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How to Deal with Anger Before it Deals with You

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
When spouses refuse to forgive one another, a defiling root of bitterness grows in their hearts.

Family Counseling Ministries -

There is a deep-seated tendency in the heart of every man and woman to react in anger to marriage problems as they arise. God has a more excellent plan. He commands marriage partners to respond to problems in wisdom. The writer of Proverbs 15:1 instructs us,

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.


The natural reaction of someone who has been offended is to inflict hurt in return—to return evil for evil. But we must be careful not to trust our natural inclinations. God’s ways are not our ways.


We find this exhortation in Proverbs 29:11,

A fool gives vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.

According to the Bible, God expects His children to control their anger. In order to control his or her anger, an offended spouse must focus on problem-resolution rather than retaliation. Each partner is able to see his or her own point of view all too clearly. But an offended husband or wife must have godly wisdom in order to truly see the perspective of his or her mate.

We learn in Scripture that anger is the product of unforgiveness. God’s command in Colossians 3:13 makes it clear that refusing to forgive is not an option for Christians:

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

When husbands or wives refuse to forgive past offenses that their mates have committed against them, a root of bitterness grows in their hearts and minds. God warns us in Hebrews 12:15 that this bitterness not only causes the unforgiving partner to come short of His grace, but like poison, it spills out of him or her and defiles many other people within his or her scope of influence.


An important strategy for overcoming anger toward one’s spouse is to understand the many, complex differences between men and women. Whereas men tend, for example, to be more objective in their thinking processes, women tend to be more subjective. A husband often cannot understand why his wife gets so emotional about little things. His viewpoint is generally more detached and generalized. For him, facts are facts.


For his wife, however, feelings come first. When, for example, he informs his wife that the Smiths can’t come for dinner because of a prior commitment, she responds, “I wonder if we did anything to offend them.” She tends to be more detail-minded and thus, more likely to evaluate facts and events as they relate to her loved ones and to herself. Her husband cannot comprehend how his wife arrived at the assumption that the Smiths may have been offended. She, on the other hand, finds it hard to believe that her husband can be so insensitive to the Smith’s feelings. She wonders why her husband seems to be unemotional about such important matters.

As husbands and wives seek to understand the God-created differences between men and women, they will progress toward a mutual understanding and increased marital harmony in their relationship with one another.


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