Do you find yourself asking, how to control anger in a relationship?
I used to try to justify my anger by saying that it was good to vent and let it out. I then learned from the Dalai Lama that venting anger is toxic and has no place in a loving relationship. The cycle of anger in relationships is vicious. Anger in relationships has a huge potential to sabotage a loving bond.
And yet, I frequently hear clients ask, “Don’t I have the right to be angry?”
Take this scenario, for example: “Wouldn’t you be angry if your wife gave a friend $2,500 out of a joint savings account without telling you?” Of course, most people would. It’s not the emotion of anger that’s toxic – it’s how the anger is expressed.
The primary emotion driving anger in relationships
I learned to see how my venting of anger had no positive benefit and only hurt my loved one.
What I learned from my personal experience, and through working with clients, is that the primary emotion driving anger is hurt.
So, what to do about anger in a romantic relationship?
The first step in dealing with our anger is to notice when it’s arising. Usually, you first notice body sensations, such as your heart beating faster or palms sweating. The second step is acknowledging to yourself that venting your anger is not in the spirit of fostering understanding, but from a harmful sense of entitlement or being right. This realization is your simple answer to the question, “how to handle anger in your relationship?”
How can we nip our anger in the bud
How do we survive these moments of anger without doing irreparable harm to our relationship? A “timeout” is the answer to the question, “how to handle anger in your relationship?”. Acknowledge that you are about to respond in a toxic way – and instead, identify positive ways to defuse anger, such as taking a “timeout.”
By doing this, you are signaling to your partner that despite your anger, the last thing you want to do is hurt your relationship.
Also watch: What Is a Relationship Conflict?
Putting anger management into practice
If anger is one of your go-to responses, take some time to think about more positive ways of channeling your anger. Obviously, yelling or name-calling is unhealthy. Make a commitment to use only those responses that support your relationship.
Have a conversation with your partner to reaffirm your commitment to eliminate angry responses from your relationship, and get their support for your choices for channeling or redirecting your anger.
The most common miscommunication on this topic is when a partner needs a timeout to defuse the anger, and this timeout is interpreted as rejection. This is why communicating how you desire to diffuse your anger will ward off any misinterpretations from your partner.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Craig Lambert is a marriage counselor in San Diego with over 30 years of experience dedicated to helping couples rekindle their love, deepen their intimacy and strengthen communication. Craig is proud to incorporate Imago therapy into his work as a marriage counselor in San Diego. Craig is also an Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) certified practitioner which, paired with his Imago background, sets him apart as someone who has deeply integrated the two highest forms of respected therapy to provide his clients with the most effective techniques available.