You’re in the middle of an argument with your spouse, and emotions are running high. You’re feeling angry and tempted to lash out at your spouse in order to get your voice heard. Over the course of the argument, you become increasingly frustrated, but you want to keep your anger under control. However, that’s getting more and more difficult by the minute.
So how do we get control of our anger when we’re in a heated discussion, or even a fight, with our husband or wife? Read on to learn how.
1. Slow down.
Don’t let your anger run away with you. It’s easy to get carried away by emotion during a fight, but it’s never the most productive route. In fact, going with the flow of your emotions can escalate a conflict, and will never help you solve it together. Instead of letting strong feelings control and drive you, take a few minutes to slow down, breathe, and process what you’re feeling. It’s okay to pause a fight and come back to it later, too, so you can both cool down.
2. Question your emotional reactions.
When you react emotionally, the feelings are incredibly visceral. You’re experiencing a moment that feels true to you in every way, even if it doesn’t represent the entire truth. When you have a strong emotional reaction, your job is to question it. This is where slowing down comes in. Slow down, question the reaction you’re feeling, and seek out the truth. This will involve listening to your spouse’s side of the conversation and doing your best to understand where they’re coming from. A well-rounded vantage point will help you navigate what you’re feeling.
3. Think before you speak.
Thinking before you speak is a universally important rule in a variety of situations. If you’re in a fight with your spouse, think about what you want to say to them before you let it come out of your mouth. Harsh, unkind words come more easily when we’re angry and fighting for our own point of view. However, just like letting emotions carry us away, words that haven’t been thoroughly considered can harm your relationship and hinder your ability to solve a problem.
Consider how this disagreement may or may not impact your future. Will it matter tomorrow? One week from now? A month, three months, a year from now? Carefully approach how you handle this conflict by considering the future impact it could have on your relationship and family. Gaining much-needed perspective can help you and your spouse determine how you want to handle the situation before it gets out of hand.
5. Consider potential domino effects.
The domino effect goes hand-in-hand with future-projection. If you speak critically toward your spouse, give an ultimatum, or act rashly to get your way, for example, what domino effect could those actions set in motion? Is the potential outcome favorable or unfavorable? What can you do to avoid setting off a harmful chain reaction, while still solving the issue at hand?
6. Empathize with your spouse.
Empathy is the most important component of all healthy relationships. It’s essential to solving interpersonal conflicts. To empathize means you take a walk in your spouse’s shoes. Take the time to see their point of view and understand what they’re feeling. When you practice empathy for one another, it cools anger and makes seemingly insurmountable conflicts more manageable. With empathy, it’s possible to find solutions to conflict that work for both of you.
Learn to have better fights.
Did you know that conflict can actually bring you closer to one another? When you know how to fight well, it’s possible to strengthen your marriage, even through conflict. Our book, The Good Fight, is a guide to helping you and your spouse manage disagreements and come out stronger on the other side. Ready to fight well? Pick up your copy here.
How do you manage your anger during disagreements with your spouse? Share your experiences in the comments.