Seriously? I could feel my face getting hot from the anger that was welling up from my stomach. The hubby had left for work for the day. Usually, he goes to his office, but there was a free marriage conference that he was attending. So after a few hours, he sends me this picture.
It is Daniel and Maria’s results from a marriage questionnaire. He texted, “So funny.” As I was reading through it I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty accurate…wait a second…this last one is not right. It’s totally backwards.” I started getting upset. “He thinks I dominate him in our relationship? He TOTALLY dominates our relationship! I can’t believe he thinks that I am controlling! I feel like he is controlling every aspect of my life…wait, no he doesn’t, but he TOTALLY does!” For a few hours I was getting so mad. Of course, when you’re angry at your spouse, you begin to create this image of him being the devil’s right hand man. The more often you are angry at them, the more this image is imprinted in your brain. Also, your anger misconstrues all his motives and taints all his actions with selfishness. Beware, honey, beware. Anyways, I was thinking, “After everything I do for that man, he thinks that I micromanage his life? REALLY?!” Meanwhile, we were texting back and forth about plans for a game night we were hosting with our other pastor friends. I kept looking at the picture and after a while I thought, “I wonder if this is a sample report that the presenters were using and the names just happen to be the same as ours.” So I text him, “Is that picture you sent results from questions you answered or was it just coincidence that their example was our names?” His reply, “Coincidence.” I had to laugh. Maria, give him the benefit of a doubt.
I told him later I was getting mad thinking that he answered questions that made it seem like I was dominating in our relationship. We both laughed. So many times our anger is stirred up because of a small misunderstanding.
When your hubby comes home late, give him the benefit of a doubt.
When people are rushed in public places, give them the benefit of a doubt.
When the house isn’t clean when you come home from work, give him/her the benefit of a doubt.
When someone appears to be a stupid driver on the road, give them the benefit of a doubt.
When dinner isn’t cooked like or when you like, give the cook the benefit of a doubt.
When your boss appears to not care about your personal situation, give him the benefit of a doubt.
When your spouse speaks in a strained tone of voice, give him/her the benefit of a doubt.
When your order at a restaurant comes out wrong, give the chefs and waiters the benefit of a doubt (especially because they could spit in your food before serving it to you “correctly” if you act like a jerk).
When your kids are upset over something, give them the benefit of a doubt.
I’m not saying to be naively stupid, but don’t get angry so quickly. Give the situation time to explain itself. Most likely, the time you do get mad, the other person had a totally legitimate reason for their actions. If there is a “legitimate” reason for anger, learn to communicate in a way so that the situation doesn’t escalate into a fight. Otherwise, give the other person the benefit of a doubt and hope that they extend the same courtesy to you.
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Psalm 4:4 says something very similar, “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your bed, and be silent.” I don’t think it’s healthy for us to internalize all our anger. We each need to find a way to release anger healthfully, which is what the Bible is saying. It’s only human to be angry, but do not sin in the heat of your anger. What does that look like?
Here are some ideas and ways to help us not sin in our anger.
- Sleep on it. Sometimes we are just too tired. “Our nation is sleep-deprived,” is what one girl said in a hilarious YouTube video. Sleep does wonders to help us have better control of our emotions.
- EAT! Sometimes we get hangry! Food helps to relax us as a totally different body sense is stimulated. Eating something delicious can often help make us happy. Don’t depend on this too much though, especially if you get angry a lot. 🙂
- Recite Bible verses (like the one above), inspirational quotes, count to 10 or some other relaxing ritual. Getting your mind off the source of your anger can help you minimize the effects of anger, especially if it’s a situation completely out of your control.
- Identify the true source of anger. Are you angry at a specific person, situation, or action? It’s best to try to direct anger at behavior versus at a person. Sometimes we might be angry because of the inept drivers on the road or people at work but the people at home are the ones who often see that anger fleshed out. That’s not fair. My husband and I try to remember to tell each other when we start feeling stressed or angry, especially if our anger is aroused by someone or something outside of the home. It’s interesting how verbalizing the source of anger can often dissipate it quickly and also stop fights before they happen in the home.
- Recognize body cues that occur when you get angry. When I get angry, my stomach starts to tighten and my face gets hot. Your hair may stand up on end, you might start sighing or breathing more quickly or you might clench your jaw or fists. Once you realize you are angry, it is easier to tackle your anger healthfully.
We all know that being angry often is incredibly bad for your health. Making sure we are living a physically balanced life aids so much in our emotional and spiritual health. It also works in reverse. Our emotional and spiritual health can also aid our physical health. So, remember to give people the benefit of a doubt so you don’t waste your life energy being angry.