Written By Dawn Ong, Singapore
“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26b).
This verse was close to our hearts as my husband and I went through pre-marital counseling. We promised each other that we would not allow anger to fester overnight, that we would make up and forgive each other before the day was over.
I broke that promise not too long ago.
It was a lazy weekend. My husband and I wanted to run some errands without the children. We started to squabble due to a minor dispute—whether or not we should let the kids watch TV while we were out.
I did not want the children glued to the screen. My husband insisted that we needed something to entertain the kids so we could leave in peace, and the helper could have an easier time. I said no. He said yes.
Our voices grew louder and louder, in front of the kids. They were either glued to their program, oblivious to the heated atmosphere, or they did not know who to side with, and kept silent.
I grabbed the remote control and turned the TV off in a huff, with major protest from the kids. My husband and I were still disagreeing as we stepped out of the house together. I was fuming, and wanted to speak up for my cause. He cut me off mid-sentence, not wanting to listen to my rationale. Of course, that left me seething.
I remained indignant throughout the evening and allowed animosity to permeate the air. I made sure he knew I was mad at him—ignoring him when he asked for my opinion, walking far in front of him with a stomp in my steps, making no eye contact, giving one-word answers, and other childish manners imaginable.I nursed the thought that he should apologize, since he was the one who shut me off in the first place. I continued to sin in anger, with an unforgiving heart.
As we lay in bed that night, I told him I was still annoyed with him, and left it at that, rolling away from him. I did not hear an ounce of apology. I went to bed mad and disappointed. I couldn’t sleep that night and was still grumpy the next morning.
The Next Day
Still upset, I raised the issue the next day. My frustration surprised my husband, as he thought we had reached an understanding. Before I had turned away the night before, he had gently told me, “Sleep on it. We will talk about this when you are less angry.”
I fumed over the fact that he did not care to make up—except I learned that he did. In my frustration, I hadn’t heard him, and allowed anger to linger through the night. I had given the devil a foothold.
We had made a promise during marriage counseling, and I broke it.
In the case of what we had argued about, there was no right and wrong. It was simply a matter of different perspectives. But I had allowed harsh words to strain the relationship, and in my anger, I had sinned.
My husband said he was trying to reach out to me the entire evening. He thought he was being extra nice to me, and was gentle with his words. But I was blinded by resentment, and insisted on an apology. When I did not receive one, that’s all I could focus on.
On my part, I assumed my unhappiness was obvious through my actions. But my husband was unaware of my infuriation, and I didn’t voice my concerns to him until the end of the day. It was a matter of communication. We had not let each other in on our respective thoughts and feelings.
When we finally talked things through openly, we realized that we were both wrong. He was annoyed that I had shut off the TV in anger. I was upset that he did not hear me out. But instead of taking necessary steps towards reconciliation, we had allowed our evening to be taken captive by anger.
If I could do this over, I would have taken time to calm down before anger took over. I could have allowed the kids to watch TV, while explaining my rationale calmly to my husband. He, on the other hand, could have listened to my justifications patiently.
I apologized for switching off the TV in a frustrated fit—both to my husband, and my children. My husband shared his regret for not being proactive in listening to me. We made up, in front of the children, as we shared our marriage counselor’s words, and the promise we made to each other.
I am reminded once again, exactly why anger can be so dangerous. If we ignore it, anger can become like a knife—plunging deep into our relationships, cutting the ties that bond us. When unresolved, it consumes us, blinding us to reason and logic. Anger leaves us prone to let hurtful words spew from our lips, and for our hearts to be filled with soreness.
Paul was wise when he gave the Ephesians these words. They have been proven true time and time again.
“’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27).