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.

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    Sunday Citizen

    I live in the Northeast and when I woke up this morning, my house was freezing. It had been in the mid 40's overnight and we haven't turned the heat on yet. Suddenly, my normal duvet felt too thin. The socks on my bare feet too non-existent. Winter is coming, and I'd been drinking rosés still pretending it was summer.

    I couldn't put it off any longer. It was time to do my annual tradition of winterizing my home—and I don't mean making sure my pipes and walls have enough insulation (though obviously that's important too). I mean the act of evaluating every room and wondering if it has enough hygge to it.

    If you've never heard of hygge, it's a Danish word that means a quality of coziness or contentment. And what better time to make sure you have moments of hygge all throughout your house than right now? As far as I'm concerned it's the only way to get through these dark winter months (even more so during a pandemic.)

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    Cameron Diaz is one of them. The actress and businesswoman, now 48, became a mom in January at the age of 47. In a new episode of Naomi Campbell's YouTube series, No Filter, Diaz opens up about what it's like to become a mom in your fourth decade.

    "A lot of people do it the other way around ... they get married [and] have a family in their youth," says Diaz."I'm kind of doing it in the second half of my life."

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