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Ten Do’s and Don’ts for Dealing With an Angry Partner

Ten Do’s and Don’ts for Dealing With an Angry Partner

Anger is a powerful emotion which can cause untold destruction if it continues unchecked. Just like a forest fire which destroys towering trees, houses and lives in its path, so it is with anger which gets out of control. When you are in an intimate relationship with an angry person, a lot of wisdom is required in order to keep the relationship at a reasonably functional level. This article will outline ten do’s and don’ts which can be helpful when you are dealing with an angry partner.

1. DO keep calm…

Admittedly this may not be easy to do, especially when your spouse is lashing out at you, but the calmer you can remain, the quicker your partner will get over his or her outburst. Keeping calm is a temporary strategy to use in the heat of the moment. Nothing good will be achieved if you are both screaming at each other. Then when the angry one has calmed down you will be able to address the matter in a more constructive manner.

2. DON’T fight fire with fire…

This point follows on from the previous one of keeping calm. It is counterproductive if you also get angry in response to your partner’s anger. If you add more fire to the already existing fire it will just burn on for longer, and the damage left in its wake will be that much more hurtful. Let you partner be angry alone. The sharp contrast of your calm, peaceful and mature attitude may help your partner to realize how badly he or she is behaving.

3. DO think about your own behavior…

This is where you need to be brutally honest with yourself. Is there anything that you are doing or not doing which provokes or worsens your partner’s anger? The natural tendency of angry partners is to blame you or someone else for their outbursts, so you need to be very careful here not to absorb all the blame they so willingly offload. Remember, you are responsible only for your own actions, not theirs. If you have something to apologise for or to make adjustments in your behaviour, then do so and move on.

4. DON’T become co-dependent…

Do you ever find yourself covering up for your angry partner? If they have mouthed off and offended one of your friends or family members, do you quietly go to the person afterwards and ‘explain’ why your partner didn’t really mean what they said and that they are really not that bad? If you keep on doing this kind of thing, you partner will not be able to learn to take the full brunt of the consequences caused by their anger.

5. DO establish boundaries…

When you have an angry partner it is very important that you establish some firm boundaries. Decide how much of your partner’s anger you are willing to tolerate, and what you will not allow, then inform your partner accordingly and be prepared to defend and maintain that boundary line. Boundaries are a way of recognizing that all relationships require mutual respect in order to flourish. Remember, boundaries are not a selfish way of life; rather boundaries build and preserve healthy relationships.

When you have an angry partner it is very important that you establish some firm boundaries.6. DON’T tolerate disrespect and abuse…

One of your boundaries would certainly need to be clear regarding the aspect of disrespect and abuse. As the saying goes, there is no excuse for abuse. Do you allow yourself to be belittled, yelled at, and stonewalled or to be the recipient of any other form of abuse, whether emotional, verbal or physical? If you take the disrespect and abuse over and over, you are allowing it and letting your angry partner believe that it is okay. It’s not, and it’s up to you to make that clear.

7. DO cultivate compassion…

An angry person is often someone who has been deeply hurt and is choosing to use their anger to protect themselves. The slightest threat or insecurity can cause them to flare up as a defence mechanism. So if you can create a sense of emotional security, you may find that a lot of the anger can be diffused. This can be done through patience and compassion, by saying kind things instead of being critical, listening attentively, and being sincere, not mocking or sarcastic.

8. DON’T neglect to get help…

If being with your angry partner is starting to get to you and you feel overwhelmed and hopeless at times, please get some help. Find a counsellor or therapist, or speak to someone you can trust. Tell your partner how you feel and suggest that you get help together. Don’t feel that you have to struggle on alone. It is always good to get an objective viewpoint because when you are embroiled in a situation you may not be able to see things clearly at all. Blame, guilt, depression and a host of other negative emotions can soon slip in like rising flood waters, making the already difficult situation that much worse.

9. DO know when to walk away…

If your angry partner acknowledges that they have a problem and they are willing to get help and work on their anger issues, then there is hope, like a light at the end of a dark tunnel. However, if there is no acknowledgement of any wrong doing, or a superficial apology with no real change or effort to change, then you need to make some difficult decisions. Ask yourself whether you can carry on indefinitely with no change, except perhaps a change for the worse as anger tends to intensify over time if not effectively dealt with. If your answer is no then it may be time for you to walk away.

10. DON’T forget who you are…

One of the grave dangers of having an angry partner is that you too become an angry person. After all, anger can be quite contagious. Always stay true to yourself and the person that you know you are. Your partner’s anger is theirs to deal with – not yours to take on board. As you consistently and patiently express your emotions in a mature and healthy way you will help your partner learn to do the same.