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Learn what your anger is telling you and how it can help—not hurt—your marriage

I asked Kristen what she was feeling after she and her partner, Mick, had described an event that took place over the weekend where Mick had been giving another woman some extra attention. “I am literally just angry. Furious. I’m so mad. I just want to rage.”

I pressed them a bit further: “What did it look like over the weekend, Kristen? How did you respond?”

“When we got home I let him know I was angry. How does he think it’s okay to do that? If he’s willing to flirt with someone right in front of me what the hell is he doing when I’m not around? Maybe he should just be with her if she's that much more charming.”

“But what did your anger look like?”

“I was yelling at him and wanted to make sure that he would never do something like that to me again.”

“And what were you doing, Mick?”

“Well at first I was trying to calm her down. It really wasn’t a big deal. It’s good for my work if people like me. I’m just a crowd pleaser, you know? But when we got home I knew Kristen was mad. She just kept going and going and finally, I just wanted to get away from it all. It’s really crazy when she screams and rages the way that she does. I go into the bedroom and she follows me. I try to lock myself in the bathroom and she just keeps banging on the door saying the nastiest things to me. So I finally just leave the apartment to get some air.”

I see versions of this from time to time in my office. Many of us struggle with knowing what to do with our anger. We either see red and then release it without any pause, or we shame ourselves out of expressing it at all.

Men and women alike struggle with anger. Men often view their anger as the only emotion safe to express without being labeled as less of a man or weaker than others, while women combat being labeled as “crazy” or “unladylike” at the first sight of anger surfacing.

So what are we to do?

First, we have to accept that anger is healthy and normal. Anger is information. It lets us know that something isn’t right and it often tries to step in to protect us from whatever it is that feels off. Anger is healthy. Aggression, vindictiveness, manipulation and abuse are not. They’re never acceptable…not ever.

I believe anger requires both pause and release.

We ought to understand what our anger is telling us. Before we are angry we are ALWAYS something else. Think of anger as a secondary emotion. Before we feel angry we might feel abandoned, embarrassed or betrayed, but because we tend to go from zero to 100 so quickly it’s hard for us to actually connect to our pain.

Practicing the PAUSE gives us the space between stimulus and response to connect to the hurt and to work on expressing it without going on the attack.

If Kristen would have paused and connected to her hurt she may have been able to explain to Mick that his behavior left her feeling embarrassed and dishonored. She may have even been able to connect it to never feeing good enough (in comparison) to her wound around growing up and always competing (and coming in second) to her younger sister. And if Mick had practiced the pause, he may have been able to connect to her hurt instead of minimizing and shrinking it.

Without the pause, Kristen, like so many of us, goes on the attack and only points out what her partner has done wrong. Her anger takes over to try to set the boundaries and demand that Mick NEVER do anything like that to her again. Although her anger is trying to keep her safe, her anger turns nasty and combative which never makes the conflict become connective. Kristen must learn how to translate her anger and express it to her partner effectively.

Kristen does need to pause, but she also needs to release. And the truth is, the release isn't always packaged up nicely in a calm and rational bow. Sometimes anger needs to be…well, angry. Sometimes we need to move our anger out physically as well. Pausing and translating our anger isn’t always enough and when we only encourage people to pause and slow down, we send the message that the physical release isn’t important.

It is…and it’s not crazy.

I often tell clients to take a boxing class, walk by the ocean and scream into the waves, go to a wrecking club and pay to break things. Or blast music in their home and sing as loudly as possible. We must take care of ourselves physically as we do emotionally.

So make sure to listen to your body and give it the release it’s looking for, while also holding yourself accountable to understand, translate and express your anger effectively.

I would encourage you to start to change the narrative around conflict. It’s hard because conflict and anger are generally something we code as bad, negative and scary, but when you can start to consider conflict as a gateway to very deep connection, closeness and intimacy, you give your relationship an opportunity for new depths.

Honing these skills is not only important for the relationship, but just in case you need a little more motivation, teaching your children that conflict can be safe, healing and informative is a beautiful message for them to receive. Gift them the resources to take on difficult situations, to address conflicts in their lives that need to be addressed, and to know how to confidently and effectively communicate their boundaries.

This work is endless, but it’s beautiful.

Originally posted on Mindful Marriage & Family Therapy.

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Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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