Fall has arrived, my favorite season: hearty stews, wool sweaters and cuddling weather. I’ve noticed recently that many couples struggle to enjoy the changing season because they’re stuck in their old patterns with their partners. They work to find ways to keep things fresh, to get past old conflicts or resolve new ones. They find themselves mired in their habits and they become increasingly agitated. This leads to angrier responses, shorter tempers, and emotional outbursts. I know it takes practice, and life doesn’t give us dress rehearsals, but just as we develop muscle memory in sports and study habits for school, we have to build healthy relationship habits. Power of Two has a great video exercise about building healthy habits for handling anger.
The first step is recognizing in yourself how you feel well before your anger boils over. For many, this is a major challenge. Some feel a heat or pressure in their temples. Some get fidgety and feel annoyed. That’s the moment to hold on to. That’s the feeling that is a red flag. The next step might be an angry reaction, whether it’s yelling, name-calling, stomping or throwing. As we struggle to teach our young children how to manage and contain their emotions, as adults, we have to continue to practice this skill. It’s so important to set a limit to how much we’ll try to tolerate, before we need to take a break. Power of Two calls this an Anger Ceiling.
Check out this video. It’ll give you some great pointers on identifying your Anger Ceiling and anticipating it in the future. How to recognize it and act on it, before anger overcomes you. It also walks you through excusing yourself, taking a moment to collect yourself, gather your thoughts. And most importantly, how to calm down, not stew in your rage. Remember, leave the autumnal stew in the bowl and your love in the air, shared with your partner. When you walk away, don’t use that time to foster your aggravation – develop strategies, build your awareness of it – what’s the root of your aggravation and how can you work through it, letting go of your anger and rage. Walking away before an outburst is not a chance to strategize against your partner, it’s a chance to relieve your stress, before coming back to strategize with your partner.