A heated disagreement can lead to an intentional lack of communication. Having a boyfriend who is mad at you and is making his emotions clear through his actions is a clear nonverbal statement about the depth of his anger. Acting as if there isn't an icy wall between you two doesn't address or solve the problem. In fact, the unaddressed issue can fester and become larger than it was originally. Instead of ignoring your boyfriend's anger, breaking the ice can restore the lines of communication between you.
Initiate a conversation by asking a question such as "Can we talk about why you're angry?" Depending on your boyfriend's style of interaction, this may or may not be effective in facilitating communication. If your boyfriend agrees to talk, don't focus your enthusiasm on the fact that you have broken through the ice. Instead, maintain a calm demeanor and let him know that you appreciate his willingness to work though the problem and address his anger.
Interject humor by making a lighthearted joke. According to the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in its online publication "Anger," using humor can reduce thoughts that fuel anger. Administer humor in relatively small doses, with a light joke or by pointing out something ironic about yourself or your behavior. Don't apply humor in a passive-aggressive way, which happens when you backhandedly make fun of your boyfriend or his anger though jokes. Monitor your boyfriend's reaction to your use of humor and increase or decrease the amount and frequency of jokes, based on his body language. If your boyfriend exhibits nonverbal cues, such as folding his arms, that indicate he isn't amused, it's a cue to stop relying on humor.
Give an honest, heartfelt apology. Therapist and author Beverly Engel, in an article on the University of Massachusetts Amherst website, says the most genuine apologies contain statements of regret, acceptance and willingness to enact change. Apologizing isn't simply saying "I'm sorry." Instead, include what the apology is for, such as having said something hurtful. Accept responsibility for what you have done, and explain in your apology that you want to take steps to prevent it from occurring again. Don't use blaming or accusatory statements because the apology is about what you did, not how your boyfriend reacted.
Explain to your boyfriend that you would like to have a deeper conversation with him at a time when both of you have recovered emotionally. This is a way to indicate that you respect that your boyfriend needs time to process his anger. This also lets him know that you want to work through the problem and are motivated to change what you can to not have it happen again.
- UMass Amherst: How To Give A Meaningful Apology
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: Communication Skills For Healthy Relationships
- North Carolina State University: Connecting as a Couple: Communication Skills For Healthy Relationships
- Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies: Anger
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