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Hi Dr. DeFoore. I am a 40 year old, professional woman who has been having angry outbursts about once a week with the man I have been dating for over a year and a half. I love him deeply, and he is a wonderful man. I enjoy his company very much, and we do everything together. We make a great team and work and play well together.
He has done nothing to deserve these angry outbursts. These outbursts usually occur after a certain thing triggers my anger (there have been a variety of triggers...too many to list here, but they were all insignificant and didn't need to be reacted upon the way I did).
When I get angry, I say so many hurtful things to him, and it is taking its toll on him and our relationship. I feel horrible afterward and promise myself I will not do it again, but I always do.
Overall, I would consider myself a very happy, upbeat person. I love life and am thankful for each day. I attend church with my boyfriend and kids every week and on Wednesdays. I do have God and faith in my life and in my heart. I exercise every day and am in great physical health. In fact, one of the many things my boyfriend and I love doing together is exercising and being active. I do not have anger issues at work or in casual relationships but have had a few (maybe one or two a year) angry outbursts with my children who are 15 and 17. They are wonderful kids though...no problems with them at all.
When I think of what could be causing me to be so angry with my boyfriend sometimes and to say awful things to him when I'm angry I am at a bit of a loss. He really is a great man and has not done one thing since I've been dating him to warrant me getting so angry. So, I am forced to look inside myself for the possible reasons and for the "cure" too. Some possible causes of my anger are:
1. Anxiety over where the relationship is headed with my boyfriend. When we met, we both said we wanted to be married again someday (we are both divorced...he was married 17 years, and I was married 15). I am frustrated that we aren't engaged yet, but we talk about it a lot. I am tired of dating and know what I want and am ready to move forward. I seem to get angry that we aren't where I want or expect us to be by now. I don't want to leave the relationship, but I also don't want to stay if marriage isn't in the future. He insists it is, and he's never given me an indication that he's not being honest or sincere. All of his actions point to him being committed to us and our future.
2. Trust issues. I have a hard time trusting, even though he has not given me a reason not to trust him. I could not order up a better man and one who is more committed and loving. I still have moments of doubt though, and I think it stems from my previous marriage. I met my ex-husband when I was 14, and he was the only man I was ever with until I got divorced. For most of the marriage, I felt he was not happy (and neither was I), and I begged him to tell me that if that was the way he felt. He always said he was not unhappy, but I was right and we ended up divorcing after 15 years. This was necessary and should have happened long before it did, but being lied to for all of those years and me doubting myself all that time even though I knew in my heart I was right, did some damage. Now I have a hard time fully believing a man who really deserves my trust.
3. Anxiety and insecurity about my future. I just want to know if this man is the man I will be with or not. Once that is known, I think my anxiety and insecurity will improve dramatically. My father died when I was 10, and my mother never remarried. Maybe my anxiety and insecurity issues stem from that.
Well, that is enough of my story. I think you probably get the picture of what I'm struggling with and where I'm at in this. I really want to get this under control and to stop doing this, and I am frustrated that I have failed at this on my own. I don't want to ruin this relationship and want to ease this burden from my heart. I know how I feel about this man, and I show him all the time. We are so incredibly happy when I am not angry. When I am angry though, and I spew out so much negative talk, it hurts him and overrides the good for a while. What should my first step be in improving this part of myself?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Robin, and thanks for telling your story here. I am very glad for you that so many things in your life are going well, and that you're physically healthy and happy in many ways. I will try to help you with your anger, so that your happiness can grow even greater.
I think you will benefit from reading the following page on my site, which is specifically designed to help with the types of issues you're facing:
steps to understanding and healing your anger
As you implement some of these processes, I think you'll find the source of your feelings about your relationship, and be able to discuss those with your partner.
I also suggest that you learn and master these couples communication skills, and see if your partner will learn them with you. Then you can use those tools to talk about the things that bother you in healthy, respectful ways.
I can tell you're a good, smart woman, Robin. Direct that strong will and focus that you have used so well in other areas to this process, and you will most certainly succeed.
You can do this, and you can reach all of your goals.
My very best to you,
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