She left the sink full of dishes, he forgot to make the bed and they leave the heating on all day – relationships are full of little, nagging complaints alongside a few slightly more substantial ones.
But what if there was a way for you to address your anger in a more constructive way? Not in an anger management group therapy leap-of-faith fashion, but more like a “Just sit down and talk to your partner like a proper person” approach.
Juliet Grayson, relationship therapist and author of Landscapes Of The Heart, has been working to help couples address anger issues for decades.
During that time, Grayson has learned a fair few secrets for addressing anger issues in constructive and conducive ways.
“Anger comes up a lot in relationships,” she explains. “The key is to first identify the type of anger you are dealing with – and what rage is.”
“This is where you express what you’re feeling in an assertive but not overly aggressive way.
“It takes maybe between two and five minutes – it never goes on for more than five minutes – and it’s about what is happening in the here and now.
“You’ll often feel closer to your partner after, rather than the anger pushing them away.”
“When it comes to unhappy anger there are two types: hot rage and cold rage.
“Hot rage is an explosion, where you bring in things you have held on to from the past, the sort of ‘Well, your mother said this three months ago and you did this six months ago and blah, blah, blah.’ That can go on for two-five hours, if not two-five days.
“Cold rage is simmering, cold, vicious and sarcastic comments.They don’t let the other person close because they’re punishing them. It’s subtle and nasty. They make jokes under the guise of humour, but there’s usually a nasty edge to them.”
“The key to dealing with emotions better is to try and learn what it is you’re feeling, even if you don’t know what you’re feeling.
“You’d be surprised at the amount of people who don’t always have labels for what they’re feeling. For these individuals, it can be quite hard to connect a feeling with a label.
“The key is to just try and be open and just say things like ‘I’m not feeling good now’ and then try to get your partner to help you work out what emotion you’re feeling now.
“That way, you begin to develop your emotional literacy so that you have more labels and can cope with your feelings better.”
Speak Your Truth
“Research has shown that, when we’re allowed to express our emotions and speak our truth, we have less of a transphysiological reaction.
“Simply put: The more we know about how and what we feel, the less unconsciously our body is reacting. It’s good to talk about it and acknowledge what you’re feeling.”
Choosing Your Words
“Language is so important in these instances. Try to be open about how you’re feeling, even if it is hard for your partner to hear. But make sure you put it in the right terms.
“Make it ‘I’m feeling this’ rather than ‘You’re making me feel that.’ This is crucial. Rather than blaming your partner, it’s about explaining why you’re feeling angry.
“That gives you a platform from which to work through your feelings, and ultimately reach a conclusion where you and your partner are happier and much closer.”