I was eating lunch with my wife a few days ago when she said that in hindsight she is thankful for a rule I established early on in our relationship. I told her many years ago that I would never raise my voice with her, but that I would expect the same treatment in return. I said I was willing to end the relationship if she could not abide by the rule.

This seems like a common sense condition, but it does not take long to realize that many people do not follow it — even in public. In fact, some people claim that yelling adds “passion” to a relationship. I would argue that screaming at a spouse and calling the ordeal an aphrodisiac is a form of denial; it is dysfunction masquerading as love.

When a person raises his or her voice in an argument, it is a sign of desperation. It indicates a loss of control. The couple immediately enters an emotional realm that is conducive to mental and physical violence, which is why it is exponentially embarrassing if the man is the one who raised his voice first.

Yelling at someone does not add legitimacy to an argument, but for some reason many individuals think increased decibel-levels magically perform such a function.

Raising your voice does denote anger, but a healthier way of conveying that feeling is to simply say, “I am angry.” If you say what you mean and mean what you say with your spouse on a regular basis, then that statement alone will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.

As was already mentioned, a man should never yell at his significant other. The vast majority of men are physically stronger than the women in their life, so ending a disagreement by introducing the specter of violence — even if the man has never physically harmed his wife — is  cowardly, wrong, and ipso facto detrimental to the long-term health of the relationship.

“Anybody can become angry,” Aristotle wrote. “That is easy. But to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not … easy.”

Anger is a natural feeling, and in general there is nothing wrong with feeling anger. The key is to channel that anger in healthy ways. If you struggle with this task, then I suggest checking out the book “Overcoming Sinful Anger,” by Rev. T.G. Morrow. It is a short book, but one filled with advice that will leave you happier and healthier if you take his words to heart.

RELATED: Ten tips for a stable relationship

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

4 comments

  1. Early on in my marriage, we would occasionally raise our voices, we are stubborn, independent people, and I think the shock having another person around that did things differently was a real adjustment period. The act that both of us were already in our late 20’s kind of helped with that friction. Nothing good ever came from it.

    Still, we both obeyed a piece of advice her grandparents gave us…never go to bed angry. Which is really a way of saying don’t hold on to your anger, and I remember in those early days, we both refused to let an angry word be the last word.

    Honestly, it would have been good to have your wisdom in those days, but we got by. Forgiveness and dedication are good bandages for two imperfect people growing together. Nowadays we rarely argue and never yell. And this has made raising the children very rewarding for us, we never lash out in anger, we punish, we deny, but no decision is ever made toward the children in anger.

    “I love you.” The most spoken words in the house, and the first and last words we say to each other each day.

    1. Did you read my post “Ten tips for a stable relationship”?

      We’re in agreement, because “don’t hold grudges” and saying “I love you” regularly are on the list. Ha!

      The weird thing about this post is that less than 24 hours after writing it my wife and I were sitting in our living room and our upstairs neighbors were fighting (again). The guy says, “You have a right to be annoyed, but you don’t have a right to yell at me.”

      The woman’s response? “I can yell if I want to.” The guy left the house to go to the “grocery store” afterward. I don’t see that relationship lasting unless there are major changes to the woman’s attitude…

      The few times my wife and I have been in arguments it just gets weird to me and I start laughing because it’s like, “Am I really going to be upset over this and stew in my own home? This is ridiculous. No.”

      When I get upset I just go to bed and then when I wake up the next day it’s a clean slate. My wife is amazed that I can just go to bed after an argument while she sits up thinking about it, but my response is, “Well, when I wake up I’m totally over it.” Why should it affect my sleep if I know tomorrow is a new day? 🙂

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