Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way
Dr. Gary Chapman
Review Chapter 8
One of the big things that comes in Chapter 8 that we seemed to get really snagged on last week was the statement from Dr. Chapman that if they don’t ask for forgiveness then we don’t have to give it.
This to our mindset sounds like it gives us freedom to hang on to anger, hang on to feelings of disapproval, hang on to resentment, and a host of other negative things that we attribute with unforgiveness.
Let me make a few statements here but we cannot stay here long
I think we have to disconnect from all of the negative that goes along with human unforgiveness. When we hold on to unforgiveness, it is usually NOT because they didn’t ask but because we won’t give it. We feel hurt. We feel that injustice is done. We wont trust. We are certainly angry. We often harbor hatred or a spiteful feeling. We often sin as much or more in our Unforgiveness than the person who needs to repent, ask for, and receive forgiveness.
But remember we are trying to follow a GODLY model of forgiveness. I will take us in a few minutes to a scripture that shows how God responds when we fail to repent.
Let me though just make some observations
If the person who has wronged us will not repent and we are told that we do not have to forgive them.
1)That means we do not have to act like nothing happened and move on in the same kind of relationship they had before.
Forgiveness is about restoring relationship and moving to a place where things are as before, as if nothing has happened. If they will not repent I am not required to act like nothing happened. Many times I SHOULD not act like nothing has happened. I can and often should allow a change in the relationship and a distance or brokenness in hopes that it will bring about repentance
2)I do not have permission to treat them in an unkind fashion any more than I would treat any person who is out of fellowship with the Lord. I should love, pray for, care about, though the relationship is different
3)I do not have permission to try to harm or sabotage them because they won’t repent. Refer to number 2.
4)I should treat them like Christ does when we are beyond repentance. There is sun and rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. There is consequences of the broken relationship and blessings of a right relationship. But they still might fall under the effects of my kindness and love when it flows freely from my life
5)I might from time to time do extra acts of blessing toward them in an attempt to bring them to repentance, but there is still a difference in the relationship
Alright … we are going to look at one other thing in a minute … but let’s look at
When you Are Angry With Your Spouse
I don’t know about you, but I hate feeling angry toward my wife.
I hate it because I love her.
I hate it because I want to be in right relationship with her
I hate it because all I have ever wanted was to give her everything I have
So, when something happens from her or from me that breaks that relationship I hate it. Even if I’m being sinful and angry and my flesh wants to stay angry, my soul, my spirit, my mind, my emotions wants to be right with her
If that is true for you, I would guess that sometimes the reason you ignore or suppress certain feelings is because you would rather love and be at peace than be angry or right.
That is commendable but it doesn’t help the relationship grow stronger. Nor does it help each other grow as people.
But we still get angry. When you spend time with people you are bound to do things that make the other angry. Some are little and others are HUGE. Some are willful and some are unintentional.
Dr. Chapman gives us 6 Keys to Anger Management with your Spouse.
We all get angry
Anger is meant to move us toward constructive anger that is loving toward someone. So, I’m angry what do I DO?
Now. Let me say right up front … THIS IS IMPORTANT …
For this to be effective, you and your spouse must read these and commit to DO these things and perhaps you should even sign a contract.
Maybe I’ll have a contract with me next week for you to sign. So you have to read these things and agree … This is how we are going to handle our anger from now on.
Doesn’t make it perfect but it gives you permission to DO or SAY some of these things.
If you sign the contract, make a copy keep it on the fridge and each of you keep a copy
Now then here are
6 Keys to Anger Management
- Acknowledge the Reality of the Anger – it is not necessarily a sin to be angry … so admit the anger. “when we give them the right to feel anger, we are giving each other the right to be human” – you can’t say to someone “don’t be angry … but”
- Agree to Acknowledge your anger to each other – When you do this, the other one doesn’t have to GUESS or WONDER if you are angry based on your behavior. Inappropriate behavior becomes a barrier
- Agree that Explosion (verbal or physical) is not appropriate – Attacks may still happen. (verbal or physical) you may still “lose it” but WHEN you do, there must be an admission that it is wrong and not acceptable per your agreement. If you don’t agree that it is wrong, you are giving them permission to do it. Agree to Leave the Room House /when an explosion occurs … this is 1) a sign to the other that something wrong has taken place 2) it prevents further harm and retaliation. Hopefully when you return, the other will ADMIT they were wrong, apologize for the explosion, and ask forgiveness for that before moving on to pursue the original issue. You might consider agreeing on a signal like hands held up gingerly in front of you (think of a “stick em up” pose) that warns the other that they are attacking and you are about to leave. You might get to a place where the sign is enough to get control so one doesn’t HAVE to leave the room
- Seek to Get an Explanation Before Judging – We are talking about the one who is angry now. Seek to understand BEFORE seeking to be understood. Be SURE of the offense. There may be a reasonable or logical explanation that you weren’t aware of. Don’t jump to conclusions. Or since you already have, see if you have the right conclusions before you act. This may be a misunderstand … imagine that. Imagine if we never again reacted to a misunderstand, how much of our distorted anger would be eliminated?
- Agree to Seek Resolution – What if it WAS NOT a misunderstanding? If you have already agreed that when there is a disagreement or anger, that you WILL seek to resolve it and not ignore it … then you a. Address the Issue, b. Explain, c. Agree to a Solution – now there must be some give somewhere. Either both give or only one gives but there will be a change and it will not always be “FAIR”. This is NOT mediation this is resolution. If one is in the wrong you can’t compromise and let them be a little wrong … but there are times when compromise is appropriate. Perhaps neither is wrong but something is best. When the solution is reached
- Affirm Your Love for Each Other - Look each other in the Eye, Tell them you love them and make them believe it! That might involve a hug and a kiss!
Respond to the affirmation of love with affirmation and love in response. If there is WRONG has been committed (unkind, unloving, unjust) – resolution requires confession and repentance. Remember that confession is admitting “I was wrong” not just behavior modification. And repentance is commitment to act differently. Even though you may fall … you must commit that you desire NOT to do that again
If your ANGER in response was distorted instead of definitive, even if you were wronged, you must also seek forgiveness through confession and repentance
Then forgiveness can be given all around
Dr. Chapman says “unresolved anger snowballs” … like a snow ball rolling down a hill gaining mass all along the way
Now one other thing he suggests …
- An Exercise
Get a 3x5 Card …
write on it
- I am Angry right now
#.Don’t worry I’m not going to attack you
#.But I do need your help
#.Is this a good time to talk?
Put the Card on the Refrigerator or somewhere else easily accessible
If you need to go get it an read it when you are angry do it
If you have the actual book, there is a tear out card in the back …
Read it as CALMLY as you CAN
IF the answer to #4 is “NO, this is NOT a good time to talk”
Then you say “When would be a good time?”
And “I don’t know" is not an acceptable answer
Remember out talk about Eph 4:26 – “do not let the sun go down on your anger” … setting a time to deal with it is important. It is best to set the time THAT DAY to at least address the personal feeling even if the issue can’t be resolved right away. Do not let the anger SIMMER …
Then he teaches us that when you DO sit down to talk begin with something like this:
“I know this might be a misunderstanding, that’s why I wanted to talk. Let me tell you what I am feeling and why. If you can, please clarify the situation, this is important because I need HELP resolving this.”
This takes the heat out of the situation and you get on the same team instead of opposite sides. Together you are trying to WIN against the efforts of the devil to bring you apart
Alright before I release you to your small groups for discussion
Let me show you what God does while we are unrepentant … While withholding forgiveness
Isaiah 65:1-2 – “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me: I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said ‘Here am I, here am I.’ 2 All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations”
If you read on you will find that they did all sorts of things that were deplorable to God. Yet he cried “here am I” and “all day long he held out his hands to them”
Eventually the sad truth is that these, though God longed for restored relationship with them, chose to remain in brokenness and sin. And so verse 12 shows that God allows them to have what they seek and they are destined for the sword as he gives them what they wanted though he says “I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me”
Then he begins comparing the broken relationship to the blessings of a right relationship
And he talks about the coming of a New Heaven and A New Earth for those in right relationship with him
- Here is my point.
If you read the end of Hebrews chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4 you find that God calls the time of opportunity, the time of his favor as Today. “as long as it is called today”. In other words as long as it is today there are hands outstretched with the opportunity and desire for restoration. But a day and a time will come when there is no longer that opportunity. For God that will be when a person’s life ends or this time of life ends and we enter an eternal existence. Until then, the arms are stretched out
- what do we do if people will not repent.
We are not required to offer them the blessings of forgiveness. We can offer them the opportunity for confession and repentance that will lead to the blessings of forgiveness and reconciliation.
We should LONG for that. We should hold out our arms in HOPE of that.
We can even remind them …
“this is what forgiveness and restoration looks like” …
“won’t you come back, won’t you confess and repent”
“I want to do this if you will let me”
1. What are the 6 strategies suggested for dealing with anger in marriage? Which one will be the easiest/most difficult for YOU?
2. Why is seeking an explanation before passing judgment important when angry?
3. How can a couple affirm their love to each other when angry? What are phrases or action that can help?
1. Why is it important to develop ways to deal with anger positively in our marriages? How can it or has it strengthened your marriage by learning to deal with anger?
2. Who are some married couples you admire? How do they handle anger? What can you learn?
1. Detach the card from your book or make your own that we talked about earlier from the end of chapter 9
2. If you are married, choose a signal you can use when you become angry with each other in public.
3. Consider reading Dr. Chapman’s other book Dr. Chapman on the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted