Saturday, September 24, 2011

Anger in Marriage: How to Have Open Communication

Anger in marriage is a very common problem facing most couples. In my professional opinion it is the number 1 reason why couples either divorce or split up. I believe that both men and women don't know how to deal with their anger in romantic relationships and they attempt to address it through passive aggression. By this I mean that they engage in the silent treatment, extra marital affairs, spending too much time at the office, etc.
Ask any marriage expert and they will tell you that the way to having a successful marriage is through open communication. Another word for this is assertiveness and dealing with your anger head on. Addressing issues (within the relationship) and then moving on. Within your romantic relationship(s) do you manage to do this? Most don't.

I find that this is the 1 area of life (marriage ) that they find the most difficult to be assertive in. Work, friends, no worries but romantic relationships...well that is another story.

There is no doubt that couples invest a lot of time, money and energy in their relationships and they will try anything to keep them together. However, in marriage nothing is certain and it is something that both parties need to work on everyday. I think the reason why couples don't have open communication is that they are scared that the other person will leave them.

The issue isn't conflict. Couples, especially those couples that come for couples counselling and are contemplating divorce are happy to argue and scream at each other. What they are not doing is effective conflict. What I mean by this is that they are not addressing an issue and moving on. Instead, what they normally do is have an argument and storm off without fully addressing the issue at hand.

So what happens, is that these issues, which I like to call Red Hot Buttons, keep on coming up as issues in the marriage and are usually the reason for the break-down in the relationship. As we all know, most marriages usually end through very minor events (e.g., the toothbrush being left out) happening. Why? Because this triggers a larger underlying issues (e.g., lack of respect).

It is important to note that there is a number of other factors that influence couples not being able to talk openly and properly about their anger. Time is a huge issue. Just having the time to talk, especially when kids and work come into the mix is often very difficult. My advice is that you make the time. That is why date nights, where you as a couple put away 3 hours every week to spend some quality time with each other to talk is so important for the health of your marriage.

It can also be very difficult to change the norms within a relationship. If you have been in a marriage for 20 years and the norm has been never to communicate open and honestly, it is difficult to wake up one morning and start this process. This is why both partners need to be involved and often coming to marriage counselling is an important first step.

Once couples understand that a marriage can be absolutely amazing as opposed to being satisfactory, then the they will make the decision every time to be assertive and open in their communication style. These skills are more than just relationship skills, they are life skills that can be applied in all areas of your life.
Make the choice to live an extraordinary life and marriage through choosing to embrace your anger through assertiveness and open communication.
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