Emil Harker: When you wanna scream or break something

How to handle anger in relationships

Let’s face it. We all get to a point where something is going to break. But once something does, it can be sometimes impossible to put back together. The following are steps to maintain your cool even when the situation gets hot.

Three prep steps of perspective:

  1. This too shall pass. No matter how terrible you feel right now, that feeling will pass. Sometimes the way we feel seems like it will not only define the remainder of our relationship, it feels like it will never go away. That can create a perspective or panic and desperation. Just remember that you’ve been here before and the feelings will change.
  2. Mirror of emotions - Chances are if you are frustrated and upset, so is your partner. If your partner is upset, they are not likely to take the time to truly understand your point of view. Instead, they will be in panic mode themselves and defending themselves. You can sabotage their own defensiveness by understanding them completely. Once they feel understood a chemical is released in their brains to help them calm down and take the time to understand you.
  3. The thorn in the lion's paw - When the lion roars it can seem like an aggressive attack when in reality it might be the roar of a lion in pain. Seek the source of the pain and address it, and it will create a lions level or loyalty.

Three Action Steps:

  1. When you feel the rage come - Take a time out. Plan ahead and make the mutual decision that if things flare-up, you will call a time out. This isn’t effective if you haven’t already planned to do this. The person who calls a time out defines the length of time for the time out ie 10-15 minutes, and then is the first one to time back in. When you time back in. Use the next two techniques.
  2. Summarize and understand- Take the time to understand them. Don’t just parrot their words, really dive in and understand them, like you were representing them as their attorney. I know you want to be heard and understood but they aren’t going to really hear you unless they feel understood. So, take the time to really make sure they feel understood. You don’t need to agree with them, and chances are you won’t, but you do need to make sure they feel totally understood. After they feel totally understood and you let them know that you don’t completely agree, they will be beautifully confused and curious to know why you don’t agree. Then they will ask you to explain yourself.
  3. When they ask you why you don’t agree- that’s when it’s your turn to explain yourself. Take the time to explain your position but share it in a way that doesn’t poke their insecurities, or you will be back in the fire. You can do this by pointing out the parts of their position that you do agree with, and why they might have missed or didn’t understand your point of view.

You can make responding to situations like this super easy by learning Emils Conflict To Closeness Communication training program. Register for a free month trial of Emil's Marriage Club program by clicking here.

Emil Harker is A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Farmington Utah. With over 20 years of experience, he is the author of the book “You Can Turn Conflict Into Closeness.” Endorsed by Dr. John Gottman - the worlds leader in marriage research.