Home' Nova West : August 2010 Contents 14
© NOVA AUGUST 2010
All couples fight. That's a given.
And it's not actually a bad thing,
contrary to popular belief. The
problems occur when individuals
don't know how to fight in a positive way.
Very few of us were taught as children how
to manage anger so as adults, we either
repress it or express it inappropriately.
In looking at ways to disagree positively,
we need to firstly understand the nature of
What is anger?
Anger is usually classified as a negative
emotion but it is, in fact, just energy and no
different to any other. All emotion is good
to the table, listen carefully to the other
and then be prepared to brainstorm
solutions. Compromise, of course, is
essential. Once a strategy has been agreed,
it needs a trial period, after which it can be
reassessed. This may sound tedious, but
it prevents a build-up of resentment over
Individually, we need to take responsibly
for our own anger.
If we allow it to bottle up, it will
indeed run over and spill onto others. As
with regular exercise, we should learn
strategies of positive anger management
so that it's part of our everyday life, not
something we trot out when we are
in a bind. Physical release is good as
in playing sport, having enjoyable past
times, laughing, playing, talking out our
concerns, practising positive thinking,
being with nature, relaxing, stress
management overall. Writing out our
frustrations is very powerful because
even the worst day, when viewed in
a clear perspective, can be released
when written down. Deep breathing,
relaxation, swimming, yoga and tai chi,
whatever works for you, are all useful.
After the battle
We can't leave this discussion without
touching on how to cope with the
aftermath if anger does spill over and
there's an actual fight. I assume that I need
not emphasise the need to completely
avoid physical lashing out and verbal
abuse. These have no place in positive
fighting and healthy relationships. When
tempers flare, and they will sometimes
no matter how enlightened we are, it
is essential that the positivity continues
beyond the fight. Prolonged discussions in
anger are to be avoided at all costs. When
emotions accelerate, one or both people
should call time-out. I'm often asked this
question: "Should I walk out if I can see
the fight is building into a nasty exchange?"
My answer is yes but not as a copping-out.
Storming out is not the answer. Calling a
time-out is, with the promise to re-address
the quarrel the next day when emotions
have died down. A spirit of reconciliation
and forgiveness is also essential as holding
onto ill feelings, grudges and bad moods
prolongs the quarrel and creates further
Positive fighting is an important
aspect of human interaction in general
and close relationships in particular. It's
a skill worth pursuing and practising. It
is not about avoidance or glossing over
problems, but rather a practical and
healthy strategy for understanding our
individual and relationship issues, then
working them out together so as to reduce
conflict and avoid the erosion of love and
Here again are the main ingredients needed
for this valuable life skill:
❤ good communication
❤ listening ability
❤ self worth
❤ generosity of spirit/forgiveness
❤ stress management
❤ mutual respect
❤ resolving old baggage
❤ sense of humour
❤ acceptance and tolerance
❤ conflict resolution
Charmaine is willing to answer your relationship questions
to appear in NOVA Maga zine, both in print and online.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fighting and part of the human experience. It only
becomes negative when we hold onto it,
try to suppress it and control it or, on the
other hand, let it take us over. Every person
has a dark side and when we accept it, we
are free from its tyranny. When we judge
and criticise our feelings, we give them far
more power. So it's not about stopping or
hiding anger. It's about accepting it and
learning how to harness it in a way that is
not destructive. We can begin this task by
making a distinction between anger and
temper. Anger is a feeling; temper is the
negative expression of that anger.
Anger in relationships
In relationships, anger is natural because
the people closest to us are most likely
to press our most sensitive buttons. But
anger can be a pointer to resolution. It
shows up differences, yes, but also can help
us make things better. For without passion,
there can only be indifference.
Let's by all means argue, let's disagree
-- it's okay. We just need to learn some skills
of combat, such as good communication,
listening ability, self worth, generosity of
spirit, stress management, mutual respect,
resolving old baggage, acceptance and
tolerance, honesty, conflict resolution.
Armed with these, we can indeed fight
Often, when we feel anger, it is not caused
by a present moment but rooted in the
past. It can relate to another person,
another time and another grievance. A
common example occurs when a man is
told off by his boss, goes home and yells
at his wife or children. This outburst may
have been triggered by a relatively small
incident within the home, but is actually
caused by the stress of his outside life.
Once we see this in our own behaviour,
we hopefully can take a breath, stop and
express our frustration differently.
Instead of waiting for anger to erupt,
possibly leading to a fight, the partners in
a marriage should discuss disagreements
and differences without emotion. Each
person should bring their separate issues
Dr Charmaine Saunders.
Building stronger relationships with counsellor Dr Charmaine Saunders.
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