Anger can ultimately ruin a relationship. Couples who treat each other with contempt; a mix of anger and disdain, are most likely to split up. Marriage counselors say contempt is the No. 1 predictor of divorce. When anger is a pattern in your relationship, seeing things from your partner’s perspective becomes increasingly difficult. Anger is emotionally destructive, and it can lead to physical confrontation. Healing begins when couples learn to treat each other with respect and appreciation. The first step toward healing is to figure out what triggers your anger.
Identify your anger triggers
You can’t eliminate anger from your relationship unless you identify the issues that ignite your anger. Once you know what triggers your anger, you’ll be able to communicate better and explain to your partner why you are upset. Effective communication can alert your partner to avoid those hot-button issues.
Figure out how to prevent attack fights
Work with your partner to set ground rules that will break the cycle of relating in an unhealthy way. Stop fights — both verbal and physical — before they start by respecting each other and working together to figure it out. Knowing why you get angry will help you decide which topics and words to avoid when you are in the heat of a disagreement. Preventing the serious fights as often as you can will help improve your relationship.
Improve your communication
In a relationship that’s burdened by emotional outbursts and flareups, finding a way to communicate without anger is vital. When you get defensive and start blaming each other during an argument, you quickly lose the ability to tell your partner how you feel. Falling into the trap of accusing “You did this” and You did that” quickly shuts down any chance of real communication. Tell your partner how their words or actions made you feel. Concentrate instead on letting your partner know what you need. Look for ways the two of you can do things differently.
Abandon the silent treatment
Giving your partner the silent treatment is a form of displaying anger and creating distance from your partner. The behavior of one partner pressuring the other and receiving silence in return is a hard pattern to break. Each partner thinks the other is causing of the problem. Getting over the destructive impact of the silent treatment requires each partner to see how their individual behavior sparks anger in the relationship. The solution? Adopt different, more respectful strategies to manage conflict.
Seek outside help
Anger in a relationship can be complicated and difficult to work through. You may need outside help to guide each partner in understanding what part they play in the anger issues. A therapist can act impartially to help both partners see what they need to do in making necessary changes. Seeking help from a counselor is a good thing and a step in the right direction, and it can help you find where your emotional distress is coming from.