"Turn Off the News, and Go Make Love to Your Spouse: Why Your Anger Addiction May Be a Bigger Threat to Your Marriage Than Porn"
Most of us have friends whose homes have been ravaged by porn. We know those statistics. We know that fallout. Yet, there's an equally-dangerous addition wrecking American Christian marriages--an addiction many pastors and faith-based organizations feed weekly.
That addiction is anger.
I started to affiliate anger and addiction several years ago when talking to an acquaintance on the phone. News pundits were blaring in the background of her house; I could hear their shrill and angry voices. This woman could barely concentrate on our brief conversation because she was ravenous for the fight that she was missing.
This wasn't a pivotal day in American history--no 9-11 or SCOTUS confirmation here. This was just a regular day of partisan politics--and yet, commentators screeched and roared, threatening our nation's demise and pumping viewers with hate and fury.
The only word fit to describe this woman's eagerness to feed off that program is "lust." She wasn't exercising a responsible citizen's desire for information. She was a junkie looking for another adrenaline hit.
Snack food companies spend tons of money on the science of flavors--they know the combinations that keeping you reaching for one more chip. Likewise, news stations know exactly how to make you an addict. They carefully combine emotions to increase your need for consumption--using fear to prick your primal defenses, smugness to medicate your insecurity, and fury to pique chemicals like dopamine epinephrine and norepinephrine. And just like lust poured into pornography destroys marital intimacy, lust for political anger is undermining the marital bond.
If you have a special medical condition or a past trauma that prevents intimacy, ignore the rest of this essay. My exhortation doesn't apply to those situations. But if you are an average, middle-aged, married person who sits on the couch night after night, allowing your heart to beat wildly in political anger before reaching a climax of apocalyptic fear and fury, listen up.
I'm telling you that habit is perverted.
I'm telling you that news has become a physiological and emotional crutch for you--a substitute for family-building intimacy that you should be having with your spouse.
I Corinthians 7:5 gives Christians a command. Paul tells husbands and wives to get busy in their bedrooms--never depriving one another, except for a designated season of prayer. With marching orders like this, Christians should have the most consistently affectionate physical relationships on the planet. We should be love machines, folks.
Instead, thousands and thousands of Christian couples are ignoring selfless and generous marital care while chasing self-righteous and triggered political ire.
This is emotional adultery.
Addicts think nothing of watching pundits for two hours a night while claiming to have no time to make love to their spouses. No wonder so many marriages are blowing to bits right now! Sitting in front of a screen, inviting anger to supply your nightly emotional high is self-indulgent and lazy, not patriotic. If this is your regular groove, you are having an affair with the spirit of the age.
There are so many good ways to stay informed about matters of national importance. Just like God provides healthy and holy venues for sexual activity, he provides healthy and holy venues for educating ourselves as citizens.
But anger-news is a moral equivalent to porn. You cannot consume it without damaging your marriage. You cannot consume it without damaging your kids.
So I'm asking you to seriously, prayerfully consider how you utilize this material in your home. Is it taking up time or emotions that should be invested in your spouse? Have you embraced the flattery, the fear, and the lies that propel this industry into generating billions of dollars a year?
A couple of clarifying questions to help you see if you've let the anger-news take up too much real estate in your heart:
1. Does the thought of lighting some candles and heading to bed early with your spouse feel awkward or bizarre to you? Would it be way more comfortable for you to throw on MSNBC or FOX News and listen to strangers rant about the opposing political party or predict the end of America?
2. Do you know more about how your spouse is doing this week, or do you know more about the details of the Kavanaugh/Ford hearing?
Conservatives go by-the-book about so many commands of the Old and New Testament--but they seem to overlook Scripture's direct command for husbands and wives to make time to make love. If we are not obeying that command--and if we have the physical and emotional capacity to do so--we are not walking in submission to Jesus.
Why is a female Christian writer posting about this? Frankly, I see way more women struggling with this addiction than men. And I'm tired of hearing about marriage after marriage breaking down because of distracted, anger-addicted spouses.
You want to save America? Then turn off the nightly news tonight. Go spend time with the one you've been given. Unless there's a legit national crisis, make a boundary for what you consume in the evenings. And obey your Lord by investing your passion where it can actually make a difference in somebody's life. You'll both feel a lot better in the morning, and your kids will grow up in a healthier, more connected, less frightened, more joyful home.
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(Excerpts from "How Does Anger Become Addictive?" by Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW)
▪ In the same way that substances trigger brain chemical rushes, so too does the expression and expulsion of anger. The amygdala is a structure in the brain with the important task of noticing the presence of a physical or emotional threat and then sounding the alarm. The brain is then hijacked, with the possibility of crashing into a mountainside. Emotional air traffic control is needed to land the plane safely.
▪ The neurotransmitter chemicals known as catecholamines are released causing a blast of kinetic energy that can last a few minutes. In a counterintuitive way, feeling bad sometimes feels good. Like any addiction, anger can induce discharge of dopamine epinephrine and norepinephrine — also referred to as adrenaline and noradrenaline.
▪ The adrenalin rush contributes to a sense of strength and invulnerability.
▪ Our brains register pleasure when these chemicals are doing what comes naturally to them, and then get reinforced each time we engage in similar behaviors.
▪ For some, feeling anger creates a sense of aliveness that may enhance an otherwise constricted or neutral emotional state.
▪ As is so in any addictive condition, there are consequences such as loss of job, family, friends, health and money.