After receiving an email from a listener how this exact topic last year I wanted to look into this a bit more so when I found a resource, I knew I wanted to look a bit deeper. This is a great episode that is useful for us of us as it can help our own relationships and those of our clients and work friends.
This sponsored has been sponsored by Psychology of Relationships: The Social Psychology of Romantic Relationships, Friendships, Prosocial Behaviour and More Third Edition. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.
Note: as always nothing on the blog or podcast is any sort of professional, official or legal advice.
How To Deal With An Angry Partner?
When it comes to an angry partner, there are lots of natural ways to deal with it but these tend to be extremely unhelpful. For example, when we deal with an angry person, it’s perfectly natural for us to be defensive and avoid them because they’re surely in the wrong for attacking us.
Yet this natural defence mechanism isn’t helpful since it make understanding why the partner is angry impossible.
This is especially important to consider because anger stems from a person’s insecurities and vulnerability in relationships. So when we all go on the defensive, we aren’t asking and hearing out our partner about why they’re feeling vulnerable.
The Challenging Solution:
Whilst this is extremely hard to do and we need to overcome our natural mechanisms, but we need to approach our infuriated partner with an understanding that their anger is valid. This is no different to working with an upset teenager or another client because we need to make sure their feelings feel valid. I’ve spoken about this on the podcast before.
When we realise this, we’ll understand this is how they interpret your words and actions as well as how they are. Also you’ll understand how actions from their past leads to them behaving this way towards you. This can be everything about your relationship all the way back to problems from their childhood.
In addition, I should also mention that in the moment it seems fair to believe their feelings are nothing more than being hot headed. But don’t try and talk them out of their feelings because this can make them feel very disrespected and disregarded.
In some sense, I suppose we can link this to clinical psychology because we wouldn’t disregard a client due to what they’re feeling or experiencing. So why do this to our partner?
Additionally, it’s important to note that you can’t deal with your angry partner until you’ve calmed down. This is extremely difficult especially if you’re calling you names and accusing you of doing things, but until you calm down you can’t deal with their angry.
Validation Isn’t Agreeing:
So how do you deal with an angry partner?
Naturally people tend to argue against their partner’s viewpoint straight away and some even go al guns blazing to prove they’re right and the partner is critically wrong. This is natural and we all do it.
But it isn’t helpful.
Instead you might want to try to validate their viewpoints and this isn’t the same as agreeing
with them. since if you validate them and understand their viewpoint, then they’ll probably start to calm down.
Meaning you can begin to help them feel understood, listened to and respected.
Also something I quite like about their viewpoint is after your partner understands you really care about them and love them. Then they’re extremely likely to return the favour and listen to our viewpoint that’s different to them.
Of course, the key here is to make sure you don’t invalidate them and tell them they were flat out wrong.
For example, that’s use a classic example and they thought you were getting too friendly with a work or university friend. Then they might tell you about the time they were cheated on before and how much that hurt as well as how insecure they are. When it’s your turn you might say you understand their concerns, explain your side of the situation and tell them at that you love them.
Something along those lines perhaps.
Leading us to our final section.
Vulnerability Can Underline Anger
I preluded this in the example above and it’s very simple because anger isn’t a primary emotion, it’s secondary. Meaning things need to come before it before people get angry. For example, someone might get angry after being embarrassed, shamed, abandoned, disregarded and so on.
Therefore, when it comes to dealing with an angry partner it’s critical to unearth these hidden feelings of vulnerabilities and insecurities so healing can happen, instead of covering them up. Through a process of mutual support and healing.
I have a little opinion about confrontation that’s “Through confrontation things progress” Now you only need to look at history to see this in history because without World War Two mobile phones and wireless technology wouldn’t be as developed as it is now. War World One brought planes mainstream and so on.
However, in terms of relationships I like to think that people can learn and develop from fights because fights allow you to learn about things that bother people. I can remember lots of examples from my own personal life where there have been disagreements and arguments but after talking about it, we’ve grown and understand each other.
I know this was one of my broader psychology podcast episodes but I wanted to share this with you because psychology students and professionals still have relationship problems. We aren’t immune to their effects so I wanted to share this with you in case you ever find yourself in need of a bit of guidance. Of course, it’s all non-official advice but I hope it helps.
I really hope you enjoyed today’s social psychology episode.
If you want to learn more, please check out:
Psychology of Relationships: The Social Psychology of Romantic Relationships, Friendships, Prosocial Behaviour and More Third Edition. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback, large print and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.
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Social Psychology References:
Long, J. (2017). What is invalidation? 5 things you shouldn’t say. https://drjamielong.com/validation-5-things-not-to-say/
Seltzer, L. F. (2014, Aug 7). Can you give your spouse as much love as they don’t deserve? https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201408/can-y…
Seltzer, L. F. (2018, Mar 7). Feeling vulnerable: no problem—just get angry. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201803/feeli…
Seltzer, L. F. (2018, Sep 26). The single, most powerful way to resolve couple conflicts. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201809/the-s…
Simon, S. (2020, Dec 23). Validating someone’s anger may help them be more positive, study finds. https://www.verywellhealth.com/validating-anger-more-positivity-study-5…
Sorensen, M. S. ( n.d.). How do you validate someone when they’re angry with you? https://michaelssorensen.com/how-do-you-validate-someone-when-theyre-an…
Winch, G. (2011, Jun 18). The antidote to anger and frustration. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201106/the-an…