How To Fight Anger in Marriage: Love is Not Easily Provoked

Today marks 17 years of marriage to a wonderful Christian man.  Those 17 years have not all been wonderful, but we are growing and learning so much along the journey.  One issue we struggled with for the first 10-12 years was anger in marriage

He wanted to win.  I wanted to win.  We both lost our tempers more times than we should have and our healthy marriage suffered when we allowed anger to drive our words and actions. 

While studying 1 Corinthians 13, the phrase, “love is not easily provoked” hit me hard.  God began to show me how to fight the habit of being easily provoked to anger in our Christian marriage.  

One issue we struggled with for the first 10-12 years was anger in marriage!  He wanted to win.  I wanted to win.  We both lost… Click To Tweet

Anger in Marriage Can Be Good and Bad

Before we begin I have to say that we all come to anger from different backgrounds and with different motives.  Not all anger is wrong. 

If you are facing abuse in your marriage (a hostile marriage), that is a good kind of anger to push you to get help.  Never justify or rationalize abuse.  Always get help, whether physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, or anything else. Abuse is never okay, neither is excessive anger!

The topic of anger in marriage will cover the following questions and more:

  • What does anger do to a marriage?
  • Can anger destroy a marriage?
  • How do I get rid of my husband’s anger?
  • What does the Bible say about anger in marriage?
  • How to control anger in marriage?

An Example of Bad Anger in Marriage

There are many examples of anger in my marriage, but this is one that I think any married couple can relate to.

There was a day Bud came home earlier than I expected.  He was easily provoked and in a foul mood. He is not normally an angry partner, but my spouse’s anger that day was about something at work which hit him hard every time.

My day had been filled with whining and screaming and more messes than I can count.

Something irritated him about the condition of the living room (probably the disaster of crushed Cheerios that magically appeared at the edge of the sofa) and his emotional response was to pick a fight with me about it.

I could quickly see that he was right – this time – and I was going to lose this fight.  But I had lost one too many fights this particular day and I needed to “win” something.  I switched gears mid-argument, bringing up something he had done in the past that was far worse.

“At least I know how to keep a job.”

That one phrase caught him off guard and I scored a shallow victory at that moment.

You see, I know exactly what will upset my husband and how to push his buttons to win an argument.  When dealing with anger in marriage I can become the worst form of myself, playing on past hurts and angry feelings without caring about my partner’s perspective  Can you relate?

What Does Anger Do To A Marriage?

After years of fighting dirty when I got angry with my husband, I noticed something horrible in my heart. 

The effects of anger in marriage…

Resentment and anger in marriage go hand in hand. 

The more often I fought with my husband, the more bitter and resentful I became toward him!  We have to learn how to deal with resentment.

BTW: anger affects your physical health in a negative way as well as pushing away your family members and friends. Excessive outbursts of anger can lead to high blood pressure as well as a damaged cardiovascular response.  Anger increases your heart rate, as well as your stress level.  In short, angry outbursts can lead to heart attack according to the American Cardiology Association, and mental health disorders according to the American Psychological Association.  You have to get ahold of this!

Can Anger Destroy A Marriage?

The more we fought, the easier I became angry with him.  Anger in my marriage caused more resentment and bitterness to pill up.  

I didn’t want to talk to him, spend time with him, look at him, or be intimate in any way with him.  

There were seasons when I thought about how great it would be to just divorce him and be alone.  

“I can do this badly by myself. Why do I need the hassle of his anger on top of an already tough life?” was one of my normal mental tirades when I was angry at my husband.  

This was no longer a healthy relationship, a romantic relationship, or even a very Christian relationship…

Can anger destroy a marriage?  Being an angry spouse will destroy things 100% of the time if left unchecked.  

It is critical we learn how to handle anger in marriage if we want to live with peace and love in this relationship.

Resentment Vs Anger

Resentment is a negative emotional reaction that comes when we have been angry for too long. This emotional reaction shows us that we have not dealt with the root cause of the issue. We feel mistreated, unseen, taken advantage of, walked on, unloved, used…

A wife with anger issues is often a result of years lived in resentment because of one of those things being left unaddressed in her marriage.

Anger is a natural response to any of those things though most list it as one of the negative emotions it can be a healthy emotion.  Anger shows you where you need to address an issue.

Resentment comes when we do not have difficult conversations around those challenging situations. Dealing with resentment in relationships means having difficult conversations in healthy ways as a normal part of your marriage culture.

Related Post: *Difficult Conversations

Dealing with resentment in relationships means having difficult conversations in healthy ways as a normal part of your marriage culture. Click To Tweet
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What Does the Bible Say About Anger in Marriage?

The argument above was all too common in the earlier years of our marital relationship.  We were both broken and hurting and outbursts of anger felt like the only way to communicate though they were far from effective communication!  

If I was angry and losing the fight, I quickly digressed to lowball shots to hurt him.  As I began studying what the Bible said about how to be a godly wife and have a godly marriage I was convicted of so many sins.  Anger in marriage is one of those sins. 

Today we will see that love does not provoke him to anger to win.  

Managing anger in marriage brings hope and joy in marriage in ways you are dreaming about!  But how do you deal with anger in marriage?  I found it began with a question.

What does the Bible say about anger in marriage?  Let’s have a look at it together.

Related Post: 16 Characteristics of a Godly Marriage

What Does the Bible Say About Anger?

The Bible says a lot about anger.  It is very rare that we are given a pass about being angry.

Here are 20 Bible Verses About Anger that help give a point of reference.

Some things we know for sure about anger from God’s perspective:

One piece I think we miss is that God never says not to be angry, only to give it a time limit.  Anger is a God-given emotion.  We must express anger in a healthy way, however, to maintain healthy relationships.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 has been filled with lots of truth to help us be godly wives in a godly marriage, don’t you think?!?!?  

Who Said Love is Patient and Kind?

For our study, we are looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act disrespectfully or unbecomingly; it does not seek it’s own, is not provoked to anger, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth;bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, enduring all thingsLove never fails.

But what does it mean that “love is not provoked to anger”?

What Does It Mean That Love is Not Easily Provoked

What are the causes of anger in marriage? Often angry emotions just build up without the use of healthy conflict resolution until we are way too easily provoked.

The meaning of the phrase, “love is not easily provoked” when seen from the original language has two parts:

  1. Love does not make the other angry without a reason 
  2. Love gives up that anger for reconciliation.

Don’t you love it when the Bible gives you clear directions about how to get rid of an ugly habit?!?!?!

Related Post: 3 Hidden Benefits of Prayer in a Christian Marriage

How To Deal With Anger In Marriage

All along, when Bud and I would fight I would leave the experience feeling dirty and wrong.  Somewhere inside myself, I knew I was wallowing in sin by provoking him to anger just to win.  The problem was that I didn’t know what else to do. 

Years of failed couples therapy and marriage books had not given me the practical, powerful tool I needed!

So, feeling hopeless about always losing fights I kept on winning with sin. (That’s such an oxymoron!)

Learning how to deal with anger in marriage really began when I understood both parts of the meaning of this phrase, “love is not easily provoked”.

Step 1. Love Does Not Make the Other Angry Without a Reason

I’d like to clarify that a bit.  Love does not make the other angry without a good reason.  The fact that I am losing a fight with my husband is not a good reason to provoke him to more anger (especially if I know my husband overacts easily)!

Step 1 sounds like clean fighting to me.

Do you fight clean or are you like me and love to win the battle even if it means you lose the war?   

If I am completely honest, I spent a lot of time asking the wrong question.

How Do I Get Rid of My Husband’s Anger?

I get this question often.

“My husband is always angry and negative, help.” “You see, my wife resents me, how do I fix it?” “Tell me how to deal with someone with anger issues, please.” “My husband gets angry at the smallest things and lashes out at us.”

If you are in this situation… trying to learn how to handle a spouse with rage or abusive tendencies… please seek professional help and safety.

However, most of us are not in that place. We are dealing with everyday normal impatience and anger issues.

How can I fix them, is the wrong question. We can’t fix others. My best attempt at controlling my husband’s anger was redirecting his anger toward himself rather than me… still doesn’t fix it or change it.   

I hate it when people are angry with me.  It’s even worse when I care about what those people think about me.  When it’s my husband’s anger I am devastated.  Completely devastated.  In my devastation, I respond with emotion.  My tears shut him down but my anger hurts him in deep ways as well.  

Responding to my husband’s anger with anger of my own is the wrong answer.  After much prayer, step 2 came into play.  

Related Post: How to Create Prayers for Marriages in Trouble: War Room Prayer Strategy

Step 2. Love Gives Up Anger for Reconciliation

Have you been hurt in your Christian Marriage?  I have.  The hurt is why I could so easily go to that place of anger.  When I realized the anger was not helping my marriage and I began turning it over to God, He showed me how to give up that anger. 

 There came a time when I had to assess the hurt.

  • Was it a small injury, a deep wound, or just an offense? 

Many times during those early years, I had to admit the hurt was an offense more than an injury or deep wound.  I don’t know about you, but I can be easily offended by his:

  • Thoughtlessness
  • Unintentional comments
  • Self-centeredness

Probably the same way he is offended by all that in me.

It’s so important to not be easily offended.  I have to remind myself to accept that others fail, just like I do, and need grace.

“For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.” Proverbs 24:16 

How to Control Anger in Marriage?

How do I stop being angry at my marriage?

The problem with assessing the hurt is that no matter how I labeled the hurt, it still hurt.  Yes, many times the hurt was just something that offended me, but that offense still felt very real. 

When I am hurt, my first gut-level reaction is anger or sadness. How do you control anger when there is legitimate hurt?  

Forgiveness. 

Forgiveness is the answer to the bigger questions:

  • Why am I so angry in marriage?
  • How do I stop being angry at my marriage?

Learn to forgive the everyday hardships.

Related Post: 7 Steps to Thrive Through Forgiveness in Marriage

Step 3. Forgiveness Is A Choice That Saves Marriages 

The use of forgiveness in intimate relationships is not talked about nearly enough in Christian circles!  We talk about gender differences and how to live with different personalities as a way to lower the divorce rate.  But, in the marriage relationship, forgiveness is one of the best methods to work through conflict management!  

Period.

Loving my husband means I choose to forgive.  It has to be a choice and you have to choose it well before any hurt happens.    

  • When I forgive him I choose to give up my anger (get over my hurt feelings) so we can be reconciled. 
  • The bonus is that letting go of that anger helps me not be so easily provoked the next time he messes up.

Unresolved anger in marriage can hurt us much more deeply than it ever hurts our spouse. That’s a big reason we must deal with this now.

Can I be real with you here?  I had a really hard time with this bit.  May I share my story of forgiveness with you in this Free Challenge?

Forgiving Injuries

I was injured by my husband.

My anger problem was directly related as I was not a naturally angry person.  My harsh words were a result of pain.  

Many of the times I have been hurt in my marriage have been from being offended by something my husband has done, but at the root of that hurt are real injuries.  Over the years, my husband had injured me many times.  

  • He has used words to hurt me. 
  • His ego clashed with my pride and he won. 
  • He has reacted badly with prejudice and caused me pain.

Those things are normal when you spend as much time together as we do in our biblical Marriage!

Forgiving Wounds

My husband wounded me deeply leaving unchecked anger…

There have been several circumstances where Bud has deeply wounded me; calculated decisions on his part that forever changed our lives.

Each time, I was sure our marriage would fall apart, but God intervened and changed everything.

Learning to forgive him for the deep wounds has taken time and repetition.  Today I can honestly say I have forgiven him and we know hope and joy in our marriage.

It is possible.  Do you believe that?

It has taken much prayer and journaling and many times the help of a Christian counselor, but I believe this can be the reality for anyone willing to do the work!

Marriage Challenge: Assess the Hurt Causing Anger in Your Marriage

Now it’s your turn.  Do you want to learn how to control your anger in marriage?  These are the steps I follow every time to work through the pain and spare us needless arguments.

  1. Pray
    • Spend some time praying over the hurt you feel that is spurring you on to anger, bitterness and resentment.
    • Ask God to show you if it is a result of:
      • Being too easily offended
      • A small hurt that was done to you
      • Or a deep injury in your marriage
  2. Forgive
    • Journal through the pain as you pray over it. 
    • Ask God to show you how to give up your anger and forgive.
    • Be patient with the process of forgiveness because it really does take time to work through. 
    • Seek help if you are struggling to let go of some hurts; there is no shame in counseling!

And if you struggle with anger or your spouse does, anger management in marriage can be helpful. Never allow pride to stop you from getting the help you need. Find an anger management group near you today!

in HIS love,

Do You Need To Go Deeper?

This is part of the 9-week Marriage Bible Study –Finding Hope & Joy in Marriage.  Through this course, we will explore the 9 Biblical foundations of having a successful marriage God’s way.  

This class will include:

  • 10 video lessons
    • You can watch live or when you have time
  • 9 weeks of personal study
    • 5 days each week that should take 10-15 minutes
  • A private Facebook Group to discuss the homework and talk through the weekly challenges
  • 45 Days of Prayer prompts

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Tiffany Montgomery

Tiffany of Hope Joy in Christ inspires Christian Women to grow in faith, live out Biblical Marriage Principles and raise Godly Children.  Join the Wives Only Facebook Group here or keep up with her through Pinterest.

9 thoughts to “How To Fight Anger in Marriage: Love is Not Easily Provoked”

  1. Great lessons Tiffany. These reminders are appropriate in any relationship as well. Our marriages is most important, but applying these tips works for all adult situations. Thanks for your wise study!

    1. So true April! The passage was not written for marriage, but for all relationships. We would be wise to apply it all aroung!

    1. LOL, I hadn’t really looked a Yahoo… I’ll have to go search this there! Thanks N!

  2. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this brilliant blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  3. I am not yet a wife but I have been in a relationship with a Christian military officer and he is so easily angered. I tried constantly to be submissive and openly receive whatever he tells me whether or not I like it but he was never satisfied. He constantly complained that I was emotionally and mentally unstable because I wanted to spend more time with him. He said only insecure and jobless people needed much communication. We spoke just once in a month and say 5times in 3months and he was not deployed.
    We had a misunderstanding over a birthday gift I wanted and he said I was rude to him( I didn’t get any gift) and he didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I even apologized even though I didn’t think I was rude but he insisted that I stopped communicating with him because he knew I am in love with him.
    I have been asking God to intervene in the situation.
    Please pray for me, I don’t know if to be happy it is over or pray for restoration.

    1. I am so sorry you are going through this, Ogala. It is difficult when there is anger to work through. I am standing with you in prayer for change. I highly recommend finding a Christian counselor to help you with healing and with setting healthy boundaries to help lead to change. Often our men don’t see that change is needed until we stand up for ourselves with healthy boundaries. (And before someone starts arguing with me about submission – nowhere in Scripture does God tell a wife to submit to abuse in any way – and anger issues often lead to emotional, mental, spiritual or physical abuse. So when anger comes, and actions or words are used as weapons we must (with love and grace) assert some healthy boundaries. You are God’s daughter and HIS son doesn’t have permission to treat you badly… in fact, Scripture says he is to cherish you and treat you with understanding…) Okay, off the soap box. COunseling help son many levels – often you will have to go alone, but I will pray with you that he will want to help make your marriage the best it can be!

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