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Angry at your spouse. 9 ways to derail anger

You have tried to explain to your partner how mad you are and why about a hundred times and it doesn't seem to help. It's like they aren't hearing you. Maybe they don't listen well. They seem incapable of saying one single thing that will allow you to let go of your fury and return the peace to your home. Why can't your partner just admit how wrong she/he is and apologize? In the meantime all you can obsess about is how angry you are. You can't eat or sleep normally. You aren't having sex. You have trouble concentrating on other things. Something's got to give!

Here are nine suggestions for derailing your anger so that you can get back to normal, peaceful living and live in harmony again with your spouse.

  1. "I'll change if you change," can be a long stalemate and nothing ever changes. When one partner changes, the other partner changes too. You have continued to harp on what you want or need that you aren't getting and nothing changes. It's time to change your approach. It's time to get creative. Figure out a new way to get your message across that might work. Here's an idea: Why don't you change first? Start with a hug. Or prepare their favorite meal. Smile and give them a little kiss as a greeting. They will respond to the change in you and something will happen. It's not that your partner "wins" this round. You both win.
  2. There is going to be conflict in any good relationship. Do the partners care and trust each other enough to face those conflicts in a healthy manner? Grievances must be aired in a civil, calm manner. One person speaks at a time in a non-threatening tone and the other really listens and then responds with good feedback. Couples who "never argue" are the ones who get separations and divorces. Conflict successfully dealt with builds trust.
  3. Remember, even if you're not feeling it right now, that you love this person and that they are important to you. Force yourself to reach out and break the wall down that is separating you with small acts of kindness: a few kind words, hugs, a sweet note on the dresser top, an unexpected small gift. What makes your partner feel loved? Try it and you will feel better. Something inside your heart will unclench.
  4. Are you sure your partner is the source of your anger? Could your frustration be your job, your diet, finances, household responsibilities, children, health, fitness routine, family or friend relationships or something else be spilling over on to the easiest one to dump on? Do an honest and thorough inventory to make sure this is not the case. If it is, get busy and start apologizing and making amends.
  5. Write. When you feel calm enough, go off by yourself and take out your journal. Write down all the good and amazing qualities that attracted you to your partner in the first place, and the ones that have kept you coming back for more. If you want, you can make an opposite list of his/her bad qualities or faults. Be as honest and objective as you can.
  6. Admit to yourself that most of your angry thoughts are about justifying your anger to yourself. Most of your thoughts are all about me, me, me. Try to stop justifying for a little while. Try to start a calm conversation with your partner about the issue and really listen to him/her. Try listening for where they are hurt. Say, "I'm sorry that when I did or said such and such I hurt you." Your partner may have a change of heart about this disagreement after hearing you acknowledge that you made a mistake too.
  7. Tips for talking yourself down from a boiling rage:
    • Get some perspective. How much did what he did or failed to do really affect your relationship over the long term?
    • Stay in the now. Stay on the specific event. Not the past or future.
    • Don't use "always" or "never."
    • Express your feelings completely or you'll be resentful and bitter.
    • Care about his/her point of view. Give them space to explain.
  8. Take a long bike ride or a walk. Work off those ugly feelings with exercise. When you have sweated enough and used up enough calories, you will have calmed down and be able to think more clearly about what has happened. The fight really isn't worth ruining your marriage over. Would you rather be right or be married?
  9. Get professional help. If you don't already see a therapist, make an appointment for counseling. Not being able to let go of anger or resolve it is your issue and it's ruining your life. You need help with this serious problem before it continues to take over your life more than it has.

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