The Power of Anger in Your Relationship


The Power of Anger in Your Relationship
Relationships include anger.How can you make it a positive force for improving things?


Is anger dangerous?  Is it a “bad” emotion?  Anger is at the center of many problems in relationships.  Anger itself is really not the source of the problem.  Anger is a normal, healthy, necessary emotion that protects us from being hurt by others.  It’s how we express it- or, just as importantly, fail to express it- that causes  problems with the people in our lives.  Problems in relationships at home, at work, with our children  our loved ones, friends or even strangers can arise from an ineffective expression of anger.


Too hostile an expression of anger is self-defeating.  Anger that is too intense-too loud, verbally abusive with cursing, insults or threats, or too extensive, going on and on with a laundry list of complaints  rarely achieves change in the relationship. When we are too hostile or aggressive with our anger the other person rightly focuses on how cruel and unkind we are and the message we are trying to convey is lost in their fear and distress.  Too much hostility can just set off a cycle of retaliation without anything constructive developing.  Hostility or verbal abuse rarely achieves the outcome the angry person desires-a change in the other person’s offending behavior.   Anger that is too weak is also not effective.  What makes anger too weak?  It can be a failure to express it at all: “just holding it in”, not making waves, walking on eggshells to avoid causing trouble.  Some people  who are afraid to express their anger try to take punitive action that will harm their target in the vague hope that they will understand the retaliatory behavior was done to show them how much they hurt the other person.  This usually fails to solve the problem as well.

What should our anger do for us?  It should allow us to speak about things that bother us in our dealings with others in such a way that the other person’s behavior changes and the difficulty between us improves.  We want our anger to change the other person’s behavior.  That is fair and appropriate.  If someone treats us in a way we do not like-again, this can mean a boss, a spouse, a friend, a parent, a salesperson or a child- we want them to change.  That should be our goal.  How can we best accomplish this?

If we are too aggressive or express our anger with hostility, what is the most likely outcome?  Often the other person becomes defensive, tries to justify their actions or is so distressed by our words they don’t even respond. They will often become angry and try to retaliate for the wound we inflicted.   If we are too passive in our anger, the other person’s behavior is likely to continue and may, over time become worse as they feel justified in their actions since we did NOT protest.  I have often said over the years that it takes a great deal of care and feeding to create a bully.  The more we fail to protest against behavior that violates our rights and needs, the more the other person feels entitled to have things THEIR way without considering our rights.

So how can we express anger appropriately?  Here are some important steps to follow:

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by
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Dr Robin Goldstein


Dr. Goldstein is a licensed psychologist with over thirty years experience helping individuals free themselves of fear and anxiety and living their best life possible.She has worked extensively with couples, helping them maximize the potential for joy in their relationships as well as working with people suffering the grief of separtion, divorce and loss from ones they love.


Please visit my blog at

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Location: Boca Raton, FL
Credentials: EdD
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