Take the anger test: I put up my dukes when …
The following exercise can help you identify when you get angry in your intimate relationship, and can help you look beyond your anger and locate the true issues and emotions that cause your anger.
Check every statement that describes you at least some of the time in your intimate relationship.
I feel anger when.
___ My partner is having trouble at work
___ My partner neglects to do something s/he promised to do
___ I suspect that my partner is lying about something
___ My partner refuses to take responsibility for wrong doing
___ My partner won’t listen to or accept my point of view in a disagreement
___ My partner is late or missing for an event that is especially important to me
___ My partner puts down my family or friends
___ My partner is rejecting or critical about my appearance
___ I need help and my partner is nowhere to be found
___ My partner tells me what I am doing wrong
___ My partner hits me over the head with a list of problems as soon as I walk in the door
___ My partner does something foolish, and bad consequences occur
___ My partner lets someone else down
___ My partner treats our children unfairly
___ My partner screws up our finances
___ My partner doesn’t tell me anything about his/her life away from me
___My partner doesn’t include me in the things that s/he enjoys the most
___ I need support and my partner gives me advice
___ My partner explodes at me for no good reason
___ My partner gives me the silent treatment
___ My partner criticizes, critiques or judges me
___ My partner doesn’t trust me
___ My partner is rude to me
___ My partner treats me poorly
___ My partner is doesn’t treat my happiness or my feelings as important
___ My partner expects me to do things his/her way
___ My partner is only interested in his/her own needs, wants, desires or feelings, not mine
___ My partner isn’t physically available enough
___ My partner isn’t emotionally together or isn’t present when we’re together
___ Any others?
Now go back through all the items you checked, and answer the following questions for each item:
What is the emotion underneath your anger? Is it fear, hurt, sadness, frustration, fear of rejection?
What specifically is it in the situation that causes you to feel angry? How have you communicated those feelings to your partner?
What do you think keeps you from expressing your wounded emotions honestly and effectively to your intimate partner?
These questions were adapted from Phillip McGraw’s “The Relationship Rescue Workbook” (Hyperion). Next week, I will address how you can express wounded or hurt emotions without resorting to anger.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Boulder and Denver. His syndicated column appears in dozens of newspapers in the U.S. and around the world. Call him at (303) 758-8777 or e-mail him at http://www.heartrelationships.com
Rosenthal will be co-facilitating a “Singles River Canoe Adventure” the weekend of June 20-22, and a “Couples River Canoe Adventure” the weekend of August 8-10. For more information, call (303) 449-6578.
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