Angry Spouse? Angry Teen? What To Do?

A random teenager told my friend’s 18 year old son, “I know your mom and dad really love each other – he’s always touching her, and he looks at her when she’s speaking.” My friend was blown away by the comment. She feels loved by her husband, but what shocked her was that something so small would communicate so much to someone else.

And it made us both wonder what this teen is observing in his own home.

Proverbs 19today sheds some light on good and bad behavior. Dare you to click the link and see what He says to you this morning – there are awesome tips there. What struck me this morning was verse 22: What is desirable in a man is his kindness, because so many of our wives are dealing with men who communicate anger. Where are the tender yet strong warriors of years past?

They do exist.

I know some of them.

Unfortunately, I also know too many angry, disconnected men.

And I think they just don’t know how to build the bridge across the relationship chasm their feelings create…but that’s another story.

Recently, I abandoned a conversation where a man’s anger rendered it unproductive. After nearly an hour and numerous attempts to communicate, I gave up.

I left the conversation.

And no, the angry guy wasn’t my husband.  :)

Dr. Kevin Leman tells wives to do that, but never have I seen it in Scripture.

Until I saw communicated clearly today, in verse 19: A man of great anger will bear the penalty, For if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again.

And yes, I think there are other meanings to that verse. In this case, however, continuing to tolerate anger when it emerges as condescension, disrespect, and mean-ness, dishonors the temple of the Holy Spirit. And it teaches the angry person that their behavior is something worth repeating because you will tolerate it. Sometimes “rescuing” looks like tolerating. Sometimes it’s covering things up.  Which is like lying.  But that’s another story.

I am the first person to recommend discussion as a means of working through problems. And I do allow people be where they are and I don’t take much personally. BUT, I do not allow others to derail communication and fail to resolve problems by treating me and others with rudeness or contempt. Not my kids, not people I’m working with, and not my husband. 1 Peter 3:7 commands husbands to treat their wives as the “weaker vessel” and “worthy of respect” as we are also “heirs to the throne.” I see an implication to wives to make it easier for them by behaving as though we are worthy of respect in the first place.

Sometimes this means turning the other cheek. But remember, we only have two cheeks, so repeated disrespectful contemptuous behavior isn’t okay.

The key is how we communicate this worth without being disrespectful ourselves.

Do we steamroll? Do we become doormats?

I’ll tell you what I feel led to do…

I gently apologize.

Then I leave.

In the midst of an angry outburst from the other person, I stand, and say something like, “I am really sorry. I can’t continue this conversation right now. I really want to work through this, but what we are doing is unproductive and potentially damaging to me or this relationship. When you can be calm and kind, I really want to listen and talk more.”

Then I exit.

And I’m happy to fully engage later, when everyone is behaving like a grown up.

Including me.

I should also say that I have excused myself because I’m the one who can’t be calm and kind. Thankfully that doesn’t happen very often any more, but nonetheless, it has happened.

What’s interesting, is that I have never been fully aware that this was what God had me doing until recently. I am thankful that even in the midst of my own ineptness at communicating in a way that honors God and His temple, He is a God of second chances.

Dare you to have ZERO tolerance for communication that doesn’t honor God or those who are precious to Him.

Double dog dare you to be kind and gentle in how you do that, creating space and time for yourself and others to calm down and for God to do His thing with them or you…

Glad to be on the journey with you,

~Nina

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