How to Defuse Anger – Part One

When dealing with anger in a marriage—messy or not—you can take an external approach and deal with communication techniques. Or you can take an internal approach and explore thoughts and feelings in an effort to do and think about what is right or best for the relationship.
Both ways are important, but today I will be exploring one way to deal with the internal world where anger springs up or sometimes moves in to stay! Next time, I will write about another way to deal with the internal world. In future posts, I will address the external world or mechanics of communication.
When the Anger Springs Up
Let’s say that something is said or done that yanks our chain. It may not have been intended by our spouse, but it hurts us just the same. Often we don’t know how to explain our hurt in the heat of the moment, so instead we end up snapping at or retreating from our spouse and an argument ensues.
Most of the time, we get in trouble with anger when we try to “play god” and change another person’s point of view or actions. How crazy is that? We actually think that we have as much power as God to change someone! We see a problem in what our spouse is doing or saying and we make it our “miracle of the day” to fix it.
But we cannot “fix” or change our spouses. We can only change ourselves. So we must take time away from the triggering event to explore what we feel and think about the event.
Exploring the Anger
If we explore the anger, our temptation will be to only see what our partner did to create the anger. But we must begin with looking at our negative contribution first. If we do this, we will find rich soil in which to change ourselves. We may have had insecurities that fueled our feelings of anger. And we can work on those by confessing them to God, to our spouses, and/or to our friends, then committing ourselves to finding ways to overcome our insecurities. Healing takes place as we take ownership of our faults and sins.
When we explore our mate’s contribution, we need to realize our tendency to make negative assumptions about our spouse. There may be some truth in what we are seeing, but just as often, there’s not. Whether there’s truth or not, you can respectfully share your concern (especially if the offense is destructive to the relationship or persons), but you still cannot change your spouse or make them see what you think you see. So, once again, we must turn it over to God. Very often, when we back off and demonstrate patience with our spouses, it helps him or her to clearly see the change that is needed.
Bottom Line: In times of anger, accept the fact that you are not God and cannot change your spouse, and then surrender your spouse to the One who is God! (By the way, this may need to be a minute by minute meditation!)

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