Love

4 Ways Women's Rage Can Harm A Good Relationship (Even When It's Justified)

Photo: Jacob Lund / shutterstock
couple in the woods, woman looks serious

If you spend any time on TikTok and have any sort of "relationships" content on your For You Page, you've probably noticed a lot of talk about how men make a mess of modern relationships.

In addition, books and documentaries like Fair Play justifiably shine a light on the ways in which gender disparities in household work and emotional labor are taxing marriages. These are important subjects to discuss, and it's good that we are. 

But many wonder whether women also contribute to some of the hardships and difficulties in heterosexual relationships right now. 

This is a question asked by a psychotherapist on TikTok, TherapyKristina, in a recent video (see below) that got a lot of people thinking. 

She acknowledges that “women have a ton of rage….seething, quiet, internal rage.” Not the kind that involves throwing things or doing other violence, but significant nonetheless. 

She quotes two studies showing that in half of all two-parent households, both parents work full-time, but women do 5 ½ more hours per week of household labor. Men continue to overestimate how much they do. And this ticks women off.

So she believes that women’s quiet, seething rage is justified. And it may be.

But another question that's important to ask is this: is women's justified rage productive in an otherwise healthy relationship?

Of course, it can be when handled and processed appropriately, but it can also be toxic to an otherwise healthy or hopeful relationship.

After all, it's not just men who can do harm to a relationship. Women, too, can be the source of stress in relationships. 

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Four ways women cause subtle sabotage to their partners in relationships

1. Letting their frustration fester and silently grow into a rage

Channeling strong emotions into positive change is good. Not so much. At least not if you want to create a healthy, happy relationship. 

TherapyKristina also points out that women hold a double standard for men. They want their guys to be emotionally intelligent and do more around the house, which are legitimate requests.

But they also still want men to provide for them and pay their way, even when they make less money, which is becoming more common. 

2. Having expectations that don't match their reality

Watching the video took me back to a couple I worked with years ago. She resented having to work because she wanted to stay home with their two young children. She also wanted to maintain the upper-middle-class lifestyle she was raised in.

The problem? She married a teacher. Her wants and expectations were at odds with reality. 

Her solution? He should change careers to give her what she truly believed was hers by right: no discussion, negotiation, or adjustment of expectations. 

The truth of relationships is you can’t successfully create your happiness because of someone else’s unhappiness. Optimizing both is the path to a healthy and truly satisfying relationship.

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3. Not acknowledging when the requested change is made

And there is another fly in the relationship ointment that TherapyKristina identifies.

When a man does start to change his behaviors as his partner has requested, there is often limited acknowledgment.

Could it have happened sooner? Maybe. Should it have happened sooner? Probably.

But as relationship therapist Terry Real says, women must take “yes” for an answer.

Instead, what men hear are versions of the following:

“What, you want a participation trophy for doing what you should do anyway? Well, boo hoo.”

“Why did it take so long?”

“It doesn’t count because you’re only doing it because I asked you to?”

Looking at this from the outside, one can imagine why they aren't motivated to change when the work they do on themselves is not met with love or acknowledgment. 

This leaves men feeling like no matter what they do, it’s wrong. So they will take the path of least resistance and do what is comfortable for them. At least if they’re in trouble, it will be on their own terms.

So nothing changes, the cycle continues, and the resentment and rage grow until the relationship dies.

And both partners are responsible for that outcome.

At the risk of creating a backlash, the truth is neither gender has a monopoly on knowing how to make relationships work. Women are given more credit, but they also initiate 67-90% of divorces. And the more educated the woman, the higher the percentage.

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4. Refusing to take inventory of their own behaviors that continue the negative cycle.

If women knew what worked, they wouldn’t be seething or ending relationships in such numbers.

If your relationship isn’t how you want it to be, the first place to look is what you are doing. If it isn’t producing the desired result, your approach needs to change.

Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Getting louder or more contemptuous isn’t the answer either. Learning what actually works is.

Because you can be right, or you can be happy. The choice is yours.

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Lesli Doares is a Marriage and Family Therapist and Marriage Coach specializing in guiding men successfully through the unique challenges marriage brings.