You’re steamed – your fists are clinched as you grit your teeth – your face is flushed as you yell – you slam your hand down on the table or perhaps punch a wall. These examples are the looks of anger that is getting out of control.
King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 29:11, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”
Many believe that anger is wrong and that the right thing to do in a situation is to not allow yourself to get angry. But that is truly a misunderstanding of the emotion. In the New Testament we read “In your anger, don’t sin.” Ephesians 4:26. Anger is an emotion – no different than sadness, excitement, love, and so on. We wouldn’t think of sadness as being wrong – until my sadness spins into apathy and in my not caring what happens next, and I drive my car into your house. Then we would acknowledge that something has gone terribly wrong.
Anger is similar in that it is neither right nor wrong – it just is. It is a feeling – and it is perfectly ok to have. Where we get into trouble is when we allow that emotion to control us as opposed to our directing it. Out of control anger is one of the most damaging things that can happen in a marriage. It will lead to fear, distance, and most importantly, a loss of unity.
I want to offer two tips to help you when you feel this common, and even sometimes healthy, emotion. First, acknowledge it. Notice the cues in your body that indicate to you that you are feeling angry. Recognize it for what it is before doing anything else. Secondly, hit the pause button before you react. Give yourself permission to walk away from the situation for a moment to allow time to process what is actually going on. This allows you the opportunity to plug your brain back into the game (your anger tends to shut that down) and make some better choices in how to react.
Anger is a normal emotion. How you use it may strengthen a relationship or erode its foundation. When you find yourself angry this week – try these two simple tips. Your spouse and children will appreciate it and in doing so, you will reinforce those all important relationships.