How to Calm Down an Angry Husband

Your husband says to you, “You never…” or “You always…” or whatever.  Your natural reaction is to be what?  How about ticked?

Or hurt. Or worse yet, scared.

But yes, probably angry.  Unless you are scared.  Or don’t know what to do.  And that usually results in being a doormat.  Which doesn’t work, either.

So what do we do with the anger and hurt?  React.  Retaliate.

And we know how well THAT works.

I’m going to suggest something completely different, but what God wants us to do – James 1:19 says, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and even slower to become angry.”

I dare you to: Reflect.

Here’s the situation.  Husband is upset.  Angry.  Furious even.  Let him vent.  A while, if necessary.

Nod your head in an understanding way. Then, choosing to be interested, say back, “So if I understand you correctly, you are feeling (insert hub’s negative emotion here) and (more – yes, elaborate), right?”

“Yes,” he says. If not, let him clarify, even if he’s emotional.

His emotions are HIS, not yours. You aren’t responsible for them. He is.

So resist the temptation to own them.

“Can you tell me more about that?”  You say.  At this point his gaze becomes dazed and confused.  Puzzled. No one ever wants to know more about why he feels the way he feels, especially when it’s negative.  “Please?  I want to understand,” you say. So maybe he trusts this and gives you more.

But as he does, he’s calming down, which is what you were looking for - calm discussion.  NOW we can work through the issue - because until the emotions are dealt with and validated, the “issue isn’t the issue” – the emotions are.

Double-dog-dare you to Reflect.  Again.  “So if I understand what you are saying…(insert summarized reflection of his thoughts and feelings here).”

“Yes,” he says.  Calmly, too. Or maybe not, but he explains and you repeat the above until you can reflect what he’s feeling. Because YOU are the one wired for relationship (at least 85% of women are) and God deemed YOU this guy’s helper…because he needs you, even if he doesn’t know it.

“What I’m wondering is… (insert thought that’s contrary to his opinion here).  How does that fit with what you are saying?”  You gently ask.

And that’s how a healthy person, solid in who he or she is in Christ, does conflict.  There’s no “owning” another person’s negative feelings (“He feels bad, it must be my fault”) or “fixing” going on (“He feels bad, I must make him feel better”).

You trust God enough to let Him have the relationship He has with your spouse, trusting Him to work things out in His timing.  On a simple level, it’s being respectful of other opinions and feelings, handling the other person as a precious creation of God Himself.

And then asking questions instead of arguing which only serves to arouse resentment and defensiveness.

Galatians 5:1 says, “If someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.”

We can focus on what Christ focuses on, God’s love, or we can busy ourselves with condemnation and judgment.  If Christ talks about God’s love 26 times more than He mentions sin, shouldn’t we be doing the same?  What’s amazing is that within a climate of trust in relationship, people will actually ask for feedback or help with their sin, or apologize.

Too often, we keep another person from getting to that point by making them defensive with our condemnation. Sometimes I wonder if we Christians are actually about helping others see the Truth, or are more about punishing those who don’t behave as we think they should – because of our own fears or anger issues.

Seems like the cross took care of that…

So what do we do if in love, we do these things, and he keeps being aggressive?  We need to insert some s-p-a-c-e into the discussion.  We need to “unhook” the emotion.

Sometimes it’s a simple, “I love you to pieces, and I really want to work through this in a way that honors you and God…I’m going to chill for a bit so that we can both talk about this more effectively.”  (Translation:  Either you or I are losing it and that’s not okay, so I’m taking a break from this conversation before I say something I might regret later.)  Sometimes that  s-p-a-c-e looks like, “I love you a ton, and I can’t hear you when you are screaming at me and throwing things – it just makes me afraid of you, which I’m sure you don’t really want, either.  I’m leaving for the rest of the night and I’ll be back tomorrow and maybe we can walk through this better.” (Translation:  I’m not staying here if you are dangerous).

Or you can simply ask a question that is a bit off topic to allow him to refocus and get control.

Neither of these things work if we communicate them in anger, btw.  If we are gentle, loving, and kind when we say them, usually, it disengages them from their upset attitude and is like pressing the “reset” button in the discussion.

BUT:  I’ve also talked to a handful of wives who have felt led by God and had weird circumstances and Scripture confirm that they are to be martyrs in their own homes.  So regardless of whether your husband is literally abusive or whether he is “normal” (whatever that means) LISTEN to God over anything I ever say. As for me, I advise women in abusive situations to GET OUT. BE SAFE.

I don’t pretend to know your husband, nor am I married to your guy, so any advice I give might be worth what you paid for it, which is NOTHING.  :)

Want to see the Spirit at work in your relationships?  Approach conflict in this way, in an effort to connect instead of condemn, and your relationships will look dramatically different!

NOTE:  If you are dealing with a man who is abusive and dangerous, please consider getting things right on your end, but also consider a Matthew 18 confrontation, especially if you have children.  Know that your lack of intervention is perceived by your kids as the condoning of abuse and is also sin.

But being brave…while being respectful, it’s what The Respect Dare is all about!

Love to you,

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Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

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Comments

  1. Spencer Daniel says

    Nina, I see Jesus in you. You are right in the center of God’s heart of love as you share and lead. Praise God for what you do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. says

    Missy,
    There is a line in every situation that once it’s crossed there isn’t going to be any productive discussion. Once that line is crossed it’s easy to throw in the towel, feel alone, feel like you have no resources and are generally in the soup, yet again. From the very beginning, the lies of Satan are the strongest when we are isolated, feeling helpless and are in conflict with ourselves. Spot the lies for what they are. You are not alone, somewhere there is a quiet space and Faith sits there waiting for the opportunity to make big changes in your life. It’s the ongoing narrative, the drive to do something, even if you don’t know what – it’s what keeps us putting one foot in front of the other even when it seems hopeless because there is a greater author to the story and we can’t know what might happen next until it happens.

    The lies of the enemy make us weak, but the truth makes us strong. You are absolutely NOT alone, there are many many people out there who can and will help you in any way they can, you just have to set about meeting them. You have all of Gods resources available to you and only need to hold on. Your worth was born in you, paid for in blood and is confirmed every day when you submit yourself to being worked on by God so he can work through you to polish your life to be a mirror to reflect his grace. There is no man out there that can take that from you. We can’t allow the separation we feel from our partners in these moment separate us from God. Throwing away the compass for being lost isn’t going to help.

    Sitting a toddler that is having a tantrum down to a meal will have predictable results. Engaging someone when they are at their most emotional and out of control is much like dealing with that out of control toddler. Sometimes when we deal with our spouses we get a no tolerance attitude towards their emotional break downs and regressions. This isn’t productive. Muddying the waters by meeting a tantrum with anger and blame isn’t going to help. You can’t argue a person who has moved into an emotional state back into reason.

    When dealing with a person who is out of control, helping them regain control is the necessary starting point for any resolution – if resolution can be attained at that time. Sometimes time out is necessary. Whether it’s the angry customer in line at the store, your best friend or your child – or your spouse. We all have moments where we are out of control. We all have moments where we have to school ourselves to put the brakes on our reactions. What do we need to apply to the situation?

    The ‘love bank’ model for relationships, we through our actions make deposits into another person and this grows and is returned doesn’t allow for the pain that we carry that can keep us from doing the right thing and continuing to invest ourselves in our partner and to remember that this is another person, just like us who is struggling with sin. It makes love an if:when equation – which is a recipe for fail. Someone has to step up and drop the sword. If you have the strength to fight, you have the strength to fix.

    Abuse follows a pattern of escalation, it pushes farther and farther till it breaks, releasing the emotional tension that an abuser is feeling. When we contribute to that escalation, we play the role that keeps that process going. At it’s most simplistic, The Respect Dare takes us back to keeping to our standards for our own behavior against all comers. We don’t allow the moment to come between us and Gods plan – even when we don’t know what that plan is. Faith, Faith, FAITH.

    This also clears the way for the big question, is this person harming me willfully. Are their words and actions reactive or is this an ongoing campaign designed to break down your identity and your self esteem? It’s easy to feel devalued by other peoples actions, even when they have no idea the affect their actions have on you, but very few people get up in the morning thinking of ways to ruin their spouses day. We are all sinners. We are all selfish, prideful, and blind at one moment or another and we have varying degrees of awareness of this. We can’t fast forward another persons lessons in God and we can’t learn them for anyone but ourselves. It’s tempting to say at times, my spouse is not learning what God has put in front of him to learn, but I see it and I will teach him. This isn’t what we’re here to do. Those lessons will be learned and internalized in Gods time, not ours. They aren’t our lessons.

    Whether you go or stay, The Respect Dare has far reaching and important contributions to your healing. it sets ground rules for communication. It is not acceptable to call names, make accusations, to attack someones character or to willfully disregard their needs for the sake of our own wants. When we speak, we speak for the uplifting of everyone in the relationship.

    In order to participate in a healthy relationship, whether it’s getting yours back on track, or in the future with someone else, making changes to how you communicate and being accountable between yourself and God for how you communicate will fire proof YOU. It will help you spot the abusers by their lies before they ever get the chance to snag you with them. You will see the people who want to see you uplifted and brought closer to God and you will spot the people who want to stand between you and Gods light so you can make your choices accordingly.

    You are not alone, you are a valuable and worthwhile person, you have strengths you haven’t even dreamed of and there is a plan for you to live a beautiful life, walking with God. Have an excellent Friday. Be excited. Big things are happening one tiny molecule at a time. Blink and the whole world changes.

  3. Missy says

    Reading some of your stuff really ticks me off. I’m sorry, but I refuse to stand there and get vented on, all because he had a bad day. I let him to that to me for a long time and finally I felt that if I didn’t leave I was going to commit suicide. Call me crazy but it is what is. I did leave him. Four months ago and it has been up and down for me but life is way better. I haven’t been suicidal (except after a fight we had) since u left. I have been able to pay for counselling for my self, I’ve closer to God, and my kids are thriving. They go to his place and sometimes come back in years cause he was going off on them. No one should be telling other women to put up with that. Being abuses for many years by a pedophile was hard. He told me that I should get over it. Yes, I did things that I regret. And I even tried to force my self to respect him. Even bought your book. It made me feel like cramp because the more I gave the more he took. I apologized for my wrong action and for being disrespectful. Things went good for a while and then he was to tearin me a new one. I read this stuff and my heart aches. I can’t be who he wants me to be. I can’t let him tear me down constantly. I think you should not write this stuff.

    • Nina Roesner says

      Oh, Missy.

      I’m so sorry you are struggling.

      And I’m even more sorry you were abused as a child – you are right, that is NOT something you just “get over.” Horrible hardships for you. Might I suggest that you ask your counselor about some of your thoughts above – and read our page about survivors of abuse? The enemy takes a grain of truth and twists it into something ugly and heinous, and I might be wrong here, but I see some of that might be going on for you.

      I’m going to ask some of our team to respond here, because we have several abuse survivors and they understand these things – can speak to them in a way that might be more helpful than mine. While I did suffer some abuse as a child, I’m sure it was not what you went through and we want to love you well.

      While I am glad you are here, Please know that http://www.abuserespectdare.wordpress.com is where you might find more assistance.

      Love to you,
      ~Nina

    • says

      Missy – I’m a survivor too. Of childhood abuse, and an abusive marriage. God never wants us to be abused. Know that as a fact. God also loves us for right where we are. We can’t make Him love us less, or more.

      The only person we can change is ourselves. Sometimes that means changing how we respond and react to things (oh this is a HARD one!) when we are used to protecting ourselves from abuse. A frustrated and angry husband;can be a threat to a wife and his children. Your safety ALWAYS comes first.

      A frustrated and angry husband can be hurtful to the hearts of his wife and children. So very hurtful. And as a survivor you know how hard it is to feel like you are in a safe place. And you know betrayal. I read that in your words, and I hear your anger, hurt and confusion. So does God.

      I can’t be who my husband wants me to be. Just as he can’t be who I want him to be. No one can. Change is hard, and scary. A bad place can become comfortable if you stay there long enough. Change can hurt and it can be harder still when your spouse (or other family and friends) are not comfortable with you changing. Even for the better.

      Doing The Respect Dare for US changes US. It is up to God to move the hearts of our family and husbands. And He won’t move the way we want, but in the way He chooses.

      Your husband sounds frustrated and angry. You are as well. I’ve been there in my marriage. And what worked for us was to respect that a) my husband needs a safe place to share about his day b) he needs to understand that my listening doesn’t mean I’m responsible for the day and c) I don’t need to offer advice or comments unless invited.

      Sometimes he just needs to vent. WITH me, not AT me. I used to take EVERYTHING personally. I wanted to be responsible for their good days and bad days. God showed me it is NOT MY JOB.

      In our house we have some venting rules. Rule One: Vent and be done. Don’t let it wreck the evening or weekend. Rule Two: Listen only, unless invited to comment, The very best strategy we have found is to set a time limit for work day venting, and often he puts on his blu tooth and calls me while he is driving home. That way it’s all talked out before he comes in the door, I can prepare (Lord, I love my cordless phone!) our son and myself to be encouraging, quiet, supportive and we can pray together.

      Don’t give up on yourself Missy. And don’t give upon your husband. Be in a safe place, find some Titus women (like the women here) to pray with and go slow. I’ll be praying for you and your husband, your children and your marriage.

    • Angie says

      Dear Missy,
      My heart breaks for what you have been through. I understand and agree with separating oneself from an abuser. I have had to do that, and I could not begin the process of healing until I did. You are not wrong for saying no and taking yourself and your children out of an abusive situation. For many women, an angry husband is just that, angry. I think what Nina speaks about, and the advice she gives in this post is directed at that type of situation where a husband has good intentions toward his wife, but has difficulty dealing with emotion. I agree with what Nina advises women in dangerous, abusive situations, especially with children to do, and that is this – get out and get help. That being said, I believe what is impossible for man is possible with God. He transforms hearts and lives. He saves us. He can save the most wretched and devastated of marriages. Ultimately, for all of us it is true that we cannot change another person. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. What you can do is spend time with the One who is pursuing you with passion and the true lover of your soul, Jesus Christ. He is calling you “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone…Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” (Song of Solomon 2:10,11,14) First and foremost, spend time with the One True God, and let Him speak to you, heal you, lead you, and protect you. Pray for your husband, for him to know Christ and to seek Him with all of his heart. Pray for your heart, that no bitterness take root, and let God and His Spirit transform your heart and mind. It sounds like you are doing a lot of great work towards healing by getting into counseling, and you have demonstrated to your children that you do not condone abuse and that you want something different for their future as well. I encourage you to seek out a women’s bible study or prayer group, if you are not already in one, so that you can continue to grow in a supportive environment. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am praying for you and your children, for your healing and theirs.

    • says

      Missy,

      As I read your reply, I couldn’t help but notice the seemingly healthy and respectful steps you are taking.

      It’s healthy to recognize when anger isn’t just anger, but rather volatile, hostile, violent, abusive. It’s healthy to speak up against being abused, to establish boundaries, and to act with consequence when those boundaries for health and safety have been violated.

      Missy, how strong and, yet, tenderhearted God has made you. It must have been so difficult to desire that change in your marriage (buying TRD and implementing its challenges) and then to see the destructive patterns return. I’m so sorry. That must have crushed your heart.

      And PRAISE the LORD! That He is walking alongside you and taking from you those suicidal thoughts!

      Missy, I know I don’t know all the details–or you, even–but I keep thinking about your ability to vocalize your need, to find safety, to seek help, and to actualize the beginning of a new legacy–for you and your children. Within those decisions is strength and respect: respect for yourself, your children, and your husband.

      I am no expert. I am no prophet. Yet, I am an expectant believer in the restorative nature of the gospel and its impact upon our relationships. So I have to wonder if maybe, just maybe, your actions respect your husband’s humanity by providing the necessary room–your separation–for God to do critical, life-altering work within him.

      Maybe not.

      Maybe it’s about respecting the critical, life-altering work within you and your children while you heal in the safe haven, in the cleft of THE Rock, our Savior.

      I’m glad you spoke up. At home and on this blog. It’s healthy. Healing requires full disclosure of all things. Your words challenge me in my growth journey.

      Oh, Missy. I wish in my heart-of-hearts I could bust out a magic wand and make all the ache go away. Forever.

      We’ve been promised that every tear will–some day–be wiped away. So as we weep from our heart, our hearts profit clutching to the reality that this is not our home, while we fix our eyes on Jesus.

      Missy, I imagine the road before you toward restored health and wellness will be long. Nina and I would be honored to continue in conversation with you–here or on http://www.abuserespectdare.wordpress.org.

  4. says

    I am the angry husband…sometimes. Husbands (in general and me specifically), are not as verbal as our wives. It’s not easy for me to express my emotions, with the exception perhaps of anger. I’m pretty good at expressing that emotion. When I am feeling depressed, desperate or overwhelmed, the emotion that is first to bubble to the surface is anger. I don’t want to be angry. I don’t like to be angry. I am always remorseful when I get angry.

    Nina, your strategies for dealing with an angry husband are right on the mark. Everyone is different and every situation is different, but for me, the thing that soothes the savage beast, is feeling connected both emotionally and physically. A loving embrace (hug) at the appropriate time goes a long way. The timing is critical. A hug at either the first sign of trouble or after my hissy fit, goes a long way.

    • Nina Roesner says

      Rick -
      Thanks so much for your comment! And for what it is worth, I fully agree – had a friend give me a hug one time when I was so purple mad I could barely see straight and it had exactly the effect you mentioned.
      I agree that we are all different, btw, and there are some studies that suggest that women do “relationship” talk more than men – the # of words are about the same in a given day, just the type of communication is different. :)
      Love that you are here!
      ~Nina

  5. Yetunde says

    This is really helpful and scriptural. It is also the best way to deal with any angry person. Thank you very much!

  6. says

    This is exactly what I needed today. This isn’t just great for dealing with conflict between couples, but for dealing with conflict in families friends and peers.

    It’s hard to learn that self control and to be secure enough in yourself, your relationship and your faith to be the person you need to be regardless of the behavior of others.

    It takes courage to hear another person when there is a chance you might be wrong or might have to apologize and make changes. It’s easy to pick up a stick. Lots harder to put one down. This reminds me of the dare about whether you influence or are being influenced. Influencing takes strength.

  7. says

    Hello
    Very useful information! Two things I would like to comment. First of all – surveys have shown that deep breathing is probably one of the most efficient and easiest things an angry person can do to calm down. It really is worth to try.
    And secondly I would like to say that talking about it later is a good thing to do. This way it is possible to prevent negative situations in the future.
    Best Regards
    Samantha Mat

  8. says

    I sure could have used this yesterday with one of my teens! (I have 4 at present!) Why their foolish statements cause me to panic instead of think first is a real bug a boo to me! Like “Oh no! You couldn’t possibly be that foolish and be my child!” “Yikes!” “Lock them up till they grow some sense!” :D

  9. ninaroesner says

    Girl, you are one wise camper! Absolutely! Someone must stop the cycle of defensiveness and anger – we’re more wired to do that than they are because of how He made us. AMEN. :)

  10. says

    Love this! Just the other day I ran across a verse in Proverbs 11:16a –
    “A woman of gentle grace gets respect…” (MSG) I believe that our husbands know how to speak that vocabulary of respect, and if we as wives are gentle and gracious, they will be respectful to us in kind. How wonderful to feel the value behind my husband’s respect for me as a Godly woman!

      • JD says

        Even though I know I’m not responsible for my husbands reaction he doesn’t. He always blames his anger on me. What do you do with that? Feels so childish.

        • Nina says

          :) I wish we could judge our husbands when they don’t take responsibility! Sometimes, I think that would feel better, but that’s a lie, rooted in my own selfish pride. The truth is that our husbands are on their own journeys, and we also have areas of immaturity that cripple us in some areas. What do you do with his stuff? Leave it in his lap. Refuse to emotionally own it, refuse to try to fix it, sure, communicate with him when led about how it makes you feel (without calling him names, without judgment and without criticism – “I might be wrong here, but I feel like you are blaming me for what happened. Is that true?” And most importantly, pray for him.

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