Relationships bring the lives of two unique individuals together, so it’s completely normal to disagree. But what happens when anger presents itself too often? What can you and your partner do to reduce tension? Every couple fights, but disagreements don’t have to be demeaning and destructive. Learn how to turn your fights into productive disagreements. With anger counseling both parties will benefit by being more empathetic, respectful, and communicative.
Before we share the tactics that help you and your spouse disagree productively, let’s look at what anger is and why it’s expressed, especially in relationships.
Anger is an automatic reaction generated in the primitive parts of our brain that existed before we developed the ability to think and use logic. Anger is often a defense mechanism that replaces sharing or confronting other emotions. It’s easier to get angry than be vulnerable, apologize or admit you’re wrong, or have a difficult conversation with your partner.
Anger can be an expression of past pain, an unmet need, a cover-up for a deeper emotion like sadness, fear, or a desire to feel powerful.
Relationships are particularly vulnerable to anger. Relationships inherit an individual’s emotions and personal challenges...from difficulty communicating to previous psychological wounds. So it’s not surprising that anger often shows up when couples disagree.
At the beginning of a relationship, couples tend to be more considerate about the way they disagree with their partner because they don’t want to damage the new relationship. As the relationship matures and the couple’s lives become more intertwined, they may fight more and loosen up with their words and actions. Compounding mistreatment and conflict foster resentment, alienation, unmet needs, and anger that often erodes what could otherwise be a healthy relationship.
All couples argue, but the way they argue can determine whether a relationship is successful or not. Anger counseling helps successful couples:
Anger counseling can help you uncover these skills. Anger counseling can also help you replace anger with primary, also known as “softer,” feelings that we associate with vulnerability.
In relationships, anger doesn’t necessarily mean you are with the wrong person. You may need to explore the meaning of the anger (whether your own, your partners, or both). Couples counseling can teach you and your partner the skills to communicate more effectively, de-escalate fights, structure discussions, and reach positive resolutions. With these tools, you can have productive disagreements rather than contentious fights that damage your relationship. In fact, you and your partner can use the relationship skills you can gain from anger counseling to strengthen your relationship even in the face of arguments.
Couples unable to reconcile differences may consider breaking up. If your relationship seems to be at an impasse, an experienced couples counselor can help. You may simply need to talk with an objective counselor to uncover the source of you or your partner’s anger and how to overcome it, if possible.
Whether you attend counseling together or alone, the benefits of learning communication, compromise, and resolution reach beyond your own relationship. When you learn to understand and manage anger, you learn to manage life’s constant challenges, improve your children’s lives, engage in more successful interpersonal relationships with friends and family, and endure hardships positively.
In one of our previous Couples Counseling email newsletters, we shared a helpful anger management exercise you and your partner could try:
You can revisit our entire email series about anger by Couples Counseling Associates founder, Sara Schwarzbaum, below:
Our experienced associates can help you when you, your partner, or relationship face anger issues:
In our efforts to bring value to your life, or if you are not in the Chicago area, Couples Counseling Associates has developed a series of lessons that could have a major impact on effectively improving your relationship. We encourage you to dive into the series and discover how these resources can benefit you and your partner.
Remember, it's the positive habits we develop that guarantee us success in all areas of our lives. Discover the seven healthy habits that improve relationships or get in touch with us to learn more about Couples Counseling Associates.
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Founder, Couples Counseling Associates
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Also in Arlington Heights
Associated Therapist Giulia Casani MA,LMFT
Kate Engler, LMFT, LPC
All the mental health professionals practicing at 737 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2130, Chicago, IL 60611 or any other locations, are individually licensed by the State of Illinois and practice independently and separately. They have no legal relationship to the practices of each other and do not incur in liability for services of one another or to Dr. Sara Schwarzbaum.