I had a client ask about how to deal with her husband’s anger. This is how I responded:
The key is forgiveness.
Here is a quote to consider
As a devoted believer you are urged to strive to develop forgiveness in your heart . . . and to attain a level of insight which sees them as captives of their lower nature, whose actions can only lead them deeper into unhappiness and separation from God. By this means, you can liberate yourself from the anger to which you refer in your letter, and foster your own spiritual development. (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)
So you’ve got a two-fold job according to this quote:
- See him as being captive of his lower nature
To help with these, I recommend you read:
Forgiving our Perpetrators (especially the comments section)
There are some other spiritual principles to consider when dealing with anger:
You ask how to deal with anger. The House of Justice suggests that you call to mind the admonitions found in our Writings on the need to overlook the shortcomings of others; to forgive and conceal their misdeeds, not to expose their bad qualities, but to search for and affirm their praiseworthy ones, and to endeavour to be always forbearing, patient, and merciful. (Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 454-455)
From this quote, we’re asked to:
- Overlook his shortcomings
- Conceal his misdeeds
- Search for and affirm their praiseworthy qualities
- Be forbearing, patient and merciful
I want you to make a list of all the good qualities you admire about your husband, as this quote suggests:
There are qualities in everyone which we can appreciate and admire, and for which we can love them; and perhaps, if you determine to think only of these qualities which your husband possesses, this will help to improve the situation …. You should turn your thoughts away from the things which upset you, and constantly pray to Bahá’u’lláh to help you. Then you will find how that pure love, enkindled by God, which burns in the soul when we read and study the Teachings, will warm and heal, more than anything else. (Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 454-455)
Here are the steps this quote suggests:
- Think only of the qualities which you can appreciate and admire
- Turn your thoughts away from the things which upset you
- Constantly pray to Bahá’u’lláh for help
- Read and study the teachings
- What can you do to turn your thoughts away from the things which upset you? This will help you with your depression as well.
- What exactly do you want to pray for assistance with? Make a list? Be really specific in your prayer requests.
- Which Writings will you read and study to warm and heal you?
Once you’ve done these things, you can stand back and bask in the pure love, enkindled by God, to warm and heal you.
You’re not finished yet, though!
If your concern with his anger is still so great that you aren’t able to let it go, then find an opportunity to be of service, as this quote suggests:
Be not the slave of your moods, but their master. But if you are so angry, so depressed and so sore that your spirit cannot find deliverance and peace even in prayer, then quickly go and give some pleasure to someone lowly or sorrowful, or to a guilty or innocent sufferer! Sacrifice yourself, your talent, your time, your rest to another, to one who has to bear a heavier load than you. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, source unknown)
If the anger turns abusive, though, you’ve got a different problem on your hands! In the Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, the NSA of the USA says:
Knowing the spiritual value of the effort to overcome difficulties in close personal relationships, Bahá’ís should not readily give up on a marriage or family relationship. At the same time, respect for the institution of marriage does not justify ignoring abuse, failing to assist someone who is suffering abuse, or failing to call to account one who is perpetrating abuse. (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 121)
Is there abuse in your marriage? Abuse takes many forms. Here are some ideas to consider. If this applies to you, make a list of all that apply:
You may also find additional ideas from these articles:
How has this helped you understand how to deal with anger in marriage? Post your comments here.