Giving up anger

giving up angerEven though we’ve been to a few couples counseling sessions and have begun to better understand our relationship problems, I still feel so angry with my partner. I know I need to work on giving up anger, but it feels so hard to do. 

You’re right– giving up anger is hard to do. Anger is a powerful emotion and its pervasive presence between partners can signal relationship trouble. Sometimes, clients who seek couples therapy in Bethesda, MD worry that giving up anger means giving in to their partner. They wonder, “If I give up my anger, does that mean I let my partner win?” Or sometimes the worry is that holding on to anger keeps the other partner aware that there is a problem needing attention. In this case, they wonder, “Is it my anger that keeps us working for change in the relationship?

But there is a healthier approach to anger than being driven by it on the one hand, or just repressing it on the other. First, begin by noticing your anger. What are the sensations you feel in your body when you’re angry? Perhaps you feel tightening in your chest, sweaty palms, or your heart racing. Recognize these sensations as energy–emotional energy that is sending you a message to pay attention. The strategy here is to begin to self-soothe. Take three deep, calming breaths. Clench and unclench your fists, relaxing your hands by your sides.

Next, think about what other emotions might be underneath your anger. Very often, anger covers up more tender feelings like fear, hurt, or disappointment. Usually, coming at your partner with anger makes communication difficult because it activates defensiveness. Anger clouds your mind and makes problem solving more difficult. Giving up anger is worth it because it leads to compassion and equanimity. Sharing with your partner the root of your anger leads you both towards a more productive conversation, the possibility of apology, and meaningful repair behaviors.

When you’re not overcome by your anger, you and your partner will be able to find new ways to connect and solve your relationship problems.

If you know a couple who struggles with giving up anger, we hope you forward this post. Couples therapy in Bethesda MD helps couples learn how to overcome anger and find new yeas to connect and solve relationship problems.