4 Steps to Free Your Marriage from Unresolved Anger

Often what happens in marriages that are clouded by unresolved anger is that the arguments become so toxic and volatile in their language and tone that they produce no good but drive a deeper wedge of division into the marriage.

by Tony Evans, author of Kingdom Marriage

It’s far easier to talk about forgiving someone than to actually do it. Forgiveness is a beautiful word when you are on the receiving end of it. It becomes an ugly word when you are the one having to give it. One of the better analogies I have for forgiveness is comparing it to ejecting a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray Disc from a player. These players are tremendous machines that give us the ability to watch or listen to something time and time again. But one thing is true: We can never put in a new disc until we take the first one out. We can’t play two discs simultaneously. We must eject the first disc to play the second.

Likewise in marriage, you can’t experience a healthy, thriving relationship with your spouse if you keep replaying whatever it is he or she did to anger you. You have to eject that offense and replace it with love. The only way to do that is to release your spouse from what he or she did to hurt you. You have to turn the offense over to God and replace your thoughts of anger, hurt, and pain with thoughts of thanksgiving— gratitude that God has given you the faith and ability to be released from the stronghold of unforgiveness.

Biblical forgiveness is the decision to no longer credit an offense against your spouse with a view of enacting vengeance. It means you release your spouse from a debt owed to you as well as the blame he or she may deserve. Forgiveness is first and foremost a decision. It doesn’t begin with an emotion. It is not contingent on how you feel about your spouse, but rather it is a choice to no longer blame your spouse for an offense.

First Corinthians 13:5 details this for us in a most straightforward way: Biblical love “keeps no record of wrongs” (NIV). Biblical love doesn’t justify wrong, nor does it ignore wrong, excuse it, or pretend it doesn’t exist. All of those types of responses to wrongdoing would lead to enablement. Rather, biblical love acknowledges and addresses the wrong and then forgives and releases it while keeping no record of it. I’ve been in counseling sessions with some couples who bring up things that were said or done not years ago but decades ago. When I hear this, and it happens far too often, I sigh inside because I know that the roots of bitterness and unforgiveness run deep. I also know that Satan has been allowed to run the show in that marriage, making the stronghold ever more formidable to tear down. The arguments become so toxic and volatile in their language and tone that they produce no good but drive a deeper wedge of division into the marriage.

You may be surprised at the advice I give when strongholds run that deep. I’ve seen it work in countless marriages, and I believe in its effectiveness because it addresses the unresolved anger that often feeds our failure to forgive. Often what happens in marriages that are clouded by unresolved anger is that the arguments become so toxic and volatile in their language and tone that they produce no good but drive a deeper wedge of division into the marriage.

So, this is what I propose if you have found yourself in a marriage with unresolved anger:

1. Say something and do something every day that expresses value to your spouse.

This might be a note, an unexpected phone call, a nonsexual hug, or a time of cuddling. Married couples are good at doing big things on big days like birthdays, anniversaries, or Valentine’s Day, but what we often neglect to do is cultivate and maintain in small but consistent ways a recognition that we value each other.

2. Pray daily for each other and with each other.

I don’t mean just saying a blessing before a meal. This is a specific time you come together, holding hands or holding each other, kneeling beside the bed or in your closet, or sitting on the couch—it doesn’t matter— and pray aloud for your marriage. This is not a time to hash out differences by bringing them before the Lord in prayer, but rather a time to pray that God will bless your spouse and that He will bless the two of you together with His grace and mercy.

3. Date regularly.

Too many marriages get caught up in drudgery or routine, and spouses lose the fun they once had. By “date” I mean pick a place and something fun to do. That doesn’t mean grabbing dinner at a restaurant because neither of you feel like cooking, and you have to eat anyhow. At a minimum, do something fun together every other week, if not more often.

4. Set an agreed-upon time weekly where you sit down together and allow the spouse who holds the unresolved anger to vent.

This means that the other spouse agrees not to argue, defend, or tune out the venting. It’s like when we have an upset stomach because we have bacteria inside us, and we feel better when we are able to throw up.

Far too many married couples never give each other the freedom to get rid of the bacteria by speaking. I don’t mean couples don’t yell at each other—they do all the time. But this is a set time every week where one spouse is allowed to vent his or her pain without the fear of being shut down. Turn off the television and your phone. The other spouse must agree to give his or her undivided attention to the venting spouse. If nagging is a problem in your marriage, this will solve it. Because when you agree to listen, the spouse who is venting also agrees not to bring up these issues during the week—unless something is time sensitive.

I’ve used this four-step approach with countless couples, and before long, that one hour a week turns into thirty minutes and then fifteen minutes—and then it’s not even needed at all. So much of what we harbor against each other as married couples is stuffed down and then thrown at each other in nagging or fights in which we don’t feel heard or validated. Healing comes from a place of understanding and validation. When you allow your spouse the freedom to communicate what has pained him or her, and you validate that pain without becoming defensive or saying your spouse is wrong to feel it, you will be amazed at how quickly healing and forgiveness will come.

When you implement all four of these steps simultaneously, you will see and experience healing in your marriage. Doing these things from an authentic place of relational connection allows you to begin putting more deposits into your spouse than withdrawals.

PackagingKingdom Marriage by Tony Evans

What happens when a kingdom man marries a kingdom woman? Kingdom Marriage: Connecting God’s Purpose with Your Pleasure helps couples grow together as a kingdom couple to fulfill God’s design and purpose for their marriage. Through practical insights and powerful stories, Dr. Tony Evans inspires and instructs so couples will discover the hope, challenge, and guidance God’s Word provides for their journey together.

“You can reflect the glory of God and the unity of the Trinity through your shared purpose, honor, and love as a true kingdom couple.” —Tony Evans

Kingdom Marriage shows couples that the key to influencing our society and world with lasting impact is found in solidifying biblical marriage in the way God intended. It starts with both wife and husband reflecting God and His image and modeling that reflection within the roles and responsibilities of their union. This is based on a correct understanding of God’s kingdom and their responsibilities in it. Kingdom Marriage and the Kingdom Marriage Devotional and video resources are part of an entire line of Kingdom products by Tony Evans, including Kingdom Man, Kingdom Woman, Raising Kingdom Kids, and the Kingdom Quest strategy guides for kids and teens. Learn more HERE>>

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