Mature couple fight

When Anger Becomes Inevitable

When Anger Becomes Inevitable

I saw a couple this week in my office that could be any couple when things go off track. This couple has two children: they’ve been together for almost two decades.

That is a big investment of time and enough time to create a lot of hurt feelings. She is hurt because she doesn’t experience her husband’s responsiveness to her calls for love and attention. 

He is hurt because he hears his wife’s voice as a shrill demand that disrespects him. He withdraws without giving her any feedback. All he needs to say is “I would love to make you happy, but you need to ask me in a nice way.” 

Without that feedback, her voice becomes more and more shrill. With her angry voice, he withdraws more and more.

They are sitting in my office, and it is hard to redirect the conversation to the present. She must keep making her case that her husband isn’t caring or responsible in the relationship. 

Other men might react and defend themselves. That is another strategy that doesn’t work. This husband chooses to be silent. He doesn’t believe he can win with his wife, so he plays it safe and stays mute. 

This makes her angrier. This is played over and over a minimum of dozens if not hundreds of times in the course of their relationship.

This kind of anger is inevitable when couples have been together long enough and don’t have the skills to listen to and respect each other. There are variations of this standoff, but in this instance, the wife has collected many hurt feelings spilling over into angry, destructive speech.

 The husband is trying to contain the negative emotional atmosphere, and his strategy is to withdraw from the intense emotional conversation. He sees his only other option is getting angry back, but he avoids the confrontation. An angry response is not a good option.

The husband is hurt too. He doesn’t know what to do with his hurt. An angry wife is intimidating. He wants his wife to be happy, but he feels helpless. He is afraid to speak because he doesn’t want to escalate the upset.

 They are caught in this cycle where they neither hear nor understand each other, but the hurt keeps happening for them. He keeps his distance because he is afraid of his wife’s emotionality, and the wife keeps attacking because she wants a connection. Anger is a form of passion, but not the kind that makes for good love.

I deal with these kinds of relationship issues every day in my office. But I find that there is deeper value to meeting in a group with other couples and learning these relationship skills to see that these upsets are not peculiar to your relationship.

To learn more and to join our Forever Love Skills classes go here.

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