Defuse Anger in Your Marriage

Q: We constantly react to each other in explosive ways. How can we learn to stop these destructive reactions?

A: You need an anger management plan. Following are some suggestions.

Be aware of anger. One of the many myths of anger is that a person with an anger problem shows it through his or her appearance and actions. However, a person with a seemingly calm demeanor can stuff anger and explode when least expected. People need to identify what makes them susceptible to anger, how their bodies respond to anger, and what physical manifestations of anger they adopt when enraged.

Accept responsibility for anger. It’s easy to blame others for our problems. You often hear people say, “So-and-so made me angry.” Blaming a personal reaction on someone else is not appropriate. People don’t “lose” their tempers; they “choose” their own tempers.

Identify the source of anger. Anger is a secondary emotion that is experienced in response to a primary emotion such as hurt, frustration, or fear. Anger is usually a defense mechanism against being hurt. Frustration is a big part of anger. Frustration occurs when expectations and personal goals aren’t met. The things that frustrate people are usually not very important. Identifying frustrating personalities or situations will prepare a person for handling similar encounters in the future.

Choose how to invest anger energy. You can’t always control when you will experience anger, but you can choose how you will express it. With God’s help, you can find creative and constructive ways to deal with anger. Handling anger well involves open, honest, and direct communication. It involves speaking the truth in love. It involves declaring truth and righting wrongs. It involves being open to an apology or explanation and seeks to work toward an agreement.

For many, both the experience and expression of anger have become a habit. Habits can take some time to change. The good news is that with God’s help, you can change and grow. As you allow the Holy Spirit to fill you, you can replace the old, unhealthy ways of responding with new, healthy and God-honoring emotional responses.

 *For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!