Bottling up your frustration or expressing it the wrong way can instantly result in a loss of intimacy in your twosome. Part of maturing as an individual and as a partner is learning how to control your anger. Though it’s normal to have disagreements and riffs between couples, it’s all about how you handle these feelings that will make or break your connection.
Just letting out your feelings all over a man by ‘telling him off’ will only push him away. And ‘stuffing down’ your feelings by pretending (to him, or to yourself) that you feel something else will also create distance between you and a man. When all you can think is ‘OMG I am mad at my boyfriend!’ – you aren’t taking the necessary steps to understand why you’re feeling upset and how you should best approach the situation.
Here, a guide on how to control anger in a relationship:
1. Be honest with yourself.
‘I am mad at my boyfriend!’ you text your best friend. The keyword here? You! Our self-esteem depends on how honest we are with ourselves, and the moment we say or do something that is not being true to what’s really going on with us, our self-esteem goes down. And as our self-esteem goes down, we become less attractive. A man is naturally drawn to a woman who is in tune with her feelings and who has both the confidence and the self-love to not put up with what doesn’t feel good.
Usually, we bottle up our anger so much that we wind up unleashing it on a man in a way he can’t hear – or we express anger about something completely different than what we’re actually angry about. If you’ve ever blown up at a man because he didn’t pick up after himself when you were actually craving more romance and attention from him – you were really feeling angry about feeling unloved, not about his dirty socks. So before you even speak to him, take the time to get real with yourself and understand where you’re coming from so you’re better prepared to approach the topic with a calm mindset and attitude.
2. Ask yourself ‘Am I putting in more effort than he is?’
When you feel anger toward the man you’re with, this is often a sure sign that you’re simply doing too much in the relationship – what some experts call ‘overfunctioning.’ Overfunctioning involves working hard to win a man’s attention and affection, and it also happens even when you’re spending a lot of time just thinking or talking about him. When you invest this much energy in a man, you’re creating a deficit in the relationship – you become exhausted, and he feels pressured to reciprocate. But as your anger builds, so does the distance between you. And the reality is that you’re angry with yourself for doing so much to begin with. This is when it’s important to take a step back and address the issue: are you mad at him for his actions, or frustrated with yourself for going above and beyond, without receiving anything in return? Or at least, what you want? Once you can address and determine why you’re feeling this way you can begin to know how to control your anger effectively.
3. Ask yourself ‘Am I being honest about what I want?’
We women have a habit of not speaking up about our true feelings. We don’t want to rock the boat. But the truth is that the waters get choppy when we don’t express ourselves. When you don’t voice your needs, you end up in situations that aren’t good for you. You then have to learn to control your anger because you have been bottling it up. You also prevent a man from truly knowing who you really are, and you don’t give him the opportunity to meet your needs. If you’re angry with a man for something he did or didn’t do, ask yourself if you’re tolerating bad treatment, or if you’re stuffing down your feelings and pretending everything’s okay.
4. Am I trying to control the outcome – and him?
Control is about fear – we’re afraid of what might happen, so we try to manipulate a situation in order to minimize the chances of getting hurt. If you’re often feeling let down by a man, ask yourself if you’re trying to dictate the course of your relationship.
Often we’ll create a script in our heads of how a relationship is ‘supposed to be,’ and we end up disappointed. In trying to manage a man and a relationship, you also lose out on discovering how a man truly feels about you. So let go of the need to control things, and instead allow yourself to be surprised.
5. Start with ‘I feel.’
You – and everyone you’re life has heard you say ‘I am angry at my boyfriend’ – but now it’s time to talk about it. Part of controlling your anger in a relationship is getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. If you’ve ever encountered resistance from a man when you share your feelings, think about whether you were actually sharing your feeling or whether you were making a judgement about his behavior or the situation.
Say he’s making a habit of being late. If you tell him, “Why aren’t you ever on time? It’s so unfair of you to make me wait,” he’ll just shut down. He can’t hear you past this because he feels blamed, criticized and wrong.
Instead, focus on the actual feeling you are experiencing: “I feel really weird talking about this, and I don’t like feeling angry about such a small thing as ‘time’, but I feel crummy when I’m waiting for someone.”
Notice how you’re not directly making him responsible for your feelings. You are letting him know exactly what’s going on with you without blaming him. He won’t feel the need to get defensive, and he’ll be able to listen to what you want to say next.
6. Address what you don’t want.
When we’re angry or upset with a man, it’s natural to want to tell him what we want him to do about it. But doing this causes a man to resist since he doesn’t want to be told what to do or how to do it! Give him a chance to be part of the issue and to come up with a solution that works for both of you.
So, once you’ve expressed your feelings, tell him what you don’t want. In the case of him being late, you would simply say, ‘I don’t want to miss the show’ or simply ‘I don’t want to be kept waiting.’
This is much more effective than asking him to call you if he’s running late or telling him that he needs to be on time, because you’re giving him a chance to rectify the situation by coming up with a solution.
7. Ask what he thinks.
Asking a man what he thinks and giving him a chance to be part of a solution is music to his ears. He’ll appreciate that you’re giving him a chance to respond, and it will show him that you value his input. How to control anger in your relationship is a two-way street, and you’re inviting him to participate.
So, once you express your feeling and tell him what you don’t want, throw the ball in his court by asking him what he thinks should be done: “What do you think would be the best way to work out our differences on this one?”
Saying these words is one of the most powerful things you can do to encourage a man to listen to you and inspire him to want to come closer. Using this three-step script is a simple yet effective way to connect with a man while staying true to you.