Mark: When I get frustrated or angry my feelings tend to explode. Christine can say something, and I react, thinking the worst, because I’m feeling criticized. Sometimes I can shout and say things I later regret.
Christine: When Mark gets angry I get defensive, and we can end up in a verbal boxing match, which isn’t great. When I get angry I stuff my feelings inside, which I know isn’t good either. When asked: "what’s wrong?" I tend to say: "nothing!" Sometimes my irritation (which we call my "baby anger") comes out in prickly or unkind remarks.
Strong emotions affect the person feeling them AND the person on the receiving end—the partner.
Whether we explode or stuff our emotions, they can disconnect us from each other AND from God.
Powerful feelings often cloud judgement, and we also tend to see situations from our own point of view.
God doesn’t say that we shouldn’t feel angry (He gave us the emotion in the first place)! But He doesn’t want us to let emotions turn into bitterness, rage, or bad behavior.
He does say we need to handle anger positively, to control and use it as a signal that something is wrong and requires action.
Christine: I’ve had to learn not to stuff my feelings but to admit them and to ask forgiveness. I ask God to help me recognize what’s really going on inside, which is often fear of not getting things "right," which comes out in perfectionist behaviors.
Mark: I pray regularly for self-control to manage my anger so it doesn't frighten Christine. I also ask God to help me identify the truth of what’s underneath, so I can deal with the root cause, which is often my own fear of failure.
We’re both a work in progress, learning to take our feelings to God, processing them with Him, and asking for forgiveness.
Working through strong emotions and talking about them with each other helps us to forgive one another, resolve arguments and grow emotionally and spiritually. It’s also brought us closer together.
How do you tend to express your angry feelings?
How do you handle feelings expressed by your partner?
How could God help you to handle any angry feelings more positively - your own and those of your partner?
Heavenly Father, thank you that you understand anger and strong feelings. We are sorry that our anger is often petty and selfish. Help us to handle our own feelings with self control and to recognize the truth of what is going on inside. Please help us to sacrifice any desire to retaliate and to forgive one another, as we are forgiven in Christ.