Struggle with Anger? Ask Yourself These Questions
What is anger, really? If you struggle with anger, it may be helpful to first recognize that anger can be a stand-in emotion for deeper and softer emotions.
Productive disagreements are good for all relationships, but if you struggle to get a point across, often feel defensive and angry, or cannot communicate well, you may have some work to do.
In intimate relationships, anger and miscommunication can mean:
- You and your partner do not know how to de-escalate fights
- There are unacknowledged power differences in the relationship
- An old emotional wound hasn’t healed well
- You or your partner have a basic misconception about how to motivate each other to change
- You project anger from another source onto your partner (or vice versa)
Feeling anger does’t necessarily mean that you’re with the wrong person. Alternatively, you may not have figured out the meaning of anger. Is the anger your own or your partner’s?
What is Anger?
Anger is always a stand-in emotion. Anger makes us feel less vulnerable than the truer, softer emotions underneath. If you have never expressed or inquired about those more tender feelings, like sadness, fear, or insecurity (to name just a few), then you’re not sharing the true meaning of the anger with one another.
You can’t expect to be angry all the time and have a good relationship simultaneously. It’s vital to discover the meaning of the anger and solve the core issues first in order to heal and move forward.
It is also important to differentiate between feeling angry and expressing anger in an appropriate way, at the appropriate time, and with the appropriate words.
How to Manage Anger
It’s not possible to improve every relationship, but motivated couples can learn to deescalate fights and structure their disagreements into productive discussions. It is possible to end a negative cycle of communication.
Many couples who struggle to deescalate anger on their own often see a couples counselor. The earlier couples determine they need to address a relationship challenge, the better. If couples wait too long to seek support, too much damage may already be done.
It is possible to have a successful relationship without resorting to anger, violence, bullying, or manipulative strategies. However, many of us make up the rules of engagement as we progress through relationship stages—and it’s not always graceful. If you are in a relationship today, chances are that you are wrestling with these questions:
- How do you influence another person without resorting to bullying or verbal violence?
- How do you make decisions jointly when each partner wants something completely different?
- What does compromise mean and how does it work?
- Is equality possible in all areas of the life of a couple?
You might also come to the conclusion that between two partners, there is a third entity—the relationship itself. What works for the relationship sometimes diverges from what an individual perceives as good for them.
Many relationships do succeed, even after difficult periods, when partners take the time to figure out the answers to these and related questions.
So, consider the true meaning of your anger. Perhaps you can uncover constructive ways to manage it and strengthen your relationship.