Are you a conflict-avoider?
If your answer is "Yes," join the crowd.
Avoiding conflict is understandable. If you still cringe remembering the way your parents fought with each other when you were a kid or you panic just thinking about the times you were on the receiving end of hostility and anger, you're probably a conflict-avoider. You go out of your way to side-step conversations or situations that set you (or another person) off.
To you, anger is just too uncomfortable, painful and out of control.
Even those who claim to love a rousing argument don't usually like distance or discord in their closest relationships. A savage debate about politics or religion is just fine but you’re not going to "go there" and fess up to how upset you are because your partner is a bit of a flirt.
Anger has become taboo.
Too many of us are driven by a desire to please others, keep the peace at all costs and to be nice. (Yes, even you "bad" boys and girls out there want to be accepted by certain people in your life.)
This is why it's become common to bite back what you really want to say or to twist your truth slightly—or a lot—to deny that you're angry. "I'm fine" may get you through a tense moment, but it's not going to address or soothe the seething you actually feel.
It's also not going to do anything to change the situation that’s got you so worked up.
It’s time to ditch the taboo on anger and here's why...
#1: It's going to show anyway.
People are generally perceptive. They might not know what's bothering you, but they're going to sense that something is off. This will create tension and distance in your relationship, plus a whole lot of misunderstandings.
#2: Pent-up anger is bad for your health.
High blood pressure, spike in stress hormones and digestive problems are just a few potential side-effects of trying to keep a lid on your anger. Is it really worth the risk?
#3: Stuffed down anger damages your relationship.
Without a doubt, your anger is going to come out. If you try to deny it, the likelihood that you'll be sarcastic, resentful or passive aggressive increases. None of these are conducive to trust, connection and passion in your love relationship or marriage.
#4: It breaks bad habits.
When you interrupt your usual pattern of hiding your anger, you take a giant step forward in changing other habits that aren't in your best interests. You know those little white lies you used to tell to try to keep your partner happy? They'll be less frequent and relationship trust will get stronger as a result.
#5: Getting angry shows you care.
Screaming and name-calling are not ways to show your partner or loved one that you care. Insincere agreement and pretending everything is okay also don't show you care. They can be interpreted as apathy and a refusal to engage with the other person.
#6: It's the first step to re-connecting.
When you let your partner know how angry you are, you begin to remove the wall that's formed between the two of you. You're no longer acting as if there weren't hurt feelings or that you aren't upset. You are acknowledging that something happened that you didn't like and you're addressing it to prevent it from happening again.
Expressing your anger needs to be done with awareness and care. It's unhelpful to you and your relationship to spew rage and dump all over the other person. You can talk about how you really feel and do so in a way that can bring you and your partner closer together again.
When your partner knows how much you dislike being touched in that way or how irritating it is when he or she texts with friends during dinner, this is valuable information...if it's delivered in a way that can be heard.
Prevent defensiveness by focusing on specific behaviors that you felt angry about instead of making global statements like "You never" or "You always." Promote understanding by speaking of feelings instead of making allegations or assuming you know what motivated your partner to say or do certain things. Say, "I was really mad when you said ____ to me."
Suggest an alternative for what you would like to happen in the future. "I feel ignored when you text other people during our dates. Will you agree to only respond to urgent texts when we’re out together?" Clear and conscious agreements can bring resolution and renewed peace to a difficult situation.
So, the next time you feel angry, don't count to 10 and remain silent about it. Let out your anger in a way that helps you get closer to the one you love.
There actually is a right way to communicate your anger (or however you're feeling) to your partner. We tell you how to find and use your words to resolve conflicts and move closer to the one you love in this free video.
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