Anger Management: Calming The Storm

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Dr. Darcy-

Me and my fiancé have been going through some issues lately, mainly because of me. I've been busy with school and needless to say not very attentive. I've been exhausted to the point of sickness and she begs me to rest and I don't [because I have] to get work done. And when I try to stay awake for her, I end up passing out.

I have horrible anger issues, and I have a bad way of expressing emotions, so I tend to bottle it in so that I don't take it out on her, but I end up yelling at her anyways. I've had a stutter for a long time so I struggle to speak and end up interrupting her. Not on purpose, it just happens. She feels like she doesn't have a voice and should not talk about her feelings or even speak up. She doesn't blame me for anything and says I'm perfect no matter what. I feel like an asshole and a like a total bitch for treating her so horribly. I don't think I deserve her. I want to be better for her but nothing I try works. I've tried talking about my feelings with her, but it ends badly and in the end me apologizing for saying something stupid because I can't express emotions correctly. I don't know what to do. Can you help?

ANSWER

Yes, I can help. I too have battled anger and I remember how frustrating it was to have a legitimate complaint but because I lacked the ability to express myself properly, it would invariably be overshadowed by my outburst and my original point would never be addressed. And then came the guilt over how I treated a loved one. It’s an awful cycle. So let’s get you out.

On some level, you’re trying to exhaust yourself. Anger needs energy for expression and if you deplete yourself enough, if you check out of the relationship enough, you’re less likely to fuck up. But that’s not fixing the real issue.

To fix the real issue you need 2 things: First, you need to up your self-care so that your body has what it needs to operate properly. You need to be kinder to your body, not masochistic via: overworking. You need to make sure you’re getting the proper amount of sleep, the proper amount of and types of food, and you need to work out a minimum of 4 times weekly so that your stress has a physical outlet. This needs to start yesterday – not tomorrow. Understood?

The second thing you need is a great couple’s counselor who can teach you how to communicate. It’s ironic that you have the speech disorder and your girlfriend’s the one who doesn’t feel like she has a voice. You’re like the poster children for Imago Therapy (to find a therapist near you, click this link). In Imago, you’ll learn how not to interrupt (it’s called impulse control, it’s very annoying to have to build this muscle but once you do, you’ll feel like you have a fucking superpower), which you’ll be able to do once you’re confident that you’ll get your chance to speak.  If money is not an issue, I’d recommend you work with someone individually as well to get a jumpstart on your progress.

At the end of the day, your girlfriend does you no favors by excusing your behavior. You’re not perfect – you’re in need of some relationship and communication skills, and so is she for that matter. You owe it to yourselves to get your needs met.

Writer’s stats: Female, Lesbian.