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Anger: Good or Bad For Your Relationship?


Tips on making anger work for your relationship.

Does anger belong in your relationship, or better yet, in your life? Is it Okay to express anger or is it a deadly sins? Depending on culture, religious beliefs and personality, you will find different answers, but make no mistake, anger is a controversial topic.

Just this week in bible study, I got into a heated debate on the topic of anger. Part of the group came alive engaging the discussion while others got on their knees and asked the Lord to resolve this conflict! Maybe not. However, they could not wait for us to settle down and resume the study.

You may embrace peace as the highest virtue and anger– the enemy. Therefore, anger is not entertained, but rather released for the higher purpose of serenity and homeostasis. Living in peace brings contentment without having to achieve much else.

Or you may recognize anger as an emotion having a place and time, which moves you into action. You live by different sets of higher values such as integrity or altruism. The energy generated from anger is channeled to formulate a plan to attain goals and to unleash creative energy.

Okay, so you are in a relationship and conflicts and tension are unavoidable, if you both express your needs. You subscribe to expressing anger and your spouse subscribes to keeping peace.

Sounds like a match made in heaven! The truth is the Warrior and the Peacemaker can co-exist in a harmonious relationship; after all, opposites attract to make things so much yummier.

Tips for the Warrior:

  • Keep your tone and expression of anger somewhere between low and moderate. Anything more will trigger your partner’s defenses.
  • Maintain self-control at all times.
  • State the obvious and use humor or wit.
  • Do not put your partner down for his or her views. Seek to understand differences.
  • Figure out what it is you are fighting for: Do you need to be affirmed, recognized, be heard or seen?
  • Set your partner up for success and ask for what you really need.
  • Do not interrupt.

Pitfalls for the Warrior: As a Warrior you can be intimidating. During conflict the focus should be on expressing yourself not on controlling your partner.

Tips for the Peacemaker:

  • You usually do a great job listening but not expressing yourself, which leaves your partner hungry and needing to hear from you.
  • If your partner is disrespectful and intimidating then call him/her on it and ask them to refrain from those behaviors.
  • Instead of withdrawing from a fight, try listening and then affirming what made sense.
  • Ask questions to clarify what you didn’t understand.
  • What doesn’t your partner know about the situation that you can shine some light on?

Pitfalls for the Peacemaker:  Tendencies to withdraw and break connection inflict more pain to an already established wound. Learn to stay connected by expressing your thoughts. You will discover that by staying engaged, the conflict will smooth out even if you don’t come to an agreement at that time.

What anger is not: Hostility is a deep-seated ill will against another. Rage is a feeling of intense or growing anger also known as wrath or fury.  Hostility and rage indicate aggression, often defined as acting out anger, usually stemming from not feeling heard. Hostility and rage as well as unresolved anger, can lead to depression and anxiety disorders as well as violence. These emotions will wreak havoc in both your personal health and relationships–and it isn’t pretty.

I’m sure you’ve been in situations with individuals who use aggression or hostility to control and dominate a situation or worse yet, you! Expressing yourself in this fashion is harmful and should not be practiced unless you’re aiming for relationship wreckage. So when experiencing anger or conflict, examine your actions and attitudes. Are you led by a need to control or by self-control? Are you led by love for your relationship and your partner? Conflict is growth trying to happen and anger expressed in healthy ways can be a powerful motivator for change.

The Anger/Aggression Sexual Connection: Sex and aggression sells — just turned on the television. Media extorts this connection. Have you checked out the Best Sellers Lists?  Although, many of us are too modest to say so, there is something captivating about sex and aggression. Our sexuality has an inherent push and pull mechanism.

Love seeks closeness while desire needs distance. These opposing forces create tension and conflict needing to be managed in order for your love and closeness to grow while not squelching sexual intimacy.

Next time you experience conflict in your marriage, remember resolved anger can lead directly to sexual intimacy because the distance created between the two of you can generate desire. Be aware that chronic anger or unresolved anger can cause relationship problems that decrease the libido.

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