Acknowledging and dealing with anger

Anger can be frightening due to its intensity and possible consequences.

Anger can be expressed by verbally attacking the person you are upset with; shouting and screaming; using physical force such as hitting, pushing or punching the other person; or using controlling behaviours.

People who express their anger without restraint often claim that their anger takes over, and that they can't help their actions. It may feel as if anger is beyond your control, but in reality everyone can learn to control their response to anger.

Physical violence in intimate and family relationships is a serious criminal offence and is never acceptable as a response to conflict or provocation. If you feel unsafe, it is essential you get help. Get away if it is safe to do so, or call for help.

Police Emergency      000

1800 RESPECT        1800 737 732

Lifeline                       131 114

Mensline Australia      1300 789 978

Dealing with anger

If you find you are getting worked up and starting to argue, there are things you can do to prevent things getting out of hand:

  • if you are angry, it’s usually better to say so, rather than pretend you are not. Admitting to feelings of anger helps to get it out into the open, so you can address the problem
  • a verbal attack on your partner when you are angry is unlikely to help the situation
  • it’s ok to ask for 'time out' and encourage your partner to do the same if either of you feels too angry or upset to talk about the problem.  When you are calmer you can come back and try to sort things out
  • often there is something underneath the anger. It could be sadness, hurt, disappointment, or a sense of being let down or taken for granted. The underlying feeling will usually be a clue to the real issue that you and your partner need to work through
  • you might both have to back down a bit and make changes. There may be an angle on the situation that you haven't considered. Compromising is not a sign of weakness, it’s part of the give and take needed in a relationship
  • apologise when you are able to, though don't make your partner wait as a punishment. Saying sorry doesn't mean you are accepting all the responsibility
  • remember that your partner did not 'make you angry'.  He or she may have said or done something you didn't like, but you are angry - no-one forced you to feel that way. You can choose to learn how to react differently to things you don't like and be responsible for your own behaviour
  • ask yourself what you can learn from the conflict. This could lessen the chances of a similar conflict happening again.

If you want to find out more about Relationships Australia courses that focus on managing anger phone 1300 364 277.

Relationships Australia State and Territory websites

The views or opinions expressed in this information are general in nature and do not constitute professional advice. You may benefit from professional help to deal with individual and complex issues.