Honesty Without Anger

At the Authentic Intimacy Conference I attended, Linda and Juli talked about the need for honesty without anger. They also suggested women have a bigger problem with this than men (don’t shoot the messenger!) 

Angry woman spewing words © ptnphotof| dollarphotoclub.com

I can understand why women would be more given to this. Anger is powerful, and it makes us look and feel strong and sure of ourselves. If you think you’re likely to be ignored, anger seems like a good tactic. Given how often men discount women, I get why anger becomes almost automatic. Besides, it works, and we usually keep doing what works.

Or course, “it works” doesn’t make it right. Or godly, loving, or kind.

If this is you, make a real effort to change. When you slip into the old habit stop yourself. If you do it and walk away, do the hard thing and go back to apologise. After you get fairly good at honesty without anger, see if it’s working better than with anger. If it’s not, have a discussion with hubby – tell him what you’ve been doing and explain it seems to be putting you at a disadvantage. Ask him if he likes you being honest without being angry and suggest he needs to respond well to it.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and while I respond to anger, it doesn’t make me feel loved or loving.

Keep Hitting the Amazon Link: January was the first time we passed $200 in affiliate payments for a month other than December. Lori said, “That’s a lot of diesel”, and she’s right; that will allow us to go 1,200 to 1,500 miles depending on where we are when we buy fuel. Using the link doesn’t change your price, but we get a bit of affiliate link kickback. The link can be found at the bottom of every post.

Speaking of Amazon, here are a few books by Linda and Juli:

25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask About Love, Sex, and Intimacy – by Juli Dr. Slattery
Clear no punches pulled answers to hard questions about love, sex, and intimacy. “What if I don’t like sex? : Is ______ok in the bedroom? : How do I get past my shame? : What if I want sex more than my husband does?”
Also on Kindle 

Intimate Issues – By Linda Dillow & Lorraine Pintus
This is an older book, but it’s still very relevant. A great book for about married sexuality. Comes with a twelve-week Bible study.
Also on Kindle 

Surprised by the Healer: Embracing Hope for Your Broken Story – by Linda Dillow and Dr. Juli Slattery
Stories from women who have found healing from Jehovah Rapha, the God Who Heals. This book packs the power of story, providing encouragement and examples to follow. Includes a ten-week study.
Also on Kindle 

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13 Comments on “Honesty Without Anger

  1. Yeah…..still working on this. I was easily dismissed as a child, and being emotive and facing male family members a foot bigger than myself who brushed me off as just being hormonal or dramatic, I had to learn to get attention to myself.

    Then, with my husband, I just didn’t understand why he didn’t “get it” or intuitively know. For example, he groans and rubs his back, I SEE that and know he needs a massage. I groan and rub my back, he either doesn’t get it or ignores me. He says I need to ask. So, I ask and get a 20 second half hearted rub. I pitch a fit, and while I lose out that time, next time I get a decent back rub.

    It even goes for my children and I hear it from other moms and wives across the board. We are nice, pleasant, ask politely, ask firmly, command respectfully, but no one listens until we go nuclear warhead on them.

    I have discovered that I need to speak male and use more action than words. I also need to spell it out or else they find any loophole to skip a step.

    Funny how at work or with other men they become more intuitive and studying and anticipatory of their boss and fellow co workers. At home, its ignore at all costs and then look at her quizzically and say, “well, why don’t you just ask?” AUGH!

    It is no wonder why we women are crazy!

    • @libl – I understand your no win situation, and I’m deeply sorry. Gender differences and selfishness can make being nice seem like a bad plan. I wish I could get men to see what they are doing and the results it has. If they really understood the consequences of their action, I bet most would change. (Of course, that’s true for all of us, and well beyond marriage. We would’s sin if we understood the real consequences of our actions!)
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Woman’s Work is Never DoneMy Profile

      • Thanks, Paul. I have a minute so I thought I’d write back and just say that I am working on a mature and effective way of communicating, instead. I need to read No More Christian Nice Girl and a book on anger since I am both extremes.

        • I think the extremes go together. We as women are trained to be soft-spoken, self-effacing, gentle — and that can make it really hard to be direct and assertive. Anger isn’t (always) a ploy — frequently, it takes being angry to make us uninhibited enough to be honest. My mom and I joke about this tendency, with the old Popeye quote — “I takes it and takes it till I can’t takes it no more.”

          • @sunny-dee – I hear you, and I don’t know an easy fix. I suppose we can learn to control and channel anger so we get most of the good and avoid most of the bad.
            Paul Byerly recently posted…Implicit BiasMy Profile

  2. My husband and I have a few hot-button issues that come up consistently, and conversations about them never used to go well in the past.

    One thing that helped was when I asked him, “How do you want me to respond to this when it comes up? What words would be most effective?”

    It’s been really helpful. Seems that once I was willing to ‘hand over power’, he was more willing to listen and respond.

    Nice post.
    Rebecca Watson recently posted…How Leadership Is Like a StripteaseMy Profile

  3. We are weird. When I am too placid for too long, it drives him crazy I think. Recently, I completely lost it and stood up to him, basically screaming. I felt so ashamed as I am strong-willed, but never lose control. He was whistling while he shaved and actually kissed me goodbye the next morning. Things have been happy around here ever since.

    • @Sarah – I can understand that. He assumed he was not hearing your heart when you held back.
      I’d guess you said what needed to be said in your anger, rather than using it to just beat him up. And you bet you didn’t nurse a grudge for days.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Implicit BiasMy Profile

  4. Hi Paul,

    I know I’m extremely late to this party, but I’m re-reading through your blog and what I want to say on this subject is very near and dear to my heart. I believe I have something valuable to contribute. I understand the concept you are presenting, and it is completely valid. However, there is a crucial nuance.

    Anger is one of the emotions given to us by God. It is probably the most difficult to handle, but it is not wrong or sinful. Denying or repressing one’s anger only leads to problems. I would love to see this distinction on your presentation: Honesty without hostility.

    I was in an abusive relationship for 28 years, but until recently I couldn’t see it for what it was. Two major positive events that happened in my marriage are related to our topic at hand:

    1) I would beg him during his rages, “please don’t yell at me.” This would only set him off on a tirade: “I’m not yelling, you’re just too sensitive; you’d know it if I was yelling!” Then implied through tone and body language: “And you really don’t want to see that!”) So I learned I couldn’t ask him to stop yelling. One day I had the epiphany to ask him “please don’t speak to me in such a hostile fashion.” He was far more receptive to that, and became more thoughtful instead of belligerent. I know a lot of abusive men wouldn’t have calmed down, but if it worked for me here, I think it would work well in non-abusive marriages where hostility during fights is an issue.

    2) January 20, 2017 marked the turning point in our relationship. He was in the middle of a rage, and I calmly addressed him: “It’s okay to be angry. I might feel angry too if [acknowledgment of what he was angry about.] It’s normal for you to feel angry. But it’s not okay to be rude.” Of course that didn’t go over well at all – in the moment. But it opened the door to finally address the issue once and for all, in the aftermath of the incident.

    The Bible says, “In your anger, do not sin.” I believe anger can become sin when we allow it to lead to other things, like hostility, bitterness, or righteous indignation. That doesn’t mean we need to deny or repress the anger. Libl writes about her “catch-22,” not feeling heard unless there’s anger. I wonder if part of the solution is to express the anger, but lose the hostility.

    • @T – For some what you say would be a huge help. For others, it would be permission to stay in their anger. I agree anger is not sin, but we are told to move past it (don’t let the sun set on your anger).
      I’m glad you found something that helped in your marriage, and I’m sure it will help someone else. Thanks for sharing!
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Ask Yourself The Critical QuestionMy Profile

      • Thanks, Paul, and I agree with your caveat 100%. Anger is not sin, but nursing one’s anger is. In my mind, nursing anger is the same as bitterness, so I thought I had it covered…but other people might view it differently so I really appreciate you rounding out and clarifying the message. None of what I meant to convey would give anyone permission to hold on to their anger. Nursing anger, if not defined as bitterness, is certainly the first step on the road to it.

        If the distinction between anger and hostility is not made, the original post can imply that one needs to “get over it” before they can talk with their spouse, and that’s just not true. I don’t think that’s what you meant to say, either. Sometimes talking it out when you’re angry is a great way to set aside your anger before the sun goes down. Sometimes it’s better to be able to say, “I am feeling very angry with this issue, can we work through it together? -or- Can you help me with this?” Especially for men, who often have a special relationship with anger and may even have been told it’s wrong, it can be helpful to mentally separate the feeling of anger with the behavior of hostility.

        On a different note, I sometimes get the vibe that there are times when I get on your nerves, or you get frustrated with me. I don’t know if that’s accurate. In a comment on a previous post, someone said something I also learned recently in an abuse recovery group: the difference between “yes, but…” and “yes, and…” Your reply to me on this post felt a little bit, like a “yes, but…” and I felt slightly discouraged and diminished. (Don’t worry, I realize it could easily just be my perception, and it’s something I felt briefly and got over quickly. Not a big deal.)

        Then I wondered if I have had my own problem with “yes, but…” Do my replies to this post feel like a “yes, but…” to you? And if so, how could I say it differently while still conveying my message? This comment I’m writing now can certainly read like my first paragraph says “yes” and the second says “but” and I have no idea how to fix that and still make my point. But I don’t want to come across as contentious, either. Also, have I had a problem conveying “yes, but…” to you in the past? I wonder if we have crossed wires like this before.

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