Anger in a Marriage

Anger in a Marriage

Anger in marriage can ruin and destroy trust, love, and true companionship between a couple.

Marriage requires commitment. And for both you and your spouse, learning to control anger in a marriage requires a commitment to making healthy choices.

Spouses can never know for certain how each will respond to expressions of anger in a marriage, but you can choose an appropriate manner of handling this emotion.

Anger in a marriage is often the result of one of three types of chosen behavior: suppression, passive aggression, or open aggression.

In order to overcome and avoid these behavioral expressions of anger in a marriage, spouses should instead practice: setting boundaries, speaking assertively, and forgiveness.

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Anger in a Marriage: Suppression

Anger in a marriage is often the result of one or both spouses choosing to suppress anger.

Suppressing anger is when you bottle up your emotions in a brave but ultimately futile attempt to appear unruffled.

Many married couples have perfected the art of avoiding confrontation.

It's understandable because nobody wants to bicker or fight, especially if you can just sweep it under the rug.

Unfortunately, in the long run, suppressing anger only jeopardizes marriage.

Suppressed anger in a marriage will inevitably boil to the service, manifested as a rapid outburst that seems to come out of nowhere.

Anger in a Marriage: Passive & Open Aggression

Anger in a marriage often manifests as either passive or open aggression. Both are extremely damaging to a marriage.

Think about the term, passive aggression. Now think of the second word- aggression. Anger is often expressed by seeking revenge on someone, a common form of aggression.

Spouses often feel that their feelings or needs have been overlooked. These common feelings of neglect often cause feelings of anger, leading to aggression.

However, because suppressing your anger is such a common marital habit, spouses choose a passive means of conveying irritation and getting revenge.

Anger in a marriage makes spouses feel vulnerable. However, passive-aggressive anger gives you a temporary sense of power. Thus, passive aggression is a form of deception and manipulation.

Anger makes you feel overlooked or dominated in a marriage relationship. But passive aggressive anger gives you a brief taste of dominance.

A spouse might go the entire evening without talking. When asked if something is wrong, they might reply, "Why no, why would you think that?"

You can effectively ruin your spouse's evening, an act of angry revenge, without seeming vulnerable or engaging in confrontation.

Anger is an energized emotion and therefore cannot be suppressed or stymied indefinitely.

Anger in a marriage will always rear its ugly head, damaging marriages in its wake.

Anger in a marriage often manifests as open aggression. Examples of anger-driven open aggression are: yelling, criticizing, blaming, accusing, and being domineering.

Other examples include verbal jibes, grouchiness, pessimistic comments, name-calling, and persistent negativity. Remember, these anger-driven behaviors are a form of revenge, and if unchecked fatal to marriage.

Anger in a Marriage: Setting Boundaries

Anger in a marriage can be avoided by making healthy choices. Anger is often the result of a spouse feeling their boundaries are not respected.

In a healthy marriage, spouses are not exactly the same. Each should be an individual with his or her own opinions, desires, needs, ideas, and dreams.

Individuality encourages a thriving marriage relationship. Each spouse should acknowledge different needs, preferences, and tastes, in short, respecting boundaries.

Unfortunately, unhealthy anger never respects boundaries. Instead, anger causes bitterness and resentment, rejecting individual uniqueness.

Setting boundaries means openly communicating with your spouse. It means both telling and listening.

Tell your spouse what is distinctive about you. Set stipulations when necessary.

Coach your spouse on how to meet your needs and satisfy your desires. And yet, as you coach, encourage without anger or judgment.

Do not expect your spouse to read your mind or automatically know your needs. Too often we get angry with our spouse for not being a mind reader.

Anger in a Marriage: Speaking Assertively

In order to set healthy boundaries in a marriage relationship, you must speak assertively. Stand firm for your needs, desires, and convictions while being mindful of your spouse.

Speaking assertively is not being hard-headed, stubborn, bossy, or abrasive. It is not being stubborn.

Speaking assertively is as much about listening as it is telling. Your spouse will not really listen to you unless you lovingly, without anger, listen to them.

Speaking assertively means being both honest and considerate at the same moment. You will be genuine about who you are while requiring your spouse to address your needs.

When you speak assertively you create an honest space and open line of communication in marriage, thus avoiding the pitfalls of suppressed anger in a marriage.

Choosing to be vulnerable with your spouse and allowing them the same privilege removes reasons for anger in a marriage.

Choosing healthy assertiveness over anger in a marriage means you are proactive, contributing to your marriage. Anger is often the behavior of a reactor, someone who waits for others to act and then acts out against them.

Anger in a Marriage: Forgiving

Anger in a marriage drives a destructive wedge between couples.

Because marriage is between two individuals, with unique desires and needs, spouses do not always see eye to eye. This means setting boundaries and assertiveness do not always work every time.

Suppose you speak assertively to your spouse but feel as if he or she is not really listening. Or, if they do listen, you see no changes in their behavior towards you.

Or suppose you stand on an appropriate personal conviction but your spouse disagrees and acts against your principles. You feel disrespected or slighted.

When these kinds of things happen it is easy to fall back on old, destructive habits. Choosing the non-productive pathway of anger in a marriage is often the easier choice.

Sometimes forgiveness is the only recourse. Forgiveness is recognizing your own human limitations and those of your spouse.

Forgiveness means you realize you and your spouse are going to make mistakes, and that you cannot right every wrong. You are not God.

Choosing anger instead of forgiveness leads to personal defeat, and often depression. Forgiveness is key in every healthy, thriving marriage.

Sometimes you need to say, "It's not worth my time to live in reaction to a wrong. I choose freedom through forgiveness instead." 


Anger in a marriage is a dead-end street. You may drive for a long time down its winding pavement, but inevitably it will lead you nowhere.

Anger in a marriage can be avoided through healthy life choices, small everyday choices that will strengthen and prosper your marriage.

Seeking the advice of a professional counselor can help you and your spouse make better choices.

An eastern philosopher once wrote, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." The journey of a happy and fulfilled marriage begins with choosing to avoid anger. 


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March 27th, 2023