Do you experience trouble controlling your anger? Or does your partner seem to get excessively angry with you? Anger in relationships is often so bitter, and causes people to say and do such regrettable things, that it can seem like anger issues should never come up in a loving relationship. You might have been hoping that true love would mean that you and your partner would always understand each other, and always be on the same page.
However, the reality of being with another human being is that your partner will have needs and desires that you won’t always be able to fulfill. They have unique characteristics that make them different from you, and are occasionally hard to understand. Loving another person is a continuous process of growing together despite your differences. If anger is affecting your relationship negatively, you and your partner have to work together to address and deal with the issues. To help you, here are 13 ways to overcome anger in a relationship.
1. Remember that the honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever.
Perhaps your partner is no longer as attentive as they were at the beginning of your relationship. Maybe they’re now spending more time away from you, going back to their hobbies and friends – the other parts of their life that were there before you came along. You might be feeling angry and disappointed. Wasn’t love supposed to be delightful and magical forever?
It may seem sad, but the honeymoon phase of being in love with its mutual exhilaration always settles down into a calmer, more mature love. Attraction and fascination give way to commitment and devotion. Trying to make everything go back to the way it was in the beginning will lead to failure and resentment. Instead, accept that your love has evolved, and work on rekindling that spark in a way that’s realistic and compatible with your new life together.
2. Remember your partner’s positive attributes.
It seems obvious that someone in a relationship would treat their partner better than anyone else in their life. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Many people treat their family, friends, or even acquaintances better than their partners. It’s ironic, but people act like this when they’re too attached to their partner, and have set their expectations too high.
If you find yourself getting angry with your partner for failing your expectations, you need to ask yourself if you’re overlooking their positive attributes by focusing on the things you don’t like about them. Think about the reasons why you fell in love with your partner, and why they deserve to be treated with more courtesy than anyone else.
3. Respect your partner’s individuality.
You and your partner will not always have the same views on certain topics, such as your finances, politics, religion, or each other’s family members. It seems like having different views would inevitably result in conflict and anger. But these topics can be discussed maturely and productively when both partners treat each other with respect. Conflict cannot always be resolved easily, but it doesn’t have to result in uncontrolled anger.
4. Acknowledge the importance of anger as an emotion.
Anger is a normal, natural emotion. Similar to pain, we feel anger as an indication that something is going wrong in our lives that needs to be addressed. Anger itself is not a “bad” emotion that you should strive to never experience. It’s stigmatized because of the unhealthy ways in which people express it. You have the right to your feelings and the capability to control them.
5. Discuss your triggers with your partner.
Be truthful with your partner about what triggers your anger. Sometimes, at the beginning of a relationship, you might refrain from telling them about the things that annoy or exasperate you, because you don’t want them to feel bad. Later on, when you start spending most of your time together, you realize that certain behaviors actually affect you significantly.
Discuss these triggers with your partner and work through them together in a calm dialogue. The energy that you’re spending on feeling angry can then be used to work towards solutions.
6. Avoid stress.
When you’re having poor sleep, an unhealthy diet, and haven’t made time for exercise (or all of the above), this leads to hormonal imbalances in your body. Stress hormones can hijack your thoughts and emotions, making you unable to think clearly. Being in a prolonged state of stress can lead you to say and do things you otherwise wouldn’t.
7. Identify the real source of your anger.
Sometimes, the source of your anger might be something unreasonable. For example, you might be angry with your partner because of your own insecurities, which leads you to accuse him of flirting with other girls even if there’s no real reason for you to think that. Sometimes, it’s something reasonable, like repeatedly disregarding sensible standards of orderliness in your home.
Identifying an unreasonable source of anger is sometimes enough to solve the issue, when you realize that you’re being unfair to your partner, and that your anger is misplaced and unproductive.
8. Find constructive ways to express your anger.
Anger needs to be felt, but this doesn’t mean that it should be expressed in uncontrolled ways. Anger itself isn’t the problem; it’s how you choose to respond to your emotions that is of crucial importance. When you’re triggered, consider the alternative ways that you can express your anger besides having an out-of-control reaction against your partner. Some people find that keeping a “venting” journal helps. Others paint, watch movies, go on peaceful walks, or indulge in aggressive activities like sports – it’s all up to you. Everyone is different, so be patient with exploring what works for you.
9. Take time to calm down.
Anger issues in a relationship often result from specific behaviors that repeat themselves, such as shouting or slamming doors. When you feel the temperature rising in your arguments, inform your partner that you need time on your own to calm down and collect your thoughts. You don’t have to solve every problem immediately. It’s better to take your time and think clearly instead of rushing towards a solution.
10. Don’t give your partner the silent treatment.
That said, taking time to calm down doesn’t mean that you should give your partner the silent treatment. Walking away from the discussion abruptly might make you feel calm and in control of the situation, but it’s likely to increase your partner’s anxiety. Make sure that your partner understands you aren’t ignoring them; you only need time to think and come back to them to discuss the issue more calmly.
11. Be clear about what you need.
Have you ever argued with your partner about something they did today, only to end up discussing something they did years ago? Bringing up similar situations from the past is one of the ways in which we attempt to provide context for something we’re struggling with in the present. More often than not, though, this isn’t helpful because it directs attention away from the issue at hand.
Before you confront your partner about something that’s distressing you, have a clear objective in your mind for the discussion. What do you want to achieve by talking to your partner? What behavior do you want them to change? Knowing the answers to these questions will keep you focused and prevent your anger from getting out of control as you recall irrelevant memories from the past.
12. Don’t seek to control your partner.
Anger issues often stem from feeling a lack of control. Thus, some people resort to threatening, accusing or blaming their partner in order to control them. While these strategies might make you feel relief when you see your partner doing what you want, they will destroy your relationship in the long term.
True love is always a choice. Your partner is with you because they chose to be with you, so there’s no need to control their actions. Instead, trust your partner to listen to your needs, and give them the chance to fulfill your needs in ways that are beneficial to them as well.
13. Watch your language.
It’s fairly obvious that we should watch our words when we’re feeling angry. But do you remember to watch your body language? Behaviors such as eye-rolling, turning away from your partner, or even more subtle cues like tensed fists make you appear threatening. Make a conscious effort to relax your body and look your partner in the eye when you’re talking. Even the most carefully chosen words have to be delivered calmly to seem sincere.
True love always overcomes anger.
Controlling your anger in a relationship is a useful skill that will help you become closer to your partner. When you communicate calmly, your partner will feel heard and understood. Your responses to stressful situations will become more mature and productive as you grow into the best version of yourself.