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Helping Our Partners Work Through Their Anger

Susannah

Susannah
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There are two types of anger. The kind that resides in the subconscious like a tiger waiting to pounce [residual anger], and the anger that is responding to something going on in the moment [situational anger]. Many times one triggers the other. For instance, residual anger can be triggered by a similar event happening in the present. Your partner’s boss criticized him at work and that triggers the memory of being criticized by a parent which at the time made him feel rejected or abandoned.

It is easy to dismiss anger as immature, but often there is a lot to learn from the language of anger if you know how to interpret it. This will improve the relationship and the emotional intimacy you are creating together.

Situational anger is usually easier to deal with. Just get your mate to talk about his boss being an idiot or the guy that practically ran them off the road. And the solution is easier. Just a little support and comfort is enough to help your partner through the incident.

Processing residual anger takes a little more work, and it is impossible without laying some ground work like establishing emotional intimacy. Emotional Intimacy is revealing yourself to a non-judgmental person. If you have done this with someone, then you may be able to figure out why they are suddenly angry by asking questions or reading their body language.

Some people may not care about residual anger. They just let is pass. But most people want to get tot he bottom of things and learn from the experience. What they learn may make the relationship more comfortable and easy going. It will also establish even a deeper form of emotional intimacy. It will help them grow as individuals and as a couple.
Residual anger, left over the past, indicates that something went wrong when your partner was a child or adolescent, and he or she never got a chance to process it with another human being like a parent or counselor.

A lot of things can go wrong when you are young, but the ones that leave a wound are usually abandonment, rejection, bullying, fear, and shame. These can happen both at home or at school. Sometimes the wound is so deep that even talking it over with an adult can leave a scar. This means you have to process this wound every so often when you grow up after you have developed a mature, healthy, adult personality.

Back to residual anger. Your partner is angry but he has no explanation. Now you can play private detective and get all the details of what is upsetting your partner, but usually it is not necessary. It will probably be that you or somebody else triggered either a wound, some fear that they are trying to hide from you and themselves, vulnerability, or shame. Maybe all of them at the same time.

Let me take a moment to clarify. I am not talking about anger that has turned to rage, violence or verbal abuse. I am talking about anger that is expressed in passive aggressive ways like the silent treatment, nagging, or isolation.

Once you notice you are dealing with residual anger what do you do about it? Well, once you acknowledge to your partner that you see his or her anger, this is the beginning of comforting them. You may not have to do much more than this, depending on their ability to comfort themselves. You can listen to them ramble and try to pick up clues. You can compare this anger to similar eruptions in the past. You can sympathize or even empathize—what every you are comfortable with. What you don’t do is take the blame or try to “fix” them. Ultimately, they have to do this themselves.

Remember also that if unresolved anger is a pattern you may be in the wrong relationship or if you don't believe in moving on you can try professional counseling.

Remember that when building a relationship between adults you are also dealing with the personalities that we call the inner child and angry adolescent. But the goal of a mature relationship is to get past having to dealing with all these alter egos. It is to grow as a couple to the point where most of the time you both are exhibiting your Healthy Adult. A word of advice. Until you get to that point, only one inner child or angry adolescent can come out at a time. Things go better if one of you maintains self-control when the other loses it.

In conclusion, there is no obligation to learn the language of anger. We all have the right to look for a perfectly compatible partner and never fight. This does happen sometimes. If you do take on this task, be patient and look for progress.
 
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humble soul

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Situational Anger..
My new young boss needed my help yesterday. I helped him though i wasnt scheduled to start work for anothet 45 minutes.
Instead of being grateful, he was short temprered and bossy.
Just reinforces my anger about systemic rude work culture. And bosses blaming workers instead of reflecting on their own shortcomings.
I wish i wouldnt react like that. I tend to obsess after the event.
 

Susannah

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I'm tempted to tell you about my day and situational anger but I don't want to embarrass myself. Now that I have calmed down I'm telling myself things like consider the source and maybe she had a bad day herself or maybe she just was abused as a child. Or maybe she's just a you know what @$&_ The main thing is to let it go when you can and move on. The exception to this is when the Lord put him in your life so you can process some deeper issues like other people who have treated you that way in the past: a parent, sibling, friend etc.
 

humble soul

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I'm tempted to tell you about my day and situational anger but I don't want to embarrass myself. Now that I have calmed down I'm telling myself things like consider the source and maybe she had a bad day herself or maybe she just was abused as a child. Or maybe she's just a you know what @$&_ The main thing is to let it go when you can and move on. The exception to this is when the Lord put him in your life so you can process some deeper issues like other people who have treated you that way in the past: a parent, sibling, friend etc.
i think empathy is the Christian way. I know he was doing his best to appear competent and in control . No one knows how tough another persons job is. The pressure they are under. or even personal stress.
 

Susannah

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I am a new Christian so sometimes I have knee jerk reaction before I have a more enlightened Christian response. So I'm going to emulate you and be sympathetic to this poor soul and the lady that took my parking spot.
 

humble soul

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ive always hoped for threads like this. where people share theirdaily anxieties.
Our dog is like therapy. Always listens even he cant understand.
we all need empathy. its like healing medicine.
 

Susannah

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I named my dog Michael after the Archangel Michael because he's a guard dog. He adores me. Good for the soul
 

JohnDB

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There's a great book out there called "The Dance of Anger". It talks about why and how to deal with anger.

Now most of your verbal arguments are a twisted form of a ventriloquist act...the person you are arguing with is actually speaking for yourself (things or thoughts you used to hold) you are so angry with.

So if someone starts an angry argument with you... remain calm.
Getting angry releases all kinds of chemicals into your bloodstream...and you literally can't think any more...only react. You are in control of your emotions...not someone else.
Frustrations are a quick path to anger...driving is an exercise in frustration control.
But at the same time...a hobby of some sort usually provides frustrations on a limited basis that provides a sense of accomplishment when overcome.
If only we could feel that way about our daily commute and errands.
 

Susannah

Susannah
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People seem to be missing the point of my article. It is not about how to contain you own anger. It is about how to understand more fully why your partner is angry and what you can learn from that. Here is my article about Christians and anger . . .

Anger
 

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