How to Deal With Anger in Relationships

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deal with anger

Reneau Peurifoy, author of Anger: Taming the Beast, discussed how to deal with anger in relationships in this episode of Last First Date Radio.

How do you deal with anger, especially if you’re in a relationship? My radio guest, Reneau Peurifoy, answered that question and more in episode #223, Anger in Relationships: How to Tame the Beast. Reneau holds a master’s degree in counseling and is the author Anger: Taming the Beast, 2nd Ed. His first book, Anxiety, Phobias and Panic, has gone through three revisions and sold over 200,000 copies.

After twenty years in private practice as a marriage and family therapist specializing in anxiety disorders, he retired to teach at a local College in Sacramento, California. After fifteen years of teaching he is now and spending his time writing, speaking, and seeing people with anxiety-related problems as a pastoral counselor and sharing videos on practical life skills on his YouTube channel.

Check out the highlights of our radio interview below.

How to Deal With Anger in Relationships

What is anger and why does it get such a bad rap?

The word ‘anger’ is usually used to describe a high level of rage. I speak about everything from irritation to rage. It’s all the same basic emotion. Anger is one response to threat; the other response is fear. If we perceive a threat as manageable, we move towards anger. If it’s unmanageable, we move towards the fear side. Our perceptions vary from person to person. 

What influences our beliefs and perceptions?

Mostly, it’s learned behavior from childhood training. You learn how to be angry by watching the adults around you. If you had an out-of-control parent, you could have an out-of-control anger problem. Or you could have the opposite response, like shutting down and disappearing into the wallpaper. People use anger to control relationships. 

When is anger an appropriate response?

For someone with an anger problem the first rule [when angry] is to walk away and do nothing. People’s tend to respond too quickly. Our emotions are for focusing our attention or responding to a need. When anger is at a low level, that’s a good time to respond. If you suppress the anger, what happens is you have a need that isn’t taken care of, and you do things that can be destructive to yourself or others.

People need to reconnect to their emotional network. If you’re from a dysfunctional family, you might have learned to shut your emotions down.

What’s a good exercise for people who want to connect deeply to their emotions?

Throughout your day, tune in to your emotions. Ask yourself, are you happy, sad, angry? 

What were your behaviors in the past when you were angry? Did you isolate yourself, play a game on the computer? Once you identify what the behavior has been, it becomes the sign that something is going in inside of you. Now you can do something about it.

What can people do when they’re angry?

  1. Ask yourself, “Why am I angry?”
  2. Then ask, “Was that an appropriate response?” Maybe yes, maybe no.
  3. If no, it’s something internal that you can work on with a therapist, coach, or a member of the clergy—someone you trust who can help with your triggers.
  4. If yes, ask yourself, “What should I do? What would be an appropriate action? Let it go? Confront the person?”
  5. Emotions are messengers. They tell you something about your needs.
  6. It’s important to minimize the threat of anger with the least amount of harm to yourself or others. 

Everything becomes black and white when you’re enraged. With kids, it’s useful to move your action point forward. Many times, parents will natter at their kids. They don’t take action. When kids first start misbehaving, take action. That’s when you’re still calm. 

What’s one of the biggest predictors that a relationship will fail?

One of the biggest predictors that a relationship will fail is when someone won’t negotiate. With domestic violence, the person usually says, “I can’t help it”. Not true. With people who have short fuses, they exhibit a lot of control in public. They only rage in private or in situations without immediate consequences. 

They also tend to minimize the consequences. No big deal. Until law enforcement comes and there’s a consequence, they don’t change. People have to buy into the fact that they can control their behavior AND their are consequences for it.

In dating, watch out for red flags. If a person you’re dating can’t remember about their childhood or remember only dysfunction, that’s a bad sign. Those who come from dysfunctional families and do well had a success experience in their lives. They also had a relationship with someone with a healthy background. 

Find healthy people as role models. You recognize healthy when you hang around with healthy people. Stick around them for at least six months. [They may seem boring in the beginning, but their healthy behaviors will have a good influence on you. You’ll begin to recognize healthy people more easily.]


Listen to the full episode, and hear some great metaphors and stories, and more tips for gaining control of your anger.

Subscribe to the show in iTunes so you never miss an episode.

Photo/commons.wikimedia.org

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