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 damassteel
Joined: 7/22/2009
Msg: 1
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Owning one's angerPage 1 of 2    (1, 2)
My SO and I get on really well in so many areas of our relationship. There is however a sticking point we can't seem to get through and it continues to be a source of difficuly.
She does not fully own her anger.
A common scenario with us is the following; she'll have some need, sometimes urgent in fact, but won't fully inform me as to it's true urgency. When I don't respond appropriately to information I don't have, she gets pissed. I notice she's pissed and ask about why that might be and get,"I'm fine, I'll be alright", then of course I've got to pull it out of her like an impacted wisdom tooth. After all is said and done, she admits to not having the abilty to say what she truly needs from me. Which I guess is a separate issue. The issue I'm putting on the table here is that when one is angry, say it, spit it out, get it out in the open so it can be dealt with forthrightly, OWN IT. She learned these ways in her home life. Her parents she says, went for months without speaking if one was pissed at the other. In my home it was the opposite; people always knew where they stood and what was what. Input please on this issue.
 packagedealx3
Joined: 2/4/2006
Msg: 2
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Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 8:37:19 AM
You need to be patient if you can and I think she could possibly use some help from a therapist. There is nothing "wrong" with her but sometimes the average Joe doesn't have the skills to teach her a new way of relating and with you trying, it is somewhat emotionally charged for you.

If she knows she has issues, can you not tell her I will be as patient as I can but, see above.

If you express this in a loving way and point out what you did here, that your family wasn't like that so you do talk when you have issues but you realize that she has been socialized to hold things in.

Maybe ask her what she thinks would happen if she actually just told you that she is angry. I would suspect that somewhere inside there is fear that if she expresses it you will leave, no matter how irrational that sounds.

Possibly when you recognize the situation and are at the pulling teeth stage, you can say, honey, are you possibly angry and you are doing it again, not just telling me so we can sort it out together.

You can try these things, but unless she does some reading about behavioral change or sees a therapist, you may need to be medicated eventually.
 WomanInProgress
Joined: 10/16/2005
Msg: 3
Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 8:48:48 AM
She may well find your need to talk about everything the moment it happens oppressive! That isn't for everyone, either.

Gotta agree with this. There are things I get angry about that may be present but may not have anything to do with my relationship. I may be angry at myself, my boss, my family - something else I can't control but can't get past right away. In time, I will. It's simply not relevant to discussion.

Granted - I don't get upset with someone over not knowing I'm angry with them or anything else either. If anything I tend to avoid things altogether unless/until I can come to a conclusion I can discuss rationally. Angry venting is too emotional for me, so I'm not a big fan of it. It's more a private thing for me.
 GeneralizingNow
Joined: 10/10/2007
Msg: 4
Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 8:48:51 AM

What the fvck is with this thread?!?!?! I can't believe you $@€%#/!^> get away with this sh!t!!! What a Why don't you take this thread and shove it!!!

OMG! This scared me until I saw who posted it.

I'm not sure she needs to "own" her anger. That's what YOU "need" her to do, but I don't know that she really does "need" to. I don't even think "anger" is the problem, here. What she DOES "need" to do is express her vulnerability--she's sort of afraid to ask you for help, it sounds like. To me, that means she doesn't fully trust you.

Can YOU go to HER now, when she's NOT in crisis mode, and say something like, "Ya know, when you need something, you can trust me. Please TELL me when you need something? Give me a chance to help?" I bet she cries.
 packagedealx3
Joined: 2/4/2006
Msg: 5
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Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 8:56:28 AM

She may well find your need to talk about everything the moment it happens oppressive! That isn't for everyone, either.

This is a good point. I imagine that pulling the teeth creates some anxiety or discomfort for you and your putting everything on the table may make her uncomfortable because she may perceive that consequences may follow that level of honesty.

I hope you don't have the misunderstandings very often because even if she tries, even if you try, you may remain on opposite ends of the spectrum with this.

Part of working through this is recognizing that she may never get very close to where you are with this but can you two come close enough together to live with it?

OP, also try to remember that what she saw growing up was two adults that lived in the household together. I doubt either one of them asked the other for help, possibly ever. This is a powerful image for her to change.
 damassteel
Joined: 7/22/2009
Msg: 6
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Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 8:57:01 AM

what the fvck is with this thread?!?!?! I can't believe you $@€%#/!^> get away with this sh!t!!! What a Why don't you take this thread and shove it!!!

And you, please keep your insulting gibberish to yourself.


She may well find your need to talk about everything the moment it happens oppressive! That isn't for everyone, either.

I initiated my converstion with."Do you even want to talk about this now?"
she nodded.


Can YOU go to HER now, when she's NOT in crisis mode, and say something like, "Ya know, when you need something, you can trust me. Please TELL me when you need something? Give me a chance to help?" I bet she cries

exactly what went down.
 ItsMargo
Joined: 4/24/2007
Msg: 7
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Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 9:18:27 AM
In the moment help:

Ask her "What do you need? How can I help?" In those "I'll be fine" moments.
When she asks you to do something, ask "What do you need by when?"

She needs help identifying and expressing her needs without fear... being vulnerable as others have said.

These are new muscles, they will take time to develop. An SO who is willing to prompt and 'spot' is very helpful.
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 8
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Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 9:26:41 AM
It sounds as though you are fairly well on top of this, except for your perfectly normal frustration with her lack of progress with it. Helen and others gave great advice, the only thing I want to add, is that her situation IN PARTICULAR is much more complicated than that a simple misunderstanding is blocking her ability to express herself.
She has the family history, which you've mentioned, which is by itself, more involving an issue than might be obvious. When there's a family history of withholding emotions, it is usually linked to much more than simply trying to be low key, or to avoiding confrontation. There is denial of fundamental truths, there can be something in the families past that WILL NOT BE SPOKEN OF, but which drives the issues that ARE argued about, unseen and unresolved. There can be associations between communicating anger, and being judged to be a weakling. There can be a history of those who DO "own their anger" being forced to bear the entire punishment for what ever went wrong, no matter who's obviously to blame.
What therapists usually do with things like this, is to inquire as to what will happen to her if she DOES start expressing herself freely. As this stems from her past, she is quite likely like many people, in that she long ago planted warning signs inside her psyche for protection, and though the flashing signs are still there, she has forgotten what they are there to protect her from. That's what she needs to figure out, so that she can remove or adjust her inner warnings appropriately to what she needs to have in order to deal with you, in the here and now.
Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 9:35:34 AM
I guess my question would be, why do you need to own her issue(s)? This is who she is, why can you not accept it and leave it. If she is angry, it's not up to you to "encourage" her to own or release it. Either she will deal with it or she won't.

While this situation does not make having a life easy, just because you deal with things differently than her, does not make her way wrong (at least for her.) It is entirely possible she has been "taught" expressing anger is inappropriate or will not be listened to.
 daynadaze
Joined: 2/11/2008
Msg: 10
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Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 10:30:56 AM
Stop trying to pull it out of her, let her stew if she wants but until she talks to you about the problem, don't beg her to talk to you. Maybe she doesn't like to talk until she's settled it in her own head (I'm like that) or maybe she is acting out for attention, either way, don't play into it, just let it be. She's an adult, if she wants to talk about something she will. As to her acting like something is wrong but saying it's not, ignore it, when she doesn't get attention from it she'll stop.
 winfieldbrian
Joined: 8/9/2008
Msg: 11
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Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 11:08:20 AM
Why are you wasting your time with someone who is acting like she's 6 years old? Don't you deserve better?
 Merrylass
Joined: 12/30/2007
Msg: 12
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Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 1:23:39 PM

she admits to not having the abilty to say what she truly needs from me. Which I guess is a separate issue.

Others have mentioned that this is not a separate issue. It's more - it is the cause of the problem. Until this is addressed, she will continue to have unmet needs/expectations and be upset when they are not met.

I'm a firm believer that the cure for anger is prevention - get at the cause and origins of the anger, and then you don't have to 'manage' the anger.

I, too, vote with the folks who suggest a counsellor to help you both communicate.
It may well be that she was made to feel bad and wrong about being angry - or even about asking for things -when she was young - that will take time to overcome.
 Delete_Me_Please
Joined: 11/10/2009
Msg: 13
Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 1:36:54 PM
Since she's already acknowledged that she needs to express herself more, I'm going to play Devil's Advocate here and consider what YOU can do to alleviate this problem.

As others have stated, you shouldn't have to be a mind reader to know what someone's needs are but at the same time, I think there are reasonable expectations about what another person should already know without being told. So the question is: are you attentive enough to her desires-- whether explicitly expressed or not-- to apply them to various situations? For example, if she gets upset that you didn't put a coaster under your glass to protect the table, will you figure out on your own later on that leaving a wet rag on the sofa might upset her?

I think there's a fine line between expressing your needs and being a nag and I've even found myself holding back in certain situations for that reason. So if you don't do it already, I suggest making the effort to really think about how all your actions impact her so that maybe these communication breakdowns won't even be an issue.
 Commonsens
Joined: 4/6/2009
Msg: 14
Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/3/2010 1:48:13 PM
Op, at least it doesn't come from out of the blue, but is simply the pressure valve due to frustration more then anything else.

She realize that the source of her frustration come from a lack of communication, or should I say a lack of precision in communication as she admit that she do not (or cannot) fully pass on the information (which happens to a lot of people).

lesser of two evils: It is far healthier to release pressure right away then let fester and grow; but the goal should be to learn to be able to be understood by adapting her speech and manner in which she pass on the information to you, to avoid frustration and anger in the first place.

Of course you can also help in this by been pro active when she talk by asking questions and by simply repeating what she just said to you after she said it; this way, by repeating words for words, she will listen to what and how she say things, and also she will correct herself if any gasp are missing (she will also notice that you pay greater attention to her..wink wink)
After a while as you both work together, you will be able to pass on information together with greater ease and accuracy; more accurate = less frustrations, and so on.

a win-win situation for both of you.
 NYCman530
Joined: 7/6/2009
Msg: 15
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Owning one's anger
Posted: 2/4/2010 7:12:43 AM
Often when a woman says "I'm fine, I'll be all right" as you quoted your girlfriend then something is NOT all right. She has been conditioned since childhood from her parents not to communicate their anger about things and it is now continuing into her relationship with you. One positive note is the fact that she described that situation with her parents to you. Remind her how you feel about her and that it hurts you when she doesn't communicate not only what she's angry about but her feelings in general and that it hurts her emotionally by keeping it bottled up inside which can stress her out signifigantly.
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