Skip to main content

Your Right to Cry…My Right to Be Angry

By December 12, 2011Encouragement, Marriage

Sometimes I get angry…or to Cheryl it looks like anger.

Your right to cry is my right to be angry!

It’s usually not a major issue, it could be a car that pulls out in front of me or a reaction to a ballgame. Sometimes it’s even disappointment in myself, but at times I have to remind Cheryl that I have a right to be angry…or at least to express the emotion I feel, which to her looks like anger. (It’s usually not what I would even term anger…maybe frustration…but my definition and hers might differ.) I have as much right to feel my emotions of anger, as Cheryl has a right to cry.

Let me be clear. I have rarely been angry at her. Thankfully that has only happened a couple times in our marriage, but as a man, I have as much a right to be angry as Cheryl has a right, as a woman, to cry. I don’t usually express emotion in tears. Instead, the same emotions that Cheryl feels when she sheds tears are often expressed by me in what appears to her to be anger. Anger in its simplest form is an emotional release as a reaction to a situation; much like crying. (As some women have pointed out to me before, this can be personality driven, so the roles can be reversed in a relationship also.)

Please don’t misunderstand. My right to express anger is never an excuse to throw things, hit someone, or even be verbally abusive. I never have that right. You don’t either. None of us should allow our emotions to turn into times of violence. There is never an excuse for that. Learning to control our emotions is a key to establishing healthy relationships. (If your emotions are uncontrollable then I encourage you to seek help. Addressing serious emotional problems for the male or female is not the purpose of this post.)

In Ephesians chapter four, it is clear that we should not sin in anger. We are also told not to go to bed in anger, and, thankfully, Cheryl and I have a commitment not to do that in our marriage. Further, in the same passage, we are told to get rid of anger. The passage, however, clearly allows a place for anger in our lives.

The dilemma between couples is not to limit a person from feeling, or even expressing, emotions. Bottled up emotions are dangerous. The real issue is to better understand the differences in our makings and learn to adapt who we are in a mutually submissive response to each other. In my relationship with Cheryl, as an example, when I get angry at something when I’m with her, which is again often my natural response to things that upset me, I must control that anger to keep it from becoming harmful to our relationship. I still reserve the right to feel and express the emotions, just as Cheryl has the right to cry when she is upset while in my company. The goal in any relationship is to create a healthy environment where both parties are free to be emotionally open with each other, while maintaining the strength and integrity of the relationship.

In order to accomplish that, I have to guard against my emotional expressions causing a wedge between us. Most women don’t like to see anger displayed. When a man gets angry, even with controlled anger, the woman may feel threatened, intimidated and uneasy. That’s a natural reaction to a misunderstood emotion. Two things need to happen, therefore. First, Cheryl has to understand when I’m angry, it’s an emotional release, that may or may not be aimed at her, but is normal for my wiring. Second, I need to limit my emotional release to the point where her understanding can process my emotions. When I cause her to shut down in fear, for example, because of what she views as anger, then I’ve crossed the line in what is an appropriate emotional release.

What needs to be equally understood is that the same thing often happens to a man in reaction to a woman’s tears. When Cheryl, or any woman, begins to cry I immediately shut-down, become defensive; perhaps even a little afraid. I don’t know how to respond adequately to a woman in tears, just as most women don’t know how to respond to a man in his displayed anger.

This is a paradox that exists in the male/female relationship because we are so different. It is part of the mystery that in the end causes attraction between the two sexes. This post is also not an excuse for a person’s refusal to mature in areas such as growing in patience or offering forgiveness. As we mature, our emotional highs and lows should flare less about things that matter less. (Explaining all that would need another post.)

The next time your man gets angry at something, give him time to unwind, help him process through it if he wants you to, but let him be a man. Guys, let your wives cry without trying to fix the thing she is crying about! Then, both the man and the woman should use the experience to learn from each other and have a stronger, more emotionally open and healthy relationship.

I’m fully confident this post will cause some anger to raise among my women readers. That’s okay. I can handle anger. Just please, don’t cry! 🙂

You may now want to read:

5 Tips in Communicating with Men

5 Tips in Communicating with Women

(Also, read the comments to this post. I’ve expanded some thoughts there.)

Related Posts

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

More posts by Ron Edmondson

Join the discussion 20 Comments

  • shukion123 says:

    I'm glad my wife doesn't cry… I can only remember one time when she did and that was when her mom died at a very young age, (we're not at the age normally when parents die yet). However, sometimes I feel my wife can be a little aloof. Compared to me she is less emotional, but I am not very emotional myself but I feel that it would be better for our marriage if she was more open. Ron, do you have any advice? I don't feel that her coldness is an artificial thing, but should I try to respect her differences or push the issue more?

    • ronedmondson says:

      I think you should respect her differences. If there is a reason she's not emotional, such as she's covering up a past hurt or injury, then that's different. If it's simply personality let her be as she is. Not everyone is the same. 

  • Shannon Popkin says:

    I love this! Especially the ending. 🙂 I sure don't want my husband telling me I can't cry about something, and yes, I do feel it's my right to cry! But like you point out, I don't extend my husband the same right to express frustration or anger. I say he's out of control; but then I put crying (which is also not controlling emotions) in a different category. Interesting!

  • Keep God First says:

    Great post. As a woman, sometimes, it really would be comforting to me if he would try to fix what I am crying about. RE: men, my hubby says it's frustration… like wanting to go out and kick something.

  • I like how you give the sense here that dealing with unhealthy emotions is about teamwork, not one partner against the other. I’m wondering if “freedom” would be a better word than “right?” You have the freedom to be unhealthy if you so choose, but saying “right” just feels like people need to accept our unhealthy behavior. I know that’s not what you’re communicating, but I sense it could be misconstrued that way… Thoughts?

  • MichaelDWarden says:

    Great post, Ron. Thanks!

  • Michael says:

    Great post. I was shown this a couple of years ago, that man's expression of anger is the parallel to a woman's crying. Ephesians said to, "Be angry," so obviously it's okay. But, yes, not to sin when we are angry is also the instruction. I used to think that if my wife and I were arguing or had not resolved an issue before bedtime, the instruction meant to stay up until it was resolved. I learned, though, that the sun going down happened before we went to bed, so we should really postpone a serious conversation until a more suitable time. In fact, Ephesians cross references to Psalm 2, which says tremble and do not sin. Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still. This is good instruction for dealing with anger. Go get on your bed, be still, meditate on the issue, pray. Then, you can approach the issue in calmness after having received God's perspective and wisdom.

  • Gail says:

    Thanks for this post. I’ve never thought about a man’s anger this way before. I do tend to get upset and annoyed when my husband gets angry at something I find unimportant, like a bad play in a football game or a car traveling slowly in the passing lane. I was previously married to an abusive man so any type of anger puts me uncomfortably on edge; I’ll need to think and pray about my reaction to what may be a necessary release for some people. Thanks again.

  • I think I should be reading the book "Men are from Mars Women are from Venus" written by John Gray. How men and women are unique as the creations of God.

  • I loved how you compared expressions of anger to crying. I had never really thought about it like that, but it really clicks.
    My only question is this: when does an expression of frustration cross the line into sinful anger? You mentioned the threshold of violence, but is that the defining point?
    I guess there may not be a cut and dry answer, but I'm just trying to think through these issues as I try to be a better husband.

    • ronedmondson says:

      It is a great question, and I'm not sure I know the answer. I think I would go towards more of what you are trying to accomplish as a husband. My goal is that the two of us, my wife and me, become one, as Ephesians 5 commands us to. So, if my anger keeps that from happening, either in my own heart (where I build resentment towards her, etc.) or in her reaction to my expression of anger (she shuts down, is afraid, can't trust me, etc.) then I've allowed the anger to get out of hand. The same would be true of tears coming from the woman.Again, no easy answer here, and this is never an excuse for me not be growing in patience, getting angry less, certainly responding in anger for the right things, and overall be maturing as a person, but I would draw the line on the progress you are trying to make in a relationship.Hope that makes some sense.

      • It does make sense. Basically, it has to do with the context of the situation and your relationship with the person. Once it starts to become a true stumbling block, then that crosses the line. But if your spouse is understanding and if your heart is merely expressing and not mulling over negativity, then it's a different thing. Makes sense.