Question: “My anger is reasonable under the circumstances, but since he doesn’t care if I’m angry, it eats at me, and I feel confused. When is it ok to be angry?”

Let’s start with this reminder: every emotion is a gift from God. The sweet emotions like love and joy and a sense of calm are to be cultivated and celebrated. The rougher emotions like jealousy and loneliness and anger are to be experienced to the full as part of the human journey and seen for what they are: red flags.

For instance, if you are feeling jealous of a relationship that your husband has started at work, there might be something to it, and you need to get to the bottom of it.

I believe that it’s okay to feel anger, but it’s what we do with it that matters. Ask yourself these questions.

What am I angry about?  What are your triggers? Are you angry all the time or only when fill-in-the-blank happens? If it’s all the time, then you may want to consider talking with a counselor to work through what’s really going on under the surface. Which leads me to…

What is really going on? 
I’ve heard that anger is a presenting emotion, covering up the actual feeling of hurt or fear underneath. For years and years, I handled my anger poorly. I was a yeller, I’m ashamed to say, and I would feel practically unable to control myself. I know now that I felt a sense of injustice and entrapment that left me reacting like a caged animal. What I would find myself yelling about rarely if at all had to do with the actual topic or argument at hand; it was almost always about how I was feeling deep down, and how I didn’t want to feel that way anymore, but didn’t think it would ever stop.

Does this thing I’m angry about really matter? 
Are you angry that your husband was ten minutes late for dinner again? Yep, it’s inconsiderate, but if it’s a pattern, you might want to just change your expectations. For the first fifteen years of my marriage, I made the bed. And grumbled while doing so. I would say to myself, “The last person in the bed should make the bed,” as if everyone on earth held to this truth. I’d start my day upset and carried a years-long resentment. Then one day, out of the blue, I realized I had made up that little rule, and that clearly my then-husband had not shared its sentiment with me. So I shifted it to, “The person who wants the bed made should make the bed.” I don’t know how it happened, but I promise you I was never again upset about making the bed. All because of my mindset.

However, are you angry that your husband hasn’t come home in two days, just got his third DUI, or is having an affair? Well, these are all justifiable reasons for anger. We call this righteous anger and it simply means responding rightly to something that is unjust, evil or wrong.

For your sanity’s sake, and for the sake of what you’re teaching your children, you need to find ways to express your anger healthily. Yelling, hitting, cursing, throwing things — all not okay, regardless of the righteousness of your response to whatever bad thing has just happened. If you find yourself living out your anger in these kinds of ways, I want to highly recommend finding a counselor who can help you learn to diffuse the emotion, learn to identify what is really going on underneath, and how to communicate your feelings to the person you’re angry with. We don’t want to leave a legacy of anger, we don’t want our children looking back on their childhoods and remembering us as angry women who couldn’t control ourselves.

It’s okay to be angry; but it’s the wise woman who learns how to express herself.

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise {woman} keeps himself under control. –Proverbs 29:11

Check out my podcast All That to Say:

Life isn't always how we want it. When change seems elusive, and we're stuck in old routines, a gentle push or some self-reflection can make a difference. Let these questions be that nudge to get you moving.

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