Unmet Expectations

by Annie Chapman


To go deeper on the topic of women and anger, see Women and Anger and You're Driving Me Crazy


As I was leaving for a four-day trip with my teen daughter and her friend, my husband, Steve, agreed to have the house in good shape when I returned, because we'd be having company on the weekend.

The trip with the girls was fun, but by the time I got home, my nerves were stretched, and I was ready for a break. As I walked into our kitchen, I struggled to process the sight and the odor. There was a stack of unwashed dishes, fish guts in the sink and the floor was sticky with some sort of marine-life slime.

Steve walked into the room. "You're back earlier than I expected. I went fishing this morning and thought I'd have time to clean up before you got home. Then the mower needed some work, and I reckon I got sidetracked."

Steve and I have been married for 38 years, and although I can't say I respond correctly each time I'm angry, that particular day I chose to face the reason for my anger — my expectations had not been met.

James 4:1-2 reads, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it." It's a pretty simple explanation.

I asked Steve to give me some space — alone — instead of giving him an immediate verbal lashing, and put on latex gloves to start the restoration process. While cleaning, I did a few things that helped me deal with my anger before the razor-sharp words finished forming on my tongue.

First, I avoided talking to myself about the situation. I have a friend who says that when she gets angry with her husband, she takes a walk and talks to herself about it. While that may work for her, it doesn't work for me. The one time I tried the "walk and talk" idea, all I did was practice throwing verbal spears at Steve.

Then, instead of ranting to myself about Steve's fish-gut gaffe, I talked to God about it. James 4:6 says, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." I've learned that when I humble myself before God and respectfully talk to Him about a matter, He really does give me grace. It's a grace that prevents a small gust of anger from turning into a destructive tornado of emotion.

After I talked to God, I was better prepared to talk to my husband. Talking humbly, yet frankly with God about my anger, seemed to put me in a more civil state of mind. As a result, I was able to respectfully and candidly talk to Steve.

By recognizing that not getting what I wanted was the true source of my anger, I created an environment in my marriage that allowed Steve to apologize without the fear of getting lambasted — and I was in a better place to accept his apology.

Annie Chapman is a musician, speaker and author of several books, including Letting Go of Anger.


A portion of this article appeared in the summer 2013 issue of Thriving Family magazine.  Copyright © 2013 by Annie Chapman. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.


Did you enjoy reading this? Subscribe to Thriving Family, a faith-based marriage and parenting magazine!

Favorites

Advent Calendar—Christmas 2014

Advent Calendar—Christmas 2014

Keep your family focused on Jesus with our 2014 Advent calendar

No More Waiting

No More Waiting

A couple takes a leap of faith and discovers a deeper love of family

Talking to Kids About the Persecuted Church

Talking to Kids About the Persecuted Church

A conversation — when your children are ready

Book Reviews for Parents

Book Reviews for Parents

Read our teen and tween book reviews for parents.

Thriving Family Archives

Thriving Family Archives

Articles from the magazine and the website

Breaking of Spring

read more >>

A girl's guide to growing up from Adventures in Odyssey

read more >>