Think about what happens when you or someone you are in a relationship with gets angry. Blood pressure rises, heart rate increases, and worst of all, communication comes to a screeching halt. The ability to remain loving and rational leaves on a Lear jet, and when the confrontation is over, the wounds may have caused irreversible damage. If you or someone you love has an out of control temper, it’s time to talk about it and make real changes that will strengthen the relationship.
Long lasting, sincere, balanced relationships are sustained when anger is kept in its proper place. Let’s face it, we all get annoyed at times, anger is an emotional reaction to what feels like an injustice or hurt. If a partner has betrayed our trust or hurt us, it is natural to feel angry, but not productive to remain in that place. On the other hand, raging over small incidents such as towels not being folded a particular way or toothpaste caps not on, or losing it when your partner doesn’t like the same music as you—is unhealthy and destructive.
Relationships need to be nurtured with open lines of communication. Too much angst on a daily basis will erode the very fabric that binds you and your partner. When you are angry, you are not thinking with your rational mind but rather your emotions, and if you don’t step out of the situation to let tempers cool off, you may end up saying hurtful things to your partner. Regardless if said in a fit of rage, words can damage, degrade, and diminish a relationship to the point of being unsalvageable.
Rather than going down that slippery slope, count to ten, then walk away and simmer down before you speak. Write a letter and get out everything you want to say, uncensored, and then burn it. If you want positive results, communicate your needs with a cool head rather than a hot temper. The truth is, any satisfaction you get from saying something mean, is temporary. In the end, the anger subsides, and you’re often left with guilt or shame and sometimes a feeling of emptiness. None of these feelings are constructive to you or your relationship.
Being angry all the time or dealing with someone who is, is exhausting. All the energy spent on getting fired up or attempting to control it’s effect on you, stifles your ability to achieve, to create, and to love. If your partner is often mad and blames you for everything under the sun, you may feel as if you are walking on eggshells. If you are the culprit, you may have a difficult time keeping any lasting relationships and begin to feel misunderstood and alienated.
Anger is both learned and innate, and it manifests in different ways and can stem from a variety of causes. How you saw anger management modeled as a child plays a role in how you handle your own anger. If an abusive parent that modeled chronic anger or fits of rage raised you, you might be imitating that bad behavior as it seems “normal” to you. Maybe you feel emboldened by anger as it gives you a false sense of control.
The good news is whatever the underlying cause, excessive or explosive anger is treatable. The first step is recognizing and owning up to it, and then through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and/or EMDR, you can learn how to live without anger controlling you.
If you and your partner want to change your patterns, practice using “I” statements rather than shaming and blaming (which fuels anger and defensiveness), “I feel betrayed when you don’t follow through with what we agreed upon.” Try being empathetic to your partner. Empathy helps us understand the why behind another’s emotions—that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate bad behavior. Compassion provides valuable insight that can help you understand your partner, which in turn gives you the ability to respond less defensively as you realize it’s not about you. Count to twenty-five, breath, exercise, go for a walk—do whatever it takes to cool off and let your anger dissipate before you speak. Perhaps making an appointment with your partner to discuss the issue the next day at a specific time would be best as this will give you both time to cool down.
When you both feel ready, touch each other—give a hug, make-love, kiss, hold hands, reconnecting physically, is healing. Practice not flying off that proverbial handle, cultivate patience and eventually you will be able to respond rather than react.