In part 1 of this Anger Management Spotlight series, we discussed how parents deal with anger and how it affects their parenting. After reviewing our temperament as parents, it is now time to move into a discussion on how to cope with our spouse – the angry husband.
by Mayah Taylor, MA
Humans at our core have a variety of emotions we use to express ourselves. Of all our emotions, anger is the most passionate one we have. In relationships, anger can be a reoccurring theme that affects both parties in the relationship. The way we interact or communicate with our spouse sometimes shows how we deal with anger. How we experience or respond to our anger can differ among males and females. In this article, we will briefly discuss the angry husband and how he experiences anger.
Melissa Dittmann discussed in her article, Anger Across the Gender Divide, a research study conducted by Raymond DiGiuseppe in which he was able to see how men and women experience anger. DiGiuseppe found that “men scored higher on physical aggression, passive aggression, and experiences of impulsively dealing with their anger. They also more often had a revenge motive to their anger and scored higher on coercing other people.” (Dittmann 2003)
Another factor in gender differences related to experiencing anger is how men and women are programmed within their brains. Aaron Karmin reported in his article that “men are programmed to compete so they can reproduce and pass on their genes and the male amygdala has a high concentration of sex hormone receptors, including testosterone.” (Karmin 2017) A key point in Karmin’s article was that there was a difference in the way men and women socialize.
A good place to begin the process of managing anger is first, recognizing triggering events and situations. In situations of high stress and frustration, stop and ask yourself what physical symptoms do I notice in my body. Do you feel your face getting red? Does your heart feel like its racing? Are you clenching your teeth or fists? It is important to be aware and mindful of the physical symptoms that you are experiencing in your body. When becoming more aware of the physical symptoms of anger and how it affects you, this shift allows you to take control, use effective coping techniques, and be proactive in preventing an explosive outburst.
Have you mentally said this to yourself? “He/She is much stronger and will overpower me,” or “If I do not do what he/she expects, I will be abandoned or unloved.” In our practice, I hear a variety of anger scripts. And until you start to separate your beliefs from your emotions and begin to take an objective look at your anger (and underlying emotions), you will not be able to understand how dysfunctional these thoughts can be.
You have heard the old adage: “You cannot change people who don’t want to change.” I agree with this statement but I would like to also add that change can have a snowball effect. What I mean is, when your partner sees shifts in your behavior and actions and likes it, he will become curious about you and the positive consequences of your new behavior. Thus, seeing your small successes may force him to become more self-aware and take stock of his anger scripts in an effort to start the process of change.
For more support, please contact us here. We provide Anger Management services in Richmond, VA and online, worldwide. And, if you’re ready to take the next steps towards emotional equilibrium, get on our wait list for our popular 8-week Anger Class, here!
Dittmann Melissa. Anger across the gender divide: Researchers strive to understand how men and women experience and express anger. Monitor on Psychology. 2003;34(3):52.
Karmin, A. (2017). Why Men and Women Respond Differently to Anger. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 19, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/anger/2017/08/why-men-and-women-respond-differently-to-anger/
Part 3 of the Anger Management Spotlight Series: The Angry Wife