In his best-seller book Your Erroneous Zones, Wayne Dyer wrote, “Anger is a choice, as well as a habit.” Despite the truth to these words, it can be extremely difficult to get your partner to find a way to express himself besides anger. Even though his anger may be ruining the relationship, angry people often believe that their reaction is justified. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to try to work with your partner and help him break the destructive habit of getting angry.
Keep Your Composure
Instead of getting offended by your partner’s angry words, remain calm and remind yourself that he is vocalizing his own perspective and that his personal experiences have helped to cultivate this negative reaction, suggests marriage and family therapist Irene Hansen Savarese in an article for goodtherapy.org. Instead of becoming angry or retreating from him, try putting your own feelings or responses to the side for the moment and just focus on what your partner is saying.
Practice Active Listening
Many people become angry because they feel as though they’re not really being heard, says life coach Joseph Michael in his Efficient Life Skills Blog. Active listening skills are an effective way to defuse another person’s anger and to help them feel as though you’re taking them seriously. Psychologists recommend active listening techniques such as repeating what the other person has said, using open-ended questions, making sure your body language indicates that you are listening attentively, and putting aside the angry words. Really think about what your partner has to say.
Assert Yourself With Kindness
Don’t be afraid to tell your partner that your highly negative and even explosive reactions toward one another when you fight are detrimental to your relationship. Anger and relationship therapist Steven Sosny suggests approaching your partner with “compassionate assertiveness” in an article for Psychology Today. Tell her how you feel and that you want your relationship to change for the better, and do so in a way that shows respect and kindness.
Above all, don’t let your partner’s anger change you. Just because she reacts with anger doesn’t mean you have to, counsels marriage and family therapist Emily Christensen on familyshare.com. Nor should you punish her for her anger by withholding affection, feel like you have to tiptoe around her, or purposefully try to make her lose her cool. The one who will suffer the consequences of anger is the person who gets angry, and you should continue to be yourself, says Christensen.
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