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Doing Life Together

BFS_Anger_LGJohn and Mary are at it again. Arguing escalates to anger and John has a hard time calming down. As they sit in my therapy office, they ask what needs to happen. Basically, here is a summary:

1) John needs to admit that his anger is out of control. While anger is a normal emotion and not a sin, anger expression can be sinful. When you curse, yell, scream and disrespect your partner, this is a problem.

2) John insists that he has to get out his anger by yelling to feel better. This is absolutely going to hurt the relationship. John needs to deal with his anger, but not by yelling. Getting anger out aggressively only leads to more aggression.

3) John needs to get at the root of his anger. John is being triggered by issues from his past. He will be asked to keep an anger log to see what triggers his explosions. Below the surface, John is feeling hurt and vulnerable, a position that makes him uncomfortable. Anger makes him feel powerful. He didn’t feel powerful as a child. But John is an adult and not a victim of his past. He can react differently. His wife is not his critical father!

4) John practices ways to calm down and commits to using them. We rehearse several strategies–deep breathing, time-out, counting to 10, distraction, etc.

5) John studies the biblical passages on anger–be slow to vent, deal with anger when it comes up, no name calling, get to the source, etc.

5) Knowing his triggers, working through issues of his past, and armed with new ways to calm himself, John is able to stay calm in the next argument.

6) The couple discusses what went right. John identified the anger trigger, employed the calming strategy, stuck to the guidelines, and waiting to talk more until he was calm.

John had to unlearn an immediate response to anger. The reason he was successful was because he was committed to seeing how his anger negatively impacted his wife and was willing to work on issues from his past that were affecting his present. With no good role models as to how to deal with his anger, John developed his own strategy for calming down and gave his wife a cue to remind him. With practice, John’s anger response is no longer a problem.

 

For more help with anger, Breaking Free from Anger and Unforgiveness by Dr. Linda Mintle–over 101,000 copies sold.

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