If it hasn’t happened yet, believe me it will. At some point you will find yourself getting angry with your partner. Some people are slow to experience this intense and often overwhelming emotional storm, others find that they are easily irritated and they struggle to manage anger.
Anger is a natural response when you are hurt or offended. When you are angry, you are motivated to protect yourself from additional harm and quite likely you are inclined to vent your feelings by lashing out.
The urge to react in anger is due to your natural makeup. We have an instinctive and deeply rooted biological urge to respond to certain triggers with a surge of temper that can overpower even the most rational thinking person. Your challenge and your responsibility are to regain control and manage anger so that you do not harm yourself, your partner or your relationship. Here are four important steps to manage anger:
Step 1: Step away from the situation
It is never a good idea to try to talk through the problem when either partner is very upset. This is when there is the greatest danger of saying or doing something that could cause great hurt. Take a time out to cool down. Let your partner know that you need time and space and that you will speak with them later.
Step 2: Calm Down
Anger often brings an intense feeling of negative energy, redirect the energy by doing something physical such as going for a walk, mowing the lawn or cleaning the house. Once the energy is spent, you will be in a better frame of mind to think through the situation and respond appropriately.
For further help with relieving your anger, take a few moments to pay attention to your breathing. Focus on the breath as it passes in through your nostrils and then out, or if you prefer, focus on the rise of your chest as you breathe in and the fall as you breathe out. Focusing on your breathing for a few minutes helps to reverse many of the physical changes that occur in your body when you are stressed. It helps to reduce your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and generally calms you down.
Step 3: Think about what happened
Analyze what just happened. What led you to become so angry? The more you understand about what triggers these intense emotions, the greater your chances of learning how to control them. Take an honest, objective look at yourself. Think about your conversation or interaction with your partner right before you became angry. What specific comment or action triggered the outburst? Is this trigger a recurring issue in your relationship? Do you sense that you are experiencing other emotions besides the anger?
As you think about the situation, you may realize that along with the feelings of anger or frustration, there are other feelings such as emotional pain, guilt or even shame. This may indicate that there are unresolved issues that you may be carrying that are rising to the surface. Be honest with yourself, identify and acknowledge the feelings. This can help you to understand why you became upset and it can also help to calm you down.
Step 4: Make amends
Take responsibility for your words and actions. Apologize if you have caused harm. Even though your partner may have hurt you and they have not yet apologized, take the initiative and set the stage for healing to occur in your relationship.
The best time to speak with your partner is when both of you are calm. While you are talking through the situation, be careful not to allow the triggers to reignite your angry feelings. Use the calming, soothing exercise of focusing on your breathing to help you maintain your composure during your conversation.
Bear in mind that you will need to pick your battles. There are some issues that aren’t worth fighting over so choose to let go of the stuff that is not important.
If you find that that you are having great difficulty managing your emotions, you may want to consider speaking with a professional counselor to help guide you through the process.
The emotion of anger is a useful indicator that something has gone wrong. By following these steps you will be better able to make sense of the problem that led you to become upset. Use the tools to manage your anger and to work to strengthen your love relationship.
For more information on how to strengthen your relationship, check out our eCourse 30 Days to Better Love.