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The way you think about your relationships, the skills and attitudes you bring to them and the time and effort you put in can make all the difference. People are social creatures and relationships matter to us. We enjoy them, we cry over them and we're curious about how to get our relationships to be the way we want them. How well your relationships work can have a big impact on how satisfied you feel with life. Stimulating, resilient, satisfying relationships with partners, friends and family rank high on many people's wish list for a happy life.
COUPLES - 12. Living With an Angry Partner!
Anger is a natural emotion that we all feel from time to time, so most people will sometimes be faced with an angry partner. But for some couples anger seems to be an continuing part of the relationship.

What triggers anger?
For many couples, anger only arises when there's an argument. If you need to deal with that sort of situation, take a look at the article on Ways to make peace.

Some people come from family backgrounds where anger was openly and regularly shown and have learned to express anger whenever life feels frustrating.

Others might feel they're going through a particularly stressful time and anger may be a temporary response to external difficulties. In these circumstances, a partner's anger might be generalised and not aimed at anyone in particular.

If your partner's anger always seems to be directed at you and you don’t know why, then some possibilities are suggested in Letting go of resentments.

If there's violence
Violence or threats of violence are never all right in a relationship. If arguments are always aggressive, or you avoid conflict because you're scared of things getting out of control, then you should seek help at once.

Living with anger
Whatever the reason for it, living with your partner's anger can be confusing, frustrating, upsetting and exhausting.

Ongoing anger in a relationship is shown in two main ways:
* Your partner seems to be permanently annoyed and simmers quietly but constantly.
* Your partner erupts and explodes with anger at the slightest thing.

Coping strategies
However your partner expresses their anger, the following tips will help you to minimise its destructive effect on you and your relationship.

Tips for simmering anger
The sooner you can notice that something is wrong and start a conversation the better. Leaving someone who is obviously annoyed to chew it over alone is likely to make things worse.

Encourage honest talking and even criticism.
Keep calm. Anger fuels anger, so if you want your partner to calm down then you need to stay calm yourself.

Acknowledge your partner's feelings. Openly saying "I can see you’re angry" and, if appropriate, "I understand what you're angry about" will prevent your partner from believing they have to prove how they feel.

Show you’re listening. People often continue to be angry because they don’t think they're being listened to or taken seriously. Prevent this by giving eye contact, nodding and repeating significant words and summarising what's been said. (More tips at Ways to make peace.)

Share your feelings and fears. If you're feeling angry too, then say so. If you're feeling nervous or upset by their anger, then share that also. (More tips at Ways to make peace and Productive arguing.)

Be conciliatory. Say something to show your partner you want to make peace. For example you could apologise if appropriate or acknowledge your part in the problem. Or you could show regret that something has happened, even if it was out of your control, or offer a compromise.

Tips for angry outbursts
Remember your partner is not being rational. When anger boils over there's no point trying to use reason. Your goal must be to keep your cool and calm down the situation - not resolve the issue. When the anger has passed you can arrange a time to sit down together and talk. As well as addressing the particular issue, make sure you tell your partner how you felt about their outburst and say this is something you want to avoid in the future.

Try the 'broken record' technique. Often an angry person will jump from one point or criticism to another without taking time to listen to what you're saying. This technique can help you keep your focus and stay calm. Simply repeat, calmly but assertively, the point you're trying to make. You can do this at the same time as all the tips above. For example, you can say, "I can see you're angry, but I still have to go out at 7.30," or "I'm sorry my arrangement is inconvenient, but I still have to go out at 7.30."

Use fogging. This technique can be very helpful to fend off unreasonable criticism by taking the wind out of your partner's sails. Rather than arguing with your partner and possibly escalating the anger, you choose to agree to some extent. For example, a comment such as "You're always going out, you never think about me," could be met with "Perhaps I've been going out more than usual recently." Or "You're always so selfish - what if I'd wanted to go out tonight, you treat me like a babysitter," could be met with "Sometimes I do expect you to look after the children a lot."

Try negative assertion. When the criticism is genuine, it can be natural to argue back or try to excuse or justify ourselves. Negative assertion simply means calmly and seriously agreeing with what's been said. This technique can stop an angry outburst in its tracks. For example, "You're so inconsiderate, you should have told me earlier that you were going out"; "Yes that was inconsiderate of me."

Look after yourself. Last and by no means least, when your partner is angry, you need to take care of your own self-esteem. Living with someone who's angry, shouts at you or calls you names can wear down anyone's confidence. Look for tips on techniques to boost your confidence and cope with stress.

A long-term plan
The best way to manage anger is to avoid it in the first place. If there are irritations between you then work on your communication skills and deal with them before one of you blows.