Three years ago I spoke at a conference for middle-aged single people who were learning how best to find a loving spouse. A few days ago I spoke at the same conference, and a couple—Mark and Linda—came up after my initial address to tell me that they had used the principles of Real Love to develop a relationship and get married.
“How’s your marriage doing?” I asked.
“Well, sometimes he gets mad at me,” Linda said. Clear this was one reason they came to see me.
“Not very often,” Mark retorted. “Sure, sometimes I make a little mistake with my irritation, but then she carries it around for hours, or even days.”
“Doesn’t seem fair, does it?” I asked.
“No,” he said.
“So imagine, Mark, that you and I are working outside together digging a ditch. We each have a shovel, and at one point I swing my shovel carelessly and hit you in the face. The shovel makes a long, deep laceration, along with significant bruising and a broken cheek bone. It only took me a second to inflict the injury, but it will take you several weeks to recover. It’s kind of like that when you get angry ‘not very often.’ Every single time you get angry, she hears ‘I don’t love you,’ and the wound is significant. The wounds also add up. They get harder to recover from. And you don’t get any credit for the times you don’t hit her in the face.”
“So what am I supposed to do?” he asked.
“This may be hard to hear,” I said, “but I’ve learned the truth of it through extensive personal experience and through the experiences of tens of thousands of other people around the world. The solution is that you make an unshakable commitment NEVER to express anger at your sweetheart. Never, ever, no time.”
“That seems impossible,” he said.
“In the beginning, it will seem strange, to be sure, but I promise you that NOT hitting her in the face with a shovel is MUCH easier than just hitting her from time to time and hoping that she’ll heal. Hang on a second. Let me check this out.” I turned to Linda and asked, “Does that sound like a better plan to you, having a policy of ZERO tolerance for anger in your relationship?”
Without a word, Linda beamed her approval.
“You will make mistakes, Mark. You’ll get angry, but on those occasions call somebody who can love you while you’re angry—somebody who won’t be affected by it—instead of hitting Linda in the face. It’s a powerful principle in creating a much more loving marriage.”
With tears streaming down her face, Linda embraced Mark and said, “There is nothing in the world that would mean more to me than you trying this out.”
Make a promise to yourself and to your spouse right now that you will have zero tolerance for expression of anger. Sure, you might get angry, but express it to someone who can love you and help you cool down. Then you can return to the joy of loving your partner.
Learn more about eliminating your anger!