The Danger Of Anger In Relationships
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated August 05, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
Anyone who has been in a relationship before knows how hard they can be. 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 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 understand the danger of anger in their relationship.
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 in itself isn't a bad thing. But the way that people often express their anger ends up being a bad thing.
Why Is Anger A Danger In Relationships?
When anger is not handled properly in a relationship, it can cause irreparabledamage. For example, if you are constantly reacting in anger that is more than necessary for the situation you may add trouble to a relationship. If your partner tires of the drama, they may decide to end the relationship.
It's also easy to get angry when someone else is dealing in an angry way with you. That means that the argument continues to escalate until you are shouting at each other or have gone the opposite route and decided just to ignore each other. When neither person can stay calm, it can make disagreements grow into something huge. It also makes the disagreement about more than what it was originally about.
Andwhen 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. This looks like name calling, belittling, or hitting or causing physical harm to the other person.
What Does Healthy Anger Look Like?
Many things in life warrant us to experience feelings of anger. However, these things are not usually what we focus our anger on. For example, as humans, we should feel anger when we see that other people are being abused or mistreated. However, many of us focus 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 tend to stuff your anger deep inside of you instead of "causing problems." If you feel like this then you probably also don't like confrontation. However, there is danger in anger when you choose not to deal with it. When people try to repress their anger, it often manifests itself physically within the body. Then, it comes out as heart attacks, digestive issues, chronic pain, or other physical symptoms that may seem unexplainable.
How To Manage Anger
There are many healthy ways to learn how to manage your anger. Here are several ideas to get you thinking. Choose one and continue to try them until you find something that works for you:
- 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. Sometimes using up physical energy helps to relieve emotional energy from anger as well.
- Meditate: Practicing mindfulness mediation 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 before letting it control them.
- Learn deep breathing techniques: Sometimes just learning how to slow your breath can help you learn how to get control of your emotions in a moment when you would normally respond in anger. This is similar to the advice that you should try counting to 10 when you get angry.
- Go for a walk: Sometimes getting out and getting 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 Anger
Many people don't realize that depression often disguises itself as anger and aggression. This is most likely to happen in men. If you or your loved one is experiencing an unnatural amount of anger, it's important to question if it's anger or if it's 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, there is hope for it. You don't have to throw in the towel just yet. But 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 different kinds of therapy can work to learn how to handle your 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, there is likely to be additional work that needs to be done to repair the relationship.
A Word Of Warning: Do Not Stay In Abusive Relationships
If you are in an abusive relationship, the most important thing is your safety. If your partner is physically 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 confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Abuse goes beyond simply bringing anger into a fight or disagreement.
This is also true of your mental and emotional health. Many people are willing to stay in relationships where their partner takes out their anger emotionally or verbally instead of physically. You don't need to stay in a relationship like this either. Your mental health and emotional health are just as important as your physical health.
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 going to an anger management group. This is where you would meet with a group that is working on making the same improvements that you are. This can be helpful because you are with other people that know what you're going through and you are learning new skills together.
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. Having regular access to a therapist can help you have an outlet to go to when you are starting to struggle with your anger. However, it's important that you learn coping skills to address and overcome your anger instead of always relying on a therapist. Your therapist will help you learn those.
Anger management is often treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a type of talk therapy that identifies unhelpful and unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors so that you can begin growing them into helpful, healthy thoughts and behaviors.
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 had high satisfaction with their results and 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.
What are some other benefits to online therapy? Well, because you can do a session anywhere you’re comfortable as long as you have a secure 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.
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.
Don't be afraid to pursue multiple types of treatment to get your anger under control.
Your Relationship Is Worth It
Whether you are in a relationship right now or not, it's worth getting help. Learning healthy ways to manage and control your anger can help you to improve your current relationship or be in a better place for your next relationship.
And, even if you aren't in a relationship at the moment, you should seek help in learning how to control your anger. When anger is left to itself, it will run rampant and can harm your health, physical and mental. You are worth the time and financial investment into learning how to control your anger. You don't have to let your anger control you anymore. When you learn these skills, you will find that all the relationships in your life can improve. But, to start making progress, you have to be willing to reach out and seek help.
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.
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