Anger is quite common in intimate relationships, which is ironic since it is these types of unions that also give us profound happiness. To preserve the bonds of partnership or marriage, we must learn how to manage our anger so that it does not create damage that may break the ties permanently. If you feel that your rage is getting out of control and destroying your relationship, it’s your wake-up call to take steps to avoid disastrous consequences.
Strategies to manage anger in intimate relationships
Recognize the situations that make you angry.
You can’t really control the situations that make you angry, especially with a loved one because the interaction between the two of you is ongoing. But you can control how you react to it. If the husband comes home late or the wife doesn’t want sex, does that make you fly into a furious rage? Analyze the root of your anger. Most likely it’s fear – fear that he was somewhere else, that she doesn’t find you attractive anymore. Then think rationally. What caused him to be late or her to lose her desire? Knowing the reasons for situations that provoke anger often helps you address the causes and keep your temper on a leash.
Take into account that the underlying reasons may be deeper than what you think. Don’t dumb yourself down but don’t be unnecessarily paranoid either. It takes delicate balancing to tread the middle line.
Other emotions that can lead to anger are hurt, betrayal, disappointment, insecurity, shame or vulnerability. Managing anger in intimate relationships does not mean suppressing the feelings but rather, expressing them in healthier options.
Practice relaxation techniques.
When you relax, you loosen up tense muscles, become calm and release angry feelings. These relaxation techniques must be done regularly to become effective. Four methods that are recommended are:
- Breathe deeply.
- Focus on repeating a soothing word or phrase like a mantra.
- Visualize a serene image, like a field of flowers or the deep blue sea.
- Do slow exercises like yoga.
Learn alternative ways of thinking and reacting to anger-inciting incidents.
When you are infuriated, your mind is filled with offensive thoughts. Try instead to redirect these hateful thoughts and feelings into kinder ones. Anger is more a result of your mind’s interpretation rather than what actually happened. Here are ways to change your negative thought patterns:
- Avoid using absolute words like should or should not, must or must not, and never. They convey your beliefs to your partner that he/she may not agree with and set expectations that have to be met. Open your mind to different views instead of trying to control your partner’s thoughts and behavior.
- Avoid putting the blame on your partner. When something bad happens, don’t point the finger at the other person. Blaming hurts both people in the relationship. You, because subconsciously you feel guilty for not accepting accountability and your partner, for being wrongfully accused.
- Keep a logical mind. Remember that an incident that makes you angry is just one of those things and does not define the relationship. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
How Anger Affects You
Although anger is unavoidable and in controlled doses is healthy, it becomes toxic when it is persistent and chronic. Its adverse effects permeate all aspects of your life – your physical health, your disposition, your career and your relationships.
Physical health – being angry signals the body to produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Chronic anger means these stress hormones are constantly on a high level, increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. You become at risk for cardiovascular problems and diabetes.
Mental health – anxiety and stress are the consequences of uncontrolled rage. It affects rational thinking, focus and the general quality of life.
Work – lashing out at colleagues in the workplace not only makes them lose their respect for you, it may even hinder you from moving up the ladder and inhibit teamwork.
Relationships – unreasonable and unrestrained anger impairs relationships through loss of trust, closed off communication, hurt, reciprocal anger and ultimately, loss of love.