Great marriages will still have times of anger. That’s just the way it is. Karen and I have come a long way since the early days of our marriage, when we came right to the brink of divorce. The difference between then and now is that we know how to deal with our anger.
Anger is inevitable and anger is normal. It’s a human response. God gets angry. Jesus got angry and cleansed the temple. The fact that you become angry is not evidence that something is wrong with you.
What I want you to understand is the difference between getting angry in the present, today’s anger, and holding onto anger from the past. Today’s anger is manageable. But yesterday’s anger is toxic. That kind of anger is the most destructive force in marriage. Period.
We have to be very intentional about releasing anger from our relationship.
In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul describes anger and its ramifications. “Be angry, and do not sin,” he writes in verses 26 and 27. “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”
In other words, he’s saying that we will experience moments of anger, but we have to be quick to resolve it. If you don’t learn how to process it and remove it, anger destroys your relationship. Think of it like a new house with a hidden leak.
Imagine you get married and move into a new home. You’re dreaming of a wonderful life together. But then a leak begins behind a wall. You never deal with it. One drop at a time, the damage grows. Mold develops. Over time, the toxic substance eats through the sheetrock and rots the wood until the wall collapses.
Individual drops, over time, can cause destruction. When you let anger sit inside you, festering, you’ll eventually wake up and discover your house has been spoiled. Your heart has become hardened. Your marriage has lost its intimacy.
Anger also builds in intensity. Like something under extreme pressure, it expands until it can’t help but burst out in the future. Something you could process and talk about easily today could turn into a massive fight a few months from now.
That’s how anger “give[s] place to the devil,” as Paul wrote. Unresolved anger begins to deceive you as it becomes more corrosive. It tells you lies about your spouse. It accuses. It turns your heart against the person you love most.
God didn’t design us to be a repository for anger. He designed us to ventilate anger rather than store it. That’s why the Bible is so insistent on forgiveness.
So when anger arrives—when you and your spouse have a conflict—pick the right time and setting and talk it through. Wait until you’re alone. Wait until your emotions are under control. Then start with affirmation. Say “I love you and I’m committed to our marriage but we need to talk about something.”
It’s so important to communicate your feelings and discuss what made you angry. Get in the habit of treating anger this way on a daily basis and you’ll never reach the point where it becomes toxic.
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today