Anger management is a serious subject. The games we play, while trying to side step a partners issues, may be a less than powerful way of maintaining a relationship. In the paragraph below, a young woman wants to fix her relationship.
“My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year and we have been arguing a lot … When he is calm, he is the sweetest person ever. We have plenty of great times together. But … He flips out to everyone around him. No food in the house? Picks up the phone to cuss his mom out. Somebody cuts him off? Gets furious … I ask him to stop, and ask him if it was worth it … Then he calms down. … what I want to see is him not get so furious all the time. I stopped smoking because he hated it, but he clearly knows I have an occasional cigarette … but when he sees me place a pack in my bag, he threatens to break them. … I was working out at the gym at school, running a treadmill … Out of nowhere he pulls me to get off … I had no idea he was even there. He is making a huge scene in the gym, and I could not calm him down. He was furious because he had to practice for a presentation, and he needed to get something out of the car to which I had the keys … It’s not my fault [he] knew I had [his] keys and [he] knew I was going to the gym. He could have [gone] with me to the car earlier. He takes out his anger on me for his own actions. He makes fits often when it comes to drinking and partying. He gets upset when I have multiple tabs up [and] my computer is running slow [or] he doesn’t get what he wants … I’m so sick of this. When I explain to him that he has to change, he understands and even cries because he doesn’t want to lose me. Then it happens again the next day and I see no change. He blames his actions on his “anxiety” which is just an excuse to be pissed. I love him, and I want to try my best to help him control his anger in situations where it is sudden, and public. Even when we are alone. How can I do this? …thinking about leaving him, because he is very lost as a person … He’s been going to school for 5 years now, and he still needs one more year to earn a degree.”
My response to her: Oftentimes we don’t act happy in a situation because we don’t like the situation – not realizing that that bad behavior isn’t going to change the situation. After 5 years of school, I’m sure he’s not happy with his lack of accomplishment, but it’s the situation he’s mad at and not you personally.
Imagine being so strong that you could smile and love him unconditionally inspite of whatever upset he’s having. At first he would wonder why you are smiling, “this isn’t funny,” he would say. But over time, his behavior would probably change as he witnessed (thru you) what it looks like when someone takes responsibility for his or her own happiness.
You see, you’re not responsible for him. You’re not responsible for his happiness. The only thing you’re responsible for is your own happiness. Your happiness is a choice. Make the choice and it’s yours. It has nothing to do with him. Choose it powerfully enough and it will make a difference with him because eventually he will see what it looks like and follow your lead.
My fiancée used to have severe bouts of depression, but I didn’t follow her lead. I continued with my own happiness determined to have a wonderful life – whether she did or not. At times, I left her behind. I didn’t let it drag me down, because I didn’t take it personally – it wasn’t about me.
Over time, she began to follow my lead. Now when she’s upset about something she yells at me and I yell back and often we both end up laughing – having fun with making fun of each other. We’re going on our sixth year. And now, whenever she does get depressed, it’s only for a few hours and not three straight days like it was in the beginning.
Be strong and confident in your own happiness and chances are it will disarm him. But when you become unhappy with him – it only empowers his ego and justifies the discomfort he is finding in his life’s situation.