Anger is the #1 Cause of Relationship Breakdown. Find out if you need anger management — and if you do, where to get it!
Anger is a very destructive emotion. It injures the one who is angry, the target of the anger, and anybody who is present as the anger is expressed.
Hi this is Couple and Family Therapist Abe Kass,
In my clinical experience working with couples and families for over 25 years, I have learned that anger is the greatest source of relationship pain and is the primary cause of separation and divorce.
You may not know whether or not you have an anger problem. This is because your definition may be too limited.
Anger has many different faces; it expresses itself in a variety of ways. What is common amongst all these ways the intent of anger is to hurt / punish someone or to force another person to comply with your will. For example, sarcasm, the silent treatment, passive-aggressive anger, criticism, yelling, violence, are all various ways that anger is expressed. If this anger is intense, consistent, and has the intent to control and force other to comply, then it is emotional abuse.
Anger hurts three people. The one expressing it, the person it is directed at and anyone present!
The 'relationship' itself is also injured—and sometimes this relationship injury is beyond recovery.
Let's compare anger to a hot coal. A person expressing anger is the person holding a hot coal and then he tosses to the person who is the target of his anger. Both individuals are burnt—the person angry and the person receiving the anger; they are both burned by the coal. As well, anyone present is also likely injured by stray bits of burning coal. Anger causes pervasive destruction.
There are many skills needed to make a healthy relationship. Being anger-free is the most important.
Taking an anger management test is the only way to know for sure if anger plagues your relationship. I have prepared for you an anger test. As well, after you have taken this anger management test, I will provide for you a link to get anger management exercises that will assist you to reduce extreme anger.
Anger and love don’t mix. If you want to love and be loved—get rid of all expressions of anger. Yes, it’s that simple and straightforward. No, this is not unrealistic. This just is reality! You want love? Get rid of anger.
Take the following free anger management test that will help you determine if you have a serious anger problem.
At the end of the anger management test, will be a suggestions as to what you can do to reduce your anger.
Even one "wrong answer" is an example of extreme anger that can ruin your relationships and your health.
Even if your anger is not extreme, you can cause much harm to yourself and loved ones when you express the negative emotion of anger.
Love builds trust, closeness and goodwill, this is far better than the fear and resentment of anger.
Best to take a zero tolerance for expressions of anger and in its place remain calm at all times. When you stay calm, only then can loving relationships be built.
Do this next...
Take a look below at my anger management tips infographic and then read 5 anger management tips for controlling extreme anger.
Be kind to another, even when he or she is not treating you the way you want. When you are kind even when you are tempted to express anger you will cause the situation to remain peaceful.
Your kind behavior may change a partner that is in the moment hostile and ready to become angry, into a pleasant person to be around.
For example, if someone is unpleasant toward you, rather than reacting in turn with hostility, ask the offending person how he or she feels. Show interest and concern. This may soften their heart and they will then be nice to you.
As angry behaviors are contagious, so too are behaviors of kindness.
Giving an irritating or hostile partner the opportunity to express how he or she feels is an act of kindness and may quickly transform a tense and difficult moment into one that is pleasant.
Kindness crushes anger!
Make life easier for all; live without anger and seek opportunities to be kind.
Do you put too much pressure on yourself? Do you commit—even if only in your own mind—to do more than you can finish? If you answered "yes," then you are often frustrated, overwhelmed, and disappointed in yourself.
Given the hectic lives of many people who juggle family, personal needs, and work, it is not surprising that many people are short on time, and as a result, they become highly stressed. We all need a balance in life that includes family, work, recreation, relaxation, and plain old rest. Doing nothing, is sometimes the most important thing to do!
The point is this: When life is imbalanced, stress will build up and then anger is expressed. This is sad. Often, the hectic schedule, effort and self-sacrifice are with the noble intent to benefit loved ones. However, the result of all the effort, is tension, anger, and emotional pain. Thus, all the "noble efforts" bear little or even no fruit at all!
Some specific stressors that can contribute to anger are:
Regardless, you need to take 100% responsibility for your staying calm, even when you feel like getting angry. Yet there are certain conditions that make staying calm and anger-free more challenging. An imbalanced life that naturally contains large amounts of stress is just such a situation.
Manage your overall level of stress. Then staying calm in all situations will be proportionally easier. When you are relaxed, you are more patient, easygoing, kind, and resilient—all good "anger busting" ingredients.
Being a calm and anger-free person will be a positive influence in all areas of your life and contribute to increased success with your family and in your work. Be the person others like to be around and want to help. This gift of success is only offered to the person who is calm and remains that way.
When you feel anger growing within, or it is actually being expressed, take a break from being in the same room with the person with whom you are angry. Wait until you have calmed down before you resume the conversation. It may take five minutes or five hours for the necessary calmness to return.
While you wait, do something else. For example, go for a walk, call a friend, go for a drive, or go shopping.
It is important to tell your partner that you will return and that you are not rejecting him or her. Tell them the reason you are taking a "time-out" is so you can stay calm and not hurt anyone with your anger. If possible, inform your partner when you hope to return.
Some couples designate a room in the house as a "time-out room" where someone can go, close the door, and be alone until they have calmed down. In the time-out room, there can be magazines, a computer, a phone, and other objects that can be used to distract oneself from the topic that is triggering the angry feelings. The time to leave the designated room is only when you have become calm and are certain you can remain that way.
Try to get an agreement from your partner that if you need to call a "time-out," he or she will cooperate and not pursue you. If you are trying to leave a stressful situation that could lead to a confrontation, the worst thing that could happen is that your partner blocks your way or follows you. Blocking a partner's exit has provoked many violent clashes. Obviously, this needs to be avoided for countless reasons.
If you think the "time-out technique" would help you, discuss it with your partner. Talk about how you may need to leave when you feel anger building and request acceptance of that need, not opposition.
If you are calling a "time-out," assure your partner that you will return at a later time and then continue the discussion. A "time-out" is not a technique to avoid your partner or an important topic. Rather, is it a tool to avoid becoming angry and hurting yourself and others.
While the "time-out technique" is useful, and for some even necessary, it is not the preferred solution. It is better to learn how to control yourself and successfully manage a situation without having to run away.
For some, the "time-out technique" is needed as a starting point to break a bad cycle of anger and retaliation. Once this has been achieved, more effective anger management tools and strategies can be used.
Be proactive to prevent anger. If anger never begins to grow, you will never have to worry about slipping, expressing it, and causing injury to yourself and your loved ones.
Staying healthy depends on prevention and treatment. Of the two, prevention is actually more beneficial for many obvious reasons.
The same is true for anger. Preventing the anger cycle from starting is the best approach. Thus, being proactive, taking concrete steps to prevent anger from igniting, is the best approach to preventing the actual expression of destructive anger.
Certainly, your goal is to keep yourself calm. You will do your best to prevent anger. However, should you start to become angry, you need to respond quickly to avoid expressing it and creating a situation where it can eventually get out of control and injure.
Especially if you have a history or tendency toward anger, you should always be prepared for a situation that will test your ability to stay calm. When such a situation arises, you need to catch yourself and immediately do something that will put the brakes on any growing anger.
One of the most effective ways to stop anger triggers is a well rehearsed "Anger Control Plan." Like a fire safety plan that can be designed and then rehearsed to be prepared should a fire break out, so too an Anger Control Plan is ready to control anger. An Anger Control Plan can rescue you from anger slips. This plan puts numerous situation specific strategies at your fingertips that are ready for immediate implementation.
Besides constructing an Anger Control Plan, you need to rehearse it in your mind. You need to mentally practice exactly how you will put to use the strategies that will prevent anger and keep you calm.
Until you have a high level of self-control, I suggest that each day you review your Anger Control Plan.
You can even turn your Anger Control Plan into a brief meditation by closing your eyes and imagining common events where you start to become angry, and then you apply an appropriate strategy as listed in your plan. Selecting the same time each day to review your plan is probably a good idea. Doing so will create a positive habit that will increase the likelihood of consistently doing this necessary mental exercise.
Taking this mental rehearsing seriously will make a difference when you are confronted with a real event. Your Anger Control Plan Will make the difference between expressing extreme anger and staying calm. Rehearsing your Anger Control Plan will prepare you so you know what to do should you become angry—and most importantly, you will do it without having to think.
When you are angry, your thinking is impaired. Simply knowing what to do, without thought is often your best strategy. An Anger Control Plan offers you this advantage.
Divide a sheet of paper or a computer document into two columns. In the first column, make a list of everyday situations that trigger anger. Leave space between each item. List such things as rude people, a critical partner, kids fighting, difficulties at work, and other stressful situations.
In the second column, corresponding to each item in the first column, write down what you need to do to stay calm when the specific situation occurs. For rude people, you might write, "Bite my tongue or remain quiet." For, "My partner being critical, you could write, "Tell him his words hurt, then walk away."
I recommend you read your Anger Control Plan each day for at least three weeks, or as long as necessary, until you have mastered it and can stay calm regardless of the situation.
Having your Anger Control Plan at the forefront of your mind will help you stay calm when a challenging situation presents itself and you are attempted to express extreme anger. When the moment of truth arrives, and you feel anger building, your plan is there to assist you, helping you to stay calm and prevent destructive anger from being expressed.
Every couple of days, when you are just beginning to learn how to manage your anger, update your Anger Control Plan to include new insights you have learned about your personal anger triggers and what you can do to counter them and remain calm.
You should have your Anger Control Plan prepared and ready to use as needed. It is one more tool, amongst many, allowing you to take responsibility for your behavior and guiding you in how to stay calm. Being vigilant to stop anger is an essential part of your overall anger control strategy.
Don't live with anger. Try self-help anger management books and anger management tips and suggestions to stop your destructive anger.
For example, using the free anger management tips above may be sufficient for you to to control your anger and stay calm. Many people can stay calm when they understand how destructive anger is and they put their mind to living peacefully.
However, if self-help anger management techniques are insufficient for you and you find you continue to get angry, don't give up. I doesn't mean you are a bad person. Only, not controlling you anger means that you have a very reactive constitution.
Difficult to control extreme anger does mean is you need to go to the next step and get professional help. Find a credentialed professional that specializes in anger management and get the help you need.
You deserve a successful and healthy life—and you can only have that if you live calmly, and then others can love you and love to be around you... this is a simple fact of life!
You need to be honest with yourself. If you need help controlling your anger... get help.
The following are some excellent sources on information you can use to decide best how to get your anger under control:
I have written several excellent anger management books that you can buy at online Amazon. I suggest you consider purchasing them. Learn more about my anger management workbook that includes anger management worksheets an my audio anger management book that includes anger management exercises.
Another method is to attend therapy with a caring mental health therapist or anger management specialist that can help you control your emotions and eliminate anger.
Some people can tame their own emotions with willpower alone. If you are such a person... kudos.
One way or another you need to solve your anger management problem and learn how to deal with anger in a way that prevents injury.