Marriage Counseling: Anger Is Scary, But Is It Healthy Too?
Anger is a basic human emotion. It’s a sure bet that during your relationship with your partner, one or both of you will be angry. If the situation escalates, anger can sometimes get out of control. For some who’ve grown up with anger in their upbringing anger feels like the start of a violent event. For others, it’s just a way to blow off steam. If you do have that past association with anger, it can be very disconcerting. Anger is scary, but is it healthy too?
The answer is yes; and no. In the context of regular day to day relationships, you’re going to be triggered. It happens. He leaves wet towels or dirty socks on the floor one too many times, or she forgets to meet him at an important appointment. It can be a big or a small thing, but you’re definitely upset and angry. What do you do about it determines the healthy aspect of your relationship.
Do you push your feelings down and remain silent until time after time it happens, she doesn’t know you’re mad, but one little thing triggers you about something seemingly insignificant and you blow your top? You’ve been keeping it all bottled up until there’s an angry explosion. Your partner has no idea that all of those things have been making you angry and you’ve been building up your anger like a volcano and BOOM! There is an eruption of anger. This is absolutely not the healthy way to deal with anger. You begin to resent your partner until your perception of them becomes so negative. They‘re no longer seen as your loving partner, but as the person who does thus and such and drives you crazy. The good news is this kind of angry outburst can be avoided if you will but change a few of your behaviors and your interactions around these things that are irritating or upsetting you.
How do you interact in ways that are healthy when you’re angry? We know that when people are angry their thought processes are shut down. That’s why anger can escalate into out of control shouting or harmful and hurtful language. The way to handle this is to deal with each episode of whatever it is that makes you angry at the time it occurs. So learn to communicate when your partner does that thing that gets you irritated or triggers an angry response. Let them know that what they are doing is causing you a problem, and you and your partner should be able to talk and work it out so that it doesn’t have to escalate into anger. This requires trust, patience and respect on both sides. You must listen to your partner and they must hear your side with an open mind and heart.
Recognize that anger properly managed is a healthy emotion. Couples who know how to deal with this are actually closer because there is an assurance that if something is bothering your partner, you will know about it. This gives you the knowledge that you never will be surprised by learning that someone has been unhappy. Both of you know exactly where you stand because both know how to talk about any of the issues when they come up. You can then resolve the issues with love, respect and a mutual bond that has both people feel that they are important in the relationship.
You want your partner to hear you, so speak in a way that they will be open to receiving the sometimes unpleasant things you have to say. No one wants to be told that what they’re doing is wrong but if what they’re doing is making you uncomfortable or feel that you’re not important to them, they would want to know that. Same goes when it’s the other way around. You both should be willing to deal with anything that goes on like this in a way that is non-threatening and not escalated by angry words, blaming language or threats of any kind.
A healthy couple respects each other’s differences and realizes that while there may be angry moments when they’re feeling triggered, that doesn’t really have any bearing on the overall relationship. If you and your partner are solid with trust and mutual respect, you will be patient enough to hear each other out and resolve your differences with love and humor and avoid building resentment or negative thoughts about each other. This is the healthy way to deal with anger.
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Stuart Fensterheim LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters.
His weekend workshop, Two Days: Seven Conversations has become a popular venue for many to set off on their journey of connectedness. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel.
Stuart practices in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he lives with his loving wife of many years, and their therapy dog, Ollie.