We’ve talked a lot already about anger. And for the most part, the conversation is nothing new, right? We all know what anger is and what it looks like. Whether we can control it 100% of the time is a different story, but we all get what anger is. What most people genuinely don’t understand, however, are the long-term effects of anger and harmful, unsafe behaviors on their marriage. Are angry behaviors hurting your relationship? For a fair amount of relationships, the answer is “yes.” And the effects can last for a long time.
If you need proof, think about your relationship for a second. If you become angry and let your emotions get the best of you, how damaging, do you think those words and behaviors are over time? Sure, you can apologize and be remorseful. But that doesn’t mean your spouse isn’t still feeling the sting and the pain of what happened — especially if anger is a recurring theme in the relationship.
So, let’s break this down a little bit and dive into how damaging out-of-control or consistent anger can be to trust in a relationship.
“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” — Eph 4: 26
Angry behaviors are like an atom bomb!
Remember from last week’s blog post that anger is an emotion, not a behavior. The nasty behaviors we take part in (screaming, yelling, name-calling, contemptuous words, getting physical with the other person, belittling others, etc.) are our way of expressing that anger. And they can be extremely damaging. Think in terms of an atom bomb. When the bomb is first dropped, it explodes and levels whatever and whoever is close by. Everything in its path is damaged. Even when the dust settles, the damage is still there and lasts for years.
Our anger works the same way. And when it happens again and again, the effects can last for years. And each time it happens, the hurt goes down deeper into a loved one’s heart and soul.
Those in relationship to an angry person:
- Avoid and worry or wonder when they will “blow up.”
- Live in fear around them.
- Have lower self-esteem and happiness when with them.
- Have to be way too careful with everything they say so an explosion won’t happen.
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Impacts of Angry Behaviors on you and your Spouse’s Trust
In a trusting relationship, we believe it is a given that our best interests are our partner’s deepest hopes and desires. Not that they will be completely selfless, of course, but the point is that
what is important to us is also important to them.
They care about what we care about and what is important and meaningful to us.
All spouses want to feel cherished, and they want to trust beyond a shadow of a doubt that their marriage is safe and connected. They want to feel trust in their spouse and know that person will always have their best interests at heart. But if they are constantly getting berated, yelled at, and made to feel inferior because of their spouse’s anger issues, how can they possibly trust that person?
The easy answer is that they can’t.
In “The Science of Trust,” author and researcher John Gottman found that couples in difficult relationships complain that their partner can’t be depended on to be there for them when needed. They have too many emotional injuries or betrayals of trust. The relationship isn’t safe. There isn’t any security, openness, or ability to be vulnerable with each other.
Angry Behavior impacts all of these things!
All we are saying here is that while anger is a natural emotion that we all experience, it’s important to understand why it is happening and find a way to maintain control over the behaviors of what is our most volatile emotion. If we don’t, the long-term negative impact on trust in our marriage can be huge. Check back with us next week as we continue this conversation on anger and trust.
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Did we leave anything out? How are you recognizing ways to eliminate anger from your marriage and interactions? And how is that improving trust in your relationship? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going at Mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com.