Struggling with Anger? Here’s Chapter 13 of the 30-day Marriage Devotional “Never Fails”.

Day 1 3 : I n Your Anger, Do Not Sin!

At our church, we have an outreach called “Young Lives.” The goal is to have

men who have families and are raising children sit with younger, recently new

fathers to encourage and sow into them. Last night, one question came up,

“How do we, as men, deal with our anger?”

The young man asking the question described his situation. He had pulled

into his driveway and clipped his car against the wall. As he heard the crunch

and pictured the damage, in anger, he jumped out of his car and ran into the

house. He confessed that, upon entering his home, he held and cuddled his

newborn daughter for comfort and a feeling of satisfaction while at the same

time yelling at his wife to be quiet. As he took out all of his frustration on her,

he knew it was wrong. He felt bad about it, yet he went full steam ahead with

no idea how to handle it.

As I think back on the early years of my marriage, I remember getting to

a point where I gave and gave and gave, feeling absolutely spent and like I was

getting nothing in return. Our son, Dakota, was around six months old, and

after feeling like I had bent over backwards trying to be “super husband,” but

not addressing certain things along the way, I remember getting into it with my

wife and just straight saying to myself “f this.”

I had taken enough, felt like I had no voice, had blown my fuse, and didn’t

know what to do. This was BC (“Before Christ”), by the way, so that kind of

language was the norm, sadly.

But from then on, any time I was challenged, didn’t feel loved, or felt disrespected,

I would say whatever was on my mind. Things I would never have

imagined saying to my Tracy I said, and soon, things escalated.

We began arguing, fighting, name calling, giving the silent treatment,

taking off for a drive, blasting each other viciously, and so on. We didn’t know

what was happening, and we didn’t know how to slow things down.

Keep in mind that I grew up in Liverpool, a culture where it was the norm

to get into altercations daily. There could be a shouting match or you might have

to act puffed up to avoid a fight. Or there may be something going down where

you have to gauge the situation, which normally meant swearing at whomever

was standing in your way and saying a mixture of things to try to intimidate

them to see if they were for real.

I was raised with the mindset that using your voice and body language

was a defense mechanism to ward off trouble. But now, just like when I was

pushed to the edge on the street, as I was being pushed into a corner in my

marriage, I was taking out my wrath on my beautiful wife. Not that she was

innocent; it does take two. But that is not any sort of an excuse for my actions

or yours.

As our fights grew and grew, my fists went into walls, the names called

were absolutely degrading, and almost anything that came to my mind was

spouted out.

I began to see the extent of just how angry I could get and how, like so

many, I couldn’t control myself and didn’t know how to rightly vent.

How could a guy from England, bred this way (we could say), possibly begin

to exercise any of the characteristics of love spoken about in 1 Corinthians 13?

In the next few chapters, I want to spend time looking at these specific

characteristics, the ones found in the very verses Tracy and I heard the night we

wed in Vegas. As we do, hopefully you will see the struggles within yourself, the

struggles with anger you may have and how to embrace the change.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not

proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily

angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil

but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes,

always perseveres. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4–8

Reading over this passage, I can say with absolute confidence that I have

blown all that Paul lists here as my anger grew and grew and got the best of

me. It felt comfortable clenching my fists, grinding my teeth, speaking more

intensely, and feeling I had to get my point across.

 

 

As our marriage got worse and we were by now throwing divorce at each

other like it was no big deal, I remember my wife getting into her car as she was

about to leave. As she did, I ran out to the garage, undoubtedly to shout some

rude remark, to which she slammed the door in my face. The door connected

with my leg full force. Whether she intended it or not, I felt disrespected again,

belittled, and here was my wife leaving our home because of our anger.

What could I do? What would you do? What did that young man do after

the car hit the wall? I did what I had learned to do—blasted the garage door

open, ran up to the car, and as she was leaving, I smashed my fist down on the

windshield as hard as possible. It cracked the windshield, and as she got out of

the car in shock, the noise (and her mother coming over) resulted in the police

being called, and I was in trouble. Although we were not physical, I look back

now as that time as life changing.

This was definitely one of the events God used to get my attention, as it

ended with my having to take anger management classes for several weeks.

It was a huge wake-up call for my wife and for me, but it was also something

that would become useful to me for the rest of my life.

In those classes I learned that anger is an emotion—one we are born with

and that is triggered based on the situations we encounter. Just as on the streets

of Liverpool, when fear or offense came, anger would rise up and set the tone

for what I would choose to do next.

With my marriage, all the conflicts I hadn’t addressed had pushed me into

a corner, and I couldn’t take it anymore. Anger was the emotion, the red flag,

saying this is too much, but it wasn’t the anger that was the problem. It was

how I reacted when I was angry. How my wife slammed the door when she was

angry, or even, for better understanding, how the young man mentioned in the

beginning of this chapter, after hitting the wall, was able to react to his daughter

in love yet reacted another way to his wife while being angry the whole time.

This is your issue with anger too—how you react.

It’s with this understanding that we see the Scriptures in the Bible ring true:

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give

no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26–27, esv).

So this emotion is a part of our human nature. It’s a trigger that should

cause us to think even more about whatever the situation may be. But anger

isn’t necessarily sin because Jesus got angry. In the gospel of Mark, we read

the story of Jesus healing a man with a deformed hand, but because it was the

 

Sabbath, the Pharisees got mad. As Jesus asked them a question, one which

they didn’t answer, we are told that Jesus “looked around at them with anger

[and] grieved at their hardness of heart” (Mark 3:5, esv). He looked at them

with anger. He was angry, got upset, had a problem; yet the Bible says He

never sinned, ever. What He did next, even though He was angry, was to

simply tell the man to stretch out his hand and He healed him. He was angry

but didn’t sin. But I did. I wasn’t patient, wasn’t kind; I was self-seeking and

lacking love.

Everyone gets angry, women just as much. It’s just that typically men react

more with shouting and more easily get to the point of being physical. We

shout much louder, are generally stronger, and can be a lot more imposing. God

even refers to the woman as the weaker partner or vessel (1 Peter 3:7).

If that verse offends you, think about it. How many times do you see an

altercation in the street or witness someone come to the house to start a fight

and the wife rolls up her sleeves, expected to handle business? You don’t; it’s

generally men who throw fists. Society has also bred aggression into men, oftentimes

as something to be glorified. So please, don’t use this chapter as a way for

you, wife, to guilt-trip your husband. I can tell you, he feels guilt, knows it’s

wrong, and that there is a better way to handle things. Of all the times we have

fought, shouted, took off, and gone overboard, I always knew I would regret

it and that I was doing nothing positive for our marriage. In my anger and

moments of despair, I was falling into sin.

That night at Young Lives, as we were seated before these young fathers, I

let them know the reality of the situations they were in. Fights may start with

shouting, escalating to throwing and smashing things, even to pointing in one

another’s face, then pushing and shoving, grabbing ahold of, and then, who

knows? Being physical, even to the point of jail time? They needed to know

this because statistics show this. They needed to know this because it’s reality.

I know what it’s like to be pushed into a corner, and when our voices aren’t

heard or our needs aren’t being met, this is how we can react in our anger. They

needed to know this just as much as you need to know this. Infidelity destroys

many a marriage but so does anger. Everything that was promised is tossed

aside, and we say “uncle,” leading to the way of wrath.

However, there is hope and there is grace as we trust in God’s Word and

listen to His Holy Spirit for direction. Because we are believers and because love

never fails, we should be able to bear the fruit of what’s inside of us—the fruit

of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love … gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:22–23

Just because you are still together doesn’t mean that inside, one of you isn’t

going through hell dealing with it or the results.

We told that young man that night what he should have done. Rather than

going into the house fully knowing he was angry, he should have gone for a

walk, called a friend, got some prayer, and thought about the situation. I am

convinced that, had he done that, he would have been strengthened by God

Almighty to love both his daughter and his wife. He would have heard that

still small voice saying, “I am counting on you to love My daughter, your wife.”

Below are some verses that speak clearly about how we should react when

dealing with our anger. I learned to recognize how I am feeling, even when

things are frustrating and I feel my back is up against the wall. When things

get dark, I need to shine some light, God’s Word, into the situation. I remind

myself of what He says, consider my role as the head of the home, and remember

that love never fails.

Just as much as I learned to deal with my anger, my wife also had to recognize

when she gets angry. Our interactions can play a definite part in pushing

one another’s buttons.

This is not a “Pass Go” card for women to do anything they want to control

their spouse if he gets angry. This is a call for both of you, women included, to

gauge your anger, consider how you react, and be mature.

I have seen just as many women refuse to speak, go off into serious sin, or

be manipulative in situations, knowing they can use his shortcomings against

him.

We need love! We need to be open to discuss and pray about these things,

without accusing and judging.

May these verses speak to you and your spouse, as they have to Tracy and

me. We have discussed them many times, and I encourage you and your spouse

to do the same.

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Colossians 3:19, esv

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing

honor to the woman as the weaker vessel …

1 Peter 3:7, esv