Experiencing anger is a normal part of life, but when you allow anger to become your dominant emotion, you run the risk of losing put on close relationships. Anger in marriage is also common, but excessive anger is a large factor in causing stress to a marriage. If you or your spouse are having bursts of anger that have crossed a line and made your marriage feel hostile, fixing anger issues within your marriage is essential.
To get started on fixing your anger issues, pinpointing why you or your spouse is angry is important. You must know what the root of the problem is in order to fix it. When do you (or your spouse) most often become angry, how often, and how is anger expressed in your marriage? These are all questions that will lead you to better understanding and solutions.
This article will discuss the dangers of feeling angry all the time, excessive anger in marriage, and how to overcome your anger. It will also demonstrate steps to healing your marriage and moving forward. Anger does not have to control your life or ruin your marriage.
Dealing With Anger In Marriage
It is important to remember that anger is a normal emotion that almost everyone feels at least once a day. Abnormal anger, though, is the type that clouds your judgement and makes you lash out. Anger in marriage is also normal. There is no way you can live with someone and not feel angry towards them at some point. When your anger turns to violence or causes you to lash out at your spouse, however, you need to seek help in dealing with it.
When you decide to seek help, it is important to remember that not all anger is the same. There are actually ten common types of anger and each has its own characteristics:
- Verbal anger- expressed as shouting, threats, sarcasm, or criticism
- Chronic anger- ongoing frustration and resentment with habitual irritation
- Judgmental anger- generally a reaction to a perceived injustice
- Passive-aggressive anger- evades confrontation, represses frustration, lashes out in veiled attempts to show anger
- Overwhelmed anger- uncontrollable anger, resulting in feelings of frustration
- Retaliatory anger- one of the most common types of anger, motivated by revenge
- Self-abusive anger- expressed via negative self talk, self-harm, or substance use
- Volatile anger- impulsive outbursts of anger where you calm down quickly
- Assertive Anger- uses feelings of frustration for positive change; constructive anger
- Behavioral Anger- physical, aggressive anger that leads to hitting people or throwing things
It is important to remember that anger is not always good or bad. It is just an emotion. The way you react to and act on your anger is the issue. If you are experiencing one or more of the types of anger listed above, you can manage them. Anger in marriage that is not managed, though, can have serious consequences.
How Anger Affects Marriage
In order to have a healthy marriage, you must have compassion for your spouse. When you are showing constant and threatening anger toward your spouse, though, you lose compassion for them, and they lose it for you. When most partners fight, they fight over money and sex. The underlying issue is not that easy, though. The anger is about a lack of compassion or feeling like your spouse lacks compassion for you.
When your anger goes on too long, it turns to resentment. That resentment actually keeps you stuck in a loop of anger. Eventually, you lose sight of why you fell in love with your partner in the first place, and that leads to a breakdown in the marriage, most often ending in divorce.
Aside from divorce, though. Anger can lead to violence. Domestic violence in marriage is, sadly, quite common, with over 30 percent of women, and over 25 percent of men, experiencing physical violence from a partner.
Even if your anger doesn’t lead to physical harm, it can lead to emotional or mental abuse. Close to half of all adults in the United States will experience this type of abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime. This abuse can land you in jail, keep you from any children you may have, and cost you your career.
How Anger Affects Health
Anger doesn’t just affect your marriage, though- it also affects your health. Sustained and chronic anger leads to:
Heart Issues, Obesity, Migraines, Addiction, Low Self-Esteem, Sexual Problems, Depression, Insomnia, Brain Fog, Anxiety, Immune System Suppression.
All of these things can lead to a lower quality of life and being lonelier because you have lost your spouse and other meaningful relationships. It could even lead to you losing your job. If you want to combat the effects of your chronic anger, start by acknowledging the problem.
Then, use simple techniques to calm down. Removing yourself from a situation that has you upset, taking deep breaths, or going for a short walk can all help you calm down, quickly.
Resolving Anger In Marriage
Learning techniques to calm yourself is one way to help resolve anger in marriage. When you learn coping techniques, you are less likely to express anger toward your spouse. You are also less likely to feel anger in the first place. But learning to resolve anger issues is not the only steps to resolving anger in marriage.
The next step is to identify why you are angry. Remember, feelings of anger are not always because you are mad. They are covering up other feelings, like disappointment, sadness, or embarrassment. Do you feel any of these on a regular basis with your spouse? If so, that may be leading to your angry outbursts. Identifying the root cause of your anger and addressing that will help resolve anger in your marriage.
Finally, when you do resolve the conflict that leads to anger, rebuilding trust in your marriage is essential. There are four main steps to rebuilding trust:
- Confrontation-talking about the issue and identifying the problem
- Reconnecting-rebuilding your relationship on ways that work for both of you
- Rebuilding-actually doing the steps you’ve outlined
After you have identified the problem, you are on step two. If you are the spouse with the anger problem, apologizing is the next step. If you are the spouse who has faced anger from your partner, you should expect and hold you partner to an apology. Once that is done, you can line out expectations for your relationship and begin rebuilding it. If you are having a hard time doing this on your own, marriage counseling could be a great option for you both.
Anger Management In Marriage
Speaking of counseling- anger management is also a good option. If you have found yourself on the brink of losing control, too often, or you have lost control and need help being a happier, better person, anger management classes can give you techniques that work on reducing feelings of intense anger.
Some of the things anger management discusses is how to control your anger in the moment (like breathing or removing yourself from the situation that is making you mad), but it can also delve into why you feel mad all the time, in the first place. From needing medication, to anxiety and stress, and even childhood trauma- there may be legitimate reasons why you are so mad and taking it out on your spouse.
Once you have learned the techniques in anger management, you can apply them to real life. This will help you calm down and start managing your anger in your marriage.
How to Express Anger In Marriage
It is important to remember that anger is not always bad. In fact, there are ways it can be beneficial:
- Anger can motivate you to do better
- Angry people have hope for better, so they can be more optimistic
- Anger can help you find solutions to problems in relationships
- Anger can show you areas where you need to change
- Anger that is properly expressed reduces violence
- Justified anger, wielded carefully, can get you where you want to be in life
Keeping this in mind, the best way to handle anger in marriage is to first express it in a healthy way. Have a conversation with your spouse about why you are angry is a good start, but if you are not in a place to speak rationally and calmly, cooling down is the best first option.
Anger in marriage is inevitable. Dealing with that anger in a constructive manner is imperative to keeping your marriage intact and it can help your quality of life, too. You cannot keep it bottled up, you must express it constructively.
How Do I Deal With An Angry Spouse?
If you are not the one that is experiencing the anger, but rather the one on the receiving end of the anger, remember that you are not responsible for making your spouse control their anger. There are things you can do to help your spouse, though
- De-escalate the situation, if you can. Remain calm. Do not try to calm your spouse, as this may seem patronizing to them and can increase their anger. You keep your cool and refuse to yell or get angry back at them.
- Be assertive. Do not back down, but stay respectful. Let them know that you will not be bullied.
- Be understanding. Tell them you understand their anger, listen, and show understanding by communicating effectively.
- Be patient. It may take a while for your spouse to calm down.
- Show compassion. Remember- anger rears when lack of compassion is shown or felt. Showing compassion can help calm your spouse.
- Address the issue when your spouse has calmed down. If they cannot remain calm while having the conversation in person, have it via text or through written letters. You can even try a phone call, as long as you are both in a place where you can talk to one another about the issues.
All of these are great techniques for calming an angry spouse and working through the issues with them, but it is important to remember that they must do the work for fixing the underlying issues that cause them to become irrationally angry. You can offer to go to counseling with them, but you cannot make them do the work. In the end, all you can do is support them and work with them on seeking help for their anger issue.
How can I control my anger? There are many always to control your anger. Deep breaths, taking walks, using stress balls, finding a hobby, working out, or talking to a friend are all options. If you have serious anger issue, seeking counseling and anger management are your best options for seeing results.
Can I reverse the effects of my anger? To reverse the effects your anger has left on your marriage, you have to be willing to put in the work to first make atonement and then rebuild your spouse’s trust. You also have to be willing to work on your anger and not expect your spouse to take responsibility for it or you. After that, you can start to rebuild your marriage, but counseling may be needed.
Is anger in marriage ever good? As stated above, anger can be good. It can be a motivating factor that keeps you moving forward and makes you improve your life and reach goals. Expressing it properly is the key.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare