Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She's the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
Are you always walking on eggshells around your emotional, irritable, powder-keg of a partner?
Is your partner “always angry?” Does it feel like you're walking on eggshells in your relationship? This is a difficult communication dynamic that brings many couples to the online marriage counselor's office, for sure.
If you're dealing with this relationship problem, you've probably become more careful and guarded around your partner over time. You love them, and want them to be happy, but it seems like you can never do anything right. Or, at least, not for long. Then something happens and they're mad at you again.
All you want is peace and harmony, but it can start to feel impossible when you're living with someone who seems to always be upset about something. If it's been going on for a while, you might feel increasingly helpless about how to make things better between you.
Or, if this has been going on for a REALLY long time, you might have begun to think that your partner is just a cranky, overly emotional, possibly irrational, chronically unhappy person for whom nothing will ever be good enough. You may even be wondering if it's time to call it quits in this relationship. If that's the case, I'm very happy that you've found this podcast — we have no time to waste!
The Pursue / Withdrawal Relationship Dynamic
First of all, you should know that having one partner in a relationship that “pursues” and one who “withdraws” is a very common communication dynamic, and one that experienced marriage counselors can help you with. (Particularly those who are well-versed in evidence based forms of marriage counseling such as the Gottman Method, or Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.
Even though it feels so hard when you're going through this kind of communication problem, it is something that many couples resolve successfully. There is no reason why you can't do it too — and when you do, your relationship can be stronger than ever before. But like all relationship problems, it is unlikely to resolve on its own. You need some knowledge and basic skills before it will get better.
And that's what we're going to work on today: In part two of our “Communication Problems, and How to Fix Them” mini-podcast series, we're going be talking about how to tame the tiger glaring at you from across the living room, and bring the peace back into your home. If you haven't already, please listen to the first podcast in this series (posted last week) to learn about some of the basic concepts that we'll be building on today. Then, we'll talk about:
- Why your partner seems angry, irritable, critical, or hostile.
- What this dynamic does to your relationship, and the damage it can do unless you take action to stop it.
- What you can do to restore the emotional trust in your relationship, and start having conversations again — instead of fights.
I sincerely hope that this communication advice helps the two of you, and makes it easier for you to talk to each other.
With love and respect,
P.S. One easy, low key way to start creating positive change in your relationship is to do relationship building activities with your partner. You can listen to this podcast together, or invite them to take our “How Healthy is Your Relationship Quiz” with you, to get the conversational ball rolling.
P.P.S. Of course, trying to talk with your partner about their anger issues may or may not be a good idea. As I discuss in this podcast, while the ideas, tools and techniques I offer are very effective for helping resolve garden-variety communication problems there are situations in which it is not appropriate for you to try these out. For example, there is a big difference between “angry,” and “abusive.” If you are in a relationship where you or someone in your home is experiencing verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse you don't need a podcast — you need professional help. Please visit my “emergency resources” page to get started in finding a competent mental health professional in your community. Xo, LMB
Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast
Communication Problems and How to Fix Them, Part 2: The Angry Partner
Music Credits: “Violet,” by Hole