Is Anger Hurting Your Relationship?
Anger can have a negative impact on your life in a number of ways. Anger can affect your health, or cost you your career. However the most common question I get asked as an anger management counselor in Denver is how to deal with anger in a relationship.
Perhaps the most common reason that people seek out anger management counseling is because anger is doing a lot of damage in their relationship with their spouse or partner.
When your anger is out of control it can destroy your relationship. Painful words and actions can hurt the people you care about the most. I’ll share what I often tell my clients who are struggling with anger in their relationships.
Deal With Resentment In Your Relationship
Have you ever felt resentful towards your spouse or partner? Whenever someone tells me their relationship is struggling, the first thing I listen for is any sign of resentment.
Resentment is that feeling that someone owes you something. You might feel like they owe you an apology. Have you ever said this, “I’ll forgive them when they apologize.”
In any relationship there are times when you’ll be hurt, and there are times when you will hurt your partner. No person or relationship is perfect. Being let down or hurt is simply part of being in relationships with people.
Resentment however does not have to happen. Resentment can happen if you don’t deal with the hurt or anger. In order for your relationship to survive you must learn to heal the relationship when someone has been hurt.
How To Manage Conflict In A Relationship
If you’ve been in a significant relationship for very long, I probably don’t have to convince you that conflict will come up at some point. The problem is that many couples don’t know how to deal with conflict when it arises.
Learning how to manage conflict is an important part of dealing with anger in your relationship. To help you remember the key points of dealing with conflict think of the acronym ACTS.
A – Acknowledge your anger
C – Considerate or kind when fighting
T – Timeout when necessary
S – Solve the problem
Acknowledge Your Anger
The first step for dealing with anger in your relationship is to acknowledge when you get angry. It’s easy to pretend like you’re not angry or hurt, but this will only make the situation worse.
Perhaps you can recall a time when you were fighting and someone said “no, I’m not mad” but you could clearly see they’re upset. You and your partner should agree that when you’re angry you will take responsibility by acknowledging to the other person that you’re upset.
Be Considerate Or Kind When Angry
Make an agreement with your spouse that when you’re fighting you will be considerate or kind to each other during conflict. You can be angry and still be considerate.
This means you agree not to attack or insult the other person. You can communicate your frustration to your partner in a way that doesn’t hurt them. It’s important to remember to attack a problem, don’t attack a person.
Take A Timeout If Your Anger Is Too High
There may be times during conflict when you need to take a “timeout.” This simply means you take some time away from the person or situation because your anger is getting to a level where it will become destructive.
Simply let your partner know that you’re getting too worked up and you need a little time to cool off. A timeout gives you time to slow down, so that you can continue to deal with a conflict in a healthy way.
An important part of a timeout is you must agree to come back and resolve the problem after you had time to cool off. An effective timeout with your partner shouldn’t last longer than 90 minutes.
Work on Solving The Problem
It’s easy to get caught up in a conflict and forget why you’re even mad. Try to stay focused on the situation, and work towards finding a solution.
Being angry is not a problem as long as you are working on resolving the issue. Don’t let your anger be an opportunity to be mean to your partner. Remember that as long as your anger isn’t being destructive it can be a productive emotion.
It’s helpful to remember to deal with one problem at a time. When you get into an argument with your spouse it’s easy to bring up 5 things you’re mad about. Deal with one problem at a time.
Communication Is Key For Anger In A Relationship
Communication is a skill. Just like any other skill, you can improve it. If you don’t communicate when you’re upset you’ll never get a healthy resolution.
Sit down with your spouse or partner when you’re not angry to discuss healthy conflict. Agree on how to handle conflict effectively. Use the suggestions here to help that conversation.
It won’t work to try and discuss these tips for the first time in the middle of a conflict when you’re both too upset to agree on anything.
Every relationship requires communication, and this includes how to communicate during conflict.
If you find that you’re still struggling to control your anger, and realize it’s affecting your relationship seek help from a professional. They can help you understand how anger can be a healthy emotion, and how to use it effectively in a relationship.
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