Be careful – anger kills marriage

Be careful – anger kills marriage

Many couples enter into marriage with the mistaken belief that it is a “blissful state of life” that will last forever. There is no bigger myth than this. Living “happily ever after” only happens in fairy tales. Spouses bring to their marriage union not only love and understanding, but also their likes, dislikes and insults. Disagreements are therefore inevitable. These need to be resolved quickly, as anger can be toxic to a marriage. Anger is the main enemy of family happiness. However, if handled effectively, it can make a marriage bond stronger.

Trigger points that can make a person angry.

• Misunderstanding the basic differences between men and women. They both have different temperaments. Problems begin when a person cannot appreciate or acknowledge differences and tries to change the other person. A woman must learn that a man reacts differently to situations and must appreciate his cool stability in a crisis. A man should be aware of a woman’s emotional investment in the home and family and not criticize the intensity of her emotions. A man’s competitive drive often exceeds that of a woman. He derives his sense of worth through success in his profession. He would like his wife to understand that he needs to recover from the stress of work before he can give her his full attention.

• The person can be too controlling and selfish. He may be a bully or sexually insatiable. He can incapacitate her with his “suffocating love.” He idolizes her but also isolates her. Such a person is called a “pumpkin eater”. He is blind to her capabilities and refuses to recognize her as a capable and competent person.

• The woman may nag or complain or crave undivided attention all the time. She feels that her husband does not understand her needs and is critical of her cooking and housework. He shows no appreciation for all the work she does.

• Child custody disputes. There may be differences in the imposition of discipline.

• In-laws who are critical and demanding.

• Displaced anger. For example, the boss is angry with his secretary. She takes it out on her subordinate. He takes out his frustrations on his wife. The wife scolds her child, and he abuses his dog with a kick. This is known as Displaced Anger Syndrome.

Different manifestations of anger.

1. Silence: Anger simmers in the mind, but without overt expression. Unresolved problems become cumulative and manifest as physical or psychological illness. A woman who thinks it is unfeminine to express anger, cries, sulks, pretends to be sick, burns food or becomes depressed. Sometimes anger is sublimated through physical exercise or through creative outlets such as painting or music.

2. Confrontation: Exchanging angry words or insults that you may regret later. But by then, the damage is done. 10% of angry spouses become abusive.

3. Acknowledging that one is angry and the reasons for being angry. Letting your partner know the reason for the anger and discussing how this situation can be diffused is half the battle won. Anger can be used in creative ways to solve problems and achieve reconciliation.

How to manage anger in family relationships.

• Self-observation: Recognize and uncover the cause of your anger. Does your temper explode at the slightest provocation? Have you misinterpreted what your spouse said in fun as criticism? Is your anger justified? “The first and best victory is to defeat yourself,” says Plato.

• Communication: Express the reasons for your anger. Be specific and focus only on the incident that made you angry. Don’t dig up old incidents. Don’t underestimate the problem, but listen patiently to what the other person has to say. Don’t wallow in self-pity. Communication should not get caught in circles of blame. As Robert Shuler says, “Don’t fix faults. Fix the problem.’

• Respect: Accept the other person’s point of view. “Respect is appreciating the individuality of the other person, the way he or she is unique. Respect is the act of love by which married couples honor what is unique and best in each other,” says Anne Gottlieb.

• Commitment to marriage and to each other. “Most spouses do not act out of malice towards each other. They look out for their own immediate needs,” according to Michaleen Craddock. Resist the urge to talk about separation and divorce. Instead, attack the problem and seek reconciliation. Partners in healthy marriages are kind and respectful to each other, even when situations are difficult. Couples who know how to fight constructively will survive marital conflicts. Psychiatrist Frank Pittman says, “There’s no way you can win against your spouse. You both win or you lose.” Therefore, it is important to remain united and fight against the common enemy – Anger.

• Humility: Love does not insist on having its own way and winning all the time. If you are at fault, never hesitate to say you are sorry. Avoid pointing fingers. Marriage can provide you with a convenient scapegoat. But it’s better to swallow your pride and admit you’re wrong. Some people use colored stress cards to gauge their level of anger. These are cards that are chemically treated to be sensitive to heat and moisture and measure a person’s stress level. The thumb is placed on the card for ten seconds. If the color is green or blue, anger is in the moderate zone. If it’s yellow, one is angry but still in control. Red means irrational anger and black is uncontrolled rage.

• Tolerance: Make allowances for each other’s weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. Be flexible in your emotional roles. Learn to enjoy life with your husband. Negotiate what is open to compromise. Neither partner will be able to meet all of the other’s needs and aspirations. No marriage is perfect.

• Love: A successful marriage means falling in love with your spouse over and over again. It should be a daily exercise. Love is a choice. Loving actions are always followed by loving feelings. Marriage means lifelong commitment to the person you marry.

Judith S. Wallenstein, in her book The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts, says, “The sense of being part of a couple is what consolidates the modern marriage. It is the strongest bulwark against our culture’s relentless threat of divorce. Becoming partner-focused means constantly adjusting to each other.”

The Bible’s advice “Let not the sun go down on your anger. Give no support to the devil’ is the best advice for dealing with anger. Make sunset your deadline to stop fighting and love again.

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