"He Needs Anger Management Only Around Me" - Mr. Marriage Counselor

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    There are many people who struggle to control their anger. Although we all experience feeling angry from time to time, some of us truly need anger management help in order to maintain normal and healthy relationships.

    At Guy Stuff we frequently work with those who need anger management help, most of whom are men. That doesn’t mean it’s just men who need it or are affected, however. Uncontrolled anger affects everyone in an individual’s family, as well as friends and co-workers.

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    Below you’ll see a question from Tulips who’s partner struggles controlling his anger. Check out her question and my answer that follows.

    What The Need For Anger Management Can Look Like

    Reader Question:

    I think all of this anger management is legitimate, but what about people who have enough sense to not physically display their anger in front of guests, only alone or when their significant other or immediate family is around? This is the case with my significant other, he will get angry when other people are around and curse and scowl, but he never breaks things or screams unless he's alone or just with me. Also he wouldn't pick a fight with a stranger at a food stand or anything like you mention, but he has certain "anger triggers" that get him. I still think he might have the explosive disorder, just more specific to certain annoyances." -Tulips

    Tulips’ partner isn’t that unusual in how he’s affected by anger. Most people who deal with anger problems make an effort to keep it private. In other words, the worst in us is seen by those that we are closest to. Of course, that doesn’t mean no one else notices when we’re simmering and barely keeping it together, just that the real explosion generally happens when we’re only around someone we love.

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    My Answer:

    Many of the men who come to Guy Stuff for anger management look like your significant other. The majority of angry men maintain a public image of having it all together. But behind closed doors, alone with their family, they’re a different person.

    You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde,” which refers to having 2 different personas. This behavior is true of many men with anger problems.

    I’ve worked with men in anger management who’ve struggled to understand this problem even themselves. They can’t understand why they only have anger problems with their significant other, and not at work or in other relationships. Some of the reasons for this can be that the relationship with our significant other is where we let our guard down and are our ‘real’ selves, it’s the relationship that brings out most the experiences we had with our caregivers growing up, and it's the relationship where our deepest human needs are met or not met.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about whether or not his anger problems can be classified as an explosive disorder, but rather just that he has anger problems that need to be fixed. The “Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde” behavior of many angry men can be very confusing, especially when the explosive part is aimed solely at you.

    Your significant other needs anger management. You need to insist that he gets help with anger management in order for your relationship to continue. Be strong and firm about this changing so you can get the man you love all of the time.

    What You Need To Know When Dealing With An Angry Partner

    Loving a person who needs anger management can be hard - and exhausting. But there are some things that can help.

    One thing that helps is understanding that anger can usually mask other problems, especially in men. Despite an ever growing acceptance of men as emotional beings, there’s still an unspoken expectation that men don’t cry, get sad, show anxiety or get depressed, or anything else that could be perceived as weakness.

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    So, what socially acceptable avenue does that leave a man who’s experiencing any of those feelings? Anger.

    It’s not uncommon for a man who’s struggling with other issues and the emotions connected to them to over-utilize anger as his way of expressing himself. It doesn’t make it okay, but knowing that can help you look at the bigger picture. Could there be something else going on? Could he be stressed, down, or depressed? Maybe not, but it’s worth considering.

    Another way to help you help your partner make the needed changes is strong communication. This takes constant practice and can feel like a moving target. Communication skills that once worked may need to be modified as you each change or as things become more difficult to talk about.

    Your best bet is to discuss things in a non-combative manner when you’re each calm. You may need to start the discussion by deciding together what communication approaches work best for the two of you as a couple, such as when to talk and how much. Have an agreed upon strategy can help you each when it comes to talking about the need for anger management.

    COULD YOUR PARTNER BE ABUSIVE? FIND OUT HERE IF IT’S REALLY ABUSE

    Improving communication can also help your partner be more receptive to the idea of anger management classes or counseling. Just declaring, “You need anger management help,” or leaving because you feel like he only needs anger management when he’s with you, isn’t likely to be received well.

    Read More: This relationship sounds like it could be abusive. Read more about Abusive Relationships here.

    Got a question you'd like to Ask a Marriage Counselor? Click here to submit it and I'll try to answer it in an up coming post. Be sure to Sign Up for Our Blog at the bottom of the page so you'll get my answer as soon as it's published.

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published October 03, 2010 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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