3 Truths About Anger Everyone Should Know

Anger is a natural part of being human, but it can also become destructive when uncontrolled. Likewise, anger is a natural part of conflict. It’s important that we understand how to manage anger so that we can effectively manage conflicts in our marriages and other interpersonal relationships.

Anger tends to be the result of a perceived injustice against us. When improperly processed and communicated, anger can damage relationships–sometimes irreversibly. Uncontrolled anger can muddy the waters of a good fight and prevent us from getting to the core of the issue at hand.

Let’s look at a few truths about anger everyone should know, followed by some tips on how to begin getting it under control.

1. Anger doesn’t need to be “vented.”

It’s not healthy to “stuff” your anger, but it’s equally unhealthy to vent it. Venting is the aggressive expression of anger, and it can do damage to relationships, too. It also reinforces any unhealthy patterns around anger you may have.

When you allow your anger to escalate into an outburst or a tirade, it just compounds the problems you and your spouse are already trying to solve. Instead of getting to the heart of the issue at hand, you’ll both end up having to resolve whatever new problems crop up as a result of your uncontrolled anger.

2. Anger doesn’t get you the respect you want.

Some people feel that they must put others “in their place” during a disagreement or confrontation. They might use unhealthy tactics to keep control of their spouse and the situation at hand, wrongfully believing that this will get their spouse to listen and respond the way they want.

The thing is, these tactics actually cause your spouse to withdraw from you and put their guard up. You’ve made the issue worse because of your disrespectful behavior toward them. Now, they’re not only upset at the original issue, they’re trying to defend themselves from your angry behavior, as well. Once you’ve put your spouse on the defensive, you can bet your side of the story won’t be heard–and you’re definitely not earning points (or respect) in the relationship, either.

3. Anger can be controlled.

Despite what some may believe, it’s possible to control your anger by paying attention to your body, thinking before you speak, and actively choosing not to allow your emotions to take charge of your actions. Letting momentary emotional surges define your actions and reactions with your spouse can lead to permanent damage, or even destruction of the relationship.

So how can you take the reins when you start to feel yourself losing control? Here are some ways you can tame your temper when it flares:

  • Admit you’re angry. Many times, we try to redefine our angry feelings as hurt or frustration, but that’s actually counterproductive. Don’t stuff your anger; it’s perfectly acceptable to express that you’re angry in an honest, calm way.
  • Don’t do anything. Instead, observe your anger. You’re in a dangerous place when your anger is just begging to burst out, so stop. Be still. Take some time to think about why you’re angry and how you might be able to communicate that to your spouse without adding to the problem. (Counting to ten is invaluable here!)
  • Pay attention to the physical signs of anger. Some of these can include tension in your neck or shoulders, flushing, clenching your fists, or raising your voice. Heed these warnings and take a moment to cool down physically before continuing the discussion.

If you can’t control your anger…

…you may need to seek professional counseling or even anger management classes in order to get control of your emotions. This is especially important if you don’t know what, exactly, is triggering the anger you’re experiencing. It’s important to find the root of your anger and learn to control it so you don’t become destructive when you’re dealing with interpersonal conflict.

If you want a good primer on how to handle conflict with your spouse effectively, check out our book The Good Fight. You can get a copy here.

Have you or your spouse struggled with anger in your relationship? How did you address and overcome it? Let us know in the comments section.

8 Comments

  • Paul says:

    Excellent article, and I’d like to add an additional thought… Anger can occasionally build during the day – maybe depending upon my mood in general, who knows? So during the day it might take me twice as long to do a simple task, like repair the vacuum cleaner – I get angry at the “waste” of my time. Then I get telephone calls from advertisers/scammers — more anger builds. Later on, I run into unexpected traffic on the way to get take-out from our favorite restaurant — more anger. So because I’ve had several (seemingly innocuous) incidents during the day I’m already ramped up when my spouse wants to discuss yardwork we need to do this coming weekend. I enter the discussion with subtle anger (that my spouse is unaware of) due to things that have gone wrong during the day and not really in a good place to discuss yardwork. So the anger I feel as we discuss yardwork has nothing to do with the yardwork or my spouse at all — I’ve had a rough day and should have: (1) asked my spouse to postpone the discussion until later, and let her know why; or (2) get my own act together and dissolve my anger before we talk about yardwork… maybe take a little walk and have a talk with myself, or whatever it takes to get an improved attitude.

    • Fred Gatty says:

      So true, Paul. Research also shows that one 5-minute episode of anger can impair our immunity for up to six hours! Important to be aware of some of these triggers, so we can better manage.

  • Hurting says:

    Excellent article! #3. ANGER CAN BE CONTROLLED…last sentence: “…emotional surges …..can lead to permanent damage, or even destruction of the relationship.”

    My husband never considered how his uncontrolled, overbearing Anger was crushing our marriage and my spirit.

    Our Divorce was Final yesterday.

  • Kimberly Hess says:

    Thank you, this is wonderful! Very helpful. God bless you two and your organization!

  • Nora says:

    To “Hurting” – I am so sad you were on the receiving end of uncontrolled anger and grieving the loss of your marriage. May God be your Comforter and Healer as you pick up the pieces of your life and take next steps.

  • Deborah Joy says:

    This was brilliant. I wish you would write a book on “Talking Too Much”. My marriage of 32 years is hanging on by a thread. I’m a broken woman and it is largely due to the words spoken to me: “Your opinion doesn’t matter”, “You never … “, “You always …”, “This was the nail in my coffin …”, “You are gaining weight aren’t you?”, “I’m so sorry, I’ve prayed and I know the Lord has forgiven me, now you have to forgive me …”, “All you want is my money …”.

    Words can be healing or they can be a poison that slowly kills a relationship or worse, a person. Our culture is full of communicating: social media, books, blogs, radio, podcasts, counseling, everyone is talking but the level of toxic chatter has become more common and acceptable. HELP! I pray for a godly revelation of what we as humans are doing to each other all in the name of “communication”.

  • AB says:

    “Perceived” injustice!? Sounds like a weasel word. Hopefully as Christians you realize there is such a thing as real injustice.

    • Polly says:

      You’re bullying others into supporting your cause. I suggest you take some time to think about why you’re supporting an authoritarian movement.

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