How low can you go? Anger management in marriage.

Anger management is something all couples have to deal with. At some point we all have those disagreements in our marriage that get out of hand and lead to sparks of anger and days of the silent treatment. The question of the day is– how low can you go when it comes to setting a ceiling on how much anger is allowed to brew in your home?

In my therapy practice, I often ask my clients to rate on a scale of 1 (very low) to 10 (very high) what is the highest they’ll let anger go in an argument. Somewhere in the 7,8 range is a pretty common response. Far too often, it’s more like 11.

Then I ask what they think the maximum anger level is in a really healthy, strong marriage. “Uh, maybe a six?” is pretty standard.

It’s generally quite a surprise to hear that the best thing for marriages is to keep the heat below a 3 at all times. 

So how do you do in this regard? Here’s an activity to help you rate yourself.

Anger management
You will disagree from time to time--it doesn't have to look like this.

Once you know how angry you tend to get, you can set a goal for yourself. Next time you begin to have an argument with your spouse, practice paying attention to your internal “anger” signals. When you hit a 4, practice the PO2 “exit and re-enter” anger management technique. Leave the conversation for five to ten minutes to cool off, and then come back to it. Remember, coming back is just as essential as leaving–you should address the disagreement fully. Oh, and let your spouse know you need a breather to cool down–don’t just storm off!

The bottom line is that in marriage, the lower the ceiling on anger, the better. When differences come up or tensions simmer, it’s better to learn how to resolve them calmly and collaboratively. It takes patience and practice, and you can do it! Anger management–even with just the little things you get irritated with–will make a huge impact in your relationship.

Have a great end to your week,


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