Anger, the emotion we secretly enjoy.

July 25, 2011

in Be a grownup, Marriage Killer, Series

What lies under the anger? © Norbert Buchholz | Dreamstime.comMy bride is fond of saying “Anger is a cover emotion”. By that, she means that people frequently use anger to cover other emotions they do not want to face. I confess I used to get upset (aka angry) with her when she said that – but I have come to see she is right.

Anger really does help us avoid other feelings we don’t like. Anger feels good, anger makes us feel powerful and in control. In contrast, things like guilt and sadness make us feel bad, make us feel out of control. Anger blames others, not self. That is why we would rather be angry – and it’s also why anger is so harmful to our marriages.

Realise that when I talk about anger I don’t just mean yelling, hitting, throwing things angry; I mean feeling anger no matter how we express it or hide it. Certainly, we can and should make good choices about how we express ourselves when we are angry, but keeping it under control does not mean it’s not hurting us and our marriage; neither does it mean the anger is the real emotion in play.

Are you using anger to make yourself feel better? The next time you feel angry with your bride, ask yourself what is behind the anger. How do those feelings make you feel? What would it take to deal with the underlying feelings? How might your marriage improve if you dealt with what is under the anger?

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3 comments
Kentucky Colonel
Kentucky Colonel

I agree that anger is usually our response to other negative emotions. The anger is most often aimed at the one that "made us" feel.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Tony - I have modified what I said to "people frequently use anger to cover other emotions they don't want to face" because you are right that humans can have anger that is not a cover. That said, in my experience it is the great minority of the time that human anger is righteous and justified. To use "made in the image of God" as an argument that we do or don't do something is a very empty argument in my mind. God can't sin, but we sin daily - so it's hardly a stretch to say God's anger is always righteous and ours usually is not. All that said, the final paragraph is still valid - we need to consider what is behind our anger - and we need to consider ALL that is behind our anger. If what is behind our anger is a mix of valid and selfish things, we do wrong to focus on the valid and ignore the selfish.

Tony
Tony

So does that mean that God's anger is really masking other emotions as well? While this MAY be true for some, or true for all some of the time, I suspect the reality is humans, made in the image of God, a God who does express anger can be angry without it having some other meaning. I tend to take the other view. Those trying to explain away anger saying it's not really anger, or it's masking or covering something else are denying the truth that there are things that legitimately anger our spouse, others and even God. If we can make anger illegitimate here on earth, how long until we consider God's anger illegitimate? As you pointed out, be angry but do not sin is what scripture calls for. I doubt that anger is anything other than anger. Perhaps I'm mincing words here. I suspect that anger is mixed with other emotions such as fear, shame, sadness, grieving, disappointment or others to just name a few. But I think it's a dangerous road to say that people, made in the image of a perfect God who can be angry are not really angry when they are angry. Because it leads to the thinking that God's not really angry when He says He's angry. Who are we to tell God He's not really feeling that, and He must be covering some other emotional state?

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