Changing Your Angry Thoughts
When you have an angry interaction with your husband, do you ever stop to think about the thoughts running through your mind?
Thinking about your thoughts is called metacognition. This is a fancy term for examining our thoughts, which is the only way to begin changing them for the better.
By practicing metacognition, you follow the biblical directive to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5 NIV).
This year, my husband and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary. After two decades together, my thoughts follow a remarkably familiar path when we have an angry encounter. I wish I had recognized this pathway sooner than halfway through our second decade together.
I start off with anger at the top of the thought stairwell, then rush down the staircase with fear. The steps of self-pity, injustice, self-protection, and stonewalling follow in a predictable pattern. At the bottom of the stairs, I end up alone, afraid and ashamed of myself.
I’m not going to spill all the ugly details about those thoughts with you here. Let’s just say they break several commandments, especially the one where Jesus says to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39 NIV).
Thoughts are often tied to old patterns.
The more I examine those thoughts, the more I see patterns related to deep brokenness that predates my marriage. I see signs of my fear of abandonment as a child of divorce. The indicators of my tendency to criticize others and withdraw throughout my years of growing up are there too.
What are we to do?
The only way to stop this predictable downward spiral is to counter angry thoughts with God’s Word. When we wives have God’s Word ready, we can stop on the first few steps down, turn around, and be willing to maturely and humbly ask God to help us align our thoughts with His Word.
I encourage you to meditate on and memorize verses that will help you turn around when your anger is triggered. Here are a few that may work for you:
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1 NIV
An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. Proverbs 29:22 NIV
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:31 NIV
You can also overcome by choosing verses that motivate you to be the wife God wants you to be. These verses can help you choose well:
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Proverbs 31:10 NIV
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34 NIV
[Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV
By meditating on verses like these now, you will be better prepared to handle the next angry encounter with your husband. As you memorize and focus on God’s Word, you can insert his truth into your situation and take a different path.
With practice, you will retrain your brain to think differently during marriage conflicts. Thinking differently will change your actions and lead to greater peace. God will help you change your angry thoughts as you hide his Word in your heart and mind.
Wife Step: Choose one verse to meditate on, write out, and memorize every day this week.
For further reading and help transforming your thought life, check out Sarah’s book, here.
Sarah Geringer is a speaker, artist and author of Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian Meditation in Focus and three self-published books. She is on the devotional writing teams for Encouragement for Today, A Wife Like Me, Devotable, Hope-Full Living and Woman 2 Woman Ministries. When she’s not reading over 100 books per year, Sarah enjoys painting, baking, gardening and playing the flute. Her daily must-haves are hot tea, dark chocolate, and fresh flowers. She lives in her beloved home state of Missouri with her husband and three children. Sarah writes about finding peace in God’s Word at sarahgeringer.com.