What you will learn from this blog:
- Anger is not a bad thing. Learning to understand your anger, rather than suppressing it will help you build a better relationship with yourself and your partner
- 3 common reasons why anger shows up in relationships
As couples therapists in Singapore, we see many couples looking for better emotional regulation. The most common reasons they cite are:
- They find that when they are angered, they are unable to see, feel or hear their partner’s point of view clearly
- They are concerned that their anger makes them say or do things that they will later regret
- They are afraid that resentment will build up and cause a rift in their relationship
What is important to understand is that anger is a normal human emotion. The reason why anger causes problems in a relationship is not because of the emotion of anger itself, but because of our lack of understanding of our anger.
When we understand the underlying reasons why we are angry, we can then work on addressing the root cause, rather than blame others for our anger.
Here are 3 common reasons why anger shows up in relationships…
1. Unmet needs
Anger is a survival mechanism that helps us become aware of our unmet needs.
For example, when a child’s need for connection or freedom is not met, the child will throw a tantrum.
Similarly, as adults – anger comes out when our needs in a relationship are not met. These needs could be validation, empathy, appreciation, love and connection.
2. Violation of boundaries
Anger is a natural protective mechanism that comes up when our boundaries are violated.
In nature, we see animals showing anger when their territory is threatened, or when something that belongs to them is taken away.
In human relationships, anger could arise when our innate boundaries are crossed. This could happen when:
- We are not being treated with respect
- Our personal space and wants & needs are ignored
- Our values and beliefs are crossed
3. Anger as a cover emotion
When we get angry, our adrenal glands begin to flood the body with adrenaline and cortisol. The brain pushes blood towards our muscles, in preparation for physical exertion. These physical changes make someone who is angry feel empowered.
Psychologically, the emotion of anger covers the feeling of powerlessness – for example feeling stuck, helpless, or being in self-defeating states such as shame, guilt or fear.
In our relationships, we can sometimes show anger subconsciously to hide such vulnerabilities.
When we explain these common reasons for anger to those who come to us seeking couples therapy in Singapore, they start to develop a greater understanding and empathy toward the emotion of anger.
Understanding why you are angry is the first step towards change.
The next step is to heal and resolve the root cause of your anger. This may include:
- Addressing your unmet needs
- Expressing your boundaries to your partner better
- Re-evaluating your beliefs
- Taking charge of areas in your life where you may feel powerless.
Effective anger management starts with understanding that anger is actually for and not against you. It is here to help you understand your own wants and needs, boundaries and beliefs better.
When we understand the root cause of our anger and share it with our partner, it also helps our partner understand us better, and builds deeper intimacy.
However, it is important to note that this is only possible if there is a certain level of trust, safety and commitment in the relationship.
In some instances, such as an abusive relationship, being vulnerable with your partner may not be safe. It may be better to confide in someone you trust or seek professional help.
Learn more about how you can work with us through our marriage counselling in Singapore or couple’s therapy in Singapore. We are here to support you and your partner in inner healing and building a thriving relationship.