Don’t go to be angry. You’ve heard it before. Why is it important? The Bible has much to say about anger and the damage it causes a marriage.
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“Never go to bed angry.” — Best Marriage Advice, from a Focus on the Family Facebook Post.
What is the best marriage advice you’ve received? Did someone share words of wisdom at your wedding ceremony? Was it something a friend told you as you walked through a difficult time in your relationship with your spouse?
During a Facebook live event, Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley — authors, counsellors and Focus on the Family’s marriage experts — asked viewers to share their best marriage advice. We’re sharing those thoughts as part of the Marriage Meditation series and taking a look at what God’s Word says about these tidbits of truth.
Ephesians 4:26-27 – “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
“Only you can prevent forest fires.” Since 1944, Smokey Bear has reminded Americans to extinguish campfires before breaking camp and heading for home. It’s important advice since a spark or unattended fire can start a blaze that destroys forests and homes. Forest fires cause such damage that the land may take years — sometimes centuries — to recover.
Fire, anger and your marriage
If you haven’t heard it already, at some point in your marriage, some well-meaning person will say, “Never go to bed angry.” The advice is usually coupled with the tale of a sleepless night because the couple couldn’t resolve a conflict or agree to table the issue until the next day.
It’s good advice. But there’s more to it than avoiding a grumpy partner who steals the sheets because of something you said. Smokey Bear knows why you shouldn’t go to bed angry (and he’s not even a marriage counsellor). His secret is simple: “Only you can prevent forest fires.”
Extinguish the little fires quickly
Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” We’re human. We all lose our tempers. We all say things to our spouse that are better left unsaid. Our words can hurt.
When our spouse hurts us, it’s natural to feel angry. But you don’t have to respond in anger. Anger is like a spark that starts a fire in your marriage. Unless you extinguish the blaze quickly (“Do not let the sun do down on your anger.”), those sparks can grow into a raging fire that destroys your marriage. A raging wildfire takes time to contain and extinguish. Likewise, you and your spouse may need time to solve your disagreements. Not going to bed angry doesn’t mean that you have to solve a problem when you’re exhausted and more likely to make things worse. It means that you and your spouse acknowledge that you’ll discuss the issue in the near future when you’re both calm and rested.
The Bible also tells us that anger can lead to spiritual struggles. When we stoke those little disagreements, we’re giving Satan an opportunity to heap more fuel on the fire. He is the Destroyer. He wants nothing more than to see your marriage burn to ashes. So, prevent a wildfire in your marriage. Extinguish the little disagreements quickly. And if the fire is too big, call for help. God wants to help your marriage grow.
Only you can prevent forest fires. Start by extinguishing the little ones that pop up during the day. You may just get a better night’s sleep.
Heavenly Father, help me avoid responding in anger; and when I do, please remind me to extinguish the little fires quickly.
What is a healthy way to recognise when we’ve responded in anger and then work to put it out quickly?