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Handling Anger in a Healthy Way | by Dr Gary Chapman

October 17, 2010

Uncontrolled anger can destroy your marriage!
All of us get angry when we feel that we have been wronged. Feeling angry is not sinful, but how you respond may be. In Ephesians 4:26 we read: “Being angry, sin not, don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” We are responsible for controlling our behavior. The husband or wife who lashes out in anger with harsh words or hurtful behavior is sinning.

The first step in learning to control your anger is to restrain your immediate response. Count to 100 before you do anything. Take a walk around the block. Go water your flowers. Do something to stop the flow of hurtful words or abusive behavior. Take a “time out” and you’re less likely to sin.

Many marriages have been destroyed by uncontrolled anger. The feeling of anger is not sinful. Even God feels anger. Great social reforms have been motivated by anger. But uncontrolled anger has destroyed the lives of thousands. If you feel angry, admit it, and ask God to help you take positive action.

One constructive step is to ask: Am I angry because someone sinned against me? Or, because I did not get what I wanted? If someone sinned, you should be angry. That is godly anger. However, much of our anger is distorted – things simply did not go our way. If this is the case, we need to confess our selfish response, accept God’s forgiveness and release our anger to Him.

If someone sins against us, it’s natural to get angry!
Even God get’s angry when people sin. He moves out in love to convict, discipline, and correct. Should we do less? In marriage when our spouse sins against us, we get angry. God’s purpose for anger is that it motivate us to lovingly confront. We dare not sit idly by and make no effort to help our spouse turn from sin.

When I say lovingly confront, I’m not talking about yelling and screaming at your spouse. I’m suggesting you say something like this: “I’m deeply hurt by your behavior. I’m concerned about you and about us. Please, can we talk about this?” If they are unwilling to talk; you pray and try again. Love does not accept sinful behavior.

Is uncontrolled anger a problem in your marriage?
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” Proverbs 29:11. Do you control yourself when you are angry? If not, it’s time to take action. Admit to God that in your anger you have sinned. If you lost your temper with your spouse, then apologize and ask them to forgive you.

The next time you are angry, take a “time out” and pray. Ask God to show you the best way to respond to your anger. Ask yourself, “Why am I angry?  What wrong was committed? What positive action might I take? What would be the loving thing to do?” Take constructive action and anger has served its purpose.

Handle anger in a positive way
In my book: Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way, I suggest that couples write the following words on an index card and put it on the refrigerator door. When they feel angry toward a family member, they get the card and read it to the person at whom they are angry. Here’s what the card says:

“I’m feeling angry right now, but don’t worry. I’m not going to attack you. But I do need your help. Is this a good time to talk?” It brings a little humor into the tenseness, and it reminds me what I am not going to do – (lose my temper). It also asks for their help in dealing with my anger. Try it!  It may become a family tradition.

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Adapted from Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way by Dr. Gary Chapman.

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