There are many spouses who would never contemplate hitting their mate, but think nothing of yelling, screaming, raging and lecturing them, sometimes for hours.
I want to suggest that yelling at your spouse is a verbal slap to the heart.
Although physically assaulting your wife or husband (even once) is generally considered an adequate reason to separate until the wounded spouse feels safe – verbal assaults may do just as much damage and lead to the same result. And the heart may take a much longer time to heal than the body.
Lecturing a spouse is treating them like a child. I don’t care how much you feel the need to berate them or “educate” them; it is just wrong and contemptuous. The worst time and place to do this is in the bedroom at bedtime. The other worst time to do this is during the rest of the day. If you find yourself wanting to do this, take a break, get away and settle down.
It might even be worse for the child of a raging parent. There is a larger power imbalance and the dependency needs are greater. The kids can’t always leave the room to protect themselves emotionally. I have heard adult children confess that they would have preferred being spanked to having to endure the intense screaming and shaming. One man said this to me:
“Whenever Dad yelled at me the look on his face said he hated me and was disgusted with me.” Then the man broke down crying.
I wonder if your spouse feels hated too when you scream at them?
Often this is a family of origin issue, meaning that it was behavior that was modeled in the family in which you grew up. Mom or Dad was a yeller, and so it just feels normal to scream at people. It might be normal to you, but it may not be normal to the others around you – and it certainly isn’t healthy or mature.
Sometimes the angry behavior is a way of coping with depression. It is said that women tend to go sad and cry when depressed and men tend to go angry and aggressive. When we act out angry feelings there is a boost in adrenaline that may pull us temporarily out of the feeling of depression. Unfortunately it is also followed by a letdown and usually a feeling of regret for pushing people away.
The best solution I know is to run away when you feel compelled to act out. Separate yourself as quickly as possible and let the feelings dissipate. For some people fear and anxiety drives them to lash out. Take yourself away and sort out the feelings so that you can deal with people calmly and rationally.
And lastly and most importantly, according to the Bible, it is often also a sin that separates us from God.
Ephesians 4:26 (NIV) “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
Proverbs 22:24-25 (NIV) Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.