When anger shows-up in a romantic relationship, the aftermath can be difficult. Think about it. When you get angry, your likely responding to your partner’s anger, your partner starts responding to your anger, conflict happens, things get said/done that you don’t mean, and ultimately, it’s hard to work through the anger in the moment. Well, as a therapist, I have found that there are some truths behind anger. And when we come to accept these truths, anger becomes easier to manage and deal with. Read below for the truths about anger.
Anger Is Rarely “Sudden”
Think about the last time that you were angry. Likely, there was some build up to your anger. People don’t tend to be instantly angry and especially in relationships. So, what’s driving your anger? What are the emotions behind your anger? You’ve likely heard the expression before, but when we bottle up emotions, we explode at some point. This is what happens with anger.
Your body contains a plethora of emotions, and if we let negative emotions build up over time, you’re going to “explode”, or rather, you’ll have some expression of anger. To work through this, you have to start acknowledging emotions when you experience them. When an emotion comes up, ask yourself what that emotion is trying to tell you. What is that emotion telling you that you need? Once you start addressing emotions in this way, it will be easier to avoid explosions of anger that feel “sudden”, but really aren’t.
Anger Is An Easy Defense
As a couple’s therapist, and as a person, I know that it is difficult to be vulnerable and share feelings underlying the anger (as the exercise above prompts you to do). It can be especially difficult to display this level of vulnerability when you and your partner have been struggling with relationship conflict(s). But, a truth to anger is that anger is an easy defense mechanism. If we display anger, it’s harder for us to show that we are emotionally hurting. Don’t let yourself use anger as a defense. Be honest with your emotions and feelings. As long as you are using anger as a defense mechanism, both you and your partner are going to be caught in a cycle of attacking and defensiveness. Neither will help get what you want out of the relationship.
Anger Has To Be Dealt With
When you hold onto anger, whether intentionally or not, you start to build-up negative emotions and resentment towards your partner. When anger shows-up, don’t tell yourself that this will “pass”. Actually address the anger. As previously mentioned, dissect what this anger is trying to tell you. Ask yourself what are the emotions behind this anger. And, remember that only YOU can deal with this anger or any emotion that shows up. We cannot expect or rely on someone else (i.e. your partner) to do something different that would help diffuse this anger. So, what do you need to start doing differently to deal with anger that’s not reliant on someone else? Answers to these questions will start to give you the power to deal with anger to avoid letting this anger build-up.
Anger shows-up at some point for every person and relationship. But, it’s important to address anger in healthy ways. Start applying these truths to anger in your life and see how anger starts to change.
About the Author
Amanda Cummins is a marriage counselor with The Marriage and Family Clinic. She focuses on working with couples in distress as well as families and children in transitions. As a Denver Native, Amanda enjoys hiking, yoga, and spending time with her family