Heather Marshall on September 27th, 2008

I’ve lucked out with the last two “Gracious Wife” posts…. I’ve been able to write them with minimal conviction, because I tend to not be too sarcastic or nagging toward my husband. This post, however, I’ve been dreading, mainly because it hits home for me… I don’t want to write it, because it’s going to hurt. God is going to teach me as I write, and the conviction is, of course, not going to be fun. I will be better for it by the end, but this process will be quite painful.  But hey, as my husband said to me earlier, if I had it all together, I wouldn’t be “striving”, would I? :)

So… on to writing about the Angry Wife… Now, I don’t normally see myself as an angry person. I’m actually a pretty upbeat person, but anger (in its various forms) too often gets a hold of me.

First, let’s look at a definition of anger, because you may be surprised to see that you, too, may fall under this category. Read it a few times, just in case you miss part of it the first time:

anger, n. - a strong emotion; a feeling that is oriented toward some real or supposed grievance; a feeling aroused by being offended; belligerence aroused by a real or supposed wrong; a violent, bitter feeling (against someone or something); resentment; irritation; annoyance; huffiness; indignation. (from thefreedictionary.com

Anger expresses itself differently in different people as well. Some will explode in rage, yelling, screaming, or even becoming physically violent. Others will show their anger in quieter forms, such as using sarcasm or the “silent treatment.” Still others may choose to withdraw, and keep their anger to themselves, resulting in depression or neglect of the home.

I recently realized that anger was an issue for me, when I would become irritated at something Jason would say or do (or not do)… notice the above definition, where it says that anger is caused by a “real or supposed” offense. Most of my anger issues had nothing to do with Jason… instead, the cause was something that I made up in my own mind.

I believe that, in marriage, that is often the case. Now, I’m not saying that all our husbands are perfect and that we are always at fault (it may often be the reverse!) …. but I know that my own heart needs to be searched before I can lay the blame on my husband.

I’m not going to go into the damage that anger can do in a marriage…. I think we have seen enough of its effects, either in our own marriages, others around us, or on the news. Even the Bible talks about the strife an angry word can cause. (If you want to read more verses on anger, click here) What I do want to talk about is the source of anger. Where does it come from? How does a perfectly normal conversation end in a fight (or tears, or a slamming door)?

Here is a list of common causes of anger in marriages… be honest, and see if any of these apply to you:

  • Selfishness
  • The need to control
  • Unjust hurts/disappointments with your husband
  • Unjust hurts/disappointments with parents
  • Loneliness/sadness from any life stage
  • Hurts with in-laws
  • Fear and worries
  • Hurts in earlier dating, sibling or peer relationships
  • Insecurities/lack of confidence
  • Excessive sense of responsibility/burdens
  • Financial and other worries
  • Inappropriate expectations
  • Conflicts in children, particularly selfishness
  • Loss of trust
  • Lack of sleep
  • Medical illnesses
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Work conflicts
  • Excessive television/movie/sports watching
  • Unemploymen
  • Jealousy
  • Guilt
  • Post abortion conflict

(List adapted from The Institute for Marital Healing - Click Here for more information)

Prayerfully look over this list, and ask God to reveal to you areas in your marriage that need to be worked on, things that need to change. Satan wants to destroy our marriages. He prowls around, looking to steal, kill, and destroy all that is good. If he can use anger to it, he will!!

Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Many people, when giving marital advice, will quote the part about not letting the sun go down on your anger. Great advice… simply because when you keep anger inside, it allows a bitter root to take hold in your heart, thus giving Satan an opportunity to lead you into sin.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to start a brawl right before bed… but if there’s an issue, it’s best to clear the air rather than have it fester in your heart.  After all, it’s going to eventually come out - wouldn’t it be best to discuss it BEFORE it has time to take root and grow into something ugly?  Once that ugliness and sin has taken root, it is what will come out when you speak.  Is there anger, bitterness, and resentment stored up? That’s what will come out of you - in your words, in your attitude, and in your actions. (Matthew 15:18-19)

So what do we do? How do we get rid of our anger? Well, in addition to prayer… let’s see what the Bible has to say!

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

So, what do we do?  Here are our takeaways from these passages:

  • Be quick to listen. Don’t jump to conclusions about your husband or the circumstances making you angry. Listen to what your husband is saying, and hear out his whole side of the story.
  • Be slow to speak.  Don’t say the first thing that is on your mind - it’s usually full of emotion and hurt, and can be taken wrong, even if you don’t think you meant it to be hurtful!
  • Be slow to become angry. This takes work and prayer, but don’t get on the defensive as soon as your husband opens his mouth.  Don’t work yourself up into anger. Pray, and try to remain calm. See if the situation actually warrants your anger (in most cases, it won’t!).
  • LOVE your husband, God’s way! Study 1 Corinthians 13, and strive to love the way God wants us to love. It is the KEY to being a gracious wife!
  • Keep no record of wrongs. Do not hold grudges! Stop bringing up past hurts and grievances when you fight… it will just make matters worse. Pray for God to help you forgive AND forget.
  • Be kind. Thinking of an angry retort? Say something kind instead…. it may shock your husband, AND diffuse the anger at the same time. (Proverbs 15:1)
  • Be compassionate. Your husband may be going through a rough time emotionally, physically, or spiritually. There may be a deeper cause to actions you think are wrong. Take time to find out what’s wrong, pray for him, and show him compassion - it, too, has the power to diffuse anger.
  • Forgive, just as Christ forgave you. Christ forgave us while we were still sinners. Don’t wait for your husband to become perfect in order for you to show him forgiveness, and don’t wait for his apology to come first.  Forgiveness must first come from your heart, to prevent sin from taking root.

Above all, let’s remember what we’re striving for - to be a wife after God’s own heart. Psalm 145:8 shows us God’s heart in this matter:

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

Isn’t that something worth striving for?  I know that I will be taking these verses and striving to apply them in my life.  I don’t want to be an angry wife.  I don’t want Satan to have any footholds in my life.  Strive with me… and let me know how your journey is going!!  Leave any comments, questions, prayer requests, or praise reports below!

Keep on striving,

Heather :)

Related posts:

  1. The Gracious Wife versus The Sarcastic Wife
  2. Some Final Thoughts on Being a Gracious Wife
  3. The Gracious Wife versus The Nagging Wife
  4. What Defines a Gracious Wife?
  5. What Makes a Good Wife - Part 3 - Worldly Wife vs Biblical Wife

19 Responses to “The Gracious Wife versus The Angry Wife”

  1. Hi Heather

    Great post, and great perspectives.
    Marriages are comprised of human beings, and we know what being human
    is all about.

    I love how you said to search my own heart first. I am not responsible for anything that another person says or does. I am responsible for how things affect me.

    If I am not taking care of myself and am allowing things to build up on me, I will have an excess of negativity to respond to something that my other half says or does.

    Yes, marriage is about giving and compromise. It is also about 2 healthy people. If you don’t take care of yourself as you deserve, sooner or later, you won’t be able to bring your best to your relationship.

    Thank you for sharing your gift with us.

    God bless.

    Mark Semple CCC

  2. Mark,

    You are so right about having to be healthy! Since writing this post, I have been so much more aware of my anger - and the fact that I need the Holy Spirit to truly change me! I’ve been focusing more on my own spiritual health… and am now truly empowered to change!

  3. Hi, Heather! I just found this website today, and I want to THANK YOU for your ministry! It is SUCH an encouragement to me to see another woman my age, in a very familiar struggle. I am ANGRIEST and MEANEST toward my husband, my best friend, my God-given GODLY leader. It amazes me how strong of a hold my sin nature has on me. I lose all control when I’m angry. A member of my church shared with me once his struggle with anger, and his emergence from that struggle…I know God is working on me, but I do hate that my personality has such a DIFFICULT flaw to fix! Anyway, I plan on contacting that friend and his wife and sitting down with both of them to discuss practical things I can do to see God bring me thru this. My lack of self discipline and self control is wreaking havoc on my marriage, and I’m desperate to see God change me. You don’t know the encouragement that you’ve been to me today. Sometimes, it’s easy to feel like I’m the only Christian in the world who deals with this. I spent some MUCH NEEDED time in prayer today, and God brought three specific things to mind that I said I forgave my husband for (and I really intended forgiveness), but I find them coming to mind again and again. Evidently, those memories grew into bitterness, and look at the hayday Satan is having with that! Thanks for your prayer and KEEP ON STRIVING!

  4. I want to say that this was me! No! This IS me! I am angry! Bitter etc…..I want to be that supporting wife but I DO have a past that entraps me and NO my husband sometimes is not compassionate about my hurts but I want to get past all that and love him the way God wants me to but it is sooooooooo hard. I find myself contemplating dark things not too much caring about my present state and i have children and i don’t EVER want them to experience the emptiness I feel inside. I don’t know you but I believe in the power of prayer. My husband as we speak is saying he will just leave me and the kids alone because he is bringing us down but that is not so. I have experienced divorce once and will never do it again. It will have to be forced. I will not feel that pain again. I love my husband dearly and never think of letting him go but he constantly leaves and says I don’t listen and I am ungrateful but if he only could feel in his heart how grateful I am God gave him to me after everything I been through. there have been a lot of things and pain that went on in our marriage but through it all we manage to smile through it. But those days come that wipes out every good thing and I don’t like that feeling. Please Please Pray ALL who reads this. Remember Bobby & Tanara in your prays.

  5. Hi Tanara, this is Pam from Kampala Uganda AFRICA. I am a young married, married at 22 to a 27yr old. My first year as a married was the most painful period of my entire life, dont know how many tears The good Lord allowed me to cry, but in my second year, I have landed on a book: Fascinating Womanhood, by HELLEN Andelin, it has practically changed my marriage, i WAS AS DESPERATE AS U SOUND NOW, but I have discovered one thing, prayer and action go together as components of the faith required to move our Heavenly Father to Help us. Read that book, ask God an opportunity to make yo marriage work and He will give it to u, please send me your e-mail address, I want to send u that book online. May God help u out. Love u in Christ.

  6. Also, please read T.D Jakes’ The Lady, Her Lover and Her Lord, u will find the much needed knowledge to turn around your life, including your marriage, remember, God loves u so much that He rather died than have u die eternally, hope u have accepted Christ in your, life, It is the best thing u can ever do for yourself, I promise u that, am not intent on changing u than I am on helping u out, HE is the only way to lasting JOY AND HAPPINESS IN YOUR LIFE AND FOR ETERNITY. ciao

  7. I am a newlywed in need of wisdom and guidance in my new journey with this wonderful new man at my side. I have read through your articles and almost began to cry in relief that there are others who feels as I do, that just maybe it doesnt make me a weak willed woman to want to submit to my husbands will and believe in him and be the best wife and partner i can. I want this more that anything. In my family, this type of role is not what would be ideal or hoped for for a woman. Your wisdom and experience, as well as the realization that there are many others who feel this way has given me hope and brought me a newfound sense of peace. I, too, struggle with anger, and my impulsive actions caused by anger have made me ashamed more times than I can count. I was not raised with any sort of religion and am unfamiliar with Christian beliefs, but I so much desire the kind of advice and wisdom I see here. Thank You!

  8. Hi Christine, let me tell u something small about Christianity, and Jesus.
    Accepting Him as Lord and Savior is the best gift u can ever give your self. Am not trying to convert you, but am offering an opportunity for u to have eternal life, and a life of victory over any and every thing in your life. He is the way, the truth and the Life, No one comes unto the Father unless He goes through Jesus. hE IS THE Answer for the world Today, He is the beginning and the End, the author and the finisher of our salvation, The GREAT IAM, For Him, through Him and by Him were all things created, to give Him glory and Praise, He is the Only One worthy of Worship and Praise, Beside Him there is no other God. He gives peace, joy, forgiveness, Heals physical, spiritual and Heart Ailments, What Doesnt He do? Nothing!!!!!!!!!!!
    In Jeremiah 32:27 HE says this of Himself, I AM THE GOD OF ALL FLESH, IS ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR ME?
    Please accept Him into your life, because without Him, u have no power to overcome any thing Satan throws to u, unless the mercy of God prevails, but with Him, u can overcome these:
    Anger
    Bitterness
    Selfishness
    Evil Thoughts
    Disrespect
    Malice
    Slander
    Poverty of the heart and of the riches of this world
    EVIL FOREBODING
    WITCHCRAFT
    PLUS ANY EVIL THING IN THIS WORLD!
    With Jesus, u can be protected from those eveil things and u become un able to indulge in them.
    Please reply and let me know what u think.
    Pam Biryomumaisho
    Kampala, Uganda, East Africa
    Go to a christian church, one that believes and lives the bible, u will find answers, and pray as well, God will direct u as well when u do that.

  9. Glad I found your blog. There is hope in Christ our lord! My wife is a very Angry depressed person. Please pray for her, for us, for our family. My Kids are feeling the brunt of it.

  10. Thank you so much for your article. I already knew some of your passages a reminder never hurts anybody.

    Thank you again really have restored me in some vacant places.

    love you all because of Jesus!!!!!!

  11. What do you do with the woman that can’t be reached? The more I tell her that I still love her the more distant she grows. I have lived with her anger for more than twenty years always hoping that somehow God would touch her and soften her heart. I am glad that you mentioned in the definition about “supposed” grievances. I have spent many hours trying to explain that she is angry over issues that are just in her head. She has ruined and caused agitation over every family function since her own bridal shower. Yesterday she brought my teenage daughter to tears as she was trying to explain that her anger with Dad was all self contrived. It broke my heart to see her cry like that. She has issues with her own family and has pretty much destroyed her elationship with mine. Lately even compliments to her are turned around and arguments come while trying to explain that you only meant something good. When will God touch her heart? Her anger has put my whole family in a very dark place to the point that I am no longer the happy person I once was, constantly walking on eggshells and being very careful about how you say something innocent. I believe that anger feeds on anger and I am only human and respond with frustrated anger and even if I walk away I live with the silent treatment for weeks and sometimes months which is of course just another form of anger to me that is crueler than being screamed at. Now I pray harder but more so for my children and how growing up in a house of anger may have changed them. It’s hard to keep going when your heart is always breaking. Does anyone know a powerful prayer to help me help her? I am truly at the end of hoping. If God is love does he want me to stay in a house of hate?
    Michael

  12. Thank you all for your contributions. Yopu have opened my eyes towards lining my marriage with understanding and patience.
    Pam- Kindly send me a soft copy of the Fascinating Womanhood by Hellen Andellin. I would love to read it and apply it on my Marriage. Lord.You are heaven sent Angel.Back to the Blogger i dont know what else I can say.I had misunderstanding with my Husband over a minor issue and ended spoiling it more wheni was trying to ask for forgiveness. Was like wondering why he was not able to forgive me whilst I asked for forgiveness already. By reading this i came to realise I am suppose to concentrate on myself and stop blaming everything on him. Yes I was able to gather myself and speak for myself and thanks God he forgave me. i am nw learning to truly concentrate on my own and pray. Kindly put m,e in your prayers as well. I would love to be a fascinating woman to keep my marriage last as per the vows.
    You are Godly sent messenger and this way you are spreading his message. May you always be blessed!

  13. Michael,

    I feel your pain, brother. I, too, live with a woman who is constantly angry with me, never content with the good gifts God has given her, and who is constantly lashing out at me… even cussing at me and calling me shameful names in front of our kids. I pray and I try to lead my family spiritually, but my wife and our teenage daughter seem to want no part of it. They are both very rebellious and disrespectful, and one of the hardest things for me to see over just the last year or two is how our daughter is growing into the same sort of character that my wife so often exhibits. Selfish, self-serving, discontented, worldly, angry, unsubmissive, disrespectful… ungodly. These are not words I enjoy using to describe the two women in my life God has given me to love, but for the time being they are the most accurate. It breaks my heart. We have two younger boys who suffer the consequences of a house that is in constant chaos. I have just recently come to the conclusion that although we all go to church, the mindset I really need to take is that my wife and daughter are not saved. They may go to church and affiliate with Christians, but there is no fruit in their lives that the Spirit has given them new hearts that desire Christ and His Kingdom. That hurts to admit, but just realizing that they are unconverted helps me to pray differently for them, to pray for their salvation–as well as understanding that the way they are acting and behaving toward me is “natural” and should probably be expected. I hate that the most severe persecution I experience as a Christian comes from my own wife and daughter, but there is strong opposition between those who are truly seeking after Christ and those who belong to the world, so it should not be too surprising I guess.

    One book I would recommend is “Thriving Despite a Difficult Marriage” by the Misja brothers. I read it last year and need to read it again. I have read so many books on Christian marriage, desiring for real transformation in my home and for a marriage that glorifies Christ. The problem with most of those books, though, is that there is an underlying assumption that *both* spouses want to work toward this goal. The sad reality, however, is that this is not always the case. That doesn’t have to mean that we give up or stop seeking to live godly lives. One thing I’ve really had to wrestle with the last two or three years is how to love my wife the way she is when I don’t love the way she is.

    This is the greatest challenge I have faced, but in a sense I think that this is one of the ways (at least in my own life) that I am called to love my wife like Christ loved the church. And I fail every single day. I don’t know how to respond when she tears me to pieces or calls me names in front of the kids for something I said that had no ill intent whatsoever. I often don’t feel like praying for her and asking God to forgive her when she seems to be so full of hatred toward me and I don’t even know what I’ve done… or when she seems to intentionally do things I’ve explicitly asked her not to do (or not do things that I have asked), etc. It is without a doubt the most painful cross I have to bear. But do I suffer more than my Savior? And do I suffer without cause? No way. I know that at least some of what I suffer in my marriage is deserved, and it pales in comparison to what my Lord suffered for me that I might be forgiven. Indeed, although I seldom remember this in the moment, I ought to delight in what I suffer because it brings me closer to Christ; I am called to share in His sufferings, and to find joy in my trials, and to pray for my enemies. This is a real challenge, but God will not abandon those He has called. He will continue the work that He has begun, sanctify His church, and conform us to the image of His precious Son. I have nowhere else to go with my own sins, my complaints, and my confessions but Christ. He strengthens me to bear that which otherwise would cause me to flee. Find your strength in Him, brother, and endure with Him. I will remind and encourage you with the words of Peter:

    For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:19-21)

    Jesus addressed his disciples at the table before his arrest, saying, “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials.” (Luke 22:28) Let the same be said of us, except that we would remain with Him in *our* trials. Do not abandon hope, do not give up in prayer. Seek ye first His Kingdom. I pray God would bring true conversion to our wives and children, and true peace to our homes.

    - Your brother in the battle.

  14. It’s not by accident I found this website. It’s by his grace that he’s showing me that he knows and understand what I’m undergoing through. I’m happily married for 24 yrs . We hv our ups and down. I hv my inlaw, 2 college going chilren and 1 tween child staying with me.

    Let me share precisely here. Lately, my husband have a new business deal with my neigbour. Whenever my neighbour need to go the airport at late hours of the night, my husband will act as a driver to him. I admit I’m not happy with that as a taxis are available any time of the day.
    Recently in the wee hours in the morning, I gave him a ring out of concern of his whereabout after so late. He will get angry and curse me without thinking that I’m also sleepless while waiting for him. He will start cursing and blaming me for every tiny faults. whenever we patched up, I will told him that why must he did that. He will say that it’s him. I got to accept him. He’s trying to change by His grace.
    But I’m wounded and hurt.

  15. Having been married almost 9 years to a woman who would stop traffic to save a squirrel, but would curse me out in front of the kids has been one of the most challenging journey’s of my life. It seems that she wants wants to hang on to all of the difficulties in her life as some sort of badge of honor. When she combines the anger with alcohol it is unreal. It sucks the life out of a husband. We have four wonderful children… I need to turn this over to God.

  16. thanks heather for this post, it helps me realized what a good wife should be.. This past few weeks, my married life is on crisis. So i will try to apply this in my life and i pray that God will continue to guide me and my marriage. thank u again and God bless you..

  17. This is very challenging! Even when my husband lashes out wrongly or is easily irritated, it is difficult to not play the defense/poor me/ silent treatment bc my feelings are hurt act. I definitely need to work on remaining calm and being compassionate and hope the effect rubs off. So difficult to not let the marriage and arming spiral down as it has been. This is hopeful.

  18. I just wanted to say that even though I came on this site looking for “how to deal with anger, being a Christian” and not to do with relationships. I am relieved that I choose to read on. Thank you to all who took the time to post. Your experiences have given me hope to carry on, just when I felt like giving up. I do pray off my anger, but I missed a key point. I wasn’t addressing it the way God wants. Thank you Heather Marshall for posting, thank you everyone.
    God Bless

    Your sister in Christ

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