You’re having an absolutely lousy day. Work was awful, your car is making that squeaky noise again and you’re pretty sure you’re coming down with a cold. Your spouse is being entirely unreasonable, expecting you to get dinner together for the boss and his wife with no more than an hour’s notice. You can’t greet your newly invited guests when they arrive because—no big surprise—you’re hopping around with one shoe on frantically looking for the other one trying to get dressed. For this, the love-of-your-life bawls you out—surreptitiously of course, under the guise of "helping you" once you’re back in the kitchen.
When you try—biting your tongue very hard so as not to scream—to gently point out that you were moving as fast as you can, instead of the, "Oh, honey, so sorry I sprang this on you last-minute, you’re the best wife on earth to pull it off" you feel you deserve, you get a sarcastic "Yeah, right. Whatever."
At this point there is nothing you would like better than to yell bloody murder, grab the man formerly known as the love-of-your-life by the throat and throw him out the window. As a matter of fact, you'd even settle for just telling him off, as long as you could do it at top volume. But no, that little voice within you kicks in: "Now, this is your husband, he loves you, he’s just under a lot of stress, it is the boss after all," and so you just sigh, squashing all those feelings.
As saintly as it might seem, squashing angry feelings may end up killing you. There is a high correspondence between stuffed angry feelings, resentment—and cancer. Stuffing feelings can lead to heart attacks, ulcers, and various other highly unpleasant conditions.
"But I don't want to go around dumping my anger all over my husband!" you cry. Of course you don't, that would be highly inappropriate. Dumping would consist of yelling at your spouse and would be inappropriate. Dealing with your anger consists of expressing that same anger in a safe appropriate manner, and then communicating it safely and appropriately to your beloved is appropriate.
Express Your Anger Safely
Expressing your anger safely is most easily and effectively done either through writing your feelings in the form of a letter you never send, writing your feelings in your private journal, beating a pillow safely placed in the middle of your bed or in meditation.
The first three methods are fairly self-explanatory. Expressing your anger in meditation (my personal favorite) is done as follows: Sit in a quiet, comfortable room where you won't be disturbed for about 20 minutes (no phones, etc.). Close your eyes, relax your body, take three deep calming breaths. Then picture in your mind's eye your sweetheart, and yell at him. Say whatever it is you have to say, get physical with him in meditation if that feels right, beat him up, roll him in the mud. You cannot harm another being in meditation if your intent is to release anger. If your intent is that when you are done with the meditation, your husband will be crippled for life, then stop! Wrong intent.
As long as you are clear that your intent is the release of anger, all is well. Keep releasing until you feel "spent," then take a nice deep breath, open your eyes and there! You're done! No repressed stuffed anger to hurt you, and no dumping anger on your spouse at home where it could hurt both of you.
Effectively Communicate Your Feelings
Now that you've released the anger, figure out what you need to say to your husband. Make it specific, direct and goal oriented. By that I mean, don't be out for revenge or to make yourself "right." That won't work. Figure out what you want and go for that: "Honey, I'm confused. I want to help you out and support you in your goals. I’d like to talk about how we can do that more effectively." Be willing to negotiate to get what you need, as in get creative so neither one of you ends up painfully sacrificing what is dear to you.
By following these tips you can now be the good person you know yourself to be, and get anger off your chest and out of your system without losing your spouse. As Addison Walker says, "It's not true that nice guys finish last. Nice guys are winners before the game ever starts."
Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of nine best-selling books, including her most recent, "Your Man is Wonderful" (www.yourmaniswonderful.com) and "Dangerous Relationships." Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work. Visit www.noellenelson.com for more.