I think Jean would agree that I have a pretty good handle on my anger.
Okay, she’d probably rat me out for being “hangry” from time to time. But, c’mon, doesn’t everybody get a little grumpy when they haven’t eaten? The important thing is that I recognize what I’m really angry about. I’m not upset with Jean, I’m cranky because I want food.
That distinction may sound like semantics, but it’s actually key to resolving some of what ticks us off. Anger is usually a response to something else. We have an unmet need, a dashed hope, a sense of injustice, or we feel like someone has control over us.
Your perspective can fuel your anger, or it can diffuse it.
Pastor and author Ted Cunningham recalls a conversation with his wife, Amy, after a family left his church. Ted’s primary emotion in that moment was “failure.” He felt like he’d let the family down. He was hurt, so his reaction came out sideways. He told Amy, “So what if they left? All they did was try to tell me how to run the church, anyway.”
Amy, on the other hand, processed the family’s departure through a filter rooted in compassion for the family and her husband. She told Ted, “Yeah, but he came to faith in Jesus at our church. You renewed their vows. You baptized their children. Maybe this isn’t about you.”
The same principle holds true for other relationships, like marriage. If you allow anger to build up between you and your spouse, you may start thinking divorce is the answer. It’s her fault. It’s his fault. Sadly, most people who divorce discover that they’re just as angry in their next marriage as they were in the last one.
You take your anger with you everywhere you go because you take you everywhere you go. Dr. Gary Smalley used to say, “You never bury anger dead. You always bury it alive. It will resurface if you don’t get to the bottom of it and resolve it.”
If anger is poisoning your relationships, and you haven’t identified the root causes, Ted Cunningham can help. We’re talking with him about the journey out of anger and into intimacy. Join us for “Resolving Anger in Your Marriage.” We’re discussing a book Ted co-authored with the late Dr. Gary Smalley, From Anger to Intimacy: How Forgiveness Can Transform Your Marriage.
Ted is a speaker, an author, and the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri.
Before I close, I hope you’ll consider offering your prayerful and financial support to Focus on the Family. When you donate any amount today, we’ll send you a copy of Ted and Gary’s book From Anger to Intimacy as our way of saying thank you.
I also want to remind you that right now is a great time to contribute to our ministry. Generous friends will match your donation, dollar-for-dollar, which means your gift will help twice as many couples.
Your gifts enable us to provide resources to couples who need a boost. And for those in deeper need, we have counselors available and ready to help. Beyond that, we have Hope Restored in Branson, Missouri, that provides intensive counseling. It’s all possible because of your generosity and support!