Often people will say things that sting the other person when they were only trying to release these pent-up feelings or anger. They say things that are really a reflection of their own internal unresolved issues rather than anger directed at the other person. Generally, most men are afraid of women’s anger and will do whatever necessary to protect themselves from it. We as women know this, however, when we’re in the thick of whatever it is that has pushed our injustice button; we are hesitant to remain mature or calm about how we feel. This is unfortunate because angry women are not always angry at the man – but at some internal frustration. The same holds true for men.
Men are more likely to vent, and to let it out. Women are more likely to stuff, and keep it in, but both of these approaches to solving the anger issue are bad. If you always vent, you’re venting and exploding, lots of times, when what you should be doing is chilling out, because there’s nothing you can do about the traffic jam. If you’re always stuffing it, you’re stuffing it a fair amount of the time when there’s something you should be doing to get that jerk to quit calling you stupid for wanting to go see the latest Julia Roberts movie this weekend. Sometimes you need to speak and sometimes you need to be quiet, but learning which and when; now that is key.
Before you do anything, just say “Stop!” Ask yourself if this is one of those times when you need to do something about this or chill out? If you don’t do anything but that, you’ll stop before you explode or stuff it and you’ll be better off.
To understand righteous anger vs. anger that is immature let’s dive into the reasons for the emotion. There are only two basic emotions – fear and love. All other emotions are degrees of these two. From what I know Anger is an emotion that has its root in fear.
Anger is an emotion that people express when they are: upset, frustrated, uncertain, anxious, hurt by another person or life in general, or confused. Many men and women when expressing anger are really covering the deeper emotion of fear. Unexpressed anger can be the result of a variety of personal emotional traits: the need for approval, the need for love, insecurity, a fear of rejection, guilt, resentment – to mention just a few. There is a flip side to this issue, however, and that is the impact of angry words spoken while in this fear state.
I’ve learned through some pretty horrible knock-down-drag-out come to Jesus meetings is that anyone who is angry needs to speak the truth in a loving manner. Anger can be communicated without name calling, yelling, screaming or threatening. Feelings of anger do not have to replace feelings of love. It is important to realize that being angry with someone does not mean you no longer love them, despite what men think about women getting angry.
No should or shouldn’t are allowed in your talk to each other, because your spouse using them is being a parent instead of a spouse. You don’t tell a spouse what they should or shouldn’t do. You tell a spouse what you would like them to do and then give them the opportunity to choose whether or not it is something they want to do.
I use “I feel” messages. Remember along with emotions come facts. Both should be argued and in a way that does not put the other spouse on the defensive. An “I feel” message allows you to express how you felt about something they did or said. It gives you the opportunity to express your feelings but doesn’t necessarily mean you will get your way.
Consider this though, “I feel” messages will be met with more openness than saying, “You always do,” or “You hurt me.” You want to talk about how you feel, not point fingers at what your spouse did or didn’t do.
Don’t jump to conclusions about what your spouse is thinking or feeling. If you want to know, ask him! I really hate absolute comments or inference in an argument. Just because you share your feelings doesn’t mean your spouse “heard” what you were saying.
When communicating we need to express and listen to be understood. A lot of us are guilty of hearing something other than what is actually being said. Make sure that you express your needs and that your spouse understands those needs. Asking him to repeat back to you what you’ve said will help. You can’t resolve a misunderstanding if you are being misunderstood!
I’ve been taught that in a healthy marriage both spouses should feel free to express their emotions, needs and desires. It is inevitable that expressing emotions can, at times mean expressing healthy anger nd engaging in conflict. Anger is a healthy part of a relationship if the anger is properly expressed. If done correctly arguing, conflict and friction in a marriage will sharpen and strengthen the marriage. This maturity is only something that through love and care can mature a marriage or relationship to the level of ultimate understanding and fewer conflicts.
You get to know and understand each other better. You feel safer within the relationship if you know it is safe to express your feelings of anger. You learn that marriage is not a competition, a game where one spouse has more control than the other. Nothing promotes love and intimacy more than working together without fear of reprisal with a commitment to doing what is best for everyone.