Relationships can be very fulfilling and having the support of a loved one can help you navigate the challenges of military life. However, in any relationship there may be times when you and your partner will disagree. Whether it’s arguments about household chores or personal finances, it’s common to get angry sometimes. However, when emotions are running high, reactions driven by anger can damage your relationships and your health.
The Side Effects of Anger
Anger is a natural response to a perceived or real threat. It can range from mild irritability to intense rage. Everyday situations, like getting stuck in traffic or your partner forgetting to pay a bill, can trigger the emotion. Frequent bouts of acting angry can start to take a toll on your self-esteem and psychological well-being. Research has also shown that bottling up anger or expressing it unchecked towards others contributes to a multitude of health issues, such as high blood pressure, digestion problems, and higher risk of a heart attack or stroke.
When Anger Becomes a Problem in Your Relationship
Anger may be impacting your relationship if you find yourself:
- Angry frequently or with increasing intensity
- Unable to control your anger
- Reacting with aggressive verbal and physical actions, such as yelling, cursing, throwing objects or violence toward your partner
Practicing constructive ways to manage anger can strengthen your relationship and your emotional well-being. When verbal disagreements arise, try the communication tips below to help keep anger in check and find a resolution to the disagreement.
Communication Tips to Manage Angry Responses
If you find yourself worked up and in the middle of an argument with your partner, make an agreement with them to step away from the situation until you can both discuss things rationally. Giving yourself ten minutes to take a walk or even ten breaths to collect yourself can help alleviate the tension and clear your head.
Write It Down
Instead of immediately engaging in an argument with your partner, try jotting down your feelings in a journal. Keeping a journal will help you figure out how and why get angry and if other feelings, such as embarrassment or sadness, set off your anger. By writing it down, you can also organize your thoughts to have a respectful and calm discussion with your partner when the time is right.
Create a Communication Plan
With your partner, develop a communication plan for your relationship. The plan can include scheduling your discussions for a later time when emotions have settled down, as well as ways to use active listening and set boundaries in advance. Consider agreeing to use ‘I’ statements to describe how you feel about a problem to minimize finger-pointing and blaming when talking it out. For example, ‘I feel frustrated when we are not equally sharing household tasks like taking out the trash.’
Talk to a Professional
While anger can be a common reaction, experiencing it with increasing intensity or frequency can also be a reaction linked to psychological health concerns such as depression or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you need additional support managing your anger, connect with a trained health care professional. They can work with you to identify techniques to manage your anger and may recommend resources such as anger management courses, conflict resolution training, cognitive behavioral therapy or family therapy.
Reaching out for help can keep you mission ready and improve your relationships. Call the Psychological Health Resource Center at 866-966-1020 to speak with a trained health resource consultant or start a conversation on their live chat. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK (8255), service members press 1.
- Military and Family Life Counseling (Military OneSource)
- Performance Strategies: Five Steps to Manage Anger (Human Performance Resource Center)
- VA’s Make the Connection
- National Center for PTSD
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