When you are mad, bitter, and resentful towards someone, it is easy to curse them. By cursing, I do not mean using “curse words,” but rather words that demean, disrespect, and denigrate them–words that are aimed at them for the purpose of hurting them. Out of your hurt, you say things in anger because you want your spouse to hurt like he hurt you. You think that by hurling insults at him, he may possibly feel just one-tenth of the pain he has inflicted on you. Maybe some of the things you think about your husband are true, and many of your feelings are understandable and normal. But, I want to urge you to think before you speak, especially when you are angry. I cannot recall one moment in my life when speaking or acting out of emotion helped me or the situation. On the contrary, when I have spoken out of my hurt or anger, I made things worse and caused more pain to myself and to others. The Bible in James 1:19 admonishes us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (NIV)
The Bible has much more to say about anger, though. We are wise to consider the advice of those who have gone before us and have seen the damage that anger, haste, and hurtful words have caused.
Proverbs 14:29 “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” (NIV)
Proverbs 14:17a “A quick-tempered person does foolish things…” (NIV)
Proverbs 16:32 “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (ESV)
Proverbs 15:18 “The quickly angered man stirs up contention, but anyone who controls his temper calms a dispute.” (ISV)
Proverbs 19:11 “Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.” (NLT)
Proverbs 29:11 “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise brings calm in the end.” (NIV)
Proverbs 29:22 “An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.” (NIV)
Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.” (NASB)
Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (NIV)
Ephesians 4:26-27 “And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you,’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”(NLT)
Ephesians 4:31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (NLT)
Here is James 1:19-20: But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. (NASB)
I know you are angry; you are hurt; you are bitter. Sometimes, you feel like you cannot contain all the rage you feel. You want to explode, blasting harsh, cruel, and hurtful things at the person who has deeply betrayed you. I have been there, and I made the same mistakes. I learned the hard way. At times, I hated my husband. I could not stand to be in the same room with him. I insulted him, screamed at him, called him ugly names, and slammed doors in his face. I verbally attacked him with all I could muster, and, believe me, it was not difficult to find ways to hurt him. But, you know what? In doing all of those things, though you may think they were justifiable after what he did to me, I sinned. I sinned because I let my anger, pain, and bitterness control me instead of exercising self-control, which is one fruit of the Spirit. I sinned because I did not treat my husband as I wanted to be treated, which is what Jesus would have had me do. I sinned because I was not kind, gentle, or forgiving. In my foolishness, I created more strife and conflict in my marriage when Jesus was calling me to be a peace-maker. Instead of being a minister of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18), I was sowing seeds of discord, which further plunged me into bitterness, wrath, and resentment.
The brutal truth is that I was disobedient to God when I acted and spoke in anger. Never mind what my husband did. My husband’s actions towards me were NOT a righteous reason for me to lash out at him. I alone was responsible for how I responded to my husband; I had a choice, and I made the wrong choice by giving in to the enormous rage that I felt and letting it all out on multiple occasions. It accomplished nothing good. NOTHING. All it did was stir up more conflict and create more negative feelings. My angry and foolish words did not help me, my husband, or my marriage. Not one bit.
Here’s the thing about anger—it grows and morphs into something so horribly ugly and destructive if you let it control you. Anger, bitterness, resentment and rage are all spiritual cancer. Avoid them. Anger gives the devil a foothold in your life. We already know that Satan desires to steal, kill and destroy, and anger is one of the tools he uses. Anger that is not addressed and resolved in a biblical, God-honoring way will destroy you. It will make you a bitter, scornful person who refuses to forgive and walk in the love of Christ. Anger will keep you from having the blessings that God wants to shower upon you. Anger will imprison you. The apostle Paul states in one of his epistles that we need to get rid of every ROOT of anger and bitterness. Get rid of the root. To get rid of the root, you have to do some digging, and the digging may be painful and hard, but it is necessary. Examine yourself. Admit that you are angry; confess it to God. He understands! Agree with God that your anger will not accomplish anything good and ask Him to help you control your anger. Ask Him to help you speak in love and kindness to your husband, instead of repaying evil with evil. Ask Him to give you wisdom, discernment and understanding so that you will not act foolishly. Pray for your husband even when you don’t feel like it. It is hard to remain angry at someone when you are praying for them.
I know where you are. I know it is unbelievably hard to control yourself and not lash out. I know the last thing you want to do is bite your tongue and offer a gentle and Christ-like response to all your husband has done to you. I know how hard it is to just walk out of the room without saying anything rather than saying things you know are hurtful and wrong. I know how hard it is to keep turning the other cheek when your husband just keeps slapping it. Speaking calmly and kindly and extending forgiveness and grace seems impossible. But, as a Christian, you have the power of God inside of you. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, so, though it may be hard, it is NOT impossible.
Expect setbacks. There will be times when you blow it. But, do not let those times of failure keep you down. Get back up and keep walking in obedience. Ask God to forgive you and ask your husband to forgive you. Humble yourself so that God can help you. Also, when you feel yourself beginning to get angry, refuse to let your emotions control you. Walk away if you must. Go pray if you must. Learn to recognize when you feel like you are about to lose control, and then take positive steps to avoid creating more pain and discord. Choose to be a peacemaker, a woman of quiet strength, virtue, and godly beauty. The choice is yours, so how are you going to respond?