Most relationships begin with that elated feeling, we think WOW, I finally met my soul mate or “This is the person I can really spend the rest of my life with”. They possess all those valued qualities that we desire, “kind”, “caring”, “smart”, “attentive”, “fun”, “active”, “not active”, “honest, trusting and giving. But isn’t that what we show and see when we initially meet someone and want it to grow into something more? Because we know that all our good stuff is what will attract and maintain a relationship. We display our “good” qualities that we know our new partner likes and it’s actually a part of who we are. But as time goes on we see the hair left in the drain, socks left on the floor, dirty dishes left in the sink for 2 days and end up having an argument on whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. That not so good side is also a part of who you are, you know the side- when we have to be right, or have to have the last word. That part just takes a vacation in the early stages while we are in the land of good impressions and city of “I am a perfect person”.
When that first anger outburst appears it’s like a thief in the night it can be shocking and leave you in disbelief. You didn’t think that leaving an unopened can of soup on the counter would lead to name calling, a question of your values or your loving mate yelling at you at the top of their lungs. So here it is—your relationship now has another character and it’s called ANGER.
So how do you know it’s not just my partner having a bad day because they screwed something up at work, or they are simply agitated by the heavy traffic they had to sit in for 2 hours on the way home today? Well there can be signs but first let’s look at the definition so you can understand and even still love your mate on their way to therapy.
Anger is an emotion that signals there may be a threat or danger. What you do in a split second with your anger is the decision that could possibly create tremendous chaos or set the wheels in motion that could help you maintain a safe environment. So how you respond to this emotion will involve you making a choice.
I am not condemning anger, because it’s something we all experience and it serves as a helpful signal at times, but I’m focusing on the lack of anger control that damages families, children, relationships and jobs.
First it can be a very strong emotion, it’s usually distinguished by a distorted thought or perception and it creates physiological changes. It can range in the level of intensity and when we experience it we often want to terminate the stimulus that we perceive as negative.
The cognitive belief behind the anger and the way anger is displayed can tip us off if there is a presenting problem in your relationship. Each of us has pet peeves and hot buttons, because they are sensitive areas to us, but we are responsible for the way we react and how we communicate & display our feelings. If you think you or a loved one has an anger problem and it’s affecting various areas of your life in relationships, work situations and safety concerns seek help. What are the behavioral, emotional, physical and emotional warnings that you or your loved one may have a problem in managing your anger.
There are effective ways to manage anger because we all experience it, but just like all transformations we have to want to make the commitment and do the work. Life can continue to be enjoyable even if we get angry sometimes, it’s knowing what works for you to manage anger, and it has to be healthy, safe and appropriate.
How we respond to our feelings is a CHOICE, but you have to have the right tools to work with, to make the choice.
Elaine Latimer-Tandy LPC, NCC, CPCS, BC-TMH,
Resources: Byrd, G. “Choice Based Anger Control”, 2014.