Q: My partner and I have been together for almost six years. For the most part this has been good. Each of us has children from previous marriages, but all of them are getting older now and my partner and I are able to enjoy moments alone together. However, we are having a bit of a problem.
My partner likes to express her anger and frustrations openly and whenever she is in the mood to do so. She says that she feels better once she has gotten something “off her chest.”
That may be good for her, but it is not great for me. I grew up in a home where my parents abused each other and the rest of us kids. When my partner is expressing her anger, she is reminding me of those dark moments in my life.
What can I do to better accept my partner’s anger and perhaps burst out some of it myself?
A: Your partner’s tendency to let it all out when she is feeling frustrated may not be that acceptable.
Don’t get me wrong. If something is happening between the two of you that is frothing in bad feelings, then you need to talk about it and hopefully find a resolution.
However, there is a difference between shouting at each other and talking about something, which includes listening to each other. The reality is that you cannot hear the other person when you are busy shouting.
I like to think of anger as energy.
When I am angry, I need to get rid of that energy so that I can sit down and have a reasonable conversation with whomever I am squabbling with. If we cannot resolve the differences, we can at least understand and accept them. I think that it is called agreeing to disagree.
People who try to get rid of that anger energy by shouting are not working toward a mutual resolution. Usually the anger says, “my way is the only way.”
Angry people are often successful. They get their own way. However, the anger that works for them also scares away other people. The opportunity to share a person to person moment is gone.
If the victims of these anger torrents do not physically leave, they will most certainly withdraw emotionally. Your family’s anger scared you when you were a child. Your partner’s anger is scaring you now. They are equally wrong.