Everyone gets angry. Some people show it openly and others don't. If you are one of those people who claim you don't get angry -- you're either not in touch with your emotions or you are lying.
In relationship, anger can be either healthy or unhealthy. Anger is just an emotion. How you process it is what determines whether it becomes a tool for growth or a source of pain and destruction.
Anger: Positive? Negative? Tool for Growth?
In this society anger is perceived as a negative emotion. If you are a person who expresses anger, society would tell you that you are someone who can't control your emotions and can't control your behavior. Most of us suppress anger and deny it exists until it rears its ugly head.
In our relationship, we've found that it's always best to deal with any anger that comes up right away.
In the past, Otto would always let resentments build and build until they got out of control. Then he would just explode and end up saying things he would end up regretting later. In his past relationships it wasn't safe for him to express his true feelings.
Susie was taught that you should always be nice and there was no place for anger. Her parents were never openly angry with one another. Angry feelings to her meant something was wrong with her. Because she repressed her feelings, she found them overwhelming and was not able to express what she was experiencing.
Anger: A Signal that Something is Out of Balance
All emotional feelings are signals that there is something in your life that needs to be dealt with, and anger is one of those emotions. When anger comes up, it is a signal that something in your life is out of balance and incongruent with how you believe your world should be.
When anger comes up in our relationship, we choose to get to the root of the problem and find out what's really going on. What we have found helpful is to open up a dialog and just allow the person who is angry to express how and why.
When you are angry, you need to take responsibility for it and not project it onto someone else. Use "I" statements and be specific, such as "I am really upset about you leaving your socks on the floor" instead of "You are such a slob!"
The partner's job is to listen in a detached, non-judgmental way. If this sounds like a lot of work, you're right. This process takes trust and practice but the reward is a relationship which is free of resentments.
Reacting quickly and honestly to angry emotions bypasses the tendency of periodic explosions and tends to clear the air -- much like a spring rain. When you defuse anger, you'll be able to bring back the connection and love that you've lost in that moment.
Anger: Safe to Express from Love instead of Fear
Susan has learned not to run away from angry feelings, but that it is safe to express them when they appear. Otto has found that when he expresses anger, he is able to move past the anger and discover what he is really upset about.
The lesson we have learned is that a foundation of safety and trust in the relationship must be present to express or listen to anger from love instead of fear. When you express or listen to anger from love instead of fear, the relationship can experience growth... And the relationship usually deepens.
Book by the authors of this article:
Should You Stay or Should You Go?
Compelling Questions and Insights to Help You Make that Difficult Relationship Decision
by Susie and Otto Collins.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book.
About The Authors
Susie and Otto Collins are spiritual and Life partners who teach others how to create outstanding relationships of all kinds. Susie and Otto regularly write and present workshops on Spiritual Partnership: The new model for relationships that really work. Their message comes straight from the heart, their own experiences and from an intense study of other teachers and writers on relationships. Visit their web site at http://www.collinspartners.com and sign up for a FREE newsletter filled with tools, tips and ideas on creating outstanding relationships and ideas to help you on your spiritual path.