The Danger Of Anger In Relationships

Updated December 6, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team


Anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows how hard they can be. That’s because every relationship is made up of imperfect people, often with different expectations. If you are expecting things to be great all the time, you are likely going to find yourself disappointed at some point. It's perfectly normal for couples to have disagreements in their relationship. And while many couples understand that they aren't always going to agree with each other, many don't fully grasp the danger of anger in their relationship.

Negative Emotions Don’t Have To Control You

How Do You Define Anger?

It's important to understand what anger is. The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of anger is, "a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism". It also describes it as "rage," which is defined as "an intense feeling" or "a fit of violent wrath".

In a simpler form, anger is the emotion people have when they are experiencing negative feelings. Anger by itself isn't a bad thing. But the way that people often express their anger can be problematic.

Why Is Anger Dangerous In Relationships?

When anger is not handled properly in a relationship, it can cause irreparable damage. For example, if you are constantly reacting in anger, you may be adding trouble to a relationship. If your partner tires of the drama, they may even decide to end the relationship.

It's also easy to get angry when someone else expresses anger toward you. That often means that the argument continues to escalate until you are shouting at each other. Or, you may go the opposite route and decide to just ignore each other. When neither person can stay calm, it can make simple disagreements grow into something much more complex. 

When anger goes too far and is not controlled, it can result in verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. No form of abuse is acceptable in a relationship. Abuse can take the form of name-calling, belittling,  hitting, or otherwise causing harm to the other person.

Misdirected Anger

Anger is a normal emotion. Many things in life warrant us to experience feelings of anger. For example, as humans, we should feel anger when we see that other people are being abused or mistreated. However, many of us misdirect our anger on things that are not as deserving of such a strong emotion.

Why You Don't Want To Hide Your Anger

Maybe you aren't a person who acts out in anger. Instead, you may tend to bottle up your anger deep inside of you. If you feel like this, then you probably dislike confrontation, and that’s understandable. However, there is danger in anger when you choose not to deal with it. When people try to repress their anger, it can manifest itself physically within the body. As a result, you may experience digestive issues, chronic pain, or other physical symptoms that may seem unexplainable. Or, your anger may be explosive when it finally is released. 

How To Manage Anger

There are many healthy ways to learn how to manage your anger. Here are several ideas to get you thinking:

  • Journaling: Some people find relief from anger when they can express what they are feeling in written form.

  • Exercise: Pent-up anger can often be released through physical activity. You could participate in a sport, lift weights, or go for a run, for example. Sometimes, using up physical energy helps to relieve emotional energy associated with anger as well.

  • Meditate: Practicing mindfulness meditation can often help people step back from a situation and look at the big picture. This helps them to remove their emotion from the situation, which can also help them let go of their anger instead of letting it control them.

Negative Emotions Don’t Have To Control You

  • Learn Deep Breathing Techniques: Sometimes just learning how to slow your breath can help you get control of your emotions in a moment when you would normally respond in anger. 

  • Go For A Walk: Sometimes getting out of the house and getting some fresh air can help you clear your head. This can give you the time that you need to calm down and find a better way to respond.

  • Take A Break: If you are in the middle of a disagreement and find that it's starting to get heated, it might be time to take a break. Walk away from the conversation for a moment and let your partner know that you would like to finish the conversation when things have calmed down.

When Anger Isn't Just Anger

Many people don't realize that depression often disguises itself as anger and aggression. If you or your loved one is experiencing an unnatural amount of anger, it's important to question whether it's just anger or if it's compounded by depression. While both issues can be treated and addressed, it's important to know what challenge you are working on overcoming.

Get The Help You Need

If your relationship is struggling because of anger, it is important that you get help. Therapists can work with you on an individual level or as a couple to help you learn how to overcome anger and improve your relationship.

Many kinds of therapy can help people learn how to handle their anger. Talking to a therapist will help you identify what the right treatment plan is for you. If you have been in the pattern of taking your anger out on your partner or vice versa, there may be additional work that needs to be done to repair the relationship.

A Word Of Warning About Abusive Relationships

If you are in an abusive relationship, the most important thing is your safety. If your partner is abusive to you in any way, then it's important that you remove yourself from the relationship. If you are in an abusive relationship, know that support is out there. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). 

Where To Find Help

If you have a problem with anger and know that you need to make changes, reach out to a therapist. Look for one that specializes in anger management. There are different forms of therapy available. For example, while you might attend one-on-one therapy sessions, you could also benefit from attending an anger management group. It can be helpful to meet with other people who know what you're going through.

Anger management is often treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a type of talk therapy that identifies and addresses unhelpful and unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors. Many people experiencing anger management or relationship problems may be hesitant to talk about these issues openly, though. This may be a result of negative emotions surrounding these issues like guilt or shame.  If you aren't comfortable sitting down with a stranger in person, you can look for online therapy options such as those offered by BetterHelp. 

There are other benefits to online therapy as well. Since you can attend a session anywhere you’re comfortable as long as you have a safe internet connection, you don’t have to deal with the frustration of a long or difficult drive. The scheduling for online therapy tends to be more flexible as well.

If you’re wondering just how effective online therapy can be, there’s a lot of research regarding online CBT. A recent review summed up the findings of 95 research studies. Those who used digital tools to learn CBT experienced high levels of satisfaction with their results. Plus,  having the support of an online therapist meant that people were more likely to finish their treatment. Research has consistently shown that CBT is as effective online as it is in a traditional setting.

Here are some recent reviews by users with similar issues regarding their experience with BetterHelp counselors:

“David is a very calming, kind, and compassionate counselor. He cares about how you feel and gives very mature advice on how to handle situations. He has a very calming nature and takes care on what he says and makes sure you understand what he says.” Read more on David Bradley.

“Lucas is kind and compassionate. He listens to what I have to say and is patient. He is helping me to see things about myself that I have missed for a very long time. I am confident he will help me work through my obstacles preventing me from being my best self.” Read more on Lucas Streets.

Therapy Is Worth It

Whether you are in a relationship right now or not, it's worth getting help for issues with anger management. Learning healthy ways to manage and control your anger can help you to improve your current relationship or be in a better place for a future relationship.

When anger problems are  left untreated, they can run rampant. They can even be harmful to your health, both physically and mentally. You don't have to let your anger control you anymore. When you learn anger management skills, you may see improvements in every relationship in your life. 

Takeaway

Progress might not be immediate, but don't give up. Some old habits, like raising your voice, may die hard, but it doesn't mean that you have to let them continue. Instead, reach out for support from a mental health professional and start making gains today. 

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