There's a major
destroyer of love on the loose; I've found it to be the
leading cause of divorce and the single greatest thief of
one's love life. It may already be at work in your life
This destroyer is
forgotten, unresolved anger—not just the kind that
gnaws at one's stomach night after night but also the type
that quietly disappears. At least I used to think it
disappeared. But when we bury anger inside us...it's
always buried alive! Then, when we aren't even aware
of its presence, it does its damage, destroying like rust
on a car, like moths in a dark closet.
Anger is an emotion.
Like all of our emotions, there's nothing wrong with it in
and of itself. It's our human response to something that
occurs, or at least to our perception of that occurrence.
In fact, some anger is good; we should get angry
when we see an injustice or when someone is trying to
violate our personal property lines. In such cases, our
anger is what motivates us to take appropriate action.
But after anger motivates us to do something good, we
can't afford to let it linger inside us. We have to get
Dr. Howard Markman, a
leading expert in the prevention of divorce, gives a
strong warning about hidden anger. He reminds us that all
those little discussions that just don't seem to get
resolved and continually provoke an inappropriate
outburst—issues that don't necessarily call for heated
feelings, such as whether the toilet paper rolls from the
top or the bottom or whether the toilet seat is up or
down—are usually driven by anger that's just below the
surface. No matter how many times a couple tries to
resolve those issues or enter into deeper intimacy, the
anger can keep them apart and in turmoil. Living with
angry people is like living in a minefield. If you say or
do the wrong thing, kaboom! They explode all over
everyone. And you're left thinking, Oh, I had no idea
that one thing I did would cause such a reaction.
Actually, anger is a
secondary emotion, not a primary feeling. It arises out
of fear, frustration, hurt, or some combination of
these three. For example, if someone says something harsh
to us we first feel hurt and then anger. When we strip
the word anger down to its deepest level, we see a thread
that runs through the entire book—unfulfilled
expectations. Frustration is not receiving what we
had expected from other people or from circumstances. We
feel the need to blame our unhappiness on someone or
Anger is our choice.
We choose to respond in anger when something happens to us
that's outside of our control. It's a normal response,
even a good response, when it's controlled. But we are
the ones who choose to hold on to anger or let it go. We
can choose to see its powerful potential for destruction
and take the steps to reduce it within us. Otherwise it's
an ice-berg sinking our love.