Learn how to spot your triggers
Anger will eat away at any relationship – your partner pushes your buttons, and the next thing you know you’re in a major argument in the middle of dinner. Anger in relationships not only causes emotional damage, but it can lead to physical confrontations that put someone at physical risk. Couples counseling can help you identify the raw points in your relationship and heal yourselves so that anger becomes less of a factor in your interaction.
1. Understand the core issues triggered before anger even appears
Once you know the core issues from which your anger is sparked, you start to eliminate anger in your relationship. You can’t get rid of anger if you don’t know where it’s coming from. For instance, you might get angry when you’re accused of being untrustworthy because you think your partner continues to blame you for past behavior. By identifying the things that make you angry and knowing why it happens, you can start to better communicate why you are upset, which will reduce frustration on your part, and your partner will also know which buttons to avoid.
2. Identify as a couple how to prevent attack fights
Once you know why you get angry, you and your partner can work together to prevent big fights where you end up attacking each other – verbally or physically. Work together to figure out which words or topics are off limits, and decide to respect each others’ needs to take a time out. By identifying together how to prevent big blow ups and setting ground rules, you can nip potential attack fights in the bud. By working together, and not against each other, you build your strength as a couple and you can stop unhealthy cycles from continuing.
3. Improve your communication
Many times anger in relationships makes it hard to communicate effectively. You start to blame each other, get defensive, and then things just spiral down very quickly. Instead of using blaming language, telling your partner “You did this…”, tell your partner what you need and how you are feeling. By saying “I felt this way when this happened…” it can stop your partner from shutting down right away. Offer a suggestion for what you could both do differently in the future. Effective communication is vital to any relationship, especially in one where anger tends to flare.
4. Seek outside help
A therapist can provide an un-biased opinion on your relationship, and also help educate you on your emotional responses. If you are unable to work through your anger as a couple, seeking assistance from a counselor doesn’t make you weak – it just means you could use an impartial person to help each partner understand their role in the anger issues and how to play a role in the necessary changes. Anger in relationships can be a complicated issue, and a trained counselor is only there to help you sort it out.
If anger results in violence in your relationship, you should definitely seek help. The National Domestic Violence hotline is available 24 hours a day, every single day. Just call 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) or go to www.thehotline.org.
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About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653