Is Your Anger Causing Your Marriage Problems?
By Benjamin Deu, MA, LMHC, Seattle Christian Counseling
Referenced from Milan and Kay Yerkovich’s book “How We Love”
This article is part of a series about the personality imprints covered in “How We Love.” You can find an introductory article about imprints here. It will be followed by a practical article with steps for dealing with your controller imprint. That article can be found here.
Anger is a wonderful, terrible emotion. It fills you with power and confidence, but saps the strength of those you are angry with. It squashes your fear by instilling fear in others. While, when expressed for the right reasons, anger is not a sinful emotion, our sinful nature often manages to corrupt it.
In their book, “How We Love,” Milan and Kay Yerkovich analyze the causes and characteristics of people with “controller” imprints. While these people may be irritable and dominant, more often they are tyrannical and abusive. They tend to have been raised in households much like the ones they make for themselves, chaotic, tense, frightening battlefields where one parent rules and everyone else lives in fear of enraging them.
What Creates an Abuser?
Abusers almost always grew up in abusive homes. These people were surrounded by unhealthy, volatile relationships
and learned to accept that as normal. “Often their parents struggle with numerous addictions, deal with mental illnesses, or are absent altogether. For these kids, parents don’t relieve stress; they create it, leaving the children with a huge dilemma. They need their parents in order to survive, but their parents are the source of danger, anxiety, and fear.” (101) Childhood was unpredictable as these “chaotic” imprints did not have in a pattern. While the other personality styles detailed in the book were unhealthy, the children raised by them had the advantage of knowing how the ugly performances of their households would play out. All controller/victim children can do is try to avoid instigating their parents. This means they enter adulthood with a stress-management structure that has all the strength of balsawood. They often grow up to be adults who try to start fights or inappropriately seduce people, because this gives them some measure of control over how the storm will begin.
Controllers are the opposite to victims on the “chaotic” imprint. Instead of becoming passive observers, retreating from their volatile home atmosphere, controllers deal with the madness by asserting dominance where they can. “Naturally strong kids learn to fight back, especially as they get older. Anger is power and preferable to humiliation, shame, fear, or grief. As these kids move into adulthood, experience has taught them to control others or be controlled. They have no other defense.” (102) You can find out more about the (victim imprint in this article LINK TO VICTIM ARTICLE)
I Can’t Believe He’s Really Like That
Controllers dominate their families because they believe that it is their only alternative to being controlled. Compromise is not an option. They also crave the praise and admiration they never received growing up. They are also looking for the devotion they never had either. So they demand their spouse enumerate every part of their day and explain why they have been spending so much time with their new opposite sex coworker. Their parents did not feel the need to stick around, and controllers anxiously rage against the day when their spouse tries to leave them. (112-113)
When victims try to leave, they are often sent back to the abuse by people who refuse to believe their situation. Controllers often have charismatic and persuasive personalities that disguise the tyrant who rules at home. They’re more likely to pat their spouse on the head in public than knock them to the ground, which makes it difficult for the victim to get anyone to believe them about the ugliness at home. “You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor.” (Psalm 52:2 NIV) In this Psalm, David foretold the destruction of King Saul’s attendants. He wrote about how they were confident their wickedness worked in their favor, but David said it would eventually lead to their downfall. It is the same for controllers. They may feel secure in the power they accumulate by keeping their family in a vise of fear, but their ungodly cruelty only serves to destroy any possibility that they may receive the love and respect they crave.
Controllers take advantage of others because they think they deserve it. They feel justified in manipulating others to achieve their desires. They angrily attack anyone who questions their behavior. Controllers emotionally abuse and belittle others to maintain control. Sometimes they apologize after violently punishing a family member and promise it won’t happen again, but the Yerkovichs say this is another method of drawing their victim back in so they can regain control. (114)
Heal Your Anger Through Christian Counseling
“Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:20 NIV) Jesus was not a tyrant. While he was angry at times; even with the apostles, we do not see him physically abusing anyone. He did not abuse his authority as the Son of God for earthly gain. He had a servant’s heart, and was confident enough to humble himself and scrub the mud off his followers’ feet.
If you would like to replace your own frightening rage with a heart like Christ’s, one that is “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry,” schedule time with a professional Christian counselor in Seattle. (James 1:19 NIV) While this article has a companion article full of practical exercises, from “How We Love,” (LINK) changing deep-set, lifelong behavior is almost impossible without assistance. Choose someone who can assist you with therapeutic techniques and spiritual guidance that will help you become the Godly authority figure the Lord wants you to be.
Images cc: freedigitalphotos.com – “Frustrated Businessman” by stockimages
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