(03) Marital Issues: Communication & Anger
Emotional Issues Involved In Negotiation With Your Partner
Part of having a good relationship is learning how to negotiate with your partner. The place to start is focusing on the tremendous importance of feeling accepted, respected, saving face, pride and maintaining belief you have influence in your relationship are to the process of successful couple’s negotiation.
We’ve all witnessed situations where people still argue well beyond the issue itself; they just don’t want to lose the argument. Even if they are not sure if they are right or being fair, they still argue their point because they hate to give in.
Regardless of the issue, I believe you have a 60% chance of success if you make sure your communications are respectful and recognize your partner’s emotions and are accepting of them, even if your point of view is the complete opposite of theirs.
On the other hand, it is 100% certain that if negotiation/discussions are disrespectful and critical, even if you “win” and get your way, you lose.
In later posts I’ll be talking about attitudes and emotions involved in negotiating with your partner.
In a previous blog post, I sighted Anger and Fighting as first on my list of things that stand in the way of having a thriving relationship with our loved ones.
How well do we fight with each other? Do our fights leave scars that are not easily forgotten or don’t heal at all.
How well do we handle our partner’s anger and our own? Often times, I will have someone come to me because their partner feels so overwhelmed by their anger that they tell me that they just don’t want to be together any longer.
A question we should really ask ourselves is “What do we hope to accomplish by having this anger?” Some people believe that it might make the other person change, they may want them to feel the hurt and pain as they do, or even try and control them.
What many people hope is that if the other person knows how angry they are maybe they’ll be different, or maybe they will apologize. Again, it is unusual that heart felt remorse comes from anger. What usually happens is that anger makes the other person more distant, angrier, or just fed up with the situation.
A place to start getting results would be from a calm, secure place that doesn’t attack the other person. What we often do is blame them. I have found that blame always generates more anger and counter accusations which only hurts communication.
When we are angry we need to realize that no matter what the other person does we are responsible for our own anger.. A place to start is to complete the sentence “I am allowing “Jane” to make me angry by telling myself ….. . Jane may have done the wrong thing but our anger probably won’t change Jane’s behavior or even what she said to you.
We not only make ourselves angry but in some ways we decide how long we will be angry. We tell ourselves “I will never forget / forgive Jack for ……,,
It is important to realize that anger hurts the one who holds on to it more than it hurts the person we are angry at. It takes up our energy, makes us negative, and can even cause us to have physical health problems.
One of the biggest complaints therapists hear from the couples they counsel is, “We just don’t communicate well.” That sentence is both very telling and vague at the same time. The ten strategies below are guidelines that couples can follow to improve their communication. An important point to remember when defining “good communication” in a solid relationship is that “winning” an argument is not the goal, but having both people feel listened to, accepted and understood. Below are 10 “rules” for improving communication in your relationship. See how many you follow and by adopting just one or two more, you can be on your way to improved communication with your partner. First however, look at the short lists of “Don’ts”
“List of Don’ts.”
1. Don’t try and adopt all of them at once.
2. Don’t tell your partner: “this is a list you should follow.” Ask your partner if he/she is interested in “rules for communication” or print the list and leave it lying around, but don’t make the list an issue in itself.
10 Rules to Help Improve Communication with Your Partner
1. Listen to the emotions behind your partner’s words. Being right isn’t as important as being understood.
2. Focus on what your partner is saying rather than thinking up an answer or rebuttal.
3. Look at the person who is talking to you. Many people don’t feel listened to unless they are being looked
4. Use the word “I” rather that the word “you.” People tend to hear “you” in a sentence as an accusation, such as “You are yelling at me.” Compare that with “I feel yelled at,” and the speaker takes ownership for the feeling and does not come across as attacking.
5. When you need to discuss a difficult issue, be sensitive to choosing an appropriate time for the conversation.
6. State things simply and ask your partner if more detail is needed.
7. The real meaning of every communication is how it is heard and perceived, not how it is intended.
8. Notice your partner’s reactions – the withdrawal/attack/glassy-eyed responses.
9. Ask questions to learn and understand more about what your partner is saying. Be curious about what is important to your partner.
10. Be attentive to your partner’s response. Notice if you are giving too much detail. For example, if you are a detail person but your partner is not responding, then you can either ask for feedback and involvement or limit the conversation. People can be turned off if they feel like they are being talked at or the conversation is going on for too long.
There are many rules to good communication. The 10 rules above provide a good starting point for couples. You may even want to “evaluate yourself” to see how many of the suggestions you follow. Having a healthy relationship means “playing by the rules.”
Five Steps to help you deal with your Anger
What is anger?
There is some evidence to suggest that anger may be a feeling that is associated with a feeling of helplessness and loss of control. People may respond to these feelings in one of two ways. When we loose control we might show it an outward way by being angry, if we still don’t feel as if we are getting satisfaction or control that anger can turn to rage. The other way we emotionally respond to lack of control or feeling a loss of empowerment is we feel depressed. We think “What’s the matter with me I should have said something to him/her”.
Anger takes a great deal of energy from us and it distances us from other people. If we over do it, we can lose friends, spouses, our children and even our jobs. When we are angry we do not have our peace of mind.
As difficult as anger is, there is very little mentioned about what to do with this potentially destructive emotion. Here is a quick test for you:
What is the best way to handle anger?
1. Get even with that son-of-a-gun.
2. Forgive the person who you are angry with.
3. Ignore the situation and/or the anger
The correct answer is note of the above. Anger consumes an inordinate amount of time energy and space in our brain that could be put too much better use. Here are 4 steps to follow that can help you deal with anger.
1. Rate yourself on Dr. Marty’s “Anger Scale“
On a scale of 1 – 5, rate how angry you are. One being mildly annoyed, your friend was 10 minutes late for meeting you for shopping. Five being ready to go to the top of the tower with an automatic weapon (only kidding – but you get the idea)
2. Step back from the angering event and calm yourself.. Too often we want to go after the person or situation that is angering us. While we may feel that that is a useful outlet at the moment, it in fact only reinforces the negative feelings.
3 Understand its origin
What made you feel powerless/out of control/angry in the first place? I believe that anger is really powerless turned outward. Let’s test my theory. Think of a time when you were furious. Imagine that you had complete control of the situation. What happens to your anger? I bet that it is either significantly diminished or has just gone away. Finding the origin is not always obvious, together we can figure exactly where this anger is coming from.
4. Think about how these feelings have left you with a sense of loss of control – (Only do this after 20 to 30 minutes after doing steps 1 and 2.)
5. Develop a plan about how you can regain control. We get angry when we feel powerless. The moment you feel you have regained control you will find your anger fading away.
The basic steps are straight forward, but they are not easy to do. There are several things you can do to help you with these four steps: You can ask a friend for help with steps 3 and 4. You can write out some of your thoughts on steps 3 and 4. Also letting some time go by can help. If these things don’t work the way you would like them to, some professional help might be warranted. You might talk with your minister or physician. Also if you would like, we could figure out some of the things that a trained experienced eye might more readily see.