November 5, 2018
Anger is Not an Aphrodisiac…But This Batch of Communication Tips Is!
Written by Rachel Eddins
Are Anger and Poor Communication Hurting Your Love Life?
All healthy couples argue from time to time. But when anger gets in the way of communication, your relationship suffers. Couples counseling involves learning to communicate better to deal with anger and strengthen your relationship. This batch of communication tips will help you keep a loving connection with your partner even when you argue.
Check Your Attitude
Anger couples counseling focuses on how to respond when you’re in an argument with your partner. Most communication tips list specific techniques. Before we get to those, let’s look at whether you need to examine, and perhaps adjust your attitude. These communication tips apply before, during, and after an argument. They aim to preserve and strengthen your relationship, whether you win or lose the argument.
- Remember who you’re with. Anger comes from emotions like grief and fear. Considering what your partner has lost or fears losing can bring you closer to each other. Remember that the person you’re arguing with is your lover, not your business partner or your adversary.
- Don’t attack. If you’re feeling injured or misunderstood, you may be spoiling for a fight. But it’s better if you don’t go on the attack. You and your partner are in this thing together. That means there are three sides to every argument, not two. There’s you, your partner, and your relationship. If winning the argument will hurt the relationship, you’ve lost.
- Try not to be defensive. It’s normal to feel defensive when someone criticizes you. But try to get past that feeling and focus on what lies under the criticism. Maybe your partner feels you’re not pulling your weight—with the housework, with the kids, with the finances. Instead of listing all the things you do, be receptive. Together, try to sort out ways to change the situation.
- Be gentle. Try to stay calm. We communicate a lot without saying a word. Be aware of your body language so it doesn’t escalate the argument. Standing with your hands on your hips or crossing your arms says you’re not ready to listen. Glaring and pointing fingers indicate hostility. Locking your jaw and pinching your lips are signs of anger.
- Watch your tone. Keep the volume down. Our voices tend to rise and tighten when we’re angry. And the tone of our voice reaches the listener before what we are saying can register. If you feel yourself yelling, relax your jaw and tongue. Lower your shoulders. Breathe in, relax your belly button area, and gently draw it in as you breathe out.
- If you feel out-of-control angry, stop. Ask for a time-out. Take a walk, and let some time pass. Think about what made you so angry. What’s the real problem?
- Try to understand. The first thing to do is acknowledge the problem. If you didn’t pick up the dry-cleaning, admit it before you explain. Validate your partner’s comment. Appreciate their point of view. See it from their side.
- Be willing to be influenced. If your mind is made up, consider changing it. “Don’t confuse me with the facts,” is a wry joke, but there’s some truth in it. It’s hard to listen with a closed mind.
- Don’t assume. Consider your partner’s communication style. Most women like to talk things out. Most men don’t. Is this the best time to have this discussion? Don’t make your partner read your mind. Tell them what’s bothering you and why.
- Be honest, but don’t be cruel. Talk about the issue, not the other person. Be honest about your feelings but have compassion for your partner’s. Don’t give advice or try to solve your partner’s problems unless you’re asked. Use tentative language: “Maybe we ought to . . . .”
Practice Active Listening
Finally, some specific communication tips. Active listening is a necessary skill for communication that conveys respect for your partner, helps clarify the issues, and de-escalates arguments. Along with changing your attitude, practicing these techniques can make your communication with your partner more productive and less angry.
- Use “I” language. A phrase that begins, “You always . . .” is likely to escalate an argument. One like “I feel . . . ,” or “I’d like to . . .” keeps the focus on the speaker and their thoughts and feelings.
- Give your partner your full attention. Keep distractions to a minimum. Instead of just waiting your turn to say what you want, listen and respond to what the other is saying.
- Make eye contact with your partner. Eye contact shows you’re listening. This doesn’t mean trying to stare your partner down. It means showing respect and attention. Don’t let your gaze wander around the room. That’s dismissive.
- Don’t interrupt. Let your partner finish what they have to say without “chiming in.” Consider using a timer. Each of you gets a set time to finish what they have to say. Then you can respond.
- Say it back. Check that you’re getting what your partner means. Repeat it a statement with a phrase like, “I’m hearing you say . . . is that right?”
- Use open-ended questions. “What do you think we should do about this?” might be a better response than, “What do you want me to do about it?”
Learn Communication Tips with Help from a Therapist
Keeping anger to a minimum during disagreements between partners is bound to improve your relationship—in the bedroom and everywhere else. Focus on making your attitude toward working out disagreements as positive as you can. Then practice active listening techniques to increase your skill at arguing, not to win, but to preserve and strengthen your relationship.
At Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, Tx we have many qualified therapists that specialize in couples counseling and can help manage your anger during arguments. Contact us at 832-559-2622 for more information or book an appointment online.
Grounding & Self Soothing
Get instant access to your free ebook.