“I Was Just Kidding”

(Refuse to let a critical spirit spoil your marriage)

A regular stream of critical words has a way of taking the joy out of a marriage.  A marriage in which a husband and wife regularly criticizes one another can feel like you are being nibbled to death by a duck.

Sometimes we will level a criticism toward our spouse followed by the words, “I was just kidding.”  Often this is a passive aggressive way of not taking responsibility for what was just said.  Slowly but surely, such criticisms have a way of poisoning the atmosphere of a marriage.

Consider:

A husband has been working very hard in the yard during much of a hot summer day.  Finally, he comes inside, pleased with the improvement in the yard.  Meanwhile, his spouse goes outside to look at the front yard.  The very first thing she says in response to his work is, “Well aren’t you going to clean up the flower bed on the side of the house?  It looks awful!  It’s embarrassing!”  Wow.  No affirmation or appreciation for what has been done.  Instead, the first word is a critical remark that basically says, “I see what you’ve done but it doesn’t measure up.”

Now of course there is a time in which this spouse could express her desire that he address the flower bed on the side of the house.  Yet, when we immediately choose criticism over appreciation and gratitude, this probably isn’t going to be received well.

That Saturday evening, this couple eats a nice meal at home. She has prepared a roast that has cooked much of the day.  She has also prepared several vegetable dishes and a nice salad.  At the conclusion of the dinner, he asks about desert.  After learning there is no desert, he makes a big deal about never having desert.  Instead of expressing appreciation and affirmation for what she has done, he immediately begins complaining.  No thank you.  No words of appreciation.  Just complaining.  This kind of response gets old, very quickly.

Why Are You So Angry?

portrait of angry young man shouting using mobile over black bacHave you noticed?

Some people are very, very angry.

  • The angry driver who is furious because another driver dared to pass him on the Interstate.
  • The grandfather in his 60s who pounds the check-in desk with his hand, demanding that the clerk yield to his demands.
  • The young man and woman who stand beside their car in the afternoon screaming at one another.

James Houston, in a presentation called “Living the Mentored Life,” suggests that three kinds of anger are often seen in people.

1.  People who are angry with a controllable anger.  This anger can be like a spewing volcano.  These people are visibly angry.

2.  Pleasers who are angry.  These people suppress their own identity in order to placate others.

3.  Givers who are angry.  These people give to others but are often very angry as well.  Often these people are perfectionists as they relate to other people.

Houston says that these are actually faulty substitutes for emotions found in healthy relationships.

I’ve rarely, if ever, heard anyone refer to himself as an angry person.  However, I have heard numerous spouses speak of the angry people they married.  I have a good friend who speaks of the long legacy of angry people in his family.  In fact, his father/grandfather were both known for their rage.

Questions:

What has been helpful to you in dealing with your own anger?  What has been helpful in dealing with the anger of others?