Coping with Divorce and Separation
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: James Handley MBACP ACCRED. Couples and Relationship Therapy
7th June, 20130 Comments
One of the most challenging emotions to deal with in an intimate relationship is anger. It carries a charge, and many people have had such a difficult history around it that they are not happy talking about or expressing it.
Anger is an umbrella term for a variety of feelings from mild irritation to full blown rage. It is a reaction to things in the world we don't like; an emotion that lets us know that someone has crossed one of our personal boundaries, whether physical or emotional. When this happens we feel impotent. Humans don't like feeling powerless, and anger is a reaction to this feeling. There are two important points that I want to make:
1) Anger is different to violence. Violence is the acting out of anger in its extreme form. If you are in a relationship, whether you are a man or woman/gay or straight where there is regular violence then you need to get support and keep yourself safe. If you are the perpetrator of violence then you need help in managing your behaviour.
2) It is impossible to live with someone and not experience some form of anger with them. But anger itself is not the problem; it is how we deal with it. In dealing with anger the first thing for you and your partner to do is to look at what your anger patterns are.
a. Do you implode - suppressing anger and perhaps even refusing to admit you feel it? Or do you explode, and then feel unhappy about behaving badly? Typical angry behaviours of those who implode are sulking and withdrawal, and of those who explode are shouting, swearing or throwing things.
b. The next step is to ask yourself how anger is played out in your relationship. Are you rowing the entire time, or do you never row but feel simmering resentment? If you row, are there certain subjects that start your arguments, for instance children, sex, in-laws, financial problems or old resentments and hurts. Anything that is a regular trigger point for rows needs to be dealt with.
c. Look at the timing. Do these trigger points and resentments tend to crop up at times when you are getting closer? If so then it may be that you are using conflict as a way of avoiding intimacy. Although you want closeness, at another level you feel scared and overwhelmed by it, and use conflict to avoid it. Or, conversely, do you use anger and conflict as a way of getting contact with a partner who seems distant?
d. Perhaps you feel fed up and feeling unappreciated by your partner. If this makes you angry what part are you playing in it? Do you tell him or her things that upset, annoy or irritate you? The point is not to have a slanging match but to say clearly what you want, and be specific; most people are willing to give to their partner if asked in the right way.
Anger can be you friend if you listen to it and use it wisely.
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