The Impact of Anger on Romantic Relationships

Anger’s Impact Anger can have profound impact on the health and satisfaction of intimate relationships.… Read More Below

Couples Therapy Blog Post

Anger’s Impact

Anger can have profound impact on the health and satisfaction of intimate relationships. Consequently, couples can experience high levels of disconnection and suffering, as a result of this powerful emotion. Therefore, a critically important goal in Couple’s Therapy/Marriage Counseling is learning how to navigate anger effectively.

The emotions of anger, frustration and resentment are considered reactive secondary emotions. Many of my clients are surprised by this description. We all know anger is a very powerful emotion and clients will often say with conviction:” I am just angry! I am feeling nothing else!”

The Softer Feelings

When time is taken to explore the angry partner’s feelings, with patience and courage, the softer primary emotions can emerge.

Anger is code for: do I matter? Additionally, there is a strong correlation between the level of anger experienced and the amount pain that is felt inside. Significantly, The stronger the pain, the more intense the anger.

In romantic relationships, the reactive anger can make it hard for a partner to hear and see the underlying anguish.

The following examples highlight this.

Reactive secondary emotions:

Anger, frustration, resentment.

Softer primary emotions that could be underneath the reactivity:

Sad, afraid, alone, rejected, inadequate, despair, shame, hopelessness, unwanted, unseen.

When a couple’s negative cycle is triggered by anger, the focus is usually on the angry partner’s behavior, not the deep needs and the softer feelings that are underneath and fueling the anger.

Slowing it Down

Helping partners in Couple’s Therapy/Marriage Counseling slow down, get grounded, and focus on their emotions and needs is essential. As a result, soft, low, and slow communication leads to emerging emotional safety, empathy, insight and less of a need for anger.

Neuroscience informs us that “if you name it, you can tame it.” Distilling the angry feelings down to the core emotions of sadness, fear or not being good enough (and the other examples listed above) and naming those emotions can be grounding.

Additionally, when the angry partner has the insight to express and share deeper more vulnerable feelings, the experience can be emotionally connecting.  As a result, helping couples experience corrective moments like this is an essential part of the process of change. In contrast, couple’s step into new and more effective and fulfilling ways of communicating with each other.  In time, safe and secure connection can start to grow

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