Sometimes we are mean to our partners, or those who are closest to us. Sometimes people that we love, are mean to us for no reason. Or “for no good reason”. When humans are stressed, they can take their anger and frustrations out on those who are nearest to them – the people who will put up with their crap.
I hate to say it, but I am occasionally one of those people. When I am mean to people I love, it usually makes me feel really, really bad. At the core of things, I am a sensitive person, and when I try to hurt someone, it’s usually because I am hurting in some way myself.
Why do we take our anger out on other people?
“Often when we feel powerless, we dump our anger on someone else — someone we know won’t fight back,” says life coach Martha Beck. “Psychologists call this phenomenon displaced aggression.” She mentions that soldiers in the US Army have an expression to describe this, “S**t rolls downhill.”
Beck mentions that sometimes we are simply stuck dealing with someone else’s stress – that has accumulated. “The straw that broke the camel’s back” theory. “Learning to stop stress-rolling is one of the best things you can do for your relationships and your general life satisfaction. Let’s start now, before someone else gets hurt,” says the expert.
Dealing with anger
We all have hidden anger and feelings that we aim to supress. It could be a bad situation at work, money stresses, relationship problems or all of these things combined. We try to keep our true emotions hidden, or supressed – but more often than not, they can burst out at the worst times. Beck points out, “Our hidden feelings seep or burst out when we’re with people we trust or who aren’t in a position to resist us.”
Educator Lynne Namka says that anger can be used as a destructive emotion, “that too many people get away with.” She explains the importance of not letting your partner “get away with” unacceptable behaviour.
“When you allow bad behaviour to go unchecked,” she explains, “it increases whether it comes from your child, partner or parent. You teach how to treat you and if you put up with abuse, then that is what you will get.”
What is anger and why does my partner feel so angry?
Namka says, “Most people do not know what to do with anger other than exploding it or stuffing it. Anger is the most complicated emotion, because it is so complex with many aspects.” She also explains that “anger is catching” and makes a point of saying that it takes someone with incredibly strong emotional maturity to “rise above”.
When you have an angry partner
So – you have an angry partner or you are an angry partner yourself. Most of us “fly off the handle” every now and then, few people are more than often even-tempered but there are occasions where anger in its various forms is unacceptable.
Irene Hansen Savarese of Psychology Today has a few tips for dealing with your partner’s anger. “Remind yourself that your partner is coming from his or her perspective and personal experiences,” she says. Try to put things into perspective and look at the bigger picture of what is really going on in your partner’s life.
“Your own perspective and feelings are not important at this time,” she mentions. “If you are able to do this for your partner, I can assure you that you will see big, positive changes in your relationship.” Here’s hoping!
What constitutes emotional abuse?
We all get angry every now and then but ongoing, misplaced or continual anger in certain forms is a definite no-no and often it’s better to get out of this type of relationship than try to save it by accepting unacceptable behaviour.
There is quite a lengthy list of behaviours that constitute “emotional abuse”. It seems that the experts tend to agree that prolonged anger or humiliation are key factors in a behaviour slipping from “regular anger” to “abuse”.
Two examples might be if your partner “humiliates you, puts you down, or makes fun of you in front of other people,” according to Barry Davenport of Live Bold Bloom. “They regularly demean or disregard your opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs,” or “They try to control you and treat you like a child.”
Have you experienced a partner’s anger? Have you been taking your anger out on someone you love? Fess up here – use a fake name and tell me your story.