“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty and he who controls his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32).

Summer is here and the temperatures are steadily soaring higher than eagles. With the rising heat, tendencies to become easily frustrated or temperamental also seem to rise. Day-to-day responsibilities and inconveniencies can already be overwhelming enough without adding heated arguments to the mix.

I recently heard a national news story of a woman who was so angry with her son for talking back to her that she shot him. Although this is an extreme example, it’s a reminder that explosions of unleashed anger bring devastating consequences.

Anger is an emotion that is typically caused by frustration, pain or unresolved past hurt. Similar to an infection under the skin, anger festers until its breaks through the surface, oozes out and contaminates its surroundings. The venom of angry words and actions have killed more marriages, destroyed more friendships and wrecked more lives than any other behavior.

Dealing with feelings of anger can be handled in numerous ways. Some choose spontaneous reaction, which often spawns regretful words and retaliation from others. Others choose is to suppress their feelings and not address the root cause of the problem, but ignoring issues never brings solutions but instead usually gives a breeding ground for resentment, victim mentality, and bitterness.

God’s choice is for us to approach those with whom we have offended or who have offended us with openness to our own faults, honesty, forgiveness, love and compassion. Only then do we have the ability to reconcile differences and diffuse a relationship bomb. If the other person’s response is below our expectations, which it often is, then we have to ask God to help us contain our anger and make the decision to forgive. Forgiveness is nothing more than a repeated decision that God will enable you to make.  

People are remembered for the problems they create or solve. While some issues are alleviated by a kind of righteous anger that is aimed at injustice, there are far more problems that are created than removed when people allow anger to go unchecked. Proverbs 25:28 says that a person who cannot control his emotions is like a city broken down without walls. Uncontrolled anger leaves us without a guardrail of protection. In another verse found in Proverbs 18:19 we are told that anger can keep us away from others like the bars on a castle.

In a conflict, here are five ways to initiate healing between yourself and your significant other.

1. Don’t wait for them to make the first move. Pride is often the primary reason people wait for the other person to initiate reconciliation. Waiting for someone else to repair walls only leads to lingering trouble. God promises to lift those who are humble in James 4:10.

2. Start with sensitivity instead of solutions. Solving problems is the end goal but beginning with compassion works to accelerate an understanding of another’s feelings and helps to avoid similar conflicts and misunderstandings in the future. We see in Matthew 9:36 that Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw people, and we should be the same.

3. Confess your fault and responsibility for the conflict. While it’s easy to focus on wrongs committed by others, there are almost always some things we did or didn’t do that helped create the problem. James 5:16 says that healing begins with confession.

4. Don’t be defensive, but maintain an open heart and mind about actions you may have taken that were wrong, offensive or maybe even misunderstood. Proverbs 19:20 tells us to listen to advice and receive correction. When we are unwilling to recognize mistakes, failures or wrong actions, we are acting foolish and unable to grow.

5. Be a good hearer and focus more on listening than talking. It’s wrongfully easy to not pay attention to what someone else is saying because we are thinking about what we will say in response. Jesus’ half brother gave some of the best advice to diffuse relational conflict when he told us in James 1:19 to be quick to hear and slow to speak.

Jay Lowder is the founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries and author of Midnight in Aisle 7.

Publication date: July 2, 2014