When your partner is angry, how do you respond? Do you feel the need to try and calm your partner down? Do you promise to make things better and attempt to rectify the situation? Or do you become explosively angry back? Or maybe you just step away and both calm down.
When your partner behaves disrespectfully, retaliating will not make the situation any better. Many people though have difficulty not reacting negatively back. If your partner calls you names, brings up something from the past, or begins yelling, what can you do?
Kim and Patrick had a history of heated disputes. They tended to yell at one another and argued frequently. Kim often threatened to leave Patrick. She would yell at him and tell him she was taking the kids and getting out of the house. When she would say these things, he would make threats back. He yelled that he would make sure she never got any of his money and told her she could never make it on her own. He even sometimes made vague threats that “it wouldn’t be pretty” if she ever left. Neither of them worked on diffusing the situation or actually addressing the problem.
Learning anger management skills can be very helpful to a relationship. If your partner becomes angry and starts to treat you poorly, address the behavior. If your partner calls you a name, say, “You are not being fair. I don’t like it when you call me stupid. I want to talk about our money issues, but I can’t do so when you are acting this way.” Be assertive and calm with your response. Avoid behaving disrespectfully, but do make it known that you expect to be treated respectfully.
Although you cannot control how your spouse behaves, you can control how you behave. Take responsibility for your feelings and learn how to manage your behaviors. If you have difficulty doing so, consider seeking therapy for yourself. Learning how to manage your own anger and your reactions can make a big difference to your relationship.