Angry Women . . . Passive Men
By: Kathy
November 20, 2011

She practically levitated off my couch.  The anger this woman had been storing for years was spilling out of her and all her husband could do was sink deeper into the sofa.  By the time a couple hits my office, she can contain her frustrations no longer and he is sitting squarely in the middle of her cross hairs. Her complaints are usually quite valid (i.e., he’s been selfish, cut-off, inattentive, or otherwise not meeting her needs), but her way of telling him is not getting her what she wants – by a long shot!

In this situation, she has a LOT to say and it is boiling out of her with a fury.  When the anger has built up in someone for a long while, however, their message usually comes out accompanied with a fair dose of shaming, accusations, or an inventory list of all the ways he’s messed up.  Her anger is justified.  Her needs have not been met.  But when she tries to tell him with such anger and contempt, she is not going to get heard!

Her man may be completely tuning her out, just waiting for the scene to be over.  He may even get equally as angry because I can assure you that he is not getting heard at this point, either!  Regardless, all of his efforts are focused on getting her to stop being so angry.  Good luck with that one at home, folks!  It is an infinite loop, a cycle with no end.  She says ‘I’m angry’, he can’t hear, she gets angrier, he hears less, she gets angrier, he hears nothing.   She subscribes to the idea that ‘If you can’t hear me, I’ll just yell a little louder!’  They will never get on the same page if they both keep going in the direction they are going!

When we learn to speak our needs from a vulnerable place, rather than an angry place, we are finally able to get our voice heard!  When we offer up our hurt, frustrations, unmet needs, disappointments, even healthy anger to our partner without attacking them, we open ourselves up to a much different response!  When we can make our complaints to our spouse about US instead of about THEM, our loved one has a much greater chance of hearing us!

I have to be honest here – I know that this is super HARD to do!  It is incredibly hard!!  But we have to face that the old way is just not working.  It is incredibly difficult and scary to try to break through anger in a client like this and try to convince her that she needs to put her anger on a shelf.  But it simply HAS to happen!  Each time she opens up the chute and lets all of her pent up anger and venom out on him, she risks irreparable damage to the relationship.  This is why counseling is so instrumental in repairing even the most damaged relationships.  Under the controlled supervision and direction of a good counselor, the environment becomes safe enough for him hear her without fear of attack!  Suddenly, he hears something very different and begins to relax and respond in a more loving way.

When she can say ‘I hurt’ instead of ‘I’m angry’ in a controlled and calm manner, we can then begin to explore what has been keeping him from meeting her needs – which is what the problem was in the first place!  And then, just maybe, she’ll finally be able to start getting some of the good stuff she has been longing for!


(Look for next week’s topic : Angry Men – Passive Women!)