Anger management for relationships
Do you need help to control your temper with your partner? Anger management for relationships can help when you are:
- wanting to know how to deal with conflict in your relationship
- saying or texting things to your husband / wife in anger, that you later regret
- feeling bad about verbal or physical angry outbursts directed at your partner / girlfriend / boyfriend
- worried your children are, or will be, caught in the crossfire of your arguments / copying your behaviour
If your outbursts and loss of control are damaging your relationship, anger management can assist you to change your behaviour.
Managing the Anger in your Relationship
If you live in the UK, you can take the anger management programme via one to one classes or in an anger management group.
Do you have a problem with anger in your relationship?
Whether we consider our anger is justified or not, few of us want to be aggressive to our partners and hurt them by what we say or do, after the heat of the moment has passed. When we’re calm, most of us know that losing our temper with our partner, or saying hurtful things, often makes a bad situation worse at the time and generally has repercussions afterwards – if only that we feel bad about ourselves.
I imagine you’re behaving as you do despite wanting to be different; that you’ve tried everything you can to stay calm with your partner and be constructive, but that at times your anger is still spilling over.
How to express our anger without attacking, and how to get our needs met without resorting to anger, wasn’t part of the school curriculum for most of us. At home, many of us learned unhelpful behaviours – seeing our parents shouting, sulking, losing their tempers; or never seeing any conflict, as our parents brushed everything under the carpet. But, thankfully, more constructive behaviours can be learned.
I understand about the anger in your relationship
I am a psychotherapist specialising in anger management. Before I attended an anger management programme, and before I trained as a psychotherapist, I would often shout and swear at my husband. Sometimes I would even hit him. I felt bad, ashamed and powerless over my anger. To my delight and relief, after years of struggling to control my temper, anger management really worked and that behaviour is behind me now. I therefore know, from personal experience:
- what it’s like to have trouble controlling my temper; to be unable to deal with anger and frustration in my relationship; and to take my anger out on my husband; and
- how anger management can help.
I have now been specialising in anger management in relationships for over 15 years, including having delivered workshops for the “British Association of Anger Management” (BAAM). My anger management classes are based on BAAM’s ‘Beating Anger’ programme, adapted over the years to incorporate what I’ve learned from working with clients with anger issues, and my experience of working with trauma.
“We are doing really well – and I still think about all you taught me almost every day. Those couple of years were so difficult and challenging for us. I am so grateful we found you. I hope you are still running the program and helping others as you helped us so much.”
– An out of the blue email from a client about her and her husband, 8 years after she did the programme.
In the following video of a television interview I gave I explain how I identified then overcame my angry and aggressive behaviour in my own relationship
Why am I always angry with my boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife? Is it me, or is it them? Is my anger in my relationship justified?
There are many reasons why we get angry with our partner. Generally, it’s not an either / or, but a mix of factors. Here are a top 5 reasons I see in people I work with:
It’s your primary relationship
If we don’t value something, we can be indifferent about it. But our relationship with our partner is hugely important to most of us. I recall reading a study that found that the majority of us would choose our relationship over our career. So, if our partner says or does something we don’t like – or doesn’t say or do something we want him / her to do – our reaction is likely to be heightened in line with how much it matters to us that the relationship works.
You’ve got other reasons to be angry but are taking all your anger out on him/her
Anger is a powerful emotion and most of us avoid conflict. Many people I see for anger management in their relationship are only aggressive with their partner. Their friends, colleagues, and acquaintances would consider them calm, reasonable people.
If we’re not assertive at work and in other situations outside the home; if we haven’t got ways to calm down when things don’t go as planned, it’ll give us a short fuse. We swallow our irritation with our boss; our friend; the person in the queue fumbling for the correct change. Consciously, or unconsciously, we feel safe enough at home to allow ourselves to show our stress and frustration, and our partner gets the brunt of our anger.
I clearly recognise “the old me” in this. Before I learned through an anger management programme how to be assertive and to calm myself when I got angry, I would arrive home feeling frustrated and angry from my day and would overreact with my husband.
Anger management can help you be your best self with your partner rather than taking your anger about others out on him /her.
S/he’s behaving unreasonably / unlovingly
When a partner is behaving unreasonably or unlovingly, it’s not surprising we get annoyed. Our anger is signalling to us that something is wrong. Many people don’t like or respect their anger with their husband or wife, girlfriend or boyfriend, but I can appreciate the fact it’s like a smoke alarm for me. It alerts me to a need I have. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m talking about valuing anger, the feeling, not advocating being aggressive with your partner.
Sometimes when we’re angry with our partner, it’s no-one’s “fault” and there’s no solution. For example, someone else might be perfectly happy that their partner doesn’t want children, but, for you, it’s non-negotiable. If that’s the case, no amount of anger management is going to stop you feeling angry with your partner. I don’t want to be negative, but firmly believe that needs to be said. Coming next, though, is a more hopeful item…
Your anger has created a vicious cycle in your relationship
Conflict and disagreement are inevitable in relationships. The damaging things we say and do when we are angry, and how we react to our partner’s anger, are what make things worse, and can be changed.
If you’re aggressive with your partner, a first step in understanding why is to manage your anger. When we are mad at our partner, it generally triggers them to fight back or to withdraw. We find ourselves in a vicious cycle: we’ve been aggressive, they’ve been aggressive back and we don’t like that and get even more upset with them. They’re then holding anger with us and are unlikely to want to be kind to us or co-operate with us. More of our anger is triggered when they withdraw from us or are short tempered with us or unhelpful. In summary, losing our temper with a partner leads to more problems in the relationship; and arguing with a husband / wife leads to more conflict.
In my anger management sessions, I repeatedly see people in what seem to be toxic, doomed relationships, who, once they have learned to curb their temper, see a change in their partner’s behaviour towards them. What was a vicious cycle becomes a virtuous cycle of a loving interaction by one partner leading to a loving response by the other; a constructive communication leading to conflict resolution; enjoyment of the relationship once more – perhaps more than ever.
I’m not saying that every relationship can be saved through anger management, but we’re not in the best place to tell if a relationship can work when we’re bringing out the worst in our partner through our aggression.
Take the first step to deal with your anger in your relationship
If you live in the UK, you can work with me to deal with your anger with your partner through private classes, or by signing up for one of my online anger management groups.
Click the images below to find out more.