The emotion of anger is a feeling as well as a human response to your happiness, safety and wellbeing. Anger is, and has been part and parcel of the human race for millennia. Everybody gets angry at some point in time or the other, however some people get angry more intensely and more frequently than others. Unfortunately, very few people can react effectively when provoked, and fewer still have completely mastered their anger, thereby overcoming their inherent weakness.
Human beings as a matter of fact develop various forms of response to provocative situations as children, and carry it over to adulthood when it then becomes a learned response and an ingrained habit. More often than not, these responses graduate into constructive or destructive behaviour depending on the individual. Recognizing what makes you angry can help you find better ways to handle this emotion. What you do when angry is really what matters, not whether or not you get angry.
Studies conducted by relationship experts reveal that more anger is developed in marriage relationships than in any other relationship. What is the principal cause of violence towards another person especially a spouse? It is unresolved anger. Successful anger management will make all the difference in the world between marital joy and absolute misery. Whether a marriage succeeds or fails, very well depends on the way a couple manage anger in their relationship.
Misconceptions of anger
Several misconceptions exist which in turn lead people to mask or cover up their anger in different ways. There are at least 5 possible misconceptions namely:
1- Venting or giving in to outbursts of anger will make it go away.
2- Expressing anger in any form at all will cause the relationship to suffer.
3- Being nice all the time, no matter the situation or provocation (playing the martyr) will not hurt you in any way.
4- Having a calm demeanour on the outside means you do not have a problem with anger.
5- Ignoring hurt and anger will make it go away.
All these misconceptions, which are actually mindsets will in no way bring about a solution to the problem of anger.
How people cover up anger
People in intimate relationships, especially marriages who harbour such misconceptions, tend to cover up their anger in one or more of the following ways namely:
1- Adopting an all is well attitude (being overly sweet and nice about what is happening.
2- Adopting a peace at any price attitude (giving in rather than engaging in conflict or withdrawal)
3- Denial (ignoring the evidence)
4- Keeping records of purported grievances (tracking and keeping notes of everything that has happened)
5- Bigotry (hating another group of people)
6- Engaging in passive-aggressive behaviour (silent treatment, monosyllabic answers, sarcasm, stubbornness, procrastination, guilt trips)
This is nothing other than “escapism”. An escapist mentality in no way helps.
Anger can be healthy in a relationship
Research work done by social scientists in the field of human relationships, indicate that some anger is actually healthy, normal and present at different times in all marital relationships. Couples should give each other the right to be angry. These experts have outlined a way of coping with feelings of anger that surface in virtually every marriage. When a spouse begins to feel stirrings of anger, he or she should express those feelings in words, but calmly and with love. Couples used in controlled experimental situations, who effectively managed their anger, agree that it is necessary to express and acknowledge it. Partners agree never to attack in anger, while they share their feelings when upset. Furthermore, they jointly agree not to shout at each other except in scenarios of great danger. It was observed that if a firm no shouting policy was developed, it removed the need for a spouse to retaliate or feel overly defensive. When both parties calmly expressed their feelings when hurt, they were better able to find out why and how anger was present in the relationship.
Relationship coaches have developed an acronym called AREA to help couples remember a better way of resolving anger namely:
A is for Admitting your anger to your spouse
R is the desire to Restrain your anger and not let it get out of control by blaming, treating the other partner disdainfully or in a condescending manner
E stands for Explaining calmly why you are angry
A stands for Action planning or doing something definite about the cause of the anger
In conclusion, if anger is handled in this way, using a calm approach to identify the cause of the anger and what can be done about it, couples often find out that the anger was based on a misunderstanding or misinterpreted words or deeds. Often, partners may find out that their significant other was pushed beyond their breaking point. Significant success in resolving anger is usually recorded when the issue is approached calmly.