For our friends in the Inland Empire/San Bernardino Mountain area, we will be speaking at Lake Gregory Community Church, 460 Pine Drive, Crestline, CA. Join us Saturday, February 9, 8:30-3:30. $45 per couple covers materials and lunch. Pre-registration is a must! For more information, contact Mary at (626) 755-6446.
Please join us as we explore some of the reasons why we get angry with our spouse and how to combat them in this in depth 5-part series.
Reason #1: They Are Selfish
There it is again—that wall of silence or distance or bristling anger. The anger may simmer under the surface or it may erupt in words or actions. Either way, it is dividing you and interfering with your “dance.”
What is it that makes you angry at your spouse?
I get angry when my husband Bob doesn’t “play fair.” “Playing fair” means being considerate of me the way I am considerate of him. It means being considerate of my time and my things. It means not being selfish—thinking through how his words and actions or lack of words and actions might hurt my feelings. Of course, I tend to view this from my own perspective and don’t bother considering where he is coming from.
I’m hurt. I begin protecting myself so I won’t get hurt again. So, if Bob is taking more than half of the leftover chocolate from Halloween, I protect my interests and myself by hiding my fair share of the candy.
I may think Bob is not listening patiently to what I have to say the way I listened patiently to what he has to say. He is taking more than his fair share of the time. It hurts. It makes me mad. I don’t want to be hurt again. I know! I won’t share my stories with him anymore. That way he can’t cut me off, and I won’t be hurt.
Of course, this is a crazy way to act and will not help remove the wall. Instead, consider a more productive course of action.
Do not assume your spouse knows they are offending you.
I can’t count how many times Bob has asked, “Why didn’t you say something?” Why? Why! “Because it was obvious!” Obvious to me maybe, but not to him. It turns out Bob does not want to go through life offending me. He simply doesn’t know he’s doing it if I don’t say something. If I told him, “I was really looking forward to having some of that candy. Will you share it with me?” he would be more than happy to share it. I am guilty of the same thing. While Bob misses the obvious, apparently, I’m “oblivious.” I can’t know I’m oblivious unless he says something. I’ll keep being oblivious, and I’ll continue being selfish until the issue is (nicely) put on the table. Don’t assume your spouse knows there is a problem.
Offer a solution.
“How about if we each just have one piece of chocolate a day?” If that is not acceptable to your mate, offer an alternative solution. (“Would you mind if we divided the chocolate in half and each put our chocolate in a separate place?”) If you can’t arrive at a solution, sit down and pray together. Ask God to make you sensitive to each other’s needs and help you act in your spouse’s best interest instead of your own. (Philippians 2: 1-7.)
The bottom line is that you must forgive your spouse for the offense.
Even if they make amends, there will likely be relapses. Don’t be afraid to put the issue on the table again and remind your spouse what you both agreed on. Your spouse is not perfect and neither are you. Even if your spouse doesn’t live up to your agreement, you have the power to forgive them, and God asks you to forgive them.
Does your spouse do something that makes you angry because you perceive it as selfish for not playing fair? Try talking about it, actively seeking a solution, and forgiving the offense. Over the next four weeks we will look at four more reasons we get angry at our spouse.
This article was first published on The Marriage Dance blog on November 10, 2016.