Frustration, irritation and anger are inevitable in intimate relationships. These feelings might
be quite harmless or extremely explosive, but even the less intense ones can add up over
When people are unable to communicate their more sensitive, underlying feelings, they often resort to anger as a protection strategy such as the "puffer-fish" phenomenon. Typically, these reactions begin with a sense of irritation, defensiveness, hurt, unfulfilled demands, or perceived unfairness.
Partners on the receiving end of furious emotions frequently respond defensively to the
anger itself because they cannot understand the underlying feelings let alone speak of them
in a vulnerable way.
It spirals downward when the two angry parties fail to communicate effectively and fail to
comprehend one other perspectives on the issue using empathic responsiveness.
Don't Give Into the Urge to End Things
During an argument with a significant other, its tempting to slam the door in their face and
refuse to speak to them until the anger subsides. In the short term, silence may help you
relax or de-escalate the situation, but in the long run, it will just make your spouse more
worried or irritated.
This is not to say that you must sit down and figure out a solution on the spot. You might
inform your spouse that you need time to cool off and get your thoughts in order before you
speed out of the driveway or leave the house.
Make it clear that you value finding common ground with them and are thinking about how
long you need to process the situation before resuming communication.
Learn to Control Yourself (And Not Your Partner)
It's human nature to want to rapidly calm down and make amends with a loved one who's
upset with us. Yet we are only in control of regulating our own internal states of mind and
body; it is impossible to control anyone else.
A person who is able to remain focused on regulating their own emotions and responses is
able to offer the other person the space they need to do the same.
Instead of pleading, Calm down! Please take a moment to relax by breathing deeply and
bringing your pulse rate down.
Similarly, trying to exert control over your spouse while you're upset and you want them to
modify a habit is also likely to be met with resistance. The point of communicating one's thoughts and feelings is to be heard, not to embarrass the other person.
Watch Out for Triangles
An emotional triangle occurs when one person uses another to deflect their own feelings of
worry about a second person. It might feel good to vent to a friend, a kid, or even a family
member when you're feeling angry or resentful toward a spouse. It's natural to feel the need
to blow off steam every once in a while, with a trusted support person.
However, the potential damage of this "triangling" might leave your spouse feeling alienated, and it can prevent you from solving the problem in the original connection, thus missing an opportunity to work together at fixing the issue together.
When not channeled constructively, anger can cause serious harm. Uncontrolled,
mismanaged anger is extremely harmful to interpersonal relationships.
Relationships that are strongly connected are based on open lines of communication, clear
boundaries/agreements, mutual regard, and help one another succeed.
Anger rips at those aspects when it is exhibited destructively. It can cause long-term
emotional damage to loved ones by making them feel afraid. It can lead to a breakdown in
communication and trust leading the once in love couples to contemplate divorce or