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Don’t Look Back in Anger

Friday, July 14, 2006

posted by Andrew

It’s the darnedest thing. In doing the work I do I get a lot of submissions from clients looking for ways to solve their marriage conundrums, and the style of submissions can range from confused ramblings to impassioned pleas to angry outbursts.

I got an angry submission from a client the other day wanting to know why my material hadn’t magically changed his life and turned his marriage around, and for this he was very angry. While I was initially a little put off by the anger, I could understand the place the anger was coming from. In the midst of his marriage problems was someone who was scared. Scared because they didn’t understand what was going on around them, scared because they didn’t really know what caused it, and especially scared because for the first time in their lives they felt powerless. They weren’t sure how to fix it.

Marriage problems are not like broken cars or building projects. There is no specific step-by-step process involved in diagnosing or fixing it. No broken wires, no faulty parts, and typical male pragmatism is not going to solve this one. Emotions, expectations, hurt feelings, changing values, even depression, are all factors that make fixing your problems much more difficult.

There is no workshop manual or box of tools that is going to fix this problem, and this powerlessness often manifests itself as anger.

The worst part of this is that the anger often makes the problems so much worse. The anger is projected to your partner and anyone else around you, and you stop listening, instead choosing to filter out anything that detracts from the feeling you are having.

The problem is that letting your frustration out in anger feels so darned good. As destructive as it may be, letting go of your frustrations is a release of biblical porportions that helps you purge your frustrations so that you can feel better.

But next time you feel like exploding, take a closer look at your anger. What is it really about, and what is it’s purpose? Is it about injustice, or is it about your frustration and your need to purge negative emotions? Is it a welcome distraction from your lack of knowing how to fix your marriage problem? And in the midst of this anger, where is your outburst taking you and how is it going to solve your marital problem?

One of my friends told me that it is the only way his feelings get heard. Sure, the feelings get heard, but for all the wrong reasons.

When anger and frustration manifests itself in your mind, don’t look back in anger. Take some time to have a think about what you are feeling. Sometimes taking the time to think about what you are thinking can avoid needless conflict and can add a clearer perspective on the situation.

Examining your thoughts and why you are feeling them can help diffuse your anger and avoid inappropriate projection of your feelings. And it makes you a better communicator.

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