Question of the Week: How to handle conflict and an angry man…

It’s very difficult to keep love and passion alive and well in a relationship if there are anger, disagreements and fights that are never resolved.

Here are a reader’s questions about how to handle this common relationship problem and our answer…

Her Question:

The biggest problem in my relationship right now is how to prevent arguments and fights from escalating. How do you respond to anger, how do you handle your man in the heat of an argument if he gets really angry, and how to get through the argument and steps to take after the argument. For example, is it okay to forgive immediately after an apology and go back to normal? Won’t this send a message of reinforcement of hurting me, and that I am “easy”. How do you encourage ‘making up’ when your partner is still in an ‘off’ mood because of the argument. After an argument we both usually feel embarrassed because of how we acted and it’s hard to face each other knowing that you acted like a psycho just a few hours ago, how do you deal with the aftermath of an argument and these feelings of shame?

Our Answer:

Thanks for your questions because you really hit the nail on the head when it comes to dealing with conflicts in a love relationship!

It’s not easy and tricky to say the least!

So here are our suggestions…

1. Get clear about how you react to anger and in a conflict situation.

Do you shrink back and get afraid or do you come out fighting yourself with both fists up (metaphorically speaking)?

Knowing how you react to extreme anger will give you a clue how to handle it differently.

2. Take responsibility for how you show up, look at your patterns and do it differently

If you tend to shrink or pull away (which I gather isn’t your MO), then taking a breath and allowing yourself to face your fear and “stay” is a way for you to grow (that is of course unless you’re being physically or emotionally abused and if that’s the case, take yourself out of a threatening situation and get help.)

If you tend to fight back (as you seemed to indicate), learn to calm yourself, not defend but rather admit your part in whatever the issue is. If you’re feeling shame afterwards, you’re probably saying and doing things when you’re worked up and under stress that you wouldn’t normally do.

If that’s the case, it’s really important to stop defending yourself and learn how to come into a calm place inside yourself so you can speak from your heart and not from your wounded, defended self.

The bottom line is to look at your “fighting” pattern as a couple and change it.
And since you can only change yourself, start with you!

It sounds like your pattern is to make him the wronger and you the wronged–with him apologizing every time for what he did wrong.

No one wins if you’re just repeating this pattern.

Take yourself out of the argument and make the choice not to escalate it or stay in the wronger/wronged pattern.

3. Use words of invitation to invite him to talk about whatever issue is the source of the conflict.

Use our Magic Words “Would you be willing…” saying something like this…

“Would you be willing to talk about how we can each get our needs met in this situation?”

If he keeps on blaming or picking at you, ask again and if he continues, tell him that you’d like to talk with him later when you’re both calm.

You’re both entitled to be angry but nothing usually gets resolved until there’s a way to calm down so you can meet each other in a rational, loving space.

Do not engage with him when you’re upset or he’s upset.

Then there’s no “making up” or “apology” necessary.

Our advice–stop your destructive pattern and create a more loving pattern to deal with disagreements.