Many people experience anger in their relationship, but find themselves at a loss on how to “get rid of it.” Part of the difficulty in moving away from anger is rooted in our understanding of what anger is about. Since we often feel anger as a lead emotion in a given situation, we begin to believe anger is the primary emotion. In other words, we believe the angry response is really about anger. IT IS NOT!
Anger is a secondary emotion. It is not the primary emotion. But since it feels so strong, it often drowns out the true primary emotion. The primary emotion is more often something in the neighborhood of hurt, disappointment, or dismay.
This is not to say that anger is not an important emotion. It is. It lets you know that a part of your Self feels under attack. Anger’s role is to protect the self, to push away the perceived threat. But when we forget about the primary emotion, that emotion is never addressed. Over time, the relationship gets more and more rooted in anger and resentment.
But this misses the reality of the relationship failing to meet the needs of the individuals. And equally important, it misses the reality of hurts and disappointments that are never addressed. The task of marriage is to move beyond the emotion of anger and toward the true primary emotions. Dealing with those emotions causes the anger to evaporate. But when the primary emotions are ignored, the secondary emotion of anger only gains extra strength in an attempt to protect the Self from any further damage.
Avoid animosity, contention, and anger in your life. Anger damages or destroys almost everything it touches. To harbor anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It is a vicious acid that will destroy the container long before it does damage to the intended object.
Shift your understanding of anger from an attack on you to the revelation of something by the other person. It is a gift, albeit much like being handed a porcupine! Still, there is something soft inside, because it is really someone you love sharing something important to him or her.