriage!
These are great tips on dealing with anger toward your spouse. I tend to get real quiet and walk away for awhile until I calm down. Time to talk and regroup.
Thanks, Candy! Yes, it is so important to take a moment to calm down and then regroup!
This is a great reminder. I love that you say to ask yourself “what emotion is the anger covering up” I think being able to take a deep breath and then figuring that out for ourselves each time will go leaps and bounds to avoiding ugly blow up fights.
I completely agree, Brandy!
Unfortunately I’ve been known to bottle up my anger and then just burst out in tears one random day when it is too much – confusing the heck out of my husband! haha. I need to do better at speaking up in the moment about why I’m upset, and then letting it go.
I do the same thing at times, Sarah! It can be hard to be honest with our emotions in the moment, but it is so worth the effort!
It took me quite awhile to realize that when I was mad, 90% of it was my issue and 10% he earned. Also, getting on the same pages with expectations makes a huge difference. With 33 years of marriage under our belts, the anger and its issues have been greatly reduced. You give some good advice, though, for when it flares up! Praying God’s Shalom in the new year! ~ Maryleigh
Thank you, Maryleigh!
This is a great topic and I will be revisiting actually so I can drink it in again…(maybe even with my hubby.) God bless!
That’s wonderful, Meghan! Great to hear from you 🙂
Anger is definitely something that needs to be addressed and not swept under the rug. It will continue to come back in various forms until it is. Thanks for sharing this, Nicole.
Anger definitely has a way of popping up if not addressed. Thanks, Lisa!
I love the wisdom of seeking the emotion underneath before responding. It can be difficult to figure out, but like you said, worth the effort. Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your heart and wisdom I can apply. : )
It definitely takes a lot of patience and practice to pause before responding, something I struggle with constantly! But it’s a journey toward a transformed heart that is so, so worth it! Thanks for stopping by, Crystal!
Phew! Practical post! I have found that, for me, stern self-talk is key. When I know that anything that comes out of my mouth will only add gasoline to the fire, I have to just be silent. This is only by grace (“by the mercies of God!) that it can happen.
Oh yes, remembering God’s grace is so important when anger flares up!. It’s only with His grace that we can extend true grace to others. So glad you stopped by, Michele! 🙂