Responding When Your Partner Is Angry: What to do, what not to do


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Physical or emotional abuse is never excusable. This article only deals with a display of anger from a partner but does not address, nor excuse the abuse than can come from anger. If you are in a violent relationship please seek professional advice immediately.


You love your partner and they love you, yet they still have outbursts of anger. As someone who has struggled with anger, I never appreciated when my wife attempted to confront me while I was still angry; it only made the situation worse. At the time of anger I believed I was right. When I calmed down and was apologetic for my outburst, my wife was able to speak calmly about my behaviour and how it impacted upon her and my children. On one occasion my wife and two children sat me down for a conversation about my angry behaviour. It was important that they did this when I was calm and open to the discussion as in reality I was embarrassed and ashamed of my behaviour.

DON’T challenge your partner while they are angry, it will only make the situation worse.

DISCUSS with them the impact of their behaviour when they are calm and willing to listen.


Be patient and supportive of your partner, one quality conversation won’t resolve their anger. In my experience, my wife had the discussion multiple times and never blamed me, but spoke of the negative impact my behaviour had on my family. At times this will be a struggle, but as long as your partner is making improvement and continually trying to control/manage their anger there is hope.

DON’T nag and argue the point with your partner.

DO be supportive and patient.


Encourage your partner to seek professional support for their behaviour. This may mean you attend sessions/ meetings with them if they are willing. In order for this to happen, your partner will need to show vulnerability and know that you still love them. The advantage of seeking professional support is that a discussion can be had in a safe environment for you and your partner. This may also provide you with opportunities to have ongoing open and caring discussions that will make your relationship stronger due to the assistance of a professional.

DON’T think your partner can manage their anger without the support of a professional.

BE PREPARED to support your partner through this critically challenging process.


Managing angry outbursts and behaviour is a journey. As your partner learns how to manage their anger your relationship will strengthen, however it is highly likely that other personal issues will be uncovered which will also require self-work with a professional. In much the same way as you peel an onion and find another layer, so it is with managing self and other issues that arise. This process can mean that a different version of old behaviours is displayed until your partner has a realization that more self-work needs to be done.

DON’T be deceived into thinking the initial process will make your partner perfect.

BE PREPARED for a continually developing healthy relationship as you join your partner in the journey of self-growth.

These tips on how to respond to a partner who is angry are not designed to legitimise physical or emotional abuse being given or accepted in any circumstance. All people should be treated with love and respect, and these tips have been moulded to assist couples who have recognised anger issues within their relationship and in doing so desire to work through them. If you are currently in a relationship and have been/are being physically or emotionally abused, please do not hesitate to call 000.

If you recognise you are in a relationship that needs the support of a professional in dealing with anger, contact Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. If you are ready to book an appointment with Duncan, click the icon BOOK ONLINE NOW and you will be taken to his online appointment calendar, and follow the prompts.

What The Parable of The Frog Can Teach You About Your Anger

man holding head in handsHow does your body let you know you are angry and what happens to your body if you ignore it's warnings? Do you remember the story of the inattentive and unwitting frog who was placed in a beaker of cold water? The beaker was placed over a Bunsen burner so that the temperature slowly rised until, the frog unaware of his slow demise, was boiled alive.

What was that frog thinking? Clearly, it was not paying attention to the warning signs. In my experience many people approach life in much the same way. Often the people closest to us know we are angry long before we become aware of its presence. How can that be? Anger betrays itself in subtle ways such as the way you gesture or a slight grimace, and the people who know you best are familiar with your body's repertoire.

Why do you fail to notice the warning signs of anger?

  • Anger is an uncomfortable feeling, and you have worked very hard since childhood to ignore it.
  • People raised in a strongly religious family, may hold the belief that anger is ‘a sin'.
  • You learnt that anger is inappropriate or unacceptable because anger was never expressed in your family of origin and/or you were punished for being angry.

How do you fail to notice the warning signs of anger?

  •  Distract by keeping busy
  •  Disconnect from yourself emotionally
  •  Deny your anger by rigid, critical and controlling behaviour

What are the warning signs of anger to notice

1. Frustration and/or anxiety These feelings are inviting you to resolve the issue that has triggered the strong emotions.

2. Tension Your muscles tighten, sending you the message that you have not resolved the problem that has already been causing feelings of frustration and /or anxiety.
Tension can be produced in any part of the body – headaches, chest pain, back pain and abdominal pain may be indications that your body is holding tension as a result of repressed anger.

3. Physical and mental illness Physically your blood pressure, blood glucose and heart rate may become abnormal, increasing physical pain, sweating and difficulty breathing are all part of the body's warning system.
Mentally, unacknowledged anger becomes internalised causing depression.

Are you paying attention to the warning signs of anger or are you like the frog in the beaker, ignoring your rising temperature  until you realise that irreparable damage has been done to yourself or, as a consequence of your anger, someone else?  It is time to act. There are strategies to manage your anger.  You can read about some in my article, ‘6 Tips to Manage Anger' at…managing-anger/
It is important that you are proactive by seeking professional counselling to talk about your own particular experience of anger and strategies that work for you. If you want to grow, experience wellness and reach toward your full potential then here’s what you need to do: contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or if you are ready, go to the orange button to book an appointment online now.

How to Enjoy Christmas Without Letting Your Anger Hijack It


Purported in song to be ‘The most wonderful time of the year'.

A season marked by love, joy, peace and goodwill to all.

People anticipate Christmas Day as a day of celebrating with family, gift-giving and a festive meal.

Our anticipation is heightened as the latest Christmas Cinema Movie  is advertised (this year's offering is Rise of the Guardian) and re-runs of old Christmas movies dominate the T.V. menu.

Carols by Candlelight features well-known songs whose lyrics talk about the joy, peace and love that Christmas promises to bring.

Sadly, it may be your experience that Christmas has not always delivered everything that  the Christmas songs and stories promise. Christmas  can be the most difficult time of the year when your memories of past Christmas' has been impacted by a family crisis, family rifts, disappointment, violence or grief. As Christmas Day is anticipated, you are bombarded with Christmas reminders, triggering feelings of emotional vulnerability, irritability and anger. You feel like a ticking time-boom, just waiting for the trigger that will release all the pent up anger within you.

For many people, anger is nurtured by their high expectations and the inevitable disappointment when reality does not live up to the expectation. Can you identify with that experience?

When you are able to identify your unrealistic expectations of Christmas you will be able to enjoy the season without letting your anger hijack it.


1. Let go of your expectations of Christmas

I have to confess that I love watching Christmas movies. The typical formula for a good Christmas movie goes something like this: as Christmas approaches everything goes wrong; relationships break-up, snow storms prevent travel, accidents and family drama occur. In spite of all the challenges that are thrown up to prevent a happy family Christmas get-together, barriers are finally overcome and the movie concludes with the scene of a happy family enjoying Christmas together.

The message of these movies is that no matter what difficulties you face, Christmas is a magical time when challenges are overcome, relationships are healed and families come together in unity and love to celebrate the season.

What expectations do you hold for Christmas? You set yourself up for disappointment and an outburst of anger when the expectations you hold for Christmas are not realised. Is it realistic to expect that the day will go smoothly without drama? Is it realistic to expect that family members will ‘get along' with each other? If problems exist within your family, then those problems will inevitably emerge when the family gets together because emotions are heightened and easily triggered.

Approach Christmas Day with the knowledge that whilst it is a day that celebrates love, joy, peace and the bond of family, your family relationships and interactions may not live up to the ‘ideal family Christmas'. Determine to enjoy the day for what it is, and let go of what you expect Christmas ‘should' look like. Focus on appreciating the day in its ‘ordinariness' – look out for the simple things that make the day pleasurable.

By approaching the Christmas season with this attitude you will feel less irritable and more appreciative of the small pleasures that Christmas brings.

2. Let go of your personal expectations

Personal expectations are notorious for beginning with the words ‘I should..'

I should feel happy

I should have a gift for everyone

I should be excited about being with family

I should create the perfect Christmas dinner

When you hear yourself beginning a thought with ‘I should', ask yourself why? The expectations you hold for yourself create stress and put you under unnecessary pressure. Let go of personal expectations that increase anxiety and stress and you will be able to approach the day  feeling much calmer and more in control of your anger.

3. Let go of the expectations you have for other people

What do you expect from the people you will spend Christmas with? What do you believe they ‘should'  do or  ‘should not' do. (Notice the ‘shoulds' again?)

They should know what I want for Christmas

They should ‘get on' with each other without those ‘snide remarks' and inappropriate behaviours

They should do Christmas according to our family traditions

They should be delighted when they open my gift

The children should play nicely together without any dramas!

When  you hold expectations for the way other people behave, you will be disappointed every time and your anger will hijack the pleasure you could otherwise experience.


4. Take personal responsibility for your enjoyment of the day

By determining to ‘let go' of your unrealistic expectations of Christmas Day and having a few strategies to help you remain calm and settled, you take responsibility for your own enjoyment of the day. Here are some suggestions:

  • Be mindful of how much alcohol you drink. Drink it slowly and have a glass of water between each drink of alcohol.
  • withdraw from situations that you anticipate will be a trigger for anger. Go for a walk, or choose to sit quietly in another room.
  • have an object on your person that has a calming effect when you hold it (a favourite object that instill good feelings or a stress ball)

Planning ahead can ensure that you have an enjoyable Christmas without the threat of your anger hijacking it.

If you want to grow, experience wellness and reach toward your full potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you.