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After almost 40 years of working to help couples, I offer a podcast of substance on what relationships require to last for the long haul. I use books & movies to illustrate the points I’m trying to make. I offer challenges of things you can actually do in your own relationship at the end of every podcast which is under 10 minutes.

Listen Above or Read Here:

Anger Management to Grow Relationships? Episode #27

Anger is usually done badly by everyone. Rarely does anger have a quiet dignity of truth. Anger in relationships can be traumatic when witnessed by children. Anger can be ugly & deadly if soaked in alcohol or contempt. Despite all the negativity attached to anger, it is also a very important tool that says “Hey, What about Me?”

So why do so many of us use anger in destructive ways?
#1. Most of us have the habit of stashing our grievances and then cashing them in, feeling very self righteous, in a gigantic dump.
#2. Anger often covers up a big pile of insecurity. If I’m loud & mean you won’t see how really insecure I am.
#3. We get carried away with the power of anger. “I love the certainty of anger” it feels so good.
#4. It’s usually based in a very Right/Wrong frame of reference. Anger loves simplicity & doesn’t have time for complicatedness. Anger loves this is good, you are bad.
#5. Never underestimate the deliciousness of Blame. Who wants to look at their part in problems when it is so much easier to Blame!?!

Blame is one of the favorite ingredients of anger. Doesn’t it feel really good to know with deep & profound certainty that the other person is to blame? Who wants the more scary business of looking at ourselves. Doing that is messy & uncomfortable, so “Who needs it?”

All of the above captures a very Black/White, 1/10, Either/Or perspective. I believe it is exactly this that contributes to the real destruction of relationships. Relationships require negotiation. Negotiations are a major foundation of relationship longevity. Negotiations can only work if you can learn to recognize the in-between of two people, the grey in between the black/white, the 4567 in between the 1/10 or the And that is missing in the Either/Or equation.

The Black/White, 1/10, Either/Or perspective offers the gigantic blessing of certainty. THIS IS HOW IT IS!! There is no messiness & the uncomfortableness of struggle gets shut down. Who wants the hard work of struggling? Certainty is always so much more attractive than uncertainty.

Remember your own adolescence? or perhaps you are enduring the adolescence of your children. I remember the 100% beliefs that I was certain about, that truly make me wince now. “Don’t trust anyone over 30” we baby boomers cried & that is laughable. Adolescents are full of fierce certainty (that you are stupid) to cover up their own painful uncertainty. Adolescents hate being confused & they love the certainty of their anger. Life is better for a Teen when they can target you to be a bullseye for all their own misery.

It is truly adolescent to stay stuck in your own point of view & not budge because of course, they are self-righteous. If you are arguing in this same way with your partner then the truth is you are still emotionally adolescent.
Growing up means you can disagree & still have an understanding where someone else is coming from.
Growing up means you have a bigger point of view, that you can absorb the good points someone else makes.
Growing up means really listening well & considering being influenced by someone else.
Growing up means you recognize you can’t always be right & it’s important to be fair.
Growing up means not using anger & manipulation in order to increase your power in an already lopsided relationship.

Interrupting anger can be a difficult maneuver. Especially if you like your anger & get caught up in the power of it. Anger controls others & makes them cooperate with you even when they really don’t want to. That can be a delicious feeling that even a three year old can appreciate.

So you have to begin by interrupting your own intensity by being willing to know & understand their truth. Can you tell the other person what’s important to them & get it right? Few angry people can achieve that because it requires thinking. Anger is all about an emotional dump. You want to interrupt it with thinking. Use your Imagination to understand what is valuable about the other perspective? What is the 4,5,6 &7 about on a particular issue? When we moved to PA I had no experience of guns. Now I respect my guys who hunt & I get it matters so much it can be a family legacy.

Inject a dose of uncertainty into your anger, question your self righteousness, be curious about the other point of view & how it might have validity. I gave a technique in my earlier episode on anger How to Argue Better that couples can use. Download episode 8 to learn the 3 part technique.

A lot of parents believe they know what’s best for their adult children. While it might be hard to swallow your beliefs my rule of thumb is to express an opinion once or even not at all. It is disrespectful to dismiss the differences of your adult children & constantly poke at them with what you believe is “the correct” point of view.

Right/Wrong thinking & feeling is very dismissive of the differences & ultimately is disrespectful which contributes to enormous distance. People then may begin to tell you what you want to hear instead of the truth. It is truth & vulnerability that creates real intimacy. Disrespect feeds the distance.

The struggle in the 4,5,6 &7 means there is more room for truth in your relationship. Respect means there is room for the differences & the relationship can breathe. Respecting the middle ground means you can meet each other in the middle. When two people are in a relationship then most often there will be two ways to look at something.

LEAVE PAUSE FOR Cymbal My challenge for you today is to ask yourself to give up Blame & think instead about how to own up to your part in things. Ask yourself to interrupt the intensity of emotions and try to think through to unbury whats important to you about the argument, can you say what’s important in a more vulnerable way? Challenge yourself to consider the 4,5 & 6 in between the 1 & 10 of self righteousness.

My next episode will air in January 2017 & it is based my son in law’s request. He’s from New Zealand & He asked me to to talk about being more content with how things are. I have lots to say about that so do listen.

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About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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