life advice
The Secret Meaning of Anger in a Marriage
Anger can often be a source of something deeper. Use this checklist to determine where your anger is coming from and learn how you can allow for more flexibility in your marriage.

Few of us live with a spouse who is a mind reader. Consequently, two people with differing mindsets will express their strong opinions paving the way for change and compromise. However, when anger is always present during a "discussion," did you know that anger could signal sadness? It is important to recognize and understand the difference. Anger can choke off communication. In addition, anger can disguise a lack of personal empowerment. On the other hand, sadness can indicate that it is time to independently climb that slippery slope of self-esteem and assume responsibility for personal happiness.

Sadness in a marriage is often easier for the other person to cope with than anger. The person you live with, who cares about you, will try to remedy the situation by understanding what you are experiencing. However, anger often degenerates into a shouting match and your spouse will tune out unable to hear what you are really saying. You are out of relationship rhythm and therefore lose the common ground to work things out.

Worthy to note that many who feel angry along with a simmering resentment donít realize that they are really sad according to Dr. Keith Sanfordís study in the Journal of Family Psychology, "The Communication of Emotion During Conflict in Married Couples." Sanford explains, "If a couple falls into a climate of anger, they tend to continue expressing anger regardless of how they actually feel . . . It becomes a kind of a trap they cannot escape." How difficult to deal with two emotions one layered on top of the other! Anger makes sadness more difficult to perceive.

The next time you are angry, try this checklist to distinguish what is truly bothering you:

Are you really angry, or do you feel sad that you allowed yourself to be hurt?

When you feel angry, do you feel so angry that there are tears in your eyes?

When you honestly reflect, do you often criticize your spouse? Is it usually his or her fault?

When you fail at something do you feel inadequate?

Do you feel if you say no to a family member or friend, you will not be well-liked?

Do you speak on the phone to a family member or friend, even if it is not a good time for you?

Do you experience physical aches and pains that come and go?

Do you feel if you revealed the truth, for example that you are being taken advantage of, that you are showing weakness?

Love has low points. If you have too high expectations for others, they will inevitably disappoint you. Love has to changeóit simply canít stand still. Allow for more flexibility in your relationship. Everyone changes throughout the years. You need to be conscious of the change in yourself and your spouse to keep writing new chapters in your life story. I suggest a romantic comedy.

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of "Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life," "Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout" and "Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul," a stress-reduction specialist, a radio show host and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit:

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