In my experience as a Couple Counsellor and Relationship Coach often one of the most important aspects of a relationship, is how couple's communicate and deal with anger.
It's certainly not the whole story, but couples who learn to deal with anger constructively can experience huge positive benefits in their relationship.
Anger can rise from unsolved childhood issues, work stress, sexual frustration, on-going issues within the relationship, money issues and a general sense of feeling stuck or unsatisfied.
My colleague Dr. Larry Iverson says there are six steps to anger. I'd like to cover them quickly here.
The steps are:
If you recognize any of these steps, then perhaps you are ahead of the game. When I first heard Larry speaking about them, it resonated with me straight away, that this is something I did in the past. Especially the punishment part.
Then Larry emphasized how anger is a choice.
The way I interpret this, is just at the point when I get angry - I have a choice what to do on the back of that. I can give someone a cold look, a stare, be rude, impatient, unkind - whatever it was back to them, or perhaps most definite of all - give them the cold shoulder, leave the situation, or leave relationship for that matter.
What I discovered was that when I came to the point when I got angry, and became aware of my choice response I actually paused and really thought about it. And this was in a moment of
immediate anger response to something someone was doing. I thought to myself, "They shouldn't behave that way!"
Then I used some mindfulness techniques - "If they are behaving that way, then they should, because that is reality." I immediately calmed down. Then I went further. What if I was to love reality - to love what is? It may sound insane to actually begin to really love emotionally what is happening and the other person.
And in that moment where I paused and reflected on my choices I also immediately became aware of my own stories why of it was good to punish people. If I didn't do it, they would get away with it. If I didn't look at them harshly they wouldn't treat me with respect. If I didn't get angry back I wasn't standing up for myself...If I didn't respond angrily they would keep doing it, and I wouldn't teach them the lesson they needed to learn (this was the biggest one for me).
And again, in that moment, I used another mindfulness technique, and questioned myself, "Is it true? Could I really know it was true - that they would learn from me being mean back and teaching them in that way?" No. I really couldn't.
Also, I felt that what they were doing was unfair. I had already done a lot of work with unfairness in the world, and in personal, social life. I realized myself that unfairness is a gift, because it allows us to show our light in opposition for the love of good for its own sake.
So in that pause - I really made a choice. I opened my heart to loving what is. To loving the situation. To loving the person. And to loving myself. I was ready to show my opposition in the most loving and real way. Acknowledging everything in reality.
And the whole situation changed. The other person became lighter. I actually felt stronger, more enlightened, more myself. This had happened once before when I had used mindfulness - and I thought it was an accident. Now as it happened almost exactly the same way, I realized that the other person changing according to the way I really was dealing with their anger and impatience, was no
accident. It was immediate sunshine between us - for real.
This, for me, was a little bit of enlightenment.
Couple Counselling and anger
And I wanted to share it here in a different context, what I learned and am learning as an individual - to bring it to relationships - and especially to the Heart of Relationships.
Imagine what this could be, if two people adopted this in a relationship, enlightened, willingly,
compassionately, standing in their power, out of choice? It could bring amazing dynamics to the relationship.
It does not mean everything is solved nor that there are not other areas to work on. But it can open up the door to raw honesty and awareness, and from there couples can really move to become more intimate in other areas - sexually, emotionally, psychologically - as real partners with genuine intimacy, showing the stuff we think and feel and sometimes hide or are afraid to say.
I wanted to bring this to the Heart of Relationships, and our practice, and to share this in a blog as
just a fragment of what we do and is possible for you and your relationships too - really your imagination is the limit. Imagine bringing such intimate honesty, passion and love for what you really want to many other situations!
And if you are like me, perhaps you may feel inspired with confidence how embracing things which seem negative to begin with love can turn everything around and become productive and very creative!
If you'd like to know more about Dr. Iverson's step stages of anger on Youtube please click here
I hope you have a wonderful day!
THE RELATIONSHIP EXPERTS International Relationship Experts John Donlon and Linda Connors have over 30 experience between them. They offer powerful and life changing relationship couple counselling and personal development programmes. They work with individuals and couples in the UK, America, Europe and Australia. If you are in relationship crisis are ready to take the first step into saving your relationship you can contact us on 0800 024 86 47.
John offers relationship advice, solutions and share their thoughts on love, relationships, marriage and intimacy.