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The Relationship Café

Anger: A Toxin in Marriage

We have been created as emotional beings. A reading of Scripture reveals that each story, every character, becomes compelling in part because of the human, emotional nature.

We can relate to King David’s sadness at the death of his son. We hold our breath in anxious anticipation as Queen Esther approaches King Xerxes, asking for the freedom of her Jewish people. We understand Jesus’ righteous indignation at the money sellers in the temple.

Yet, there are many occasions where a little emotion becomes destructive, ruining our emotional health as well as our marital health. Too much of almost any emotion is likely to cause some level of destruction.

Consider this recent letter I received from a man who regrets the impact his anger has had on his relationship.

Dear Dr. David. A short time ago my fiancée broke up with me, saying that she was tired off my disrespect for her and anger issues. I admit that the smallest things set me off. I have had temper problems my entire life and I’m finally sick of it. I hope I’m not too late.

When my fiancée does something that bugs me, something I don’t think she should do, I lose my patience. Sometimes I say something hurtful, but most of the time I just give her a dirty look, which she says is just as hurtful.

Recently I’ve begun going to counseling to get at the root of my problems. I’ve learned that I was raised by a controlling father, and I still have issues with that. I want to control everything, and of course that makes my fiancée feel bad.

This crisis has caused me to reexamine my life. My fiancée no longer wants to see me and I’ve been praying asking God if I should just give up or keep fighting for our relationship. She says she no longer loves me and doesn’t want to see me. Should I keep fighting for this relationship or do you think it’s time to give up. Thanks.

I am certainly sorry that your relationship has been hurt by your anger, but in a way, this appears to be a wakeup call for you. Your fiancée must be applauded for making a difficult decision, one that will help both of you in the long run. She has stopped enabling your destructive behavior, and now you both have an opportunity to change.

You ask what you can do now. Here are a few ideas.

First, you must meet your fiancée at her point of need. In other words, what does she really need at this time? If she is hurt by your recent outburst and wants to be left alone, that is the best thing to do. If she wants you to enter into Anger Management before she will see you again, that is what you must do. If she distrusts you and wants to be away from you for a time, leave her alone.

Second, this is an opportunity for you to think about others before yourself. While you hurt and want to be with her, you must consider her feelings above your own. You’ve caused damage and must think of how to repair that damage. A little anger goes a long way to create a toxic relationship. While your feelings propel you to want to talk to her, to try to make things “right,” this is selfish and will probably be perceived that way by her. Consider what she needs and give it to her. Show that you fully understand the damage you have caused.

Third, continue getting help for your anger. As you say, you’ve been helped by the counsel you’re receiving, so continue with it. However, you need to look deeper into yourself, exploring even more issues. For example, beneath your anger is there an attitude of selfishness? You say that you can be controlling. Do you have an attitude that “my way is the right way?”

Has your fiancée felt smothered by your “right and wrong” thinking?

One of my books, Are You Really Ready for Love? will be particularly helpful to your situation. Consider reading it and preparing yourself emotionally and spiritually for a love relationship.

Fourth, you must develop a healthy way of expressing anger, whether or not your fiancée wants to see you again. The Scriptures don’t tell us not to ever feel anger, but to “be angry and sin not.” (Ephesians 4: 26) The Apostle James instructs us to “be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” (James 1: 19) Did you fiancée feel you spent time understanding her and meeting her needs?

Finally, pray for wisdom. In time you will know whether your fiancée wants to try again, or whether the relationship has been completely severed. Give her space and perhaps check in with her in several weeks. Don’t push your agenda, but rather listen carefully to what she wants. It is quite possible that, as she sees changes in you, she may re-experience the love she once had for you. 

 It is very difficult, when emotions are in a state of uproar because of a crisis, to think clearly. If you are experiencing an emotional crisis because of relational difficulties, remember to go slowly, pray often and allow the truth of the matter to emerge. With careful prayer and consideration, God will reveal your best course of action. 

 Please offer your suggestions for this man. What impact do you think his anger has had on his fiancée? Should he wait or move forward with his life? Let us hear from you.

Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 2:28 PM

Comments on this post

# RE: Anger: A Toxin in Marriage

TO THE QUESTION WAT IMPACT DO YOU THINK HIS ANGER HAS HAD ON HIS FIANCEE, I THINK IT HAS HAD ALOT OF IMPACT ON HER WOMEN TAKE THINGS TO HEART WHETHER WE REALIZE OR NOT BUT WE DONT FORGET WAT PEOPLE OR LOVED ONES HAVE DONE TO US OR SAID TO US AND SHE IS HURTING SHE HAS LOTS ON HER MIND. THE BEST THING RITE NOW IS TO PRAY AND HOPE FOR THE BEST IF SHE COMES AROUND GREAT AND IF SHES DONE YOU WILL HAVE TO MOVE ON BUT DONT GIVE UP GOD ALWAYS HAS WAYS FOR US IN SOME WAY OR ANOTHER HOPE ALL IS WELL WITH YOU.
Left by SMHONXARD82 on May 01, 2008 12:19 AM

# RE: Anger: A Toxin in Marriage

I'm sorry about the break up in your relationship, its tough but Dr Hawkins is absolutely correct about "meeting her in her need". I know by nature I too am selfish and given to anger. I have often cried out to the Lord about this and about my change for the better. But in reality change has been slow. Dear friend we must be sincere desciples if we are going to win the battle of the flesh. Jesus said if you want to be the greatest then you must be servant of all: meet her at her need. Emerse youself in God's word especially pertaining to selflessness and service. Only then can you find an end to the conflict within you and fulfillment as you serve others. The temptations will continue but you will have better reserves of knowledge to combat and win against the flesh and please God resulting in your own fulfillment.

God Bless,

rangersalltheway@comcast.net
Left by torreswi on May 01, 2008 6:17 PM

# RE: Anger: A Toxin in Marriage

I am in a marriage that is toxic right now. So please give her the space she needs. If it is meant to be she will come back to you. You have to understand how hurt she is. My husband is also very angry and it has turned into physical now. It is hard to leave and I commend her for having the strenght to say enough is enough. I also commend you for getting the help that you feel you need. Keep your head up and know that God is with the both of you.
Left by muffie1967 on May 01, 2008 7:18 PM

# RE: Anger: A Toxin in Marriage

I think your fiancee is hurt and needs some time to let go of the pain. Remember women make decisions based on their emotions not with rationality. Give her some time and wait if you truly love her she might still come around. Overall keep on praying to God to help you with yor anger. I personally have battled with anger couple of years now and I've realized that anger never fixes a situation, love and comprehension is the key to overcome anger.

God bless you brother.
Left by acevedokelly on May 01, 2008 9:17 PM

# RE: Anger: A Toxin in Marriage

I'm also in a toxic marriage. MY husband has so much anger and very selfish. So I say to you to please give her the space that she needs because if you keep on pushing it's like you are not listning to her all. and that's probally how she fills so I SAY GIVE HER THE SPACE TO HEAL.And you take this time to heal yourself and pray to god for forgiveness and to giude you and the right direction..god bless
Left by nettie1212 on May 14, 2008 8:45 AM

# RE: Anger: A Toxin in Marriage

I'm in a toxin marriage, not just with him but his two (step) Adult children that I have given my Christ Like love to. Every time I try to heal, I get more anger in return. All I can say is show her your love for her, show her you desire to change for you and the love you have for her. Show her by meeting her needs. Leaving is her need but showering her in your love is her need unless she has already found someone who is willing to meet her needs.

Speaking from experience it is overwhelming the impact of another persons anger and selfishness. It turns into a black hole after a while, trying to stay focused on God, but that anger hate just stabs like a knife in the back. I have moments of not looking back; changing my name and leave. That's how much of an impact there is.

All marriage's have issues show her you are growing closer to God and to her, if it's God's will. Through Him with Him all things are possible.
Left by FaithnHim on May 31, 2008 6:00 PM