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4 Not-Obvious Signs Your Relationship Is In Trouble

4 Not-Obvious Signs Your Relationship Is In Trouble

Unfortunately, there’s no alarm that magically signals the start of relationship problems. Usually, problems creep up on a couple, affecting their lives in ways that seemingly have little to do with the relationship.

After several exchanges where he feels disrespected by his wife, a husband may suddenly begin to find reasons to spend more and more time at work. A wife, feeling lonely and unimportant, may begin to have a short fuse with the kids and her husband. And this hypothetical couple may have no idea their workaholic or irritable tendencies actually stem from their relationship problems.

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Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to detect relationship problems before they do lasting damage to your life, your well-being, or your relationship itself?

Relationship researcher, John Gottman, investigated just that by observing and comparing patterns of behavior in happy vs. unhappy couples. He came up with four behaviors which he dubbed, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” and concluded these are the behaviors that best predict deterioration of relationships. Here are Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, AKA “four not-obvious signs your relationship is in trouble.”

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1. You criticize

Criticism is a destructive relationship habit. Criticism means putting down your partner’s character or behavior. Instead of criticism, healthy couples explain how they feel and make direct requests. In healthy couples, critical comments such as,  “You never do the dishes,”  are replaced with I-statements and direct requests such as, “I feel overwhelmed when I come home to a messy kitchen. Could you please put your dishes in the dishwasher before I get home?” If you want to rid your relationship of criticism, practice beginning your statements with, “I feel…” and then ask your partner for what you want directly.

2. You hold contempt

Contempt is any form of disrespect or ridicule. It can be name-calling, belittling, sarcasm or any other communication meant to show disgust, disregard or disdain. According to Gottman, contempt is the single biggest predictor of divorce. Healthy couples think in terms of other-appreciation and self-responsibility, and are able to truly validate and empathize with another person. If you want to rid your relationship of contempt, these mindsets and skills do much to fight off the second horseman.

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3. You are defensive

Defensiveness is exactly as it sounds: Automatically defending your position. This occurs at the expense of understanding or validating the other person’s position, and is usually a trigger for the other person to also become defensive. Examples of defensiveness are making excuses for your behavior, changing the subject to what your partner did wrong, and justifying your behavior. Instead of being defensive, healthy couples practice daring to see the others’ statements as understandable and true according to their partners’ perspective.

4. You stonewall

“Stonewalling” is withdrawing from the conversation or from the relationship for the sake of avoiding conflict. This could occur in the form of “the silent treatment,” walking away, leaving the house, refusing to talk, or nonsensical mutterings. The solution to “stonewalling” is self-awareness and self-control to indicate that you are too upset to speak constructively, but would be willing to come back to the conversation after a given amount of cool-down time (20 minutes to a few hours). Thus, there is no avoiding the topic or the relationship partner. A relationship without stonewalling is a relationship in which problems and conversations are addressed instead of being swept under the rug or ignored.

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If any of these signs sound like a habit of yours or your partner, the good news is, researchers have found couples are able to change these habits with guidance and practice. Couples counseling may be a helpful way to learn and practice alternative communication strategies if you notice any of “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” trampling over your relationship.

Featured photo credit: taliesin via http

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go or motivated. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

Reference

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