Monday, February 13, 2006

Top Things to Do When You Begin To Get Mad

Dealing with Disagreement for Couples
Dr. John Schinnerer

Guide To Self
(925) 944-3440

Cupid may help people fall in love, but he fails miserably when it comes to helping couples remain in love. That’s because the degree to which you love someone, amazingly, has little to do with how long your relationship lasts. The biggest secret to a happy relationship has to do with how well you deal with your conflicts – what you do when you get mad at your loved one!

Researchers can accurately determine if a couple will divorce simply by watching them talk about their differences for just five minutes. Using this little chunk of information, researchers are correct 91% of the time in uncovering those relationships that will endure versus those that will crash and burn.

In partnerships headed for divorce, a woman typically brings up an difficult topic by criticizing her husband. For instance, when the woman wants her spouse to fix the sink, she might say “You never do anything around the house.” The husband usually responds by getting negative and blaming his wife with comments like, “What are you – stupid!? You don’t appreciate all that I do! I never sit down.” Criticism and personal attacks pave the way down the road to divorce. If you want to end up divorced and alone, just keep on denigrating your spouse.

On the other hand, if you are open-minded and want to keep your marriage intact, then find healthy ways to communicate.

As it is far easier to DO something rather than NOT do something, I’m going to share with you 15 things to DO when you sense yourself getting angry with someone you care about (For example, “Don’t sit down” is a much harder command to follow than “Stand up.”).

So to keep your relationships going strong, I recommend these emotional tools:

Things to Do When You Begin to Get Angry


When you’re upset with your spouse, begin the conversation at a low level of intensity. Don’t start by with an attack. Instead use the I statements. Start by explaining how you feel and why you feel that way. Follow it up with what you need your spouse to do. For instance, “I’m frustrated by everything I have to do. The house is a mess and we have guests coming over tonight. I need your help picking up the house.”


When your spouse tells you what’s wrong, stay calm. Fight the automatic urge to attack. Instead, ask your partner to be specific about what he or she wants like, “What do you need me to do?” If you’re too mad to be respectful, take time to calm down — go for a walk, watch TV, go to bed — before talking again. It’s always helpful to have a standing time out rule where anyone can take a break from a disagreement because they are too angry or emotional to continue. Nothing will get resolved if one or both of you are angry. First, get past the anger, then solve the dispute.

Close your mouth. Shut your pie hole. This is the single best thing you can do when you’re angry. Why? It buys you time to calm down and thus, to think more clearly. When you are angry, you are far more likely to say something that you later regret. Learn the art of silence.

Think of your anger on a ten point scale where 1 is calm and 10 is enraged. If your anger goes above a 5, take a time out. Walk away. Have a standing rule in your house that anyone can take a time out whenever things get too heated. Agree to come back to the issue later when things have calmed down.

Staring at another person when they are angry serves to heighten their negative feelings. Look away. Look at your shoes, the ceiling, the sky or a picture. Give the other person a minute to recompose him- or herself. Keep them in your peripheral vision. Just don’t look directly at them.

Guide To Self(C) 2005-06.


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