How to Control Anger in a Relationship

Anger is Never a Pure EmotionAnger is never a pure emotion

One thing I learned early on after my divorce was that anger is never a pure emotion.  Most times when I say this to people they look at me sideways for a few seconds.  What?  Are you a psychologist now?  No, I’m not, but I did learn this from a psychologist.

Why we get Angry

Anger is actually a by-product emotion.  It usually stems or is caused by another emotion and is displayed as anger.

For example – Some-one cuts me off while I am driving causing a near-miss accident.  I have an outburst of anger because that person’s stupidity nearly caused me harm, or >my children harm.  What led me to get angry?

Fear.  Fear of being hurt, of my children being hurt.  My anger may begin to grow even further as I contemplated just how bad it could have been, and how helpless I felt in the moment.

Helplessness also can make one feel anger.

If you read my “More About Me” post, you will know that I struggled with my first husband making the decision to no longer be a Christian.  It was very hard for me to accept his decision, but I had no control whatsoever in the matter.  I was really angry with God for a long time.  I thought I had done all the right things and was being a good Christian and all.  After a while, and after learning to accept the situation, I look back and realise that I felt that anger because I felt abandoned and out of control of my own life.  I had a future all planned out, and it just wasn’t going to happen the way I wanted it to.
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Anger can be as a result of many emotions/feelings/situations.  Anger usually rises up as a result of something else such as:

  • fear
  • hurt
  • lack of control
  • abandonment
  • rejection
  • frustration
  • grief
  • disappointment

Understanding this may help you to understand why you have outbursts of anger.  It may also help you to understand why your spouse or significant other or child has angry outbursts.

My toddler gets really angry with me if she is trying to tell me something and I’m struggling to understand her (very cute) baby talk.  The poor little thing is so frustrated with me that she gets really angry and stamps her (very cute) little foot.  I read a brilliant blog about how to deal with that kind of thing from a toddler, or any child for that matter.  I wish I could remember where it was that I read it, so that I could share it with you here!  Basically, the best thing to do with an angry child is to acknowledge their feelings.  So, for me, to say to my toddler – “sweetheart, I know you must feel very frustrated with mommy. I’m sorry I don’t understand.  Do you want to show me what you want?”  I’ve tried it and it works every time. They may not always understand the words you are speaking, but I can assure you that they understand your tone.

It even works on my 6 year old and my 17 year old daughters.  I’ve started to realise that acknowledging someone’s feelings – whatever they may be – makes them feel that they are valued.  It brings a sense of calm to the situation and also almost allows a “re-set” of the issue.  As in: “let’s start again and try to work together on this.

I had my own moment of feeling anger just the other day, and I realised, in the moment of anger what was happening.  Having this knowledge about why we get angry gave me the tools to identify:

  1. That I was angry.
  2. I looked at the scenario to try to understand what had got me to the point of feeling angry.
  3. I managed to calm myself down before letting the situation get out of control.

I had to apologise to the person who was with me, and that was a humbling experience in itself.  I realised in that moment that there is so much stuff that comes at us every day – from so many sources.  It can be easy to feel overwhelmed.  Which can easily result in emotions that get away from us.

I do hope that this post has been of some help to you.  Wishing you all the very best my friends.  If you have any thoughts on this post, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Blessings!

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