Managing Your Temper When Fighting

Managing Your Temper When Fighting.  The Course of Relationships mature over time. The initial attraction may be physical, and this may carry the relationship to the point of making an emotional commitment. Then the excitement and promise of sharing our life with another person can lead to a stage of heightened expectations where we ignore or minimize the discomfort that we may feel from time to time in the relationship.
 Courtesy of and David Castillo Dominici

Managing Your Temper When Fighting

But this stage comes to an end and we finally express our frustration. Welcome to the Conflict Resolution or Crisis Stage. Questions like….Why are you always telling me what to do? Can’t you give me any time to myself?Don’t you know who I am? Why don’t you shower me with love like you used to? Notice in these examples that blame is cast on the other person. The one hurling the blame doesn’t look within (for example, I have difficulty because of my own issues when someone tells me what to do). This is a particularly vulnerable stage in the course of an emotionally committed relationship, and can serve as a make or break challenge. It is at this stage that an equilibrium or, more accurately, a standoff is reached by the two partners. I won’t challenge you and you won’t challenge me, and we’ll just accept the fact that we will be distant from each other.
In Marriage Counseling I help individuals develop the Self Focus that is needed to see what their part is in the dysfunction or miscommunication.  If you can look at what you did to contribute to the negative situation or argument chances are the two of you won’t engage in hostile behavior toward one another.  Remember resolution is what is required whenever conflict arises.
In contrast, healthier relationships move into a different and more mature stage where both partners look within to find the source of their own anxiety, find ways to soothe themselves without trying to change the other person, and learn to accept and love the other person despite their frustrating quirks. When this occurs, and when the distance between the partners has been resolved, the genuine excitement and passion of the relationship can continue to flourish this time in a mature, accepting, and integrated manner.

We blame our partners when we feel discomfort, and this tends to create distance within an emotionally committed relationship. The distance, then, creates a feeling of further discomfort. The clue to dealing with this dilemma is to learn how to soothe your own emotional pain. This can open the way to more passion and closeness in your relationship.

Tips for  managing temper when fighting:

1.  Don’t take your partner’s behavior personally. Even if your partner doesn’t make all the changes that you’ve made, it shouldn’t be taken personally. If you and your partner are having a conflict, try some inwardly focused relaxation techniques. Focus on your breathing. Stop talking and try to slow your heart rate. Lower the volume of your speech and work on relaxing your body.

2.  Put the current conflict into perspective. Think about past instances of the same type of conflict. What resources did you use in the past for dealing with the conflict? Think about how discomfort will surface again in the future and if you learn now how to deal with it, you will be better off in these future instances.

3.  Control your behavior, even if you can’t regulate your emotions. While we may have difficulty in controlling our emotions, especially in the face of a conflict, we can have control over our behavior. Prevent yourself from saying and doing things that you will regret later. Tell yourself: I don’t have to take action on my feelings…acting then out.

4.  Stop the negative thinking. Our thoughts drive our feelings and behavior. When you find yourself engaged in negative thinking, make the change to more positive thoughts. Accept what is happening and then calm down.

You may have to break contact temporarily with your partner until things cool down. When you are engaged in a conflict, you may need some time to get in touch with your self again. Look on this as a time-out, not a separation. Tell your partner that you need some time alone to calm down and that you can discuss the issue better later, after both of you have had some space from each other.

Self-soothing does not involve substance abuse, the abuse of food, or emotional regression. You need time to confront yourself and understand what your part in the conflict may be. This does not mean hiding out, sleeping, binge-eating, or the use of drugs or alcohol, which are all ways to avoid self-confrontation.

In Couples Counseling I help couples acquire the tools needed to effectively communicate their wants and needs to better serve one another in the relationship.  It’s fine to feel anger and be angry.  It’s not fine to “act them out” inappropriately.

For more information on managing your anger appropriately and self soothing please contact me at (858) 735-1139.


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