“My Husband or Wife is always angry” – How to Deal with an Angry PartnerJune 13, 2019
In this article I discuss anger that shows up in a relationship. Typically, there is a complaint by one partner that the other partner is angry all of the time. The ‘anger’ we are talking about here is not violence or abuse – that’s a very different thing. If you are experiencing violence or abuse, please get immediate help from a qualified marriage counsellor or call 1800RESPECT. You may also like to read Jacqueline’s article on controlling behaviour.
Do you live with an angry husband or angry wife? It’s a common complaint for couples in my Sydney CBD practice to report that their partner is angry all the time.
There are several reasons why your partner might have trouble with anger or frustration which appears to escalate to anger or rage fairly quickly. Here are some things that can cause anger:
- The person has trouble regulating their emotions – often caused by underlying anxiety and stress.
- The person might have childhood trauma and P.T.S.D. Triggers can cause anger and rage.
- The person might have ADD or AD/HD.
- The person may feel ongoing frustration because they do not feel heard or understood by their partner leading to intense anger or rage at different times.
In relationship counselling, it is common to discover that there is a circular pattern to anger displayed by one person. An example of this is: Person A gets frustrated and makes a complaint to Person B. Person B (fearing the anger) disengages and tries to shut down the complaint. Person A feeling shut down and not heard shows anger to Person B. In other words, both people have a part to play in the interaction.
However, there are also times when a person just has difficulty managing their emotions when it comes to anger and rage. And it is important for that person to look at other reasons this might be going on. Often it is related to mental health.
Here are some tips to help you and your partner who is showing anger:
- Disclose your experience to your partner – when you and your partner are not in any kind of conflict, take the time to disclose the impact their anger is having on you, your relationship and perhaps your family.
- If you think there are some underlying reasons why your partner is struggling with anger, encourage them to see a Therapist. Sometimes it is a good idea to attend couples counselling first as your partner is more likely to seek individual help if they feel heard and understood and a third party suggests they seek help.
- Agree on some ground rules with your partner for when anger shows up that escalates out of control. This is especially important if you have children around. It is better for the person who is overwhelmed with anger to exit out of the situation to calm down. But a ground rule should be that you do not follow them.
- Do your best to stay calm – angry spells tend to pass more quickly and with less severity when they are met with calm.
- Listen – If someone is angry there is a really good chance they feel unheard, dismissed or not listened to. Now is when you need to approach your partner and find out if you have really heard what their complaints are, or what is going on for them. It is not the time to goad or pick further fights.
- Fix the complaint – If your partner has a complaint, make a commitment to make some changes. Equally they should do the same for you.
- Comfort them – Physically comforting a person is essentially helping them to regulate. Many people forget this.
- Do not disengage – There might be a temptation to disengage. However, this can actually make the anger worse. If your partner feels dismissed or unheard it can further escalate their anger. You can read more about the negative effects of shutting down here. To be clear, if the anger escalates to intimidation, abuse or physical violence, you do need to disengage and walk away.
- Look at your own triggers – Sometimes partners who complain about another partner being angry don’t realise they are particularly sensitive to anger. For example, if you have had a very angry or out of control parent you are also going to trigger easily to anger. It will appear threatening to you. Investing in some relationship counselling will help you both work out whether it’s you or your partner’s problem (or a mixture of both).
- Seek help – Sometimes the best thing to do is to simply seek help from an experienced and well qualified marriage counsellor. They can help you both feel heard, work out what the anger is about and outline a pathway forward.
All the Therapists at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists are qualified to help you and your partner manage anger and other behaviours that are stopping you from feeling connected to your partner. Remember, if you have children, how you behave in your significant relationship is what you are teaching them for their future relationships. So make an appointment today on 02 8968 9397.
Alex is an accessible and compassionate therapist. His clients appreciate that Alex listens with the intention of genuinely understanding them. He’s lovely with adolescents, who seem to warm to him
immediately, and he creates a space in sessions for any or all participants to have their say and feel heard.
Alex’s particular strengths are in the area of working with couples and he has extensive experience and training in this area. He is both Gottman and Systemically trained and draws on practical ideas that clients can immediately make use of to enhance their relationships.
Alex comes to Sydney Couple and Family Therapy Specialists from backgrounds as a Lifeline Crisis Line Counsellor and Trainer and Therapist at the highly-respected Jansen Newman Institute. He has supported individuals and couples through trauma, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and adolescent struggles.
Alex has helped many people through intensely frightening and painful life events – and to a place where they have the skills and confidence to carry themselves forward.
Alex is married with a young family and therefore easily relates to the stress and struggles that many couples and young families face today.
“It takes a lot of courage to share a moment of crisis with someone you don’t yet know. Even more so, to entrust your intimate relationship over to them.
I have been in the fortunate position to be trusted with that responsibility many times and have helped people – through their own bravery, honesty and effort – to transcend their suffering and improve their key relationships.”
Alex also runs the pre-marriage counselling course at the Sydney Couple and Family Specialists https://sydneycoupleandfamily.com/couples-pre-marriage-pre-commitment-course/
Qualifications and Professional Membership
Alex holds a Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy from Jansen Newman Institute Sydney, and a Bachelor degree from the University of Sydney. Alex also holds a Gottman training certificate.
He is a member of the Australian Association of Family Therapy, the Counsellors and Psychotherapist Association of Australia, and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.
Why see a Couples Counselor?
Are you wondering if couples counselling is for you? In this interview Alex Ryder answers common questions we hear from people who want to understand more about this process.
And remember, if you are a new client you can book a free 15 minute telephone session with Alex.
“We really like your approach. The other couples counsellor we saw left us stuck in negativity. Right from the start we felt hopeful with you. Your positive approach helped us out of the slump, so we could address the real issues.” – Murry (36) married to Tasha (39); One Child (3) – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship counselling.
“I’ve wanted to refer you to so many people. Obviously I haven’t given the circumstances, but we are huge fans and are so grateful for your help.” – Tom (49) married to Sarah (43). Two children; 15 & 13 – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship counselling following an affair.
“I think we told you in our first session that you were the last couples therapist we were going to try. Everything was on the line. So thank you for… well everything.” – James (55) married to Philippa (53) – Clients who saw Alex Ryder for Relationship Counselling