Anger is normal and, when expressed appropriately, generally healthy. Anger that becomes out of control or destructive can harm your relationship with your spouse or partner. People need a certain amount of anger to survive, which explains the instinct to respond aggressively to what is perceived as a threat. In a relationship, however, rather than focusing on angry feelings, it is best to find the source of angry feelings and work from there to deal with it.
Steven Stosny, Ph.D., author of "How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It" and "Love Without Hurt," discusses in a 2009 article in "Psychology Today" the biggest challenges of living with an angry partner and what to do to encourage change in that partner. Although it is important that the angry partner learn to express himself appropriately, the other partner can take some steps to facilitate change. Stosny recommends being compassionate toward your partner while letting her know you need to be treated with respect and dignity at all times. Stosny believes that compassion is required for an angry partner to realize he is hurting the person he loves.
The Angry One Is You
Chronically angry people often have difficulty seeing the effects they are having on the people closest to them. If you recognize your anger, you are a step ahead of many. Pay attention to what triggers your anger. Do you feel tense when you leave work every day? Do you wait until you get home to unleash your anger on your partner? As soon as you begin to question your thoughts and take note of the behavior you exhibit when you feel angry, you will be heading in a new direction.
The last thing people who love each other want to do is hurt one another. The American Psychological Association states that expressing, talking about or venting anger over and over can cause it to intensify and escalate. Brainstorm with your partner to find the source of your anger. When one partner is chronically angry, the anger is often directed toward a loved one, according to Stosny. He calls this the law of blame. In fact, the anger could come from somewhere other than the partner, such as past traumatic experiences, work or just a low tolerance for frustration.
Couples should learn how to express and acknowledge anger while managing and containing it to avoid hurting their partners, says Nancy Hudson of the Ohio State University Extension in the article, "Dealing with Anger in a Marriage." Begin by being open and honest and calmly communicating your anger to your spouse. Avoid letting your anger get out of hand. Refuse to blame or belittle your partner. Explain to your spouse why you are angry. Take action to make a change or to do something about the cause of the anger.