How To Manage Your Anger And Hostility Toward Your Spouse
If you want to manage the conflict between you and your spouse effectively, your ability to handle anger and hostility is a key ingredient to success. Here are some suggestions we have for managing anger and hostility in your divorce.
REMEMBER THAT ANGER TRIGGERS FEAR AND FEAR TRIGGERS ANGER.
Of what is each spouse fearful?
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR DEFENSIVENESS in an honest and appropriate way when your spouse or family is angry.
REQUEST MORE INFORMATION when your spouse or family is angry instead of shutting them off. Say, “I need to know more about that,” or “I didn’t know you thought that. Tell me how you came to that conclusion.”
OPEN CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION. Use the phone, face-to-face contact, more notes, and more meetings.
IDENTIFY THE INTERESTS of both spouses. Ignore statements of position. Work toward common goals.
RESTATE AND ACTIVELY LISTEN to the other spouse’s interests. Help him or her express the anger directly and appropriately. Ask your spouse to listen also.
AVOID STATEMENTS THAT PROVOKE DEFENSIVENESS, such as heavy control talk and evaluation.
ACKNOWLEDGE THAT FEELINGS ARE FACTS. Never say, “You shouldn’t be angry.” It will not help and it is annoying.
STATE YOUR FEELINGS ACCURATELY, but in moderation. Don’t drop the bomb unless you want to start a war.
ASK FOR SUGGESTIONS for solving the problem together. Initiate collaborative suggestions yourself.
ALLOW FOR GRIPE TIME. Venting feelings makes them easier to handle.
HAVE A PRESENT-ORIENTATION. Focus on the “here and now,” not the “there and then.”
AVOID ISSUE EXPANSION AND PERSONAL ATTACKS. Dumping you gunnysack of pent-up gripes may feel good, but it does little to address the present problem. Don’t allow your spouse to dump on you uncontrollably.
FOCUS ON “OUR” PROBLEM, not “your” problem.
BREAK A CONFLICT INTO SMALLER, MORE MANAGEABLE PARTS. Fractionate rather than expand.
CREATE SOLUTIONS IN SMALL STEPS. Openly acknowledge agreements.
MAKE NON-CONTINGENT AGREEMENTS. Agree to increase your positive behaviors.