As a couple, understanding anger and its role in your relationship can often make or break how you communicate, problem solve and smooth over rough patches. By asking the right questions, you can determine your true understanding of anger and how it impacts the way you interact–variables that will be unique to you and are often different from what other couples experience.
For example, what do you believe episodes of anger really mean for you individually and as a couple? How do each of your definitions compare? What’s different? What common ground can you find?
These are talking points that can lead you to deeper discoveries. For example, is anger a symptom of other feelings? Often expressions of anger are much like the tip of the iceberg; anger is the part that you see, but the underlying emotions are under the waterline–things like guilt, shame, powerlessness, sadness, loneliness, feelings of abandonment, frustration or embarrassment. For example, is anger really an expression of powerlessness because you feel you don’t have enough power or independence in your relationship or other areas of your life?
As you work towards understanding anger, ask yourselves, are your conflicts really about these other emotions? Or is something is going on at a deeper level that you need address and resolve?
Here are some other questions you can mutually explore to understand anger in your relationship:
What does it look like when you’re angry? What does it look like when your spouse is angry? What cues let you know that one or both of you is about to explode? Is it best to go with it, or try to diffuse it?
How do you respond to your partner? Do you minimize his or her feelings, engage full on in a fight or walk away? Do these responses work, or just fan the flames? Talk about the best ways to respond to each other in these situations.
Is anger overt in your relationship? Or is your or your partner’s anger simmering below the surface because anger is a strong and scary emotion that you don’t want to experience? Is that healthy, or are you just making things worse by denying your feelings?
Is anger a choice, or does it just happen? Does anger last for a long time, or fizzle out quickly? What difference does that make in terms of how you interact in the short-term and the long-term?
How did you learn to express and cope with anger? Often what we do as adults is based on how your family expressed and coped with anger. Maybe the way you were raised to do this isn’t the best option for you now, particularly with the partner you share your life with. Talk about it.
After asking these questions about understanding anger, you can assess whether hidden emotions need to be addressed to strengthen the quality of your relationship and overall family life. Then you can take the steps to do just that, either by working one-on-one with each other, or even getting involved in counseling if you think that’s the best step forward.
Visit these pages for more information:Understanding And Controlling Anger Can Impact You And Your Loved Ones
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