How do you manage anger in your relationship?

Most people would agree that anger is an important emotion - we need it! It tells us when something is wrong, where there is an issue to be addressed. Of course, it's vital that the way we express our anger is respectful, and that we do not behave in a way that makes the other person feel frightened or intimidated.

But although many agree that anger is important and healthy, when it comes to relationships we often have other ideas. We may even believe that if our relationship was in good shape, there would be no need for anger or conflict at all. This is a dangerous idea! It can set people up for a range of difficulties, where important issues have not been discussed at all, or where anger gets expressed in ways that are indirect or make no sense. It may go something like this - I have an issue with you, I feel angry about it, but think that in a good relationship it's not OK to express that, so I withdraw to manage my anger, and hope that it will go away. It doesn't go away, and after a while I become more irritable, and over-react to little things you do. You get upset with me that I'm doing that, and before you know it, we both start thinking the only solution is to end the relationship - after all, if we had a good relationship, neither of us would be feeling angry - right?

Wrong!!!! Anger (and every other emotion we may experience!) has an important role to play not only in our individual lives, but in our most significant relationships. The key is expressing this in non-blaming, respectful ways that facilitate the necessary discussions we need to have about - what is the anger telling us about what is not working in our relationship, and what do we need to think about and/or do differently?

To do this may require letting go of the 'romantic' ideal that happy relationships should mean that anger and conflict should not exist when people truly love each other, but what you will gain in exchange is something much better - real intimacy that gets better and better with time, the more skilful you become at harnessing the power of your emotions in a constructive and caring way to co-create positive change together.

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