Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday Talk: Don't Make Me Put My Angry Eyes On

Funny someone would ask "What do you think about going to bed angry?" -- As life would have it, anger, was an entire issue in and of itself that D and I had to work through. So hold onto your panties...

If you haven't gathered this already, I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky girl with a twist of seriousness and all things sentimental. Dan and my story of how we met is definitely one for the books, but this in no way determined our fate of having a fairy tale life together... No way.

I'd just gone through 3 years of schooling that focused specifically on listening, understanding, seeing things through others' eyes, not taking what they're saying personally and being able to really work through the toughest of situations. I thought I had communication down to a science. Then I got married.

D and I are exact opposites in the way that we deal with stress. I'm laid back, take it in stride, and talk it out with others. D, on the other hand, expresses it outwardly and quickly on every level. It didn't take long to realize D expressed his emotions best through anger. It freaked me out, actually. You'd think with said above, I would have understood anger by then.

It got to the point where I started feeling like a child in the relationship. His responses to things were, in my opinion, way extreme. The dryer would break and suddenly there were profanities being flown around like gun shots. A bill would come in the mail that had already been paid and it was if someone had stolen money from his account. The animals would do something really animal like stupid and he would react like it was a personal. Instead of acting like an adult and responding with direct communication, I would get really quiet and morose, pout or anything else I could do to let him know I didn't appreciate this anger. He really hated that.

With time, I understood that while anger was flying around, it was never directed at me. He never raised his voice at me, it was always directed at an object or someone he didn't know. A motto of mine about finding a spouse/life-partner was You'll never find a perfect person, so you better decide what you can and can't live with. So, I did what any psychology major fiance who was seriously questioning something she could or couldn't live with. I researched it.

My whole world spun around. First, remember that 'child-like' feeling I was getting? It was simply a transference issue. As a child there a lot of anger was directed at me {we won't be going there} and children have no way of truly resolving or dealing with that in a proper way. This gave me the opportunity to truly face those issues and resolve issues with the person responsible and I did. It was life changing.

As I started to change my perspective of how anger was making me feel, I then learned that anger was a very normal response to things; just like being happy or sad. I had a father who was the most even keeled person ever. This is not an exaggeration. So D's heightened responses was really different to me. Come to find out, a lot of men/women respond strongly about stuff. Therefore, instead of trying to change D as if something were wrong with him, I retrained my thinking and automatic responses to anger/tense situations.

I would make myself sit still and not react when he would get upset about something. Reacting to his feelings was only driving me insane. He had to deal with his frustrations on his own; it was not mine to deal with, I was not responsible for it. So it was not mine to resolve. To explain that in short, I would say Instead of absorbing his emotions, I'd let them bounce off me. This created a huge shift in our relationship and D actually started to change how often and to what extreme he would get angry.

Lastly, once all this was resolved, instead of my avoiding issues I thought would upset him, I faced them head on. At first this was tough for me, but as our relationship grew, we started to learn each others communication language and understand where each other were coming from. I have learned is to not bring things up at the end of the day I {after 7}. You are just asking for a bad night and possibly going to sleep angry. My personal belief is I don't believe that is healthy for the relationship. I, personally, can't sleep with unresolved issues. So, this is how I handle things:
  • If I'm angry or frustrated about something, I wait until my emotions are back on solid ground about it
  • Once on solid ground, I wait for a 'neutral time' - This meaning when neither of us is involved in something or are upset already about another issue - If possible, plan when a time that's best for both of you
  • Never, ever try to discuss something serious over the phone
  • Try to confront the issue with an open mind, really hear what they are saying, not what you think they're saying
  • If your argument gets past a certain "emotional" level, stop and revisit in 30 minutes
  • If by the time you are going to bed it's not resolved, come to an agreement that while the conversation/argument isn't settled or over, you still love them and want to resolve things - This allows for a better night sleep and peace of mind for the both of you
You should know that after almost 3 years of D and I being together, I'm able laugh at D's overreactions now and he's able to laugh with me -- Come to find out, it was simply anxiety that was driving his angry outbursts -- Funny how I have what he needs to just calm down, take a deep breath and realize everything is going to work out -- When there is a lot of tension happening, I would try and stop, take a step back from the situation and see what may be going on behind the scenes of your spouses anger/frustrations... usually it has nothing to do with you :)

Hope this answered the question... I love answering questions, so shoot me an email {newlywedcentral@gmail.com} -- I need more fodder for next Tuesday's Talk!


Being Brazen said...

That was really great to read.

:) thank you

Tabbie:) said...

Great post!
Really great!

Erin said...

Great post!

Sarah Danielle: Jeune Marie said...

Good insight!

Miss Adventure said...

I love that you're doing this! Here's my question, my boyfriend and I are finally becoming a "couple", we've dated for over a year but haven't lived in the same part of the country for the majority of our relationship. We don't have a problem with working out fights or getting our point across. What is a problem is that we argue over stuff ALL the time. I know this may happen just because we've never gotten through this point before and now we'll doing it faster than you would normally, but I wonder if there is a way to avoid this? I've everything and I just don't know what to do. Thanks!

Sass said...

That was so well written. Loved it.

I will say this...and this is just coming from my 13 years of wedded...."bliss." ;)

We go to sleep angry sometimes. It happens. There are just times that we've both repeated our individual arguments over and over again, and we've hit the wall.

At this point, we just figure, we lay down in bed together, go to sleep, and know that we'll still wake up side by side. As long as we do that...we'll be okay.

Does that make ANY sense whatsoever? ;)

Mrs. G said...

Awesomeness... I enjoyed very much! Loved the "angry eyes"! Thus far in my short marriage I have strived not to be angry at the hubs... But I've also taken the approach of "picking my battles" and I've found I don't want to mess with a lot so sometimes I go to bed a bit cranky.Nine times out of ten everything looks much better the next day!

Saskia said...

I really enjoyed your post & I will be remembering your advice in future situations.

Saskia x

Anonymous said...

Love that post! A GREAT one that we all needed to read!! Keep it up!!

Miss E said...

What a great post - and great advice!


Cocaine Princess said...

I learned at an early age that anger most always is a wasted emotion. No good comes out of it. When I was little my mom use to tell me every night before I went to bed to say 5 things that I was most thankful for.
A feeling of calmness and serene would fall on me as I did.
It's something I still do.

LyndsAU said...

great post!! very insightful!!

Megan said...

Thanks for your insight. It was interesting to read and information to mull over. =)