Step 4 – Execute new responses to your partner’s anger triggers

Executing a winning strategy applies to you if you are either the angry spouse or the reacting partner looking for a way to deal with your spouse without losing your marriage. Winning strategies are things you can do to achieve the 7 Anger fighter Success Paths we have outlined for you.

In my experience, most people who have anger issues don’t want to have them and feel shame after the rant is over and the damage is done. Some partners don’t really care and go on living as if nothing happened, (an expect their victim partners to just accept that is how it is), but fortunately those folks are the exception rather than the rule.

Out of control angry people are not themselves when they get angry. Most of them are not like that most of the time and in most situations. At work, they may be seen as the calmest person on the work team, or the most patient person with customers or clients. Yet at home they temporarily turn into tyrants. They want love, and intimacy and emotional connection just like almost everybody does, but they go about trying to get it it in the wrong ways. (They feed the wrong wolf-from Step 3). They have developed losing strategies instead of winning strategies.

Five common Losing Strategies for Anger Fighter 1. Avoid these strategies if you are trying to Communicate with respect:

  • 1. Needing to always be right. That is because almost all relationship conflict are due to differences in “subjective reality”- not factual or objective reality. Being factually “right” is irrelevant much of the time in marital fights. How to talk to each other about the issue is much more important!
  • 2. Behaving in ways that make your partner feel overly controlled by you.  Most successful modern marriages in America are based on cooperation and mutuality-not on one person controlling the other.
  • 3. Unbridled self expression. Children do this. Adults should not. You may think that you should be able to express anything you feel like expressing at home because you should be able to “be yourself.” Sometimes “being yourself” leads to your partner not liking you very much – or not wanting to be with you. Nothing personal – but you may trigger negative reactions from your partner by “being yourself.”
  • 4. Retaliation. I ask Mary why she had an affair.She replied “To get even with George who cheated on ME – I DIDN’T EVEN LIKE THE GUY” Does this make sense to any rational person?
  • 5. Withdrawal. Avoiding the troubling issue continuously is like the ostrich sticking its head in the sand to avoid conflict. What starts out to be a pimple may turn into a huge boil if not dealt with.

Seven responses to anger triggers which put you on the path to communicating with respect

When two otherwise rational and sane people get into an argument and turn into 7 year olds fighting in a sandbox, one has to ask how can this happen?

Scientists would say that one or both are responding to what is called their “first consciousness”—the knee-jerk reactions they learned as little children which are stored in their brain. This is called by some therapists “the adaptive child” response – it is the reaction they learned to use to survive as little children.

Unfortunately, sometimes we are married to a partner who just “trips” this knee-jerk response in us frequently. They simply aren’t able to access immediately their adult consciousness: their learned response to the anger trigger which they use at work and at other times. We call this the “functional adult response”- the response that gets much better results.

Winning Strategies include being determined to be a functional adult instead of that adaptive child WHEN UNDER STRESS :

  • 1. Talk about feelings instead of trying to fix it alone
  • 2. Be warm instead of rejecting and critical
  • 3. Develop more empathy for your partner’s point of view
  • 4. Don’t blurt out whatever emotion needs to be discharged at the moment…think it through
  • 5. Be realistic in your expectations of your partner instead of perfectionist, and rigid
  • 6. Get off your high horse, if on one, and see your partner’s viewpoints as just as valid as yours, even though perhaps very different
  • 7. Use Gottman repair tools