The Angry Wife: Coping with Anger
by Mayah Taylor, MA, QMHP
Anger is not limited to just one gender nor is it limited to only males. Females express their anger in different ways too. They also experience anger differently than males do. In her article, Anger Across the Gender Divide, Melissa Dittmann discusses a research study conducted by Raymond DiGiuseppe aimed at understanding how men and women experience anger. DiGiuseppe found that women are, “angry longer, more resentful and less likely to express their anger…women used indirect aggression by ‘writing off’ a higher number of people–intending to never speak to them again because of their anger” (Dittmann 2003).
How Do You Know Anger is a Problem?
Exhibiting anger, like with other emotions, is a natural way of expressing ourselves. However, when it gets out of control, it can become dangerous, destructive, and be detrimental to our daily lives and relationships. Anger takes on many faces from passive aggression, cold anger, and even hostility to name a few. Take a few minutes to think about how anger plays a role in your relationship with your spouse.
5 Faces of Anger
Below is a checklist for the 5 Faces of Anger. What face(s) of anger do you identify with?
- Do you withhold praise, attention, or affection from your spouse when you are upset? Do you intentionally do things that you know will upset your spouse? If so, this is the passive aggressive face of anger.
- Have you used “humor” or cutting remarks at the expense of your spouse? Sarcasm is another face of anger. It is often used as a cover or disguise for the angry feelings underneath.
- Do you withdraw from your spouse for periods of time, refusing to talk or acknowledge them? Has your spouse tried to be intimate with you, but you avoid it without explaining what’s wrong? Cold anger is a different way of showing anger without the temper, aggression, and hostility.
- Do you have intense anger? Do you outwardly express your anger by raising your voice, acting visibly impatient, frustrated, or annoyed? This face of anger is known as hostility.
- The most easily recognized face of anger is aggression. Aggression includes becoming verbally loud and/or abusive. You may find yourself blaming your spouse, name-calling, thinking about hurting your spouse or even actually physically acting out your anger through pushing, touching, or hitting.
As in the second part of our Anger Spotlight Series: The Angry Husband, the first step in managing your anger is identifying triggering events and situations. I would also add to that, a helpful step in managing your anger would be to acknowledge that anger is a problem and recognizing which faces of anger you use in your relationship with your spouse.
Have you mentally said this to yourself, “That’s it. I’m done” or refuse to talk about certain topics. You are angry but avoid dealing with it and become emotionally and sometimes physically withdrawn. In our practice, I hear a variety of anger scripts. For the couples that agree the marriage or partnership is worth saving, it is important to create head space free of distorted thoughts. What will that look like? First, Identify what is making you angry. Then, separate your beliefs from your emotions and begin to take an “outsiders” view on your anger. Only then will you be able to see that your emotional response is getting in the way of what you want.
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.