6 Less Obvious Anger Problems Symptoms


    6 Min Read


    We've all been driving and either gotten the middle finger salute, seen out of control road rage, or heard snarky remarks from a judgy Karen. Those anger problems symptoms are obvious. But what about anger that’s more subtle? Do we recognize that as easily?

    I’m counseling a couple right now where the wife describes her husband as “aggressive.” In our first few meetings he didn’t come across that way. He was patient, let her talk first, and didn’t interrupt. His tone was casual and he didn’t raise his voice. He really appeared to be mild mannered, not aggressive.


    But when behind the bedroom doors and alone with her he's different.

    Around our fourth meeting when he’d gotten comfortable with me and they were both stressed about buying a house and moving – I saw it.

    The symptoms of potential anger problems started to show and I saw how he would become “aggressive” toward her.

    This man is a respected professional and has a mild and calm outward demeanor that masks an inner rage (this description used to describe me too).

    Not all people with anger problems have symptoms that make them look like a crazy person. In fact, most of them don’t.


    So, what are the not so obvious signs of anger problems?

    Let’s discuss 6 of them that I routinely see.

    6 Subtle Symptoms Of Anger Problems

    Although there can be more than 6, these are the most common, and yet not so obvious, symptoms of anger problems that come up in couples counseling.

    1. Can’t Communicate

    Don’t most couples who are struggling say, We can’t communicate”?


    In fact, communication is the most common complaint and driver for partners starting couples counseling.

    The reasons they need help with communication vary, however.

    One of those reasons can be anger problems.

    If –

    • Talking

    • Making decisions

    • Having disagreements

    triggers anger toward your partner, and this happens routinely, it's a problem.

    If you're not careful, the communication necessary to make a relationship function suffers, eventually dwindles, and can at times come to a complete stop.

    All of us can get angry – some of us more easily than others. But in relationships where anger issues stifle the communication there's typically one partner whose anger is so dominate and overwhelming that it stops the talking.

    In these cases, the focus is most often put on the lack of communication rather than one of the root causes, anger. This makes the complaint, “we can’t communicate,” a common symptom of anger problems, but not always a recognized one.


    2. Issues Get Ignored

    Avoidance is a huge problem for individuals and couples. We all can choose the easiest path at times, which is usually to avoid a problem, not address it.

    Most of us also don’t like conflict, which is another reason why we avoid. Many people willingly describe themselves as conflict avoidant.

    And conflict and anger often go hand-in-hand.

    As a result, to avoid ‘poking the bear’ and triggering the anger and conflict that can result, many partners just ignore issues. Unfortunately, this is a short-minded approach that just results in bigger problems later.

    So, anger problem symptoms almost always include issues that have gone on unaddressed for a long time.

    As usual he projected it all back onto me. It was ALL MY FAULT! It didn't matter that he is mentally and emotionally abusive to me. Has anger management issues, all of which he refuses to admit he has AND refuses to go with me or by himself for any counseling.” -Helena

    3. No Sex (or Passionless Sex)

    Sex and anger are linked? They can be.

    The symptoms of anger problems we’ve already discussed – not communicating and issues are ignored – lead to distance and disconnect between couples.

    A wife told her husband in counseling with me this week that she wants to have sex – she just doesn’t desire sex with him. She said a big part of her lack of desire is due to the fights they have and the way he talks to her when he’s angry.

    This can be a tough one to understand for many men. Most men can have sex regardless of how they feel, or at least they think they can. However, this husband acknowledged that he doesn’t want sex after they fight either.

    Anger problems can lead to –

    This may surprise some women, but I have men tell me that they don’t like the sex with their partner because she isn’t into it. So, passion in the bedroom is actually important to many men.


    Men want to feel wanted. And sex is one of the primary ways they feel wanted. So, when there’s no interest, or it’s justhurry up and get it over with’ sex, they don’t like it.

    When the sex in a relationship is unsatisfying, sex is seen as the problem, not the contributing factors like problems with anger.

    4. Distant or Disconnected

    As I mentioned in the last section about sex, anger problems can cause partners to feel distant and disconnected, which makes this another symptom that isn’t always recognized as being related to anger.

    Distance in relationships due to anger happens in a couple of ways –

    • Distance happens as partners pull away from each other in response to an anger episode.

    • The distance gets reinforced as the initial response can last for hours and days. Sometimes taking the form of the silent treatment.

    • And the distance grows over time as the impact of repeated instances of anger accumulates, resulting in distance turning into partners becoming disconnected.

    A big danger with becoming distant and disconnected is that it can start to become your new normal.

    All couples have times when they’re closer to each other than at other times. But when feeling like ‘roommates’ becomes the norm, it’s easy to start thinking the relationship is over and justify looking for attention and love elsewhere.

    Feeling distant and disconnected is a cancer that destroys relationships. Partners need to be intentional about reconnecting when the distance lasts more than a short period of time.

    If there’s been anger in your relationship for a period of time then you should be looking for this anger problems symptom.

    My husband is stuck in my past about my virginity. I was in relationship before I married him. He didn’t experience my virginity which he gets very angry at me about because I didn’t give my virginity to him. How can we move on?” -Angel

    5. Lack of Trust

    Losing trust in your partner can happen for a number of reasons. The 4 symptoms we’ve discussed so far can all cause it, but it also happens as a result of anger issues.


    Here are a few examples of what I’ve heard partners say –

    All of these statements have an undercurrent of distrust in them. When there’s uncertainty or lack of trust in a relationship, this can be an anger problem symptom.

    Cheating is the most obvious cause of distrust, and any type of addiction can cause distrust as well. But emotional volatility also has the same result even though we don’t always see it.

    If you lack trust in your partner, could their anger problems be a reason why?

    6. Unhappy

    Feeling unhappy with your relationship at times can happen to everyone. Any of the anger problems symptoms I’ve already described can result in it.

    But living with a partner who has anger problems will cause unhappiness too.

    We all want to enjoy life and have as few stressors as possible. Unfortunately, life for all of us comes with stress. So, what we really don’t want is to have stress that’s preventable.

    Fortunately, having a partner with anger management problems is something that’s controllable. Both by their choice to learn how to better manage it (or not), and your choice to live with it if they don’t.

    My husband says he loves me but acts differently. He used to curse me, he used to watch porn, he looks at other woman, he spends long times on the computer, he pulled my hair over a stupid reason. He has big anger problems. He didn’t change his phone or contacts so ex and ex dates can communicate with him, he talks about other woman to me. I feel disrespected and not attractive. And I know I’m a knockout. We only have 1 year married and all those problems. When am I going to start to retrust myself so I can be better to him, cuz right now I don’t want to be with him.” -Liana

    Liana’s right that her husband’s behavior doesn’t show that he loves or respects her. She’s also correct that there are a lot of problems, including his anger.


    What To Take Away

    Everyone knows anger when they see it. But recognizing anger problems symptoms isn’t always as easy.

    Anger is often excused or justified. But does your relationship have any of the following –

    • Can’t communicate?

    • Issues get ignored?

    • No sex?

    • Distant or disconnected?

    • Lack of trust?

    • Unhappy?

    If your relationship has any of these issues, ask yourself if anger could be part of the reason why. And if it is, then do something about it – with or without your partner.

    Does your partner have anger problems symptoms? What are they? Please share with other readers what they look like by leaving a comment below and get their feedback.


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