Are outbursts of anger and feelings of resentment taking a toll on your marriage?
If you long to get back to a more respectful and harmonious union with your soulmate please take the time to read this article. I am sure I will be able to set you on the right path to achieving these goals.
Once anger and resentment set into your marriage, it seems like there is nothing you can do to stop it. Unchecked anger is a powerful, destructive force that will keep on growing until it’s stopped.
As soon as anger comes up it will follow the law of momentum, just as a car that starts to roll down a hill. Before it has picked up speed you can still stop it with your hands and just a little effort, but once it gets going, you’ll get crushed if you try to step in front of it to stop it.
When anger does become an overwhelming factor in your relationship you may have found yourself asking, “Is this what I got married for?!” which makes you even angrier because now you’ve created a cycle of painful reminders of what made you angry. Ideas that come into an angry mind are toxic, and, even worse, are usually infectious.
In fact, shame on the so-called professionals who suggest repeating and sharing those toxic thoughts with others. All that will do is create more drama. Venting cannot eliminate anger; it merely spreads it around.
Once anger and its manifestations become habitual, which inevitably is what will happen, they will begin to ‘own’ you.
So how to solve this dilemma? To effectively eliminate anger and resentment from your marriage you need to understand what causes it (there is only one true cause). Then you need to apply specific and specialized tools and employ a proven process to make changes in your thinking.
Then your marriage will be permanently free of this plague.
Permanently eliminating anger from your life and marriage is something I’ve helped thousands of people to do, but without a true understanding, it’s not possible. You have to see your enemy to destroy him.
Even when you recognize it, in order to truly understand what you are dealing with, you’ll need to experiment with the various techniques and processes until, through your own personal experience and observations, you recognize which techniques work most effectively for you, and why.
You need to be able to observe your own anger. Knowing the science of anger and the cure is critical, but you have to see it fearlessly and face it. As an important side note, anger “management” should be avoided. That common approach is like having rats in your house, but “managing” them.
You need science, not baseless ideas.
Have you seen those old films of the first attempts at flight? Those brave guys didn’t understand aerodynamics so most of their efforts were fanciful and wasted, just trial and error. Then came the Wright brothers who studied aerodynamics using a scientific approach. They figured out the fundamentals of flying, such as lift, propulsion.
Why not be scientific about anger, too? I’m telling you, anger is not as big a problem as it now seems to you. Conquering it can be accomplished by understanding how it works and then using a proven method.
You will need to be proactive. That requires first learning about it, and then building a strong habit of implementing the correct “tools”.
In this article, we will answer the following questions:
- What is anger?
- What is the difference between anger and resentment?
- What can you do when your spouse is the angry person?
- How can you permanently resolve anger and resentment?
What Is Anger?
Anger, most simply defined, is an ‘instinctive reaction’. It is by and large ‘mechanical’ in nature. Anger is the mind’s instinctive reaction to thwarted desires, which then becomes habitual.
Don’t dismiss this definition because it sounds too simplistic. The unvarnished truth is that anger is nothing more than an instinctive mental reaction to your mind not getting its way. This knowledge alone will allow you to dispassionately dissect your own or another person’s anger. Then you will see yourself that this simple formula is 100% correct, 100% of the time.
Notice I wrote your mind is what is not getting its way. There is an important distinction between you and your mind. If you want to conquer anger, it is vital to recognize that you are not your mind. Your mind exists as a ‘separate’ part of you, a possession actually, that can and must be both observed and controlled.
Before you go any further, you must grasp the actual relationship between body, mind, and soul. This science is the key to unraveling the nature of anger. So, we will examine these parts of you in some more detail.
The Human Body
Everything that lives has a “drive-to-survive”; it is innate in every single living cell and collection of cells. Therefore, the human body which is a bundle of trillions of individual cells, each individually and/or collectively clamoring to survive, exemplifies this reality in open and hidden ways. Through observation, you can see how the mind is run by the drive-to-survive.
The singular goal for survival is utterly ruthless. All the cells of your body work in concert to constantly impose their survival-driven influence on your mind. This relationship between body and mind literally begins at conception and continues until the end of life. This hidden influence leads to powerful instinctual and emotional reactions, including the formation of detrimental habits of anger. But, don’t forget that the body, your body, is your possession. You have the ability, and responsibility, to maintain and control it, to keep it healthy and fit, as it carries you around throughout your life.
Having a body means you always have to deal with its constant demand for survival, and its demands will always try to override your conscious thoughts, words, and actions. The drive does not esoterically care about important, humane traits like common courtesy, selflessness, and opening your heart. Those are of no concern to the drive-to-survive’s compulsion to be safe.
Because we will never lose the drive-to-survive, it is our obligation to regulate it. This is a life-long task. You can and should master this unrelenting drive for survival, but, again, it takes specific efforts.
Minds, like computers, are “machines” that perceive, calculate, store, analyze etc. Like computers that have programs that are always running in the background; minds have hidden programs too, they are called habits.
Most of the mind’s work is hidden, running the things we take for granted, from regulating assimilation and elimination, to controlling heart flow and blood pressure. They quietly and continuously influence most of our behaviors, too.
The mind is neutral and impartial to whether the habit programs you ‘load’ are beneficial or destructive to your health, your marriage, or your life. As labor-saving programs, they automatically perform whatever they’re designed and trained to do, on auto-pilot. They don’t give you warnings or feedback. They just repeat their jobs, based on whatever criteria is included in the program.
The gift of habits is clearly a two-edged sword. Good habits are incredible helpers, but bad ones, like smoking, arguing, or substance abuse, can kill you or harm those closest to you.
Habits are created either consciously or subconsciously. They are trained to perform their tasks primarily through repetition. The more you do something, the deeper the habit becomes. Did you know habits actually form physical grooves in the brain? It’s true.
Due mostly to a lack of understanding, fed by the drive-to-survive, we watch and analyze how others behave but are nearly completely oblivious and indifferent to how we ourselves behave. Also, because most of our habits were established from subconscious intentions, we’re not aware of them even being habits.
In other words, our daily behavior is controlled through habitual programs we neither consciously chose, or are even aware of! Becoming consciously aware of your actions will help you curb bad habits, but being observant of the mind has to be learned and practiced. It must become a habit.
If you’ve already created a habit of defensiveness to something your spouse says or does, your mind will impartially play the program of an angry reaction, again and again, without a second thought. In fact, it will increase in intensity as the habit becomes more entrenched.
Remember the law of momentum? Simultaneously and secretly, right under your nose, the habit will also dump negative emotions into your mind, and caustic chemicals into your body.
Like the body, your mind is your possession. You have both the ability and responsibility to control it. (This vital and obvious fact should have been taught to us and reinforced when we were children).
If you don’t control your mind, the ‘animal’ body whose only goal is survival, will control your mind, robbing you of your free will. You can see how very strong the body’s influence is and that it literally runs most people’s lives without them knowing it.
For example, when the body requires sustenance, it takes over the untrained mind and starts clamoring for food. Often hungry people are short tempered, unintentionally angry, or even mean to those they love until they finally get something to eat. Their life is not in danger, yet they act as if it is because the drive-to-survive controls their behavior. Once fed, that person, no longer pushed around by the relentless drive, calms down.
When the body-driven mind wants to add the protection of numbers, it sends a message to the body to procreate, which, in turn, takes over the mind. Studies have demonstrated that ovulating women tend to dress more attractively than they would normally, and noted other visible body changes too, like slightly flushed cheeks. Shifts in behavior have also been noticed.
And we all know, and joke about, how men change their behavior when they want to “procreate”.
The body’s drive-to-survive secretly but surely, manipulates everyone’s mind to achieve its goals. But it remains your obligation to overrule these instincts whenever and wherever it makes sense, which will also help to change the habit.
Fear is the underlying energy that sets off anger. The body-mind alliance has one goal, to create safety and security. When the mind senses danger on behalf of the alliance, the drive-to-survive kicks in big time and uses anger to start pumping adrenaline around, putting you into fight-or-flight mode, without the need for any conscious thought. Whenever anything or anyone gets in the way of its mission to survive (so only when the mind doesn’t get its way), it reacts with anger.
Unfortunately for us, one thing that gets in the way of anger is reason, so the mind disconnects from that. And when the mind is left on autopilot (habits), you don’t think things through.
These unconscious inner habitual and instinctive behaviors are a huge problem in marriage because your programmed mind doesn’t recognize your spouse as any different from anyone else.
So when you are in an argument with your spouse, the same triggers and danger signals as if you were being mugged fire off. Your body gets ready to address the threat by fighting or flying, even if that “threat” is your harmless, sweet, loving spouse.
I hope you can now see the complexity of the dilemma you are in. The body and mind are your possessions. You have the ability and responsibility to control them, but since you haven’t done that, your body’s drive-to-survive presently and almost completely runs your life through the instincts and habits it has created. Any anger problem should be a wake-up call to this unequivocal fact.
The soul is what you are. You are undeniably a consciousness. You are a conscious being driving around in your body, with your mind as your faithful servant taking care of 95% of the body management for you. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. But like most people, you’ve been living on autopilot the whole time, and the body’s drive has been steering the mind, with you going along for the ride or asleep at the wheel.
Just because we talk about souls does not mean this is a religious discussion. Your faith is your business, and this topic is not about God. It is about the science behind your body/mind/soul that you need to understand in order to address anger. Each component has its role to play. Regardless whether you call yourself a soul or a consciousness, the point is you are not the mind, but you are its boss and your job is to run the show.
Feeling anger is a primal reaction of the body, because the mind is not getting its way. Your body becomes flooded with chemicals. The chemicals and reactions they cause eclipse the awareness of your true nature. But when you’re happy, your true nature of joy leaks from your hidden soul into your conscious awareness. The feelings of peace, joy, and bliss are the real you.
You feel this innate nature when you are stress-free, happy, loving, having fun with your friends and family, or when you are meditating, relaxing or sleeping. We were never taught any of this growing up, so all of us allow our minds to be ruled by the drive-to-survive instinct until we finally pick up the reigns and start taking control of our minds. The bottom line is clear: either you tell your mind what to do, or your body’s drive will be your master.
Now that you understand what causes anger, you’ll be able to see it more clearly in your own life for what it is. You are not an angry person, not even when it owns you. Anger is an unwelcome guest that you can kick out of your life. You are a soul: joy, peace, calmness, and ultimately Love, with a capital ‘L’.
What Is The Difference Between Anger And Resentment?
Resentment is not the same thing as raw, reactive anger. Resentment is a form of anger that is not reactive; it’s not mechanically instinctive like primal anger. Rather, it is more of an ‘emotion’ that keeps the mind on high alert because of a subconscious fear of attack. Essentially, it is a habit of tense cautionary waiting; as in waiting for the next offense or waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Think of the triggers embedded in your mind as guards on the front line. Their job is to warn the mind when you are being attacked. External events ignite triggers, but it’s important to know that outer events are not the cause of anger. The cause of anger is always the reactive trigger.
Because the mind is hyper-sensitive about protecting you, it prepares the body and mind for all-out war at the drop of a hat; it’s hyper vigilant! But because the chemicals it releases during anger reactions are super stimulants that have a caustic side effect, minds only sustain the high alert for so long. Otherwise, the body will suffer from the side effects, sometimes irreversibly.
So, nature implanted a mechanism to take over: emotions. Longer-term protection kicks in as the emotion called resentment. It takes a lot of energy to maintain, just like a general who maintains a perimeter defense; it drains resources.
Resentment, you might say, is a continual flashing yellow “watch out” light, keeping you on your toes. It is acidic, eating away at your peace and happiness. And almost always, the person you resent is completely unaware of your emotions towards them. They feel no effect whatsoever.
Whether you are suffering from reactive anger or the anger has settled in as resentment, there is one irrefutable fact you must remember at all times:
There is NOTHING on the outside that can cause anger or resentment. It is caused only by the triggers in your mind.
A trigger is pushed when your mind does not get its way. That’s all anger is.
Let’s explore this idea further. Children get angry the moment they don’t get their way. BAM! The triggers go off. They have no filters, no maturity. As they grow up, the little things that caused a child to get upset no longer matter to the adult. How often is it that you still see an elderly person really upset?! Unfortunately, many adults still haven’t learned how to handle their anger yet.
Gandhi is a great example of one who worked on controlling his mind so it never got angry, not even when he was shot. He blessed his attacker as he went down and died. He was in charge of his mind. You too have this same essential capability; you just have to learn and practice how to develop new habits.
What Can You Do When Your Wife Or Husband Is Always Angry And Negative?
People often complain about how their wife or husband gets really angry over little things. They call them over-sensitive, cranky, or whatever. Sometimes their spouse can even be downright mean. Perhaps this is because they were raised badly and don’t care about anyone but themselves. As we live in a “what about me?” world, there are a lot of these people around.
But, who wants to walk on eggshells all the time? Who wants to be afraid that a ticking time bomb can go off at any moment? But until you see their behavior objectively and realize that it is your spouse who has the anger problem not you, you are making yourself a victim. You are not victimized by them, but by yourself.
The first thing is to gain some objectivity. Start to see them as an observer would.
One lady wrote to our counselors, (and you can write to them too), “my husband’s anger is ruining my marriage!”. We get it! This is a big problem! However, the problem was not what she thought it was (namely her husband).
This was a common situation that can be handled. Like most people who do not know about the body, mind, and soul relationship, she took everything personally. Unthinkingly identifying herself as the mind instead of as a soul, she allowed his negative behavior to push her triggers, that in turn caused her negative reactions. If she were objective, her first reaction would be sympathy for her husband and his issue. She would have trained her mind to not be impacted.
I know it might sound crazy right now, but it does only to the drive-to-survive controlled mind. Souls only love, they don’t react. So, identifying as a soul or a consciousness that owns and controls the body and mind is the first step. This is the difference between a rattled cage and calm seas.
Remember, the issue is always the trigger inside the mind. So, if your spouse is angry, it is not actually your problem; it’s theirs. The part that is your problem is that their outward reactions of yelling, criticizing, cold shoulders, etc, are hitting YOUR triggers. Can you now see this?
When your children are angry for silly reasons, (you cut their sandwich the wrong way, or their toy isn’t good enough, etc) do you feel like it is ruining your family? Does their anger ruin your day, cause you to resent them, or to close off your heart to them? No, of course not. You simply deal with them lovingly as they work through their own issues. You hope that over time they will mature enough to handle their anger in a better way. But ideally, you should teach them how to handle their emotions so they can deal with them effectively and become psychologically healthy adults.
Similarly, with your angry spouse, your job is two-fold:
- You must deal with your own triggers by controlling your reactions. Allowing yourself to react to their negative behavior will only degrade your marriage further. If you can do it with your children, you can do it with your spouse.
- Your job is to be loving. Not a teacher or a disciplinarian as you are with your children. Your role is to understand and support your spouse while they are suffering from and working through their own issue. Recognize your spouse is suffering and needs love, now more than ever.
Lovingly supporting them could mean giving them space when they are angry, or doing things that would be useful to them, such as helping them with their responsibilities. All criticism, negativity, nagging, and expectations from your side should be non-existent. Only positive and loving words should be expressed, but never to reinforce bad behavior.
Next, you could subtly suggest they read this article. Share it by writing something like, “I found this article helpful for me, and thought you might like to read it too.”
How To Permanently Resolve Anger And Resentment In Your Marriage
Sometimes, even knowing how things work scientifically is not enough to formulate an effective strategy. I personally struggled unsuccessfully to control my anger for over 10 years. It wasn’t until I started helping clients with their marriages that I devised a process that not only helped them but finally helped me too. The process is this:
- Pay attention to your mental reactions. Learn to become aware of your reactions as they are happening. You cannot stop what you are not aware of. You can increase your awareness by observing your mind and choosing not to go along with what it wants you to do. This is very important. You should learn some calming techniques to help you manage your mind. You may even want to learn to meditate; I did.
- Use a reliable technique to stop negative reactions and feelings. Start by keeping your mouth shut. But with better tools, you can go further to actually stop the feelings.
- Establish a new pattern of behavior. Redirect the negative energy into a positive, loving response. Using the right tools will, over time, create a strong habit that will automatically stop reactive anger before it starts and allow you to consciously choose a loving way to respond.
This simple process I’ve laid out is what I have proven works in my own life and in those of my clients. This is something you can do all on your own.
To summarize, the process is to first become aware of your own triggers and reactions as they happen, then learn to stop those reactions, and finally turn that positive behavior into a new habit.
I recognize though that for some people, this isn’t enough information. You might not want to do it on your own, or you might want to learn the techniques and tools that we use with our clients. So, I created a system that will take those of you who want more through the process step by step.
My system starts working right away. It teaches you all the best techniques I’ve found or devised to control your emotions and mind and uproot and replace bad habits with good ones.
And it does so much more than just help you resolve all the anger and resentment in your marriage. You will learn how to communicate far more effectively and lovingly. You will fully understand yourself and your spouse. You will enrich your marriage more than you probably think is possible right now.
Though you could address your anger on your own, my online course will save you a lot of time by walking you through the exact steps I used with my one-on-one clients to save their marriages. There’s no need for trial and error because what I teach has already been proven by thousands of students.
My course also comes with access to special counselors I have personally trained. They are available to guide you according to my principles whenever you need it.
The course and counseling service costs a nominal fee of course, but it is far cheaper and far more effective than traditional marriage counseling or anger management courses.
One final piece of information for you:
The primary techniques I teach to control your mind and emotions are available to you for free, in the first part of my course! You can get it by signing up for the free trial. Learn for a few days at no cost before deciding if you want to continue with the rest of the course. Please read about and sign up for the trial of my 12 week marriage saving system here.
Finally, if you’d like more advice for your marriage beyond the anger issue, I suggest you get my free Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Marriage, which is available right below this post. It contains the most critical lessons we’ve learned through saving countless marriages over the last 15 years. If you just stop doing the Don’ts and start doing the Do’s, then in no time you’ll be in a far better place than where you are today.
My best, always,