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How Much Anger Is Normal In A Romantic Relationship

by Heather
(Vernon, BC Canada)



I grew up in a household that communicated poorly, suppressed emotion, believed anger was bad. My parents were both passive aggressive and constantly bickered, with the occasional blow up.

I seem to always end up in relationships that have lots of fighting and anger. I am starting to wonder what it is about me that is attracting or allowing this and what I can do about it other than always just leaving.


My first husband raged and eventually hit and kicked me. We tried counseling but he could not seem to grasp the concepts taught to us. We divorced.

My second marriage ended in divorce as well due to the controlling nature of my husband. He did not usually yell or become violent but he did yell at times and he said he only ever did this with me. He once punched a hole in the wall. He wanted me to guarantee him specific behaviours far into the future and I could not make those promises. Like promising him he could have the power to throw my child from my home without discussing this with me. I refused to allow that but tried to promise a discussion. Eventually he left me. Which is good in retrospect.

My new relationship seems to bear the same benchmarks for anger issues. He will jump to conclusions over my intent on innocent comments. An example of this would be the following. One time he is telling a story about his trip to Mexico before he met me. I asked who he went with and he blew up thinking I was asking because I was jealous. He took a long time to calm down.

When he is tired or hungry which seems to be frequent he loses his temper over frustration quite easily. One time we were working together to get a piece of equipment to work and I did not hear his instruction over the noise of the motor and he snarled and swore through clenched teeth at me over this. In his voice I could hear such rage for me, that seemed inappropriate to me.

He seems to expect and assume the worst of me and becomes very defensive over these imagined slights. He will not talk about things and gets angry so quickly that I am afraid to try to talk things through. When I do speak with him, I try very hard to use "I"statements and to not attack or blame. I am not perfect at it but I do give it my best effort.

So my question is ...how does one know how much anger is normal in a relationship? I am somewhat afraid of becoming involved once again with an angry or abusive man that I also worry I may go over sensitive to anger. How can I know the balance? How do I know what is normal?



Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Heather, and thanks for telling your story here. In a healthy relationship, there is not much anger at all. And when it does occur, it is expressed in healthy ways. In a healthy relationship (notice I'm using the word "healthy" instead of "normal), communication is done with respect 98% of the time.

You are worthy of respect, and only in an atmosphere of respect can true love occur and prevail over time. It's good that you're taking responsibility for attracting or allowing the fighting and anger in your relationships. You're not responsible for the abusive behavior of your partners, but you are responsible for the patterns of relationships you see over time in your life. Keeping the Love You Find: A Personal GuideThis book called Keeping The Love You Find will help you understand and break the patterns so that you can have healthy, loving relationships.

You will also benefit from reading this page on letting go of a relationship. It sounds like your current relationship is going in a very destructive direction.

Make up your mind to figure this out, Heather. Only you can insure that you are respected and loved in life. You can do this, and you are worthy.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

P.S. If you found this to be helpful, please consider making a donation to this site to support our mission to help you become your own best anger management resource.

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