Is Anger Killing Your Relationship?
Anger can come in many forms, the obvious is verbal or physical attacks but it can also be less direct like slamming doors, stomping around the house, mumbling under your breath, sarcasm or the silent treatment. These unhealthy and damaging attempts to solve a problem can attack a relationship like a cancer. If left untreated then it will grow until it kills the relationship.
When one of the people in the relationship responds with extreme anger it sends a message of disrespect and punishment to the other person.The person responding in anger wants you to know that they are going to punish you for not cooperating with what they want.
Why do we resort to anger? There are many different reasons but a few are listed here;
- We feel like the other person should know what we want. The need seems obvious but this is not always the case. Many times the other person does not understand.We have expectations but they were never clearly stated.
- We feel like we have made so many sacrifices that it is obviously their turn to step-up to the plate. But again this is an unspoken assumption.
- We want our way and do not want to compromise. We become resentful because we feel justified and entitled to what we need.
Communication and care are the antidotes to the anger. Learning to share your need in a way that is nonaggressive and listen to the response in a respectful way is very challenging and foreign to many people. Defensiveness, selfishness and resentment cause a response that puts up walls. The goal is to work as a team and seek a resolution that will be satisfying and lasting to each party.
In a caring relationship there is the goal of cooperation not competition. The solution is a win-win not a loss for anyone. The way to come to a solution that will last is to have both parties buy into the solution. Dr. Willard F. Harley, author of His Needs, Her Needs calls this “Policy of Joint Agreement”. When both parties have come to a compromise that they can both live with enthusiastically then it is something that will last and will not cause further resentment.
How does this happen? First the angry spouse needs to take responsibility for his or her anger and recognize that their anger is killing the relationship. They can’t blame their partner. Change happens through communication and understanding. Let’s be clear, what do you need? Then brainstorm solutions until a compromise is achieved. This is done with respect and care of the views of both parties. There can be no judgement, criticism, disrespect, or demands.
I know this is not easy. We have developed patterns of interacting that are comfortable but not effective. This change takes a willingness and effort but cutting out the anger, just as you would cut out the cancer, will bring healing.
Written by Lisa Strong