“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” Proverbs 21:19 (KJV)
“Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” Proverbs 21:9 (NIV)
It really is a wonder that my husband and I ever got married. For the majority of the year that we dated before getting married, we argued a lot. It really didn’t take much for either of us to get angry with the other person. In fact one evening I remember getting out of his car mad and slamming the door as we said goodnight. I figured we would talk again the next day. But that didn’t happen. Instead I received an e-mail saying our relationship was over. We had both dug in our heels, and the irony is neither of us can even remember what it was about. So, what was the root cause of our anger? After all, we knew we loved each other. We just couldn’t get along.
Anger is a secondary emotion, meaning it is always caused by another emotion – fear, insecurity, frustration, jealousy, disappointment, embarrassment. In our case, we mostly felt disappointment or frustration because of our expectations. Basically, we had assumed the other person would think the way we do, and without communicating that expectation, disaster occurred. For example, during our first year of dating, I envisioned a romantic gift for my birthday, like jewelry (engagement ring, especially) but was given a case of root beer, a bag of Jelly Bellys and a humorous worst case survival handbook (which included helpful information on how to survive a blind date, a flaming Christmas turkey or a runaway golf cart). Bert knew I liked these treats so that’s what he got for me. He wasn’t in the wrong, but my expectations put him in the wrong in my mind, and boom, disappointment and anger ensued.
When I realized I would have to communicate and, as one wise person told my husband, lower my expectations, my anger button would get pushed less often. And, yes, the advice of low expectation is vital; this doesn’t mean lowering your standards, but instead it means having reasonable expectations of another person. Don’t set the bar so high that the other person will always fail and disappoint you.
I’m happy to say our first year of marriage was excellent – we argued much less than we did when we dated and the gifts I’ve received since that time have been really wonderful – let’s just say my jewelry box is now heavy laden with bling.
And over the years, we have strived to keep anger low, even though there are still times it rears its ugly head. Keeping anger low in a household is vital because anger is contagious. Spouses and children feel it, and they will most likely imitate it.
Solomon exhorts us to be patient rather than quick-tempered (Proverbs 14:29), and as wives to respect our husbands instead of nagging them. Otherwise, our husbands may want to run from us – to the wilderness or to the attic (Proverbs 21:9, 19)! These colorful Proverbs emphasize the importance of peace in a household; they say it is better to be alone with nothing than to be with a person who constantly spews complaints and insults. Peace is of utmost importance!
James 1:19-20 reiterates excellent advice:
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
Let’s make a pact to remember the importance of our spouse. Consider the things that make you feel angry, and learn ways to avoid them or work through them. Listen first, and then communicate in a loving and respectful tone. Knowledge is power, and in this case it is peace, too!