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How to Handle Anger in Your Relationship

A friend asked about handling anger in the context of a conflict-free relationship. If the anger is coming from you, first put it into words. Naming emotions is a great way to control them; the more specific, the better. If you're running around like crazy and can't even say why, you can't take charge of it. Susan Heitler writes:

The ability to label feelings is a key ingredient of emotional maturity. Naming a feeling is like catching and harnessing a horse. Unharnessed, unnamed, the horse or the feeling can run wild. Caught and held, they become helpfully at your service. When both you and your partner have the ability to label and therefore talk about your feelings, your power to use feelings constructively for the both of you increase. “The Power of Two” p.43.

Once you’re clear on what you’re feeling, you need to own it: "I feel angry because..." not "You make me angry because...." This turns it from an accusation into a confession; you can become closer through sharing, rather than distant through fighting.

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How Two: Have a Successful Relationship

Do you and your partner argue too much? Are you always fighting about who is right? Are you feeling estranged and distant? In How Two: Have a Successful Relationship, we write about our process and our radically different approach to relating. We insist that conflict is not inevitable and that it is possible to have a passionate and peaceful relationship. Find out:
  • How to find mutual solutions to decision making and problem solving
  • How to remain an individual within the relationship
  • How to break the vicious cycle of anger and recrimination
  • How to avoid the pitfalls that create separation and estrangement
  • How to keep that original loving connection to your partner
Get a copy now. (If you have one, buy a copy for your friends!)
Order it on Amazon or ask for it at your local bookstore. (In Santa Barbara, it's in stock at Chaucer's )

Successful Relationship Reading Corner

BookshelfIn this week's blog, we wrote about how to handle anger in your relationship. These links discuss how to deal with both your anger and that of your partner.

Anger in Relationships: Owning Yours, Softening Your Partner’s "Anger is not a sign that your relationship is doomed to fail. Anger is an emotion that we all experience, and it signifies that something has to be done. Anger makes you aware that there is a problem. How you deal with your anger can become a big part of the problem. For some couples, anger can make it nearly impossible to figure out what the problem is and how to fix it. For most couples, anger itself is not the problem. What becomes problematic is how partners deal with their anger and how well they deal with their partner’s."

Dealing with Anger in a Relationship "Most days, we can conceal our anger from people at work or at school. But this “beast within” is practically impossible to hide from our significant other. Some of us respond to this vulnerability by lashing out at our partner. Others retreat and coil tight emotionally. Neither of these reactions, however, leads to a healthy relationship. The appropriate response is more human … and requires more courage."

How to Deal With an Angry Partner "The biggest challenge of living with a resentful or angry person is to keep from becoming one yourself—or else, the high contagion and reactivity of resentment and anger are likely to make you into someone you are not. The second biggest challenge in staying in a relationship with a resentful or angry person is trying to get him or her to change."


Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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