Bend Relationship Counselor Divorce Predictors: Part 5 – Anger

May 12, 2014 by

In the last several posts, we’ve been focusing on common divorce predictors. If you’ve been following along since the beginning, you’ve already read about the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” – contempt, criticism, stonewalling, and defensiveness. Typically, those are the only “main” predictors that counselors, therapists, and amateur love gurus focus on, but in my experience working with patients at my practice, there’s another big predictor that needs to be discussed – anger.

How Anger Can Drive Couples Apart


The first thing to note when talking about anger in a relationship is that the emotion in and of itself is not unhealthy. In fact, it’s incredibly important that both partners feel like they can express their emotions, even if those emotions are frustration and anger. Most complaints – even healthy ones – stem from a place of frustration and anger, and when people in relationships attempt to bury their anger completely to avoid causing friction and problems, often it ends up leading to a blow-up that wouldn’t have occurred if they’d simply dealt with the thing that originally bothered them.

That being said, far too many people have a lot of trouble expressing their anger in a healthy manner. According to the Human Abuse Prevention Council, physical or verbal violence is present in somewhere between 25-50% of all relationships. It’s a frightening statistic, but not all that surprising if you stop to think that things like name-calling and badgering can be considered forms of verbal abuse when taken too far. Out-of-control anger drives people apart because it can lead to…

  1. Even if the spouse with anger management issues isn’t directly attacking their partner, frequent or extreme blow-ups can cause the other person to live in fear of what might happen if they accidentally push the wrong buttons or step out of line. Because of this, they keep their complaints to themselves and withdraw from the relationship.
  2. Some people with anger issues completely lose track of those around them when they experience an episode, but others are well aware of the impact that their anger has and they exploit it. In their twisted logic, if their partner is afraid of them he or she will strive to be better and avoid setting them off.

Physical abuse. No forms of abuse should ever be acceptable behavior, but the second someone causes you actual physical harm, you owe it to yourself to leave the situation immediately. Not only is it the best thing for you, walking out on an abuser can sometimes cause them to “wake up” and get the help they need.

Frequent or extreme outbursts of anger should always be taken seriously, and it’s best to work with a Bend relationship counselor who knows the best methods and can keep the situation calm and in control.