How Angry Communication Hurts Marriage
By: Javan
December 15, 2013

Are you the couple that avoids and distances when you don’t agree? Or, are you the raging couple? Fighting against each other constantly? In either situation, someone is trying to control the other.

Fighting or not fighting are not the only two options to getting your needs met. Whether you are suffering silently from a painful betrayal or hurting out loud due to years of resentment, other options DO exist when dealing with conflict. Issues that come up in your relationships are not black and white. Reacting to them in black and white will lead to more

We can’t control other people or outside situations, but we can do something about what we think and how we choose to react. We can only change and control ourselves. Seems simple enough, right? But on the therapy couch, couples blame, rage, and attempt to control each other constantly. Somehow, this simple fact is forgotten in the moment.

Learning to maneuver through your own reaction takes understanding and knowledge of yourself. How you learned to manage your disappointment and frustration over the years contributes to your inability to fulfill your needs to be heard, understood, and believed by your partner. Heard and believed so you can change the course of your relationship. It takes real courage and power. But that power does not reside in your reactivity, your anger, your resentment or in the other person. In fact, blaming yourself doesn’t work either! Playing the blame game is sure to encourage resentment, anger, and rageful feelings. If you are feeling ragey, blamey, and angry, it’s time to further investigate where you are stuck.

Being able to move through challenges in your life does not mean forgetting and forgiving without learning the lesson. Healthy processing means obtaining personal resolution so the emotional baggage does not continue to be a burden. Even in the face of your most painful nightmares. The use of anger in communicating with your partner is a sign of control. Anger can be used passive aggressively or directly. One of the most harmful poisons to a relationship is reactivity and defensiveness. Anger requires defensives to survive. Believing that your perspective is the “right” perspective does not allow effective communication with your spouse. Anger says “this situation is too scary for me, I better fight or flight.” When communication or lack of communication is based in anger, it is impossible for needs to be met. Being “right” about your spouse’s poor choice to have an affair, overspend, etc. does not help. To continue to badger, shame, and intimidate your spouse about years of resentment over your spouse’s choices can become the rule and not the exception in your relationship and will kill intimacy.

Using anger to get what you want, IF you get what you want, is like blackmail or an ultimatum. Hoping this kind of control or manipulation will result in intimacy is a fallacy. Because you inevitably are treating your partner poorly. Which only adds to the disconnect and withdrawal, wreaking havoc and causing pain to all. That’s how anger works in communication. Anger becomes the over all tone, losing whatever credibility you might have had with your need.

Please be clear, that I am not saying anger is wrong. It’s what you do with your angry, hurt feelings that makes all the difference. The feelings that are expressed in the heat of the moment are legitimate, painful insights about how you feel because of the news or information. But becoming trapped in the cycle of defensiveness or anger is a red flag.

Red Flags:

  • Not saying anything, avoiding
  •  Interrupting or “Selling” your perspective
  • “I’m right”
  • Using words like “always, never, all the time, YOU”
  • Feeling anxious or overly concerned with your partners behaviors
  • Stopping your partner from speaking
  • Being accusatory
  • Defending your actions, words, and reactions
  • Not believing or trusting your partner’s experiences

Effective communication starts from the inside out. Discuss what you need, feel, want, and experience. Speak from an “I” perspective. Therapy is intended to help people move through challenging stages of life. The barrier to moving through the challenge lies within the person, not the event or outside influence that initiated the pain. If you can’t move through the pain in your life, then you need help to investigate the issue. So many couples rage against each other, either silently or out loud, crippling the relationship. The javelin gets thrown and ends up targeting all aspects of the relationship instead of its intended target. Stop using your emotional javelin against your partner. Start learning how to communicate without the anger. Work on you, from the inside out, to get your resolution from the challenging event in your life. If you feel you would like to work on your javelin of anger, please contact me. I’d like to help. Peace!