Anger is Not Sexy…Tips to Stay Calm and Save Your Relationship
Think about the last time you really lost control in your partner’s presence.
Maybe you were mad at your partner. Maybe you were railing at the world.
What did he or she witness?
Were you red-faced and loud?
Were your sarcastic and sulky or stormy and scary?
Did you knock things over and dish out blame?
Or did you simply shut down, withdraw completely, and signal a hurtful “keep out.”
Anger, repetitive and out-of-control, is not a good way to secure lasting happiness with the one you love. The last thing you want to do is damage the feeling of safety in your relationship, erode your partner’s sense that you are capable of good judgment and self-control, or wear down trust and respect between you.
Anger, unchecked, is not sexy, or smart, or safe emotionally or physically. If anger is ruining your relationship, it’s time to tame it with anger management and turn things around.
Start with these relationship rescuing tips:
1. Assess your Anger. Identify your irritation. Rate your rage.
Basically, we’re talking about using your inner “anger thermometer.” What happens when you feel challenged, unheard or ignored?
Try rating your inner turmoil on an emotional scale. Slow things down enough to determine where on the anger scale you fall. Are you at a level two (barely bothered) or a level ten (aggressively angered)?
Identifying anger appropriately is a helpful self-check. This helps figure out what makes sense in response to hurt and anger.
Do you confront, seethe, or stuff your anger? Try self-distancing, separating yourself from your emotions by thinking things through before behaving badly.
Research indicates it is beneficial to slow down and take a “fly on the wall” view of interactions when you feel provoked. Becoming an observer minimizes anger, tempers aggression, and supports mutual understanding.
Improving your ability to self-assess also improves your ability to identify anger triggers and response patterns more clearly, revealing often they affect you and your relationship.
2. Establish Boundaries for Yourself and Your Relationship
Though the roiling emotions of anger try to convince you otherwise, do remember that you’re in charge of your own actions and what you deem acceptable. Acknowledging this helps you define the boundaries that will help reign in your tempers.
Essentially, when you know yourself a bit better you will feel less put upon and less likely to feel attacked. With clear boundaries, anger management is easier. You can more productively share and discuss irritants and avoid constant misunderstanding and perceptions of indifference.
Blow-ups will occur less frequently.
Ultimately, the goal is for you and your partner to have clarity and cooperation in order to build trust and respect.
3. Interrupt Your Angry Thoughts
Your relationship will benefit immensely from your ability to be mindful and present. Pay close attention to the direction of your thinking. Thoughts and feelings are closely linked. Do you feel powerless, disrespected, ashamed, or frustrated? What did you tell yourself before these feelings caused you to shut down or sound off?
Actively address negativity by telling yourself: STOP! to the thoughts in your mind.
Give yourself some mental space to pull away from the way you are engaging your own mind and drawing conclusions about your relationship.
Other ways to interrupt your angry thoughts include the following:
- Rehab your routine. Look at your daily routine or lifestyle. What regularly frustrates you or makes you feel at a disadvantage? Take charge of those areas to mitigate the sense of powerlessness or frustration that can spill over into other interactions or areas of your life.
- Employ humor. Relax your heated mind and body with a turn towards humor or self-deprecating laughter. Take a break, slow down, and deflate overblown tensions with a friendly moment of exaggeration or fun. Smile and let your partner know you are capable of recognizing that the anger you feel is not more important than your connection.
- Use distraction. Take a step back to remove yourself for a short while from the anger-stoking situation. It’s perfectly okay to read, listen to music, or go on a walk. Try redirecting your thoughts and energy toward healthier thinking before returning to your partner for resolution.
4. Practice Safe, Honest, and Compassionate Communication
Good communication is not supported by squelching your voice, stuffing your views or minimizing your emotions. You can practice being outspoken and assertive without being emotionally aggressive.
The aim of healthy communication is sensitivity, tolerance, and understanding.
Practice actively listening to each other and validating what you hear.
All in all, focus on doing the individual work that will improve your interactions while actively sharing your desire to improve your relationship with your partner. You may discover that your partner shares your hope for a calm, compassionate life and is more than willing to do what it takes to improve your mutual communication.
Seek Support for Anger Management and Relationship Rescue
As you move forward, you may discover that preserving your connection proves difficult without help, especially if anger is deeply ingrained in your mental and physical responses to anxiety or vulnerability.
Please know that poisoning your relationship with anger is entirely preventable.
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About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with people struggling with powerful issues such as depression, addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, and work-life balance.