Anger in Relationships
Not so picture perfect
The first thing you must know is anger in a relationship always overrides anything else. If you have kids with an angry person, that person's anger will still override the love they have for them. That's why abuse can occur even when the abuser has love for his/her victims. When you are with an angry person, and they anger, nothing else exists- not your safety, not your love, not even common sense, nothing. They literally see red.
If you're hoping to change this, there are additional things you should be aware of. Don't get caught in the trap that things will change on their own or if you just love the person a little more.
I want to provide you with a clear picture in your mind of what angry is. Some people have been living in anger or with an angry person for so long they become numb or have a twisted version of reality. Perhaps they've made excuses for the angry spouse or the spouse has stated the other person is too sensitive or they deserve it.
Anger on the outside: raise voice, yelling, blind rage (like in a trance), curse, threaten, hitting, shoving, or throwing things. Not a pretty picture.
What anger looks like inside: Have you ever seen those frightful pictures of an alcoholic's liver or a smoker's lungs, well anger does damage too. Both the angry person and the person on the receiving end can experience stomach aches, high blood pressure, appetite changes, fatigue, impaired immune function, head aches, and depressive thoughts. With these symptoms alone, it's similar to having a chronic illness.
Anger as a chronic illness: Anger could be considered a silent epidemic. It's not so silent when you're being yelled at, but the anger continues often because people keep silent about their spouse's anger issues. Those who are angry, have been most of their lives- it's a chronic condition. Short-tempered folks are even worse- they've had their chronic condition even longer and piled up the ill effects to go off at any moment. They are quick to anger with or without slightest provocation. Ever heard of the term "Walking on eggshells"?
Anger as a war: Anger is a war festering on the inside of the angry person, killing the relationship, and torturing innocent prisoners of war. Perhaps "eggshells" is too fluffy a word for anger, but land mines may be more appropriate. You never know when an angry person will explode. Life begins to feel like one battle after another and sadly, nobody wins with anger. The angry person was defeated before they expressed their anger. The most impossibly frustrating feeling when in a relationship with someone angry is what set them off yesterday may not set them off today- unpredictability. What if one day the yelling turns into hitting? What if...
The face of anger: Someone who sees their spouse yelling, screaming, and being angry they see what it turns people into; watch a kids movie. Notice the Queen, Snow White's stepmother, is decent looking, until she gets angry and turns herself into a twisted dreadful looking old lady. When kids see their angry parent, they see these horrifying visions. Spouses als osee this monster.
The other face of anger: On the other hand, the angry person is really a hurt child curling up in a ball, feeling cornered into an uncontrollable situation; afraid and alone. It's hard to understand how an angry person can be both a perpetrator and a victim, but it really makes perfect sense- defense.
Now you have a picture of anger and you realize the seriousness and destruction of anger.
Why so angry? The Angry Spouse
If people got angry only at the situation at hand, it would never escalate. But instead anger comes from years of repressed hurt that hasn't been dealt with and easily rises to the surface over and over again. If it hasn't been dealt with before a person enters into a long-term relationship, the anger continues, now with another person involved.
When the angry person was a child they did not have control over their life and what happened to them so anger develops and slowly gives them a false feeling of control. Anger makes people feel like they are in control, but the opposite is true. Pretty soon anger masks all other emotions and is the only response the angry person knows how to react to fear, abandonment, jealousy, hurt, rejection, stress, and confusion.
The angry person is selfish, like an expectant and demanding infant. They act like the world has done something to them and that can't be tolerated. "If you don't get out of my way, I'll run you over". It's always their way. Anger can explode on a complete stranger and only because that person "wronged" the angry person- an injustifce has been committed and the angry person assumes the only language everybody understands is punishment. There is no such thing as "like water off a duck's back" to an angry person- they don't let anything slide. They have a precise view of how things should go; how people should drive, how people should talk to them, and how people should treat them, all without considering how they treat others.
In the face of anger
For those facing the wrath of and angry person:
- realize the anger is always disproportionate to the reality of the situation. You don't deserve to be yelled at. If you did something minor, but got the 3rd degree, then apologize briefly.
- speak softer and slower than the angry person. Change the tempo of the argument.
- nothing gets solved in the face of anger. Things must be discussed at a later time, which may still bring that person to anger quickly again. Sometimes only a mediator, like a counselor, can help.
- in reality, the chronically angry person will need to deal with the root of the quick temper. They may also require medication. Anger can be an underlying symptom for something as common as anxiety or depression disorders.
- classes (Anger management) rarely work- I've heard of many angry people who have been to these classes and none have said it worked.
- Try to get the angry person to answer what they need or how you can help. Sometimes angry people have a hard time communicating.
- why are you with an angry person? Most married folks say they knew their spouse was angry before they married them. Reflect on your choices.
- think about your future: according to studies, angry behaviors tend to escalate over time. Yelling becomes swearing. Swearing becomes stamping and slamming. Stamping and slamming becomes throwing things, followed by punching and kicking holes in the walls. Next comes assault. So many people have followed this well-worn path that it is now totally predictable by law enforcement agencies, family service agencies and mental health professionals.
- You know your spouse's buttons, be real careful not to push them. Be conscious in the moment and pick your words wisely- it's best to get away from them.
Anger is such a problem in relationships, there isn't much a spouse can do for the angry spouse. This is something they have to get help for or take control of themselves. Eliminating anger is a conscious decision on their part, but it's a habit, a friend, and an addiction as well. It's part of their personality and won't go away without invasive treatment.
For the spouse with no skills to manage his or her problems, you will always be their problem. There will always be a battle to control you in order to control their own life. On a personal note, I have experienced anger in relationships and one thing helped me to deal with an angry person. Sometimes people become how you see them or how others see them. If a spouse is angry, then you are likely to expect them to be and little things about you and your actions and words will bring this out in them. Try viewing them in a more positive light.
They need professional help, they need to do the work, or you need to get out of the relationship for things to change. Half the battle is convincing them anger by itself is not a problem, but the way they express it is a problem. Anger must be replaced with patience, communication, and cooperation. It's like what we were taught as kids- "Use your words", not your growling, grunting, tantrums, or anger.
- The High Art of Handling Problem People | Psychology Today
Dealing with difficult people is a special skill—and an increasingly necessary one. By Hara Estroff Marano | Psychology Today
- Anger Management Simple Test
Are You Angry? Aggressive? Are You Cynical? Take this very simple test and learn how angry, aggressive or cynical you really are. No matter what anyone says ... Do you find yourself becoming angry at the simplest little thing? Like a moronic, idiotic