One of my favorite undergraduate professors, Dr. Phillip Captain, said, “Ladies, take your moods to God… and your anger to your husband.” Like most people in the class, I wrinkled my brow and looked confused. What does that mean? Eventually, I came to understand that he meant to go to the Lord and pray when you are in a bad mood instead of taking it out on your husband. However, when you are angry with your husband, you should go to him, in love and gentleness, and confront the situation respectfully. This is also true if a husband is angry with his wife. The phrase was directed at women because women are generally more prone to moods (good and bad) than men; however, there are a good handful of men that struggle with moods every bit as much as women do.
Moods and anger sometimes overlap and it is often difficult to distinguish the difference between them. If you get up, burn yourself on your curling iron, trip over your kid’s shoe, get to the office just in time to be yelled at by your boss, and get a speeding ticket on the way home, you will probably be in a bad mood – I know I would. So, you open the door to your house and your husband is watching television instead of mowing the grass like he said he was going to do. What is the natural temptation? My natural temptation would be to yell, “Why can’t you commit to one simple task?!?!” Is that anger or a mood? Though the fact that he is not doing what you want him to be doing might make you feel angry, the trigger of that anger was your bad mood, not his actions. Had you had a wonderful day with no glitches and he was sitting there when you got home, you might still have inquired about why he wasn’t cutting grass, but chances are it would not have been as bitter of a confrontation. After days like the one mentioned above, when nothing goes your way and you are just grouchy, those are the days that it is best to spend a few minutes with the Lord, meditating on His Word before interacting with your spouse. It might be helpful to have a few verses on anger and marriage memorized, or written on a card kept in your purse or wallet. Reading or quoting these a few times while you are in prayer will go a long way towards helping you calm yourself and to refocus before interacting with your husband or wife.
On the other hand, sometimes you will be truly and justifiably angry with your spouse. Let’s use the grass mowing scenario above. Perhaps you’ve had a normal day, you walk in and your spouse is watching television instead of mowing the grass like he promised. After you gently remind him of his promise to mow the grass he tells you to get out of his face and he’ll get around to it when he’s good and ready. Obviously this response is hurtful, unloving, and would make most women (and men, if the roles were reversed) furious. This is true anger – the kind of anger that the Bible warns us to have without sinning. The natural response would be to jump into a knockdown, drag out fight. While this is not the Christ-like response, a confrontation does need to happen. Generally, it is best to first step away and pray before confronting your spouse. It is so easy for emotions to take over and damage your relationship if you are not being led by the Holy Spirit. Ask God to prepare your spouse’s heart – and yours.
This may not yet be an issue for either of you since you are not engaged or married, but it will be an issue one day. It will save you a lot of heartache, vicious words, and silent-treatment nights if you begin practicing this principle now. Learn to differentiate between your moods and your anger. Ask the Lord to teach you how to confront situations with your future spouse in a respectful and loving way.