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User Topic: How to respond to anger
1bigidiot79
♂ Member
Member # 40557
Default  Posted: 1:45 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I guess I should have asked this question a long time ago. With some recent revelations my BW did not know about things around our house have been a little crazy the last few days. I will admit I struggle with the roller coaster. We had hit sort of a plateau with the anger until this past weekend and it is back with a vengeance, rightfully so.

My question is when she loses it and cannot control it what do you do? I seem to make it worse no matter what I do or say. If I try to be compassionate it pisses her off because I'm sidestepping the issue. If I try to explain anything I'm just making excuses. If I get mad then I'm being an asshole. If I keep quiet then I must not even care. NO WIN.

Just today we were texting and I was accused of being selfish. I tried to explain my true feelings and explain I was not being selfish and I really am putting her and her needs first but with each text I could feel her getting hotter and hotter until it was just an explosion. I just apologized and told her I loved her and I was sorry for hurting her again and tried to just diffuse the situation best I could. Long story short the conversation is over and she's not talking to me and will probably be pissed for a few days now.

I know I've just got to ride it out but is there anything I can do to keep her from escalating so quickly next time? Nothing seems to work. I wish we could just talk calmly and rationally about things but we just don't seem to be anywhere close to that.


DDay 7/23/13
TT on 3/5/14 - Finally came completely clean
Finally working on making real changes in my life, one day at a time.

Posts: 153 | Registered: Sep 2013 | From: United States
painfulpast
♀ Member
Member # 41038
Default  Posted: 2:08 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Ugh - that's a rough one. I've been there, and those spirals are on autopilot once they start. I can remember even saying to myself "Don't do this - you're just causing a fight and this is going to ruin the next few days, and for what?" and even when saying this, the texts would keep going.

Please just remember that these angry outbursts are your wife's pain coming out. Anger, as described to my by a counselor I saw, is a secondary emotion. In other words, we are never truly 'angry', but instead we are covering up another emotion. Examples - someone cuts us off in traffic, nearly causing an accident. We are immediately scared, and it quickly turns to anger to hide the fear. Someone calls us a name in front of other people. We are hurt and embarrassed. We become angry as a mask for the hurt and embarrassment. Someone steals something from you. You feel violated, devalued, and unsafe. You feel that your time and valuables are not meaningful or respected by others. These feelings are hidden by our anger. She said anger hides another emotion we either can't or don't want to show.

Anger from a BS is usually the deep hurt caused by the betrayal. It's feeling taken for granted, not mattering, being deceived, feeling unloved, unattractive, undesired. It's so many things, and it's overwhelming. Often, a BS turns to anger to hide these deep emotions and yet still find an outlet to release some of them. This was what my text rants were always about - releasing some of my pent up hurt feelings. I would sit on them, and sit on them, and then explode.

I wish I could tell you how to calm to waters when you see the waves start breaking. All I can say is, please don't get angry or defensive. If she says something that's incorrect, wait until later to discuss it. In that mindset, for me anyway, anything other than repeated apologies was only gasoline on the fire. Even the apologies got some gasoline, but not as much. It really was an uncontrollable spiral.

I suggest, for tonight, waiting another half hour and then sending a sincere apology. One that says more than simply "I'm sorry", but maybe about how you understand where her pain comes from, and that you're so very sorry for hurting her and that you'll keep trying to make her feel safe for the rest of your life.

Of course, you know your wife. This might just set her off again. Take it slow, and remember that the outbursts are her pain coming out.

You'll get there. It's just a long road.


It's so easy to believe someone when they're telling you exactly what you want to hear.....

Posts: 1730 | Registered: Oct 2013 | From: East Coast
Jovie
♀ Member
Member # 41956
Default  Posted: 2:24 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Are you able to ask her about it when things are calm?

I tend to be quiet/tearful, etc when BH is angry, but he's told me recently that he would prefer it if I spoke up more. Even though to me it feels like I'm making excuses, he just wants to hear about how I'm feeling.

If he hadn't said that, I'd continue the way I had been but now I try to step out of my comfort zone in order to help him in the way he'd prefer.


Me - WW, 33
Him - BH, 37
Dday - 12/16/13

Posts: 211 | Registered: Jan 2014
silentscream13
♀ Member
Member # 41693
Default  Posted: 2:32 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

First, I mean this very gently...

As I am only 3 months out from DDay and a BS myself, I understand why your wife is so upset.

You wrote that there were recent revelations. This is TT. TT is so very harmful to the BS. It makes us feel like it is DDay all over again. The pain, anger and despair feel like the day we found out. I am not your BW, so I can only assume this is why her feelings are so erratic and why she cannot speak candidly or rationally about it.

Secondly, whenever my WH tries to comfort me, explain, etc. I can also become angry or defensive. Often times, I will sling words so fast at my WH, he feels attacked. He used to get angry and defensive or feel lost like you seem to feel.

Now, thanks to our MC and his hard work, he has found some things that help me (and therefore himself).

First, he does not give me an explanation unless I ask one of him. This way I don't feel as though he is justifying his actions and he doesn't feel that I am accusing him of things he did not do.

Second, he always shows compassion, but never sympathy. I do not want sympathy. There is a difference. Sympathy makes me feel like he is seeing me as weak. However, he always asks what he can do to help me. He never holds me or touches me when I am upset without asking me first.

Third, if he feels himself becoming defensive, he tells me that he is getting upset, that he needs a minute to calm down. Honestly, often times when he walks away after he tells me this and comes back it has given me a moment to calm down. We will either continue our conversation like adults or if emotions are still high, table it for later.

Lastly, ask her for a list of her boundaries. I gave my husband a very generic one, but he has learned to follow it.

I told him: Sometimes I will be angry, let me be angry. Sometimes I will feel sad, let me be sad. And when I ask to be alone, let me be alone. Very simple boundaries that have made our lives much easier.

You, most likely like my husband, need to learn that you cannot fix this situation. The damage has been done. The home gutted. The only thing you can fix is yourself. Your BW must fix herself. Then you both can decide if you want to rebuild.

My WH says it is a hard pill to swallow that he cannot fix this, but he can help me heal. You can do the same for your BW. I hope this helps a little. Just give her time. And please, no more TT. It hurts more than it helps her.


ME: BS- 39; HIM: WS - 40 (lostmymind13)
OW: TechnicallyMarriedEx-GF - 47
Sexting,OEA/NO PA (but was planning it before he got caught)
D-day - 11-14-13
Together: Almost 18 years; Married: Almost 15 years
4 Children
Apologies: I edit. Often.

Posts: 213 | Registered: Dec 2013 | From: Nowhere and Everywhere
1bigidiot79
♂ Member
Member # 40557
Default  Posted: 2:43 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I've been there, and those spirals are on autopilot once they start. I can remember even saying to myself "Don't do this - you're just causing a fight and this is going to ruin the next few days, and for what?" and even when saying this, the texts would keep going.
This is exactly what happens.

First, he does not give me an explanation unless I ask one of him. This way I don't feel as though he is justifying his actions and he doesn't feel that I am accusing him of things he did not do.
This is a good idea I think and one I'll definitely take to heart. I find myself wanting to explain things to help when I know she is so angry nothing rational is going to help.

Second, he always shows compassion, but never sympathy. I do not want sympathy. There is a difference. Sympathy makes me feel like he is seeing me as weak. However, he always asks what he can do to help me. He never holds me or touches me when I am upset without asking me first.
This is interesting and something I've never really thought about. I need to give that some thought to see if that's something I'm doing or not. Not really sure. I see what you are saying though as you don't want to feel belittled but you do want to know your husband cares about how you feel.

Third, if he feels himself becoming defensive, he tells me that he is getting upset, that he needs a minute to calm down. Honestly, often times when he walks away after he tells me this and comes back it has given me a moment to calm down. We will either continue our conversation like adults or if emotions are still high, table it for later.
I have employed this one but probably not enough. And I need to probably employ it during the text conversations but it seems weird for some reason when we are texting like I'm just ignoring her and leaving her there to stew over it. Might need to give it a try though.

Thanks for the responses. I do realize that some parts of this cannot be helped regardless of how I respond and like painfulpast said, I have to remember this is her pain coming out. I would rather her get it out than continue to harbor it.


DDay 7/23/13
TT on 3/5/14 - Finally came completely clean
Finally working on making real changes in my life, one day at a time.

Posts: 153 | Registered: Sep 2013 | From: United States
silentscream13
♀ Member
Member # 41693
Default  Posted: 3:12 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

And I need to probably employ it during the text conversations but it seems weird for some reason when we are texting like I'm just ignoring her and leaving her there to stew over it. Might need to give it a try though.

What about avoiding text conversations all together. Use texting only for necessary conversations, like "Will you pick up some milk?" or "What time will you be home?"

I only suggest this, because both of our ICs said that we should only have conversations face to face. If that is not possible, then speak on the phone. It is too easy to misconstrue someone's words or misinterpret someone's intentions via text. At least on the phone, you can hear the tone of someone's voice.

Texting is a huge trigger for me and causes many problems. So we now do what our ICs suggested.

Just a thought.


ME: BS- 39; HIM: WS - 40 (lostmymind13)
OW: TechnicallyMarriedEx-GF - 47
Sexting,OEA/NO PA (but was planning it before he got caught)
D-day - 11-14-13
Together: Almost 18 years; Married: Almost 15 years
4 Children
Apologies: I edit. Often.

Posts: 213 | Registered: Dec 2013 | From: Nowhere and Everywhere
mainlyinpain
♀ Member
Member # 39134
Default  Posted: 3:42 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

First, kudos to you for trying to figure this out. I think someone already said this better, but when you said:

"Just today we were texting and I was accused of being selfish. I tried to explain my true feelings and explain I was not being selfish and I really am putting her and her needs first but with each text I could feel her getting hotter and hotter until it was just an explosion. I just apologized and told her I loved her and I was sorry for hurting her again"

When she says she feels something, that you are being selfish...this is what she is feeling. When your response is that you were not selfish....what happens to her feeling that you were? Instead of defending yourself, at that time, try to validate what she is feeling. She feels you were being selfish. Say you are so sorry that she feels that.. ask her what makes her feel that. Tell her you never want to appear selfish and put yourself before her. Ask if there is any other way you are doing this. Tell her to let you know if it is happening so it can stop and not hurt her. You get the picture. Validate validate validate. Your apologizing and telling her you love her is great. First let her own her feelings. Let her know they are important.


DD 1 - 7/7/2004
DD 2 - 10/31/2011
DD 3 - 4/30/2013(or continuation?)(Yes)
DD 4 - 9/25/2013
DD 5 - 2/15/2014 (found phone from 2009)

Posts: 481 | Registered: Apr 2013 | From: Midwest
painfulpast
♀ Member
Member # 41038
Default  Posted: 3:47 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

mainlyinpain,

great advice. Thanks for posting it. I think I'll get some mileage from it as well.


It's so easy to believe someone when they're telling you exactly what you want to hear.....

Posts: 1730 | Registered: Oct 2013 | From: East Coast
1bigidiot79
♂ Member
Member # 40557
Default  Posted: 3:53 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

When she says she feels something, that you are being selfish...this is what she is feeling. When your response is that you were not selfish....what happens to her feeling that you were? Instead of defending yourself, at that time, try to validate what she is feeling. She feels you were being selfish. Say you are so sorry that she feels that.. ask her what makes her feel that. Tell her you never want to appear selfish and put yourself before her. Ask if there is any other way you are doing this. Tell her to let you know if it is happening so it can stop and not hurt her. You get the picture. Validate validate validate. Your apologizing and telling her you love her is great. First let her own her feelings. Let her know they are important.
Wow. Good grief, how I wish I knew how to communicate like that all the time. I will definitely try to work on this.

Thanks for the advice.


DDay 7/23/13
TT on 3/5/14 - Finally came completely clean
Finally working on making real changes in my life, one day at a time.

Posts: 153 | Registered: Sep 2013 | From: United States
Kelany
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Member # 34755
Default  Posted: 5:21 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

First, stop the texting conversations. They always devolve. I've said some horrible things I would not say to my husband's face.

Second, validate her feelings, don't defend unless she's calling you an ax murderer.


BS - Me
SA/FWH Him
DDay 1 - Jul 11
DDay 2 - Jul 12
R Dec 12

Former 80s Icon wishful thinking


Posts: 2031 | Registered: Feb 2012
SpotlessMind
♀ Member
Member # 41775
Default  Posted: 5:23 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Actually, her saying you are being selfish is a thought, not a feeling. Maybe if she could express her feelings instead, it would actually help, and make you feel less defensive? (Sorry to nitpick--it's just something I'm working on at the moment, so I am hyper aware). If you can replace "feel" with "think" in the sentence, it's a thought. Her feelings will always be right, as they belong to her. There is no arguing them. Thoughts, on the other hand, are open to assumption and perception, and as such, are definitely up for disagreement.

Second--I'd definitely suggest nixing the arguments by text. My IC says the same thing--texts are for checking in or requesting a quick stop on the way home. You can't read body language, tone is misconstrued, and they get confusing and jumbled when flying fast. I think almost all of my husband's and my worst fights all originated via text.


fWS/BS--me
BH/WH--him
Married: 12 yrs
D-Day: October
Kids: yes

Posts: 277 | Registered: Dec 2013 | From: Where am I?
20WrongsVs1
♀ Member
Member # 39000
Default  Posted: 5:52 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Wow. Good grief, how I wish I knew how to communicate like that all the time.

Wishing ain't gonna make it happen. Like anything else, it takes study and practice. And screwing up a lot, but getting up, dusting off, and trying again.

Say you are so sorry that she feels that.

I've never been able to pull off, "I'm sorry you feel that way," without thinking it sounds patronizing. The phrase I like, and you can rework this to suit yourself, is, "I totally get how you could see it that way."

When BW accuses you of being selfish, here's what you could say. "I can see where you're coming from with that. Thanks for telling me it sounded selfish to you. What I was trying for, was to figure out what you were wanting in the situation."

I tried to explain my true feelings and explain...

FFS quit explaining, and shut up and listen to her. Take a moment and see things from her perspective. Then the first words out of your mouth should validate her feelings. Validation does not equal agreement. It just means, "I hear you, and you have every right to feel that way."


fWW: 42
BH: 52
Sweet DS & fierce DD, under 10
"Between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom." V. Frankl

Posts: 1045 | Registered: Apr 2013 | From: Redneck land
SlowUptake
♂ Member
Member # 40484
Default  Posted: 11:18 PM, February 28th (Friday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Please just remember that these angry outbursts are your wife's pain coming out. Anger, as described to my by a counselor I saw, is a secondary emotion. In other words, we are never truly 'angry', but instead we are covering up another emotion.

I have never subscribed to this theory, I think it's just psycho-babble crap spouted by therapists to alleviate their client's guilt over being angry.

That being said, your BS's anger is valid and righteous.

What do you do about it?

Absolutely nothing, because you can't.

All the suggestions you have recieved so far are great in not escalating the anger, but nothing you can do will lesson or stop it.

Your BS has to work through it and get it out.

Your choice is simple. Bear it with grace or not.

If you are remorseful, it may dissapate eventually (about 2 years in my experience).

If not, you have another choice to make.

[This message edited by SlowUptake at 11:28 PM, February 28th (Friday)]


Me:WS,50+
Her:BS,50+ (WantToWakeUp)
Married 33yrs
Dday Dec 2009

"Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few." Pythagoras

There are two kinds of people in the world.
Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.


Posts: 364 | Registered: Aug 2013 | From: Limbo in Oz
gfrich
♂ New Member
Member # 37948
Default  Posted: 6:25 AM, March 1st (Saturday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

My question is when she loses it and cannot control it what do you do?

I also used to always get this wrong!! The best thing to do IMO is let your BS get that anger out and say as little as possible, but be there for her. There is nothing anyone can do or say that will be right during that anger. Our MC said there is a certain part of your brain, the bit that controls logic, that turns off when you are extremely angry and the only thing to do is to take a break (some quiet time), because you cannot talk or resolve anything when 1 persons logic is turned off. After the break you can try again to discuss it further.

1 other thing i did was to mirror my wife's anger, iow I would end up showing anger and aggression towards her, not a good thing! Rather take a time out, gather your thoughts, calm down and then go back in and just be there for her.

Good luck, this is not easy, but very worthwhile if you get it right


WH (me) 46
BS 46
Together 29 years, married 25 years
2 daughters 24 & 18
D- Day 18/8/12
6 month EA that lead to 4 month PA in 2004

Posts: 32 | Registered: Dec 2012
AdamsApple
New Member
Member # 39262
Default  Posted: 9:06 AM, March 1st (Saturday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Painfulpast: Anger, as described to my by a counselor I saw, is a secondary emotion. In other words, we are never truly 'angry', but instead we are covering up another emotion.

SlowUptake: I think it's just psycho-babble crap spouted by therapists to alleviate their client's guilt over being angry.

As a BS, I respectfully disagree with SlowUptake. This is what seemed to be the case for me and I came to it on my own.

I was white-hot with anger at WW - at about 6 months - that kept building until I thought I was going to explode. I prayed and meditated and a realization hit me that the anger was hiding guilt. I felt guilty that I was a bad person or not good enough and the A just magnified that feeling about myself. It also grounded that horrible feeling into my reality. I could look back at the A and think, "That proves I'm not really good enough."

Since that realization, the anger mostly evaporated. I still have some sporadic anger about the A. But I feel more sadness now. Just because we BSs have a good justification for our anger, doesn't mean it's still not a kind of blame-shifting.

So, 1BI, my advise would be two-fold.

1) To help diffuse her anger, let her know what a special person she is to you. Infuse it into your apology for whatever real or perceived wrong you have done. Read the 5 Love Languages and start speaking to her in hers.

2) As PP said, I think she needs to figure out what emotion is beneath the anger. It seems like IC could help with this. If her anger has something to do with how she feels about herself, it may help talk to her about her feelings when she's not upset and really listen and ask questions. And do a post mortem on your arguments when she is no longer angry. You can learn a lot from that.


Posts: 34 | Registered: May 2013 | From: United States
veronique12
♀ Member
Member # 42185
Default  Posted: 9:24 AM, March 1st (Saturday), 2014View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I'm glad that you are working on this issue. I urge you to look at these instances as opportunities to show that you are there for your BS.

Like you, there has been TT for us and it has made a bad situation so much worse, as I'm sure it's done in your situation. I rage often and can say very hurtful things to my H. H used to get defensive, which showed he wasn't understanding the effects of his actions, and that is really damaging to any hope of R. Another thing that really upsets me is when my H is silent while I speak my mind about my anger or just offers a generic "I'm sorry for my actions." I want to hear specifically what he's sorry for (e.g., I'm sorry that I made you feel unloved, not enough, whatever) and for him to mirror my pain back to me so that I can know that he hears what I'm saying through the rage. And I also want him to express his gratitude for me sticking around after such hurtful behavior. A lot of the anger that BS's feel stems from feelings of resentment for having the A foisted upon them out of no fault of their own and having to pick up the pieces of their life and glue them back together.


BW: me (38)
WH: 43
OW: false "friend"
D-Day: 11/29/13 (4 month EA discovered); 12/19/13 (discovered was also PA); TT thru 2/14
Married: 2001; Together for nearly 20 years
2 beautiful young kids

Posts: 396 | Registered: Jan 2014
Topic Posts: 16

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