Calming the Storm In Your Relationship
Conflict in relationships is inevitable. Put two men together with their own sets of needs, values, personality traits, and life histories/experiences and you have a fertile ground for potential differences to cause clashes. This is normal and a necessary precursor for growth in your relationship with your boyfriend or partner. Anger is a common emotion that emerges during conflict. While conflict and anger are normal aspects of building and maintaining a relationship with someone, there are right and wrong ways to manage them. This article will address some ways to defuse anger in your disagreements with your lover to ensure a more positive environment to go about negotiating your differences.
Anger Management 101
It's important to realize that when two people are angry with each other, very little of productive significance will come from these interactions because emotions are high and listening skills tend to be overshadowed by defensiveness. Though cliché, the statement "Anger is ok, it's what you do with it that counts" is very pertinent here. During conflicts with your partner, you are ultimately responsible for your own feelings and anger. Your partner does not make you angry; you choose how you are going to react, regardless of the contributing factors. The goal is to create an atmosphere where you and your boyfriend can have a constructive communication session free of volatile emotions and where you each can feel heard equally.
No More Drama
One of the most effective ways to defuse an angry situation is to call a Time-Out. In much the same way that children are disciplined with Time-Outs to calm down and regain behavioral control, we adults also benefit from this type of cool-down period as well. The strategy issimple, but only works if you and your partner agree to its execution beforehand and follow through with it to completion.
Whenever you feel your anger flare-up to the point where you are unable to be attentive to your partner or be fully present, announce your need for a Time-Out. Before leaving, schedule a time that you and he can reconvene to address your issues then. Reactivity can damage relationships, and by postponing your response until after you've had a chance to regroup and center yourself, you're increasing your chances for being able to communicate more effectively. You're also not avoiding the problem, just delaying it until both of you can more readily attend to the issue at hand. It's also important not to follow each other once a Time-Out has been called because this defeats the purpose; respect your partner's need for space and feel reassured in the knowledge that you will discuss your issues at a later time. In essence, when you call a Time-Out, you are really saying to your lover, "I care enough about you and our relationship to discuss this issue at a later time when I'm able to really listen to you and hear your needs and concerns. My anger right now interferes with that ability." This communication technique, which is commonly taught in couple's therapy, works best when applied consistently.
More Anger Coping Tips
1. Identify your personal triggers to anger.Pay close attention to the body signals you receive that alert you to anger arousal, the situations that upset you to help highlight patterns, and the thoughts you have that fuel anger and emotional upset.
2. Practice relaxation techniques (deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, etc.) and don't forget the importance of regular exercise in managing stress.
3. Distraction techniques can be helpful during your Time-Out, such asjournaling, reading a book, listening to music, playing video games, talking to a friend, taking a hot bath, going for a walk, etc. Do something self-soothing.
4. Develop affirmations and positive self-talk to help coach yourself through difficult anger-producing situations.
5. Try writing your partner a letter before you have your talk to discharge negative emotion and perhaps develop a better perspective on the situation that upset you. Destroy the letter when finished.
6. Get in the habit of expressing your needs and feelings directly and assertively in as close to the moment as you can. Stuffing feelings only leads to a stockpiling effect of "unfinished business"; this, in turn, creates hidden resentments and can take a toll on your health and relationship.
Anger and conflict are a natural part of any relationship and must be handled carefully to protect the trust and intimacy of your partnership. The important thing to remember is to avoid reactivity and to stop and think before acting to help cultivate a more responsible and focused dialogue with your partner. Anger is commonlythe result of an unmet need, a perceived threat, or a symptom of depression, among other things. Trying to uncover its origins first, avoiding placing blame, and viewing your disagreement as an opportunity to work together as a team in creating a win/win solution to your challenges will go a long way in helping you to accomplish your relationship goals.
© 2004 Brian L. Rzepczynski
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Brian Rzepczynski, Certified Personal Life Coach, is The Gay Love Coach: "I work with gay men who are ready to create a road map that will lead them to find and build a lasting partnership with Mr. Right." To sign up for the FREE Gay Love Coach Newsletter filled with dating and relationship tips and skills for gay singles and couples, as well as to check out current coaching groups, programs, and teleclasses, please visit www.TheGayLoveCoach.com.
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Brian Rzepczynski holds a master's degree in Social Work from Western Michigan University and is also a Certified Personal Life Coach through The Coach Training Alliance. He launched his private relationship coaching practice in 2003 and works with gay men, both singles and couples, toward developing skills for improving their dating lives and relationships. He publishes a monthly ezine called "The Man 4 Man Plan" that has helpful articles, tips, resources, and an advice column relating to gay relationships and dating. He is also the co-author of the 2005 self-help book "A Guide to Getting It: Purpose & Passion."
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