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Dealing with Anger in the Family Dealing with Anger in the Family
    by Norman Bales

    Several years ago, a lady sought me out at church and said, “Norman, I’m really angry with you.” I’m usually not very sharp in a situation like that, but I thought I came up with the perfect response. I said, “You can’t be angry with me. The Bible says, ‘do not let the sun go down while you’re still angry,’ and it’s after sundown.” She came up with the perfect retort. She said, “I’ve got until sundown tomorrow night.” From that experience I learned that a humorous jab combined with a proof-text does not turn away wrath.

    How do you handle an angry person, especially if that person happens to be a spouse, a child or a parent? I know a lot more about what doesn’t work than what does. Let me share a few other techniques of responding to anger that usually turn sour.

1. Ignoring the angry person.
When you ignore a person who has a legitimate grievance against you, the anger usually intensifies, because you have not taken the other party seriously.

2. Responding with clever put down statements.
Most of us are competitive by nature and we harbor the illusion that a sharp reply renders the opponent helpless. The witty reply can easily backfire on you. In the long run all players in the one-upmanship game lose.

3. Becoming a martyr.
Some people try to win by appearing to lose. If you can make people think that your critic has taken unfair advantage of you, then you can often gain sympathy for your cause and scorn for your adversary. Some people hope to capitalize on the natural sympathy that people show to the underdog. When martyrdom becomes a conscious means of manipulating sympathy, it’s dishonest and most people can see through that ploy.

    What does work? Perhaps James gives the best advice when he says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19- 21). Think before you react. It will keep you out of a lot of trouble.

 
From Norman Bales' "All About Families" web site. See http://www.allaboutfamilies.org for more great articles.

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Related Heartlight Resources:
Anger and a Good Marriage
Slicing With a Laser
Passion's Dark Side
When is Anger Appropriate?
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Title: "Dealing with Anger in the Family"
Author: Norman Bales
Publication Date: April 13, 2000

 

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Article © 1999, Norman Bales. Used by permission.
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