Understanding Anger

Before couples therapy, Potomac MD couples have expressed that when tempers rise and anger is expressed, people oftentimes yell, curse, and say things they don’t mean in a tone of voice that is hurtful to their loved ones.  Inappropriate expression of anger generally results in hurt feelings, resentments and, sometimes, even fear. I have seen the inappropriate expression of anger destroy relationships.  In fact, research shows that when people argue with criticism or contempt, they are much more likely to get divorced.

In order to manage anger, understanding where your anger stems from, and what you really feel, is essential to avoid damaging your relationships. During premarital counseling and couples counseling, Potomac MD couples have come to realize this. Anger is a secondary emotion – anger stems from much more vulnerable feelings and is our innate way of protecting ourselves (the ‘fight’ in fight or flight).  Anger arises when we feel hurt, scared, rejected, frustrated or humiliated.  The question to ask yourself the next time you feel anger arising is “why am I angry?” By doing this, you give yourself the chance to understand what is truly bothering you and to express it in a way that is much more productive.

For example, Partner A is angry because Partner B forgot their anniversary. Partner A is angry and generally would yell at Partner B in a situation such as this. “I can’t believe you are such a jerk!” and “I am so done with you.”  Words, such as these, are toxic to a relationship.  If Partner A stops and examines where the anger stems from, they would hopefully realize how hurt and rejected they feel.  Instead, Partner A might then say instead, “I feel so hurt that you did not remember our anniversary” or “When you forget our anniversary, I feel like you don’t love me.”  Obviously, stating the concern this way is much more easy for Partner B to understand and respond to with empathy. This process leads to resolution instead of escalation. Using these methods after individual therapy as well as couples counseling, Potomac MD couples have found communication to be much more fluid and effective.

We are each responsible for our actions and keeping our relationships healthy.  If the anger in your relationship has become so toxic that you feel like you need help beyond this advice, the therapists at Lindsey Hoskins & Associates are skilled in guiding you through this process with your partner. After couples counseling, Potomac MD couples have found better communication and understanding to be the key the happiness in any relationship.