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. 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.
“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.
“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’s 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).
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 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.
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!
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.
First I am so grateful this page exists. It means the world to me right now to know I am not alone. That this experience I go through from time to time might be part of marriage. My experience is this: I am working on my walk with God. I actively read the Bible, I go to Church, I pray, I pray and I pray. I am not perfect. I work hard, very hard, I have lots of fun with friends and family. And I get distracted. Somewhere in this- I let my husband down.
I know he is not the source of my happiness or sorrow, yet I feel tremendous anxiety and the desire to “fix it right now” when he’s upset. I’ve found through experience trying to fix it is the absolute worst thing I can do with him. In fact, it makes it so much worse he explodes. He’s not always angry. In fact, I’ve compared it to a cold front moving in- you can see it and you know it’s happening.
Yesterday I saw the first dark clouds in him, this morning it was a storm- I am often asked “Why” by him when he feels I’ve done something wrong. And those things wrong are often with the house. We want to sell this house and are so close- a good Christian friend of mine said the devil will often throw everything at you to stop you before your goal is complete. Well, count the kitchen sink as the recent toss at me. My husband when stressed, does not sleep, stresses more and can become controlling. Not controlling of me- that’s a choice for me to make to let that happen-but trying to control the environment, the house- making certain it is in place, nothing goes wrong, etc…
I’ve found my anxiety in all of this normal marital spatting is what makes it far worse than it needs to be. Today I’m working on the path I rarely take, so it must be better than mine. My path is often caught in anxious “what did i do” questions, then followed up with “I’m so sorry!!!” and then begin crying and begging. Basically I become pathetic. All because I turn from faith and jump straight into fear.
He told me everything I did wrong. He is not speaking at this point. I am only telling him (with NO attitude, actually a nice tone) what I am doing when needed. I try to remind myself I am the one walking with God, not him. That’s his choice. I try to remember that this too shall pass and feelings are not facts. I then try to not make it bigger than it needs to be in my head. I do all of this while wishing he’ll look at me like he often does, when no longer angered and smirk. It usually comes after the front passes. But today I’m choosing shelter from the storms rather than taking them just to take them.
I just pray God strengthens our marriage. I just pray the house sells and we can move on with our lives. I just pray for that smirk to come across his face. I think above all what hurts inside, is he is in pain and I can’t fix it because to him, I am the reason it’s there. I know the root cause of this upsetting is in him somewhere and I do have something to do with it. I take that responsibility. I am working on the submitting part. I honestly believe I have improved. But somewhere I am letting him down.
Thanks for this page. Thanks for what you do.
Any good you see here is all God, btw. 🙂 So glad you are blessed. You are NOT alone.
I could be completely wrong here, but it seems to me that you may have a bit of your identity wrapped up in his approval or disapproval of you.
And can I gently, ever so lovingly say I’ve been there? And that it’s not healthy?
You are not less than. You are an equal heir.
And his criticism and biting words? Sin. Against you. So if he is a believer or claims to be, you can confront that, Matthew 18 style.
If he’s not, you are to bear this cross turning the other cheek style, but still speaking the truth in love.
Because you aren’t to lie. That is also sin.
And can I recommend a resource? Leslie Vernick. She deals with these issues – please note I love her work, but I do believe it applies to more than the abused woman – I believe a man’s lack of love for his wife is a grave sin against her. Not a small one, but a big one. The biggest, perhaps. I think Scripture and Jesus Himself believe that also – Greatest Commandment and 2nd Greatest Commandment-style.
And, while I love her work, it’s easy to get caught up in just that side of things and mis-perceive everything in a negative way – so stay on your face, keep praying, and just focus on doing the next thing.
Don’t own his anger. It’s not yours to own. Don’t incite him intentionally, either, as that is also sin.
Love to you,
I am trying to work the dare you gave about the list. I gave my husband the list and asked him to check mark things and he did. I did not bother him about it or ask him about it until the next day but I did have to ask him for it the next day as he didn’t put it where I asked and I had no clue where it was.
I find that most of the time, from his answers, I interrupt, tell him what to do, and the rest of the things along that line. I was encouraged by the fact that less of them were checked than I thought would be!
Now my problem is, the idea of calming him down. When an argument begins in our home, he slings everything from my past life with him at me. He says things like, Everytime you start this “”””” this is what happens and you go off on a tangent, and you’re just like your sisters. During the last argument I did ask him if we could just stop yelling and calling names and throwing up the past to each other and just talk. He wouldn’t talk to me or even consider that I was in the room for more than 24 hours. Hate to say this, but he’s a pastor. Well, I don’t hate to say it, but I hate to say it in light of how he treats me. I get very scared although he has never hit me. I get scared he will leave. I’m going to try the above, but I think he will just say something about how stupid I am for trying this kind of trick on him. What do I do then?
Stop worrying and thinking about your husband’s responses. Start focusing on your walk with God. His unhealthy behaviors are his, and you need to stop owning them, but you can’t do that by following a checklist. Do the Respect Dare book experience with us, or the ecourse as the list is just a list. It doesn’t facilitate relationship with God.
Know also, that you are not alone. I’m a bottom line kind of gal, want to know “what’s the 3 things I need to do now to solve this problem?” but God’s ways are often to take us through learning about ourselves and deepening our relationship with Him. Seriously, stop worrying about the list. It’s NOT about that – if you join us in the dare experience, you’ll improve your relationship with God, and He is always the husband you need. Your earthly husband has his own journey. We all need to stop focusing on our men, and more on ourselves and our relationship with the Father. That’s the ONLY answer.
I hope you’ll join us. You might even consider… seriously… gathering a group of wise women in your church, honestly saying to them, “I’m working on my marriage and would love to have you join me. I won’t do this perfectly, but I’m wanting to try.” Then learn how to be real but not dishonoring to him – this is a skill few pastor’s wives possess – and who knows? 🙂 Maybe He’s calling you to this as ministry. Let me know if you need a small group guide via Facebook. 🙂
Love to you,
I understand what you are saying, and I’m not worrying about his responses, I’m wondering how I should be responding to him. Asking him to wait until later to talk about things makes him angrier, telling him that I can’t do this right now, makes him angrier. The more I try to step back and not enter into the conversation, the more angry he gets.
I did get your Respect Dare book yesterday and started it today. I have my 3 things that I want to see progress on me done, and that’s the first dare, plus the part about what things I’ll let go in expecting from him. I don’t use a calendar, but I have just put it in my desk drawer with a date on it. I have no organization about myself to be able to do a calendar, but then our life is total chaos all the time. I have tried many of the organizational programs out there, and my life fits into none of them, so I am in serious doubt that that will ever be accomplished.
As far as starting a small group in our church, not going to even work on the best day. There are 4 women in the church including me, 1 lady who is divorced years ago, and 2 women in their late 70s who are perfectly happy and they have no complaints about their husbands. In fact, in church they never know there is the slightest problem between my husband and I. We are too small and too personal for a program there. No young women, no families, we are in a dying church. The pastor before us (4 years ago) did such a job on the community that no one around wants to come to our church, even though he’s no longer there, so its just really a rough go.
I have no ministry as far as I can tell, so I just am at the beck and call of my husband’s whims. Maybe that’s my calling, I don’t know. I have been a pastor’s wife for nearly 20 years and not once I have heard or felt or seen anything that would show me where God is leading me. Mostly I’m just confused, hurt, upset and angry and I feel alone 99% of the time and pray on a daily basis for God to take me home. THAT I think is about my only solution. I’m just not sure of anything anymore. I am going to try the dare and see what happens. I tried the love dare and nothing good came of that, so I’m hopimg this will work. I’m ranting now so I’ll stop.
There’s more for you.
And it might have absolutely NOTHING to do with your husband, although one of your roles in this life is to do the wife thing, since you’ve chosen it. I am not praying for your marriage, but your relationship with our Lord – often through a context we’ve chosen, like marriage or parenting, or even work, He will grow us.
I can’t wait to see what He will do – your husband may never change, but you, beloved, have enough faith to change yourself. Death is not the answer, and I am so sorry you are in this much agony now – your potential in Him must be a force to be recognized, otherwise that other guy wouldn’t pay so much attention to you.
My prayer for you is that you will see His Truth. There are many lies – the confusion you feel is the calling card of the enemy. Don’t trust your anger or hurt, as they might not be from Him. I would also encourage you to find a small group of women somewhere ELSE. Seriously. Even within another church. If you have a couple of pastor’s wives to connect with, even, that might be helpful. And I am praying for you, praying perseverance, praying His peace, praying His healing for you. I also recommend Alex Aronis’ Developing Intimacy with God. http://www.amazon.com/Developing-Intimacy-With-God-Eight-Week/dp/1403369437/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389115503&sr=8-1&keywords=alex+aronis He is everything. SO glad you are here, remember you are not alone.
Love to you,
How do I respond to a husband who is emotionally abusive? When I confront him about his insensitivity and prolonged absences, he challenges or denies what I’m saying or refuses to talk with me. Yes, we have tried counseling! The problem with that is most people really like him. I’m not so like able. So, inevitably the focus shifts to me and what I’m not doing that causes my husband to act the way he does. I will be grateful for an impartial 3rd party response! As the Lord leads…
Hi Nina, I’m not sure if this comment is being posted under the right topic but it’s about, Is this submission or is this abuse? It would be hard to share all the details that make up my situation but I will try to give you the main points. My husband and I have been married for 8 years, no children and we are both Christians. We have been fighting for about the last 3+ years of our marriage mostly about me submitting or not submitting to his very unique belief system of what he thinks it means to be a Christian and a submission wife.
Where we are now is that he “forbids” me to see or have any contact with my Christian parents (long story) or brother. Although he continues to have a relationship with his family.
I’m sitting here, again, faced with, if I want to see my parents, will that be rebellious against my husbands wishes? or is it OK to visit them? I did submit to his wishes for a few weeks because it was suppose to be a time when we “worked on our marriage” but we did not.
I am thinking that I do visit them and tell my husband in a loving and respectful way. I have been dealing with this for a few years now and our entire life is on hold. I’m not sure if you counsel on the phone or not but if so, that would be great. I have been through the entire circuit of reaching out for help and it’s been helpful but my husband puts things in black and white saying that if I go against his wishes, I am an a rebellious, unsubmissive evil wife (with a lot more hurtful names to go along with that)……
Reading your posts daily as well as some others…
I don’t know the details here, so I might be way off base, but if they are traditional Christian people (mainstream, not cult-style) and so are you, his behavior is abuse.
If your parents are in a cult, he might have some legitimate concerns.
Your husband is second on the “authority” chain of command line – first you submit to God, then your husband. If he is being harsh with you, read 1 Peter 3:7. If you feel unsafe, you should get yourself to safety – and I would seriously pray about whether or not God wants you to confront your husband’s unloving, abusive behavior, or whether your husband is right. Typically, however, men who understand submission understand that it is NOT something that is forced, but rather something women do freely, willingly as an act of trusting God – and they feel led.
I would also encourage you to check this book out, as if you are not sure whose voices you are listening to, this will help – you could also find someone locally to facilitate walking through this with you. http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Listening-Inner-Healing-Prayer-Meeting/dp/1617470864/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386270082&sr=8-1&keywords=healing+prayer+listening
Wish I had more concrete answers, but I do know God allows us to be in pain, allows us to suffer through conflict, and allows us to discover Truth in His timing, often at the pace of our own acknowledgements of sin, His wonder, and His great grace and love for us. If your husband is a “black and white” guy, you might also find some help searching up “married to autistic man” or “asperger marriage” as these linear thinkers can be excruciatingly difficult to deal with.
I do know, however, that God has answers and steps for you. KEEP SEARCHING. Don’t give up. 🙂 And I’m glad you are here. Where there is breath, there is hope.
Love to you,
This is really helpful and scriptural. It is also the best way to deal with any angry person. Thank you very much!
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.
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.
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!” 😀
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. 🙂
Another good reaction is to just grab his face and kiss him. Certainly shifts the direction of the conversation! 🙂
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!
Yes! I love that verse! Thanks so much, Rosalyn!
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