Anger. It crouches at the door of marriage and seeks a way to attack.
If we’re not aware of its intent, we could be assaulted without knowing what hit us until the damage has been done.
It’s claws come in the form of words with accusations and assumptions. With them it rips apart trust and intimacy. One swipe can cause a deadly blow or cause enough pain to bring lasting damage to the relationship.
In his book, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, Tim Lane says,
“…Our words always have direction. They are going either toward life or toward death. The most destructive thing words could produce is death, so the phrase “words kill” is intended to summarize all the angry, hurtful, slanderous, selfish, bitter, divisive, and demeaning forms of talk. The phrase “words give life” summarizes all the encouraging, comforting, peaceful, up-building, grateful, unifying, and loving forms of communication. Because our words have power and direction, they always produce some kind of harvest. It will be a life harvest of comfort, encouragement, hope, insight, unity and joy, or a death harvest of fear, discouragement, falsehood, division and sadness. Words can open up the mysteries of the universe for someone. Words can crush a person’s spirit, excite, anger or stimulate love. Words have power.
As you can see – words spoken in anger are a deadly force if left unchecked.
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are yat war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask zwrongly, to spend it on your passions.” James 4 ESV
If you find yourself angry at your spouse you have work to do. Ask yourself these questions to help determine if your anger is justified or not:
- What is it that I want but I’m not getting?
- Is it something my spouse promised in our wedding vows, like faithfulness, honesty or to be trustworthy?
- Is it an inconvenience or a disagreement on how to take care of something particular to both of you?
- Is it because of a circumstance outside of your marriage like your job, school or in-law relationships?
When our spouse fails us in some way our default is often to become angry. If they failed to do something they were asked to do, know that anger is not going to fix it. It will only muddy the waters of communication making it hard to remember what cause the fight in the first place.
If it is due to sins your spouse has committed e.g. unfaithfulness, lying or neglect, anger is understandable. However, giving full vent to it will not do a thing to help your marriage through the hardship. It helps to remember how Christ has treated us when we were yet sinners; He didn’t come to condemn but to save. That is the purpose of the marriage partnership–learning how to treat our spouse in this same way. It’s easy to write these words, but not easy to do. It will require the help that only God can provide.
You will also need to talk long and hard about the situation maybe even inviting others in to help. Full disclosure is necessary from the spouse who did the damage. Questions need to be answered and complete honesty is a requirement if trust is to be rebuilt.
If your anger is because of the influence others are having on your spouse e.g. in-laws, employers or close friends, you need to talk about your concerns and your spouse needs to hear you. If this type of communication seems impossible, again, you may need to invite others in to help your concerns be heard. There should be no other relationship more important or influential to you than your spouse.
Note to Wives: If you are telling your girlfriends things that you haven’t told your husband, you have crossed the line. Our husbands should be the first one we go to for help. If you are not comfortable telling your husband everything or you don’t feel he cares, you have more work to do in your marriage than just dealing with anger.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
(James 1:19-21 ESV)
In what ways have your words helped or hindered your marriage?