October 29, 2018
Marriage truly is like having a mirror held up to your inner self 24/7. You might not really realise some of your faults and flaws until you’re face to face with them everyday as you learn to interact with another person constantly.
A friend and I were talking about this and she recalled a hilarious story from the early days of her marriage years ago when anger was a big part of her life. One particular day, she and her husband got into a big fight before they left for a breakfast date. The car ride was hostile and cold and once they dropped their daughter off they were left in silence. On the way to their ‘date’ her husband stopped at the bakery and came back to the car with his favourite cream filled bun. He then ran out to do another quick errand at the shops and while she was left in the car alone, she was overcome by such anger towards her husband that she took the bun out of its paper bag and proceeded to punch the bun repeatedly, spraying cream all over the car’s interior!! She of course, felt the instant relief of letting out her anger physically but her husband however, came back very confused, to a very messy scene but a much happier, relieved wife.
Whilst that’s a funny illustration now, you might not have ever punched an item or physically hurt your spouse with your anger but I’m sure we can all remember a time we said something deeply hurtful to our spouse in anger. For me, reacting angrily is what creeps in and shows its face in the mirror when I least expect it.
“Disagreements can easily become like a sword fight, except that unkind words leave deeper wounds which take longer to heal than physical pain. I read a story about a woman who said “my husband once called me a stupid, selfish, fat, frigid bitch. Admittedly I had just called him worse things, but when he said I was frigid, I just couldn’t forget that. Whenever we make love, I keep thinking that’s what he thinks of me. I sort of stopped trusting him. Saying you didn’t mean it, is all very well, but what did make you say it?” The old line that angry people always say things they don’t mean, is also counterbalanced by the other old line that – only when you are angry, do you dare say what you really mean. Most of us have a fairly total recall of things said to us in anger.” (excerpt from The Marriage Book)
Restraint is part of the cost of true love. No single contentious issue, however strongly we may feel about it, is more important than our marriage. It’s easy to think that saying something more forcefully or with more rage gives us more power over our spouse or will shut the situation down, but we are wrongly using use anger to get action, rather than action to get action.
Mark has always blown me away at his resistance to retaliate. I’ve said some really unkind things to him out of hurt in the past, but he has never hurtled anything back at me. A huge part of it, in my eyes, is the example set in his household. Whilst his parents aren’t perfect, he never recalls (and in my 10+ years of being a part of their family) his father speaking angrily or yelling at his mother. I’m being 100% honest when I say in our 6.5 years of marriage, Mark has never raised his voice at me. He certainly isn’t perfect either but this quality in him is one of the things I love and respect most about him. If he can avoid angry outbursts, then so can I. He has demonstrated to me that although getting angry can be common, it doesn’t have to be our normal. His example has muted and stopped so many verbal arguments from ever arising – I can sincerely say I don’t remember the last time we even had a ‘yelling match’. OF course we both feel upset, frustrated, disappointed, annoyed etc at each other at times, that’s just part of two imperfect people living together – but we have learnt to communicate through and sort out those feelings in more productive ways.
Disagreements and differences in personalities do not need to destroy a marriage, instead it can be the very ways you work together to find better resolutions that actually deepen and strengthen a relationship. We believe the Bible gives us the best advice of all – “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”( James 1:19) As husbands and wives we need to be gracious with our speech as our words have such power to hurt or heal. Maybe you also have a temper or can admit you react angrily more often than not too – It’s never too late to start changing some of the ugly parts of ourselves that the marriage mirror holds up #growyourlove
– Lauren Donker