The Upside of Anger: How It Fits in a Relationship

By Jan Wright

Anger is a natural emotion. For most people, it is not desirable to be angry and it is not desirable to anger the person whom you are in a relationship with. But, it is an essential ingredient in relationship building. Now, I know that many would disagree with me, however, when you look at anger, it can help in understanding a person and their relationship. Everyone gets angry at some point in their relationship. As I have stated before, anger is inevitable. The root of anger is hurt and insecurity. Knowing this before you get angry and before you anger someone else, you can better understand when you and they are angry. Although there is a display of anger, the deeper emotion is fear and insecurity. The trick is to try to understand this fear and insecurity while minimizing the outward signs of anger and the effects that these signs have on the other person in the relationship. Anger, in itself, is not the problem; it is what you do when you feel anger and how you learn to resolve it.

The expression of anger is what breeds discontent in a relationship. Losing your temper is characterized by saying or doing harmful things that you would not normally do if you were not angry. It is important for people to take note of themselves. When you feel your frustration rising, find a place to calm down and look at the situation as objectively as possible. You might say to yourself: “I know that I feel like (throwing something) or (giving her a piece of my mind) or (just quitting my job), but what should I do? I find that writing helps get the array of felt feelings out of my system. When writing takes place, these feelings can help you arrange your thoughts so that you can profess them more clearly and confidently. some people use a physical activity such as walking or even driving to help them sort their feelings and thoughts when they have experienced an overwhelming surge of anger.

Evaluate if there is any step that you can take to better the situation. I am not advocating passivity and ignoring your anger in despair. This never works. It is a good idea to address your anger and feelings. But, sometimes, you should wait until you have an understanding of what you really want to say and do and can relate those things in a nonthreatening and effective way. Let’s say that your partner is angry with you because you forgot your anniversary. your partner was home making dinner and preparing for a special romantic evening. You were working late. When you come in the door, your partner is visibly angry. your partner hurls accusations and displays body language that tells you that he/she is angry. You are instantly put on the defensive. Is your partner overreacting? Maybe. People who deal with these anger issues believe the more anger that is displayed, the more likely the other person will understand the seriousness of the situation. When people overreact, they do it for a variety of reasons.

1. They just need to vent before they can discuss things rationally.

2. It is a manipulative tactic to get another person to behave in a certain way.

3. They feel that they have to overreact to get a sympathetic response.

If your mate does overreact, he/she might just be venting. It is important for your partner to say: “I just want to vent, don’t take this personally.” They should have a timeframe for venting and then, calm down so that they can discuss the situation rationally. Instead of just saying: “I am angry with you for forgetting our Anniversary.” Your partner might say: “It hurts when you forget our anniversary because I feel like our special days are not important to you. If our special days are not important to you, then, I might not be either.” This allows you to respond to your partner’s fears and not the anger.

There are those who, because their feelings are hurt, want to hurt someone else’s feelings. This is a truly toxic cycle for a relationship. It is a selfish way to deal with one’s anger. Sometimes people who are quite argumentative and/or controlling exhibit some of these characteristics. To prevent one from hurting the feelings of others, the person must ask him/herself about the agenda and goals of their discussion. They also must try to step out of their high levels of emotion and ask themselves about their deeper feelings.

The person who hides their anger is, in effect, stating that they don’t believe that their partner can understand or handle their hurt feelings. Thus, they make an attempt to either conceal or disguise their anger. This person is afraid of how you might respond if you knew that they were angry. Maybe they are afraid that you will either explode, invalidate their feelings or somehow make them feel guilty for being angry. sometimes, they don’t feel comfortable displaying their emotions, yet expect their partner to have instant knowledge of their feelings and the source of them. This is problematic, at best. Usually the partner who is not angry, has no clue as to the source. They might not even be sure that their partner is angry. An open display of emotion tells your partner that you are comfortable enough to show your vulnerabilities. Thus, it is a good idea to express your anger.

Some people just do not know how to express their anger in a way that elaborates on how they feel without condemning the other person. If you know a person who has a difficult time either identifying or expressing their feelings, then, you need to be patient and give them plenty of time to figure things out. Just as the overly expressive person needs time to vent, the person at the opposite end of the spectrum needs some time alone to deal with their feelings. It is best to set a timeframe and agree to discuss the issue after that timeframe has been reached.

Sometimes, not expressing your anger is a manipulative tactic. Your partner most often knows that you are angry. they just are not sure about the context and who is actually involved in this. Your partner is reduced to giving you large amounts of attention: which, by the way, does feel good, and must resort to playing the guessing game. Sometimes couples never actually get to the issue at hand. It is a manipulative tactic because passively you are getting your partner to shower attention and sometimes other gifts upon you to keep you happy which will alleviate your anger — an anger that they don’t even know the origin of or how to prevent it.

Sometimes, when people are angry, they bring up past indiscretions. You must ascertain whether the person is trying to gather more fodder to hurt your feelings or whether they did not truly accept the resolution when you discussed it last. If they are still hurt from a previous incident, then, that should be discussed separately. That should be dealt with before the current situation can be resolved. It is not healthy to continue to bring up past experiences. This just leads to wounds that will never heal and unnecessary drama. It is better for the both of you to stick to the issue at hand.

Anger, when not handled properly, can exacerbate the underlying issues that challenge your relationship. Since it is not the anger, in itself, but the way that it is expressed, then, the difficulty in expressing it is a symptom of other relational issues. For example, if your partner has a hard time controlling his/her expression of anger, he/she might also have a difficult time controlling other facets of his/her life. If the person tries to manipulate through anger, then it is likely that he/she is manipulative in other parts of your relationship. Thus, the way that people express their anger and their willingness to change will tell you lots about your relationship in other areas. Understanding how one handles their emotions will also let you evaluate your compatibility.

 Let’s say that both of you realize your particular styles of emotional expression and decide that you will both make attempts to express and receive your partner’s emotions in a nonthreatening way. Often, It is difficult to communicate honestly and openly when one is angry. Usually feelings are at high levels and logic is at low levels. Set some guidelines and boundaries with your partner and agree to follow them. It is important to give your partner the space to examine their emotions and a safe place for them to express them. A safe place includes the ability to listen to your partner’s feelings without responding defensively.

After you and your partner have discussed the matter, try to come to a conclusion. It is best to bring some kind of closure to the subject. Maybe there is no solution. Maybe the angry person just needs comfort and reassurance. Find out what your partner needs from you. When you have finished with the conversation, make an agreement not to bring up the subject again when anger is present. This is quite applicable if you are the one who has angered your partner.

 Following good guidelines of communication can eliminate issues of anger in a relationship. It is important to share an array of emotions with your partner. Your partner can better understand you if you are able to express to them both joy and anger. That leads to better intimacy which leads to a better relationship. However, remember that your partner wants to share in your joy and comfort you in your anger. when both of you can work toward a common goal, you will strengthen your relationship.

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