Love Doesn’t React in Anger


Dear Anthony,

I was wondering if you could help me. I really love my boyfriend, but sometimes he just snaps at me for no reason. I don’t like it when he raises his voice at me. I snap back at him in anger, which doesn’t make it any better, I know. But I don’t want him to think he can get away with talking to me that way. Do you have any advice for us?

I’m glad to hear you asking about this in a way that implies the love you have for each other should be able to find a way through this. Too often, couples who have similar anger issues (and frankly, every couple has some level of anger issues to contend with) take the easy road of breaking up, because one or both see the flare ups as signs that they are with the wrong person. So I commend you for seeking advice on how to address this before you decide it is a barrier to moving forward.

First, it’s never appropriate to take our anger out on another person. It’s always wrong to raise your voice at another in anger, no matter what the reason. Part of communicating well in a relationship is learning how to convey things that bother you in a way that is productive, not destructive or abusive. “Snapping” in anger is an action of weakness and lack of self-control.

Having said that, many good people snap at the person they love. In fact, it’s part of the comfort level established in the relationship to take our anger out on someone we love. It’s a sign that a person feels safe with you.

When it comes to anger, everyone has their moments. Perhaps we are very tired, or hungry, or had a bad day. There are many reasons why a person might snap at the person he loves, and say something he regrets.

Though the subject matter of the person’s anger is almost always directed at the person she is snapping at, many times it really has nothing to do with that person. I often advise people to think (even pray as it happens) that it must be something else causing this. The person you love is probably not out to get you. Every normal, healthy relationship will have its moments. The degree and frequency of the outbursts should help you discern if this is normal.

The last thing you want to do is retaliate. It’s perfectly natural to get defensive and want to protect yourself against this injustice. But to get angry in return is counter-productive. It’s best to allow the outburst to run its course unabated, and then address it with him later when things are calm and back to normal.

It could be that your boyfriend is too emotionally unstable to date. He might even be verbally abusive, which means your relationship has to be put on hold, or even ended, until he can achieve anger management.

But let’s assume that he is the type of person who wears his emotions on his sleeves because he is a passionate person. These type of people are as intense with their happiness as they are with their sadness. The woman who loves this type of person needs to be someone who can handle it, but also someone who is willing to help him learn how to control himself and find a better way to express himself.

You must never be a doormat to this type of person. But you should learn how to manage the situation. No, he can never be allowed to believe he can get away with talking to you in such a disrespectful way. But you could try to learn how to help him calm down. Again, I’m not saying you should allow him to be verbally abusive. That is completely against your dignity and fosters an unhealthy relationship.

This is not easy, but true love finds it easy. Does that make sense? If you are in love with each other, then I’m sure it’s very easy to recover from these episodes of anger. Love also makes it easy for you to want to see past this very negative aspect of him and accept it for the sake of all the good about him. Finally, love makes it easy for you to want to find a way to help him.

Love inspires the desire to help the one we love. Love desires to help the one we love become a better person.

One of the important aspects of marriage is being a good helpmate. If you’re not willing to take the bad with the good, then you will be of no help to the other. Your boyfriend has some issues. Don’t we all! I’m sure you will want him to accept your issues and love you enough to want to help you with them.

It’s up to you to determine if you can be a helpmate and accept the bad with the good. If you can’t handle it, it’s best to let the person go, regardless of how much you love them.

We all have issues. With these issues comes the need of help through them. If we don’t know our issues or insist that others have to deal with them while we do nothing about them, then we run the risk of becoming isolated from other people.

Love each other with a love that accepts the way you both deal with daily life. And don’t marry until you have observed each other enough to know that you are willing to accept each other.


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  • fishman

    hmm… question.
    Is there no such thing as just anger? Should anger not be expressed in an angry fashion? it would seem your suggestion is that someone overcome their natural non-verbal communication in an insincere fashion?

    I agree with much of what was said, and it certainly rings true in the case that anger is misdirected, but I can think if situations in my own relationship, when, had my spouse not ‘yelled’ at me , i probably would not have ‘gotten’ the gravity of the situation, or how my actions were affecting her.

    That being said, given the normal disparity of size and strength it is significantly different for a man to yell at a women vs a woman to yell at a man, but could you take the time to address what you would consider an appropriate response to just anger that does not involve falsehood in body language and tone?

    • noelfitz

      it is great to hear from you.

      Your views are always solid and well-founded.

      Anger is often appropriate, but yelling at someone can never be appropriate.

      In the Bible one sees “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger (NRSV, Eph 4:26).

      Looking up “anger” in the Bible one sees it is used very often for the anger of the Lord.

      In 4 Maccabees one sees “No one of us can eradicate anger from the mind, but reason can help to deal with anger”. (4Ma 3:3 NRS).

      I suspect that even saints (eg Josemaria Escriva and Jerome)got very angry.

  • wild rose

    In Matt 21:12 in the Cleansing of the Temple, Jesus drives out all those who were buying and selling in the temple. This might be the only time recorded in the New Testament when Jesus displayed anger.

    Sometime ago the local paper interviewed a husband and wife on their 60th wedding anniversary. The writer asked the couple’s advice on a successful marriage. The wife stated, “Never get angry at the same time.” This is sound advice and I include it in all my wedding greeting cards.