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Author Topic: 1.25 | How to deal with an angry partner  (Read 2326 times)
DaddyBear77
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« on: May 12, 2017, 09:40:04 AM »

How to deal with an angry partner

Anger is a hallmark of Borderline personality disorder and something often experienced with people who have BPD traits at any level.

To some, the natural response to this is to fight back. To some the response is to go into a mode of justifying, arguing, defending, and explaining. Some prescribe to handling arguments with "I will not take your abuse any longer" and leaving with  "when you can act civilly, I will talk to you." This type of language can cause a person to escalate.

Jim Fay, founder of Love and Logic says "Don’t try to reason with an angry person. Use empathy and understanding instead".

“Why is my partner angry? Why does she act disrespectfully, critical, go into a rage? He has a chip on his shoulder.”

A person who acts out is sharing their emotions through anger. Anger is a secondary emotion that occurs after another emotion. For individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder, this other emotion is often fear (such as a fear of abandonment or a fear of feeling inferior).  In these situations, the anger may be saying "something isn't right and I need to protect myself before I get hurt". Although the person may have many good reasons for being angry, their behavior while angry can still leave us unsure of how to respond.

A Partner’s Job is to Understand, Not to Fix It

Listen for understanding when your partner is filled with anger. Don’t try to reason with an angry person. Instead saying something like, “It sounds like you are really mad. I want to listen and understand. I cannot understand what you are saying when you yell. Can you take some time to calm your voice and come back to me then so we can talk.” If you can’t get your partner to leave, then you leave. Be prepared to repeat your calm statement if he or she continues to yell in anger without leaving. “We can talk when you are calm.” You may need to say this several times.

Thanks for Sharing

Once your partner is able to talk about their anger, listen to them without trying to reason. Don’t tell your partner that he or she cannot be angry. Avoid telling them that things will be okay or how to fix things. You just need to show that you understand—“It sounds like you get mad when I ask you to help around the house. Thanks for sharing that with me. I’ll give it some thought. Can you share with me a better way to remind you?”

Don’t Make It Worse

Partners who don’t treat their partner with respect make it worse and send a message that says, “You are not worthy.” These partners often respond with yelling or disrespectful comments, such as "I will not stand here for abuse - I'm leaving and will return when you have cooled off." This encourages the partner to yell back and get madder; there may even be door slamming and screaming back. It’s a vicious cycle that breeds anger in both parties.


Workshop objectives

As part of this workshop, lets look at the different strategies that we have used that have worked for dealing with anger.
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joeramabeme
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2017, 02:27:34 PM »

Thanks for this thoughtful workshop.

I appreciate the comments about not categorically playing the "I wont stand for this abuse" card.  This seemed to be a sticky issue for me at the end because the anger really was abusive. 

Perhaps there are levels of anger that we need to recognize.  Garden variety and even moderate anger are well managed with JADE methodology; don't Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain.  Instead listen, be a partner and wait for the other to be more present before empathically explaining your position.

True abusive anger is probably best handled by monitoring for your safety first and having a predefined idea of how best to let the boiling pot roil until enough pressure has been released that allows for some other idea to be operative in the situation. 

As someone that used to get real angry, I think it is helpful to let the other know, after the situation has calmed down, how it felt being the recipient of rageful/abusive anger.  It is not always evident to the angry person that they can scare and intimidate the recipient; the degree of anger is not always seen by the angry person.  Explaining how it felt to be on the other side, after the situation has subsided, can be helpful to you and the person that is being angry and perhaps give a way to bring that awareness more quickly to the situation as it is happening.
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Naughty Nibbler
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2017, 03:35:18 PM »

Quote from: joeramabeme
Perhaps there are levels of anger that we need to recognize.  Garden variety and even moderate anger are well managed with JADE methodology; don't Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain.

I agree that the level of anger needs to be considered.  I don't think that one strategy/response can fit all levels of anger.

Excerpt
Don’t Make It Worse

Partners who don’t treat their partner with respect make it worse and send a message that says, “You are not worthy.” These partners often respond with yelling or disrespectful comments, such as "I will not stand here for abuse - I'm leaving and will return when you have cooled off." . . .

I'm thinking that I'd alter the above statement to: "I'm leaving and will return when we can have a calm discussion".  Using "we" instead of "you" could soften the statement.  

I think when a partner or family member displays raging anger, you may have to error on the side of your safety.  Other than perhaps changing "you" to "we", I'm wondering what would be wrong with the statement. "I'm leaving and will return when we can have a calm discussion"?



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stayingsteady
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« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2017, 03:42:41 PM »

I agree with you.  I also believe safety should be a top priority.  Safety is a crucial factor in these situations and should always be given first right  Smiling (click to insert in post).

I think the entire purpose of "Don't make it worse" is about preventing invalidation (or messages that say you are not worthy).  Statements perceived to be invalidating can increase the likelihood of escalated behavioral responses (such as increased raging), and they can occur through both words and silence.  

Because statements perceived to be invalidating can also occur through silence, it is definitely important to say something when we have to leave for our safety.  Otherwise it could be perceived as the silent treatment (another form of invalidation) and escalated behaviors may occur.

I completely agree in adjusting how this statement is made:

"I'm leaving and will return when you have cooled off... .".  

Again, I believe the main purpose is to prevent invalidation.  I feel one of the best ways of preventing invalidation is through empathy.  Having empathy can improve both tone and words because our focus is different. I completely agree that using we is a good example of this.


True abusive anger is probably best handled by monitoring for your safety first and having a predefined idea of how best to let the boiling pot roil until enough pressure has been released that allows for some other idea to be operative in the situation.  

As someone that used to get real angry, I think it is helpful to let the other know, after the situation has calmed down, how it felt being the recipient of rageful/abusive anger.  It is not always evident to the angry person that they can scare and intimidate the recipient; the degree of anger is not always seen by the angry person.  Explaining how it felt to be on the other side, after the situation has subsided, can be helpful to you and the person that is being angry and perhaps give a way to bring that awareness more quickly to the situation as it is happening.

It shows great steps in a sequential order:

1.  Monitoring for safety - "monitoring for your safety first"

2.  Use of a predefined strategy - "having a predefined idea of how best to let the boiling pot roil until enough pressure has been released"

3.  Identification of next steps -"that allows for some other idea to be operative in the situation".

4.  Implementation of next steps - "I think it is helpful to let the other know, after the situation has calmed down, how it felt being the recipient of rageful/abusive anger."

- Staying Steady
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« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2017, 07:22:37 AM »

I learned to accept rightly or wrongly from early in my relationship with my ex gBPD that she had a bad temper which would happen without any warning. I would retaliate with JADE for the first 4-4.5 years, combined with just accepting it, this is part of her genetic make up, i'll never be able to change her or win an argument, so for a more peaceful, less stressful quality of relationship life for myself i accepted it.

If i had known about bpdfamily during the relationship, i am not saying we would have still been together, but i would have had the tools, insight, education & tools to try & do things differently. Since separation & as we both have to live in the same house until it is sold, just even for closure on the relationship & for my own sanity until things are finalised, i will the tools advised on this website. If we are to reconcile which is 90-95% unlikely in my opinion then again i would have the insight to try different strategies.
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DaddyBear77
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« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2017, 08:48:28 PM »

I would retaliate with JADE for the first4-4.5 years, combined with just accepting it

Pedro, you bring up a very good point - there are some strategies that do NOT seem to work and it's important to recognize what's NOT working as much as it's important to find strategies that DO work.

So I just shut my eyes day after day week after week, & month after month, supporting her whenever she was angry, upset, out of sorts. Not realising I was reaffirming her thoughts by doing this. I only did things with love and support, I am not a medical specialist & she would not either seek therapeutical support or open up & talk to me her partner.

Another good example of something that didn't work well for you (ignoring the anger) and I suspect this is the case for others as well.

For myself, I've often fallen into the trap of personalizing the accusations and threats that often come out during a highly dysregulated episode of anger and rage. I will stay and listen, and absorb, and take to heart the things that are said, even when I know them (at first) to be untrue. It sometimes gets to the point where I start to AGREE with what is being said, and this is when I know for certain that I've stayed too long.

Leaving with a respectful and not-invalidating exit statement is very often the best and only thing to be done in the moment.

But for the relationship to succeed, I think it's important that we DO make our best effort to come back with a "Thanks for Sharing" type activity as described in the intro.

Has anyone had some successes with coming back AFTER the anger has subsided?
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joeramabeme
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« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2017, 04:25:03 PM »

Has anyone had some successes with coming back AFTER the anger has subsided?

I am sad to say yes but not entirely.

On one occasion she acted out at me, I practiced "being an adult" and clearly asked for an explanation for her actions to which she stormed out the door.  I was committed to completing my "adult" stance during this event and when she came back home I was calm and polite.  She surprisingly apologized and explained why she did what she did.  I was lifted to a high point just after and the the door of potential healing and health seemed to fling wide open.

The next day I thanked her for the apology and her explaining the root cause of her outburst.  At this point she got very very angry with me and told me that she never said any of what I stated she did and where was I making this stuff up from. 

I think the gem in this story is that though we tend to think of our actions as being paramount to their reactions; ie. we take the blame for what happened; it is not that linear and frequently their reactions are not at all related to what we think they are.
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livednlearned
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« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2017, 11:48:50 AM »

Has anyone had some successes with coming back AFTER the anger has subsided?

Since it can take a while for the anger to subside in someone with BPD, I'm curious if others have seen a difference when they reserve judgment.

For example, after a rage, when your BPD loved one has returned to baseline, have you tried to move on and consider the episode done? In other words, not judge the emotional outburst?

I can see how this might be easier if you were 1) able to depersonalize the attack or effectively detach during the rage or 2) had a strong enough boundary to protect yourself, whatever that boundary may be (e.g. removing yourself from the attack).

Sometimes, reflecting a non-judgmental mindset about the emotional outburst can prevent things from getting stuck in anger.
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2017, 06:54:22 AM »

Thank you!  I notice when my wife whom have BPD was getting upset, I tried to reason with her about her anger and outburst but realized it is getting worst!  It made me realized that her talking is becoming nasty and cruelty where is uncalled for.  Thanks for tip and on how to do it next time.  She frequent apologized to me for her cruelty and she encourages me to leave her and get divorce.  I will not allow it because she is wonderful woman (when she is not in her BPD moment) and I knew it is not her when it is in BPD moment.  Things happened when she was triggered by hurtful and damage background when I do something reminds her of someone from past even I am not doing that way.  Thank you again!
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Cole
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2017, 07:37:03 AM »

Ws' anger has gotten out of hand to the point of throwing things and breaking things. She always feels horrible shame for it after she calms down.

I can usually derail it if I step in, grab her, and just hold her tight. She will sometimes fight me for a few seconds, but then starts crying and calms down within a few minutes. 

I don't suggest this unless you are fairly positive it will work.
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« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2018, 02:25:19 AM »

Since it can take a while for the anger to subside in someone with BPD, I'm curious if others have seen a difference when they reserve judgment.

For example, after a rage, when your BPD loved one has returned to baseline, have you tried to move on and consider the episode done? In other words, not judge the emotional outburst?


I have tried to just move on after an episode and sometimes we can move on, always a day or two later, he has a tendency to stay angry for a day or sometimes a few. Other times it has backfired because I believe he interprets it as me accepting the blame and reinforcing his belief that something has been done to him. For me, I need to really look at what the outburst entailed. If he yells I can move past it. If he curses at me or throws things and destroys the house, the behavior needs to be discussed in a loving nonjudgmental way, letting him know what I'm not willing to accept and reinforcing boundaries.

I'm currently seeing a therapist who specializes in treating couples dealing with a PD so I have a tremendous support. I've also been re-establishing healthier boundaries so these past few months have been very tumultuous. I also recently found out my bf whom  I live with has become physically violent with three previous fianceés and gfs so I am trying to figure out if he is willing to do the work to have a healthy relationship with me.
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« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2018, 12:20:24 AM »

When she was calm,  I once asked my ex (who was my ex at this point though still living together). "What is going through your head when you are angry or raging?" We were done, and i figured this was a safe question.

She replied,  "I just want everyone else to feel my pain!"

I wish I had understood that in our relationship rather than falling into fight or flight, which I learned to do in order to survive my mother with BPD. I sometimes went to school in tears over things I couldn't comprehend, yelled at and smacked around.

My ex wanted to be validated,  yet I either shut down,  or mirrored her anger unhealthily.  Her family dealt with it by shutting down which I saw on a few occasions.  She told me about her qinceñera picture at 15, where she looked angry and her family looked stoic like people did in 19th Century portraits. She said that she was very angry at the time over something I can't remember that she told me.  Likely a ten thousand dollar event darkened by her anger.  Anger is a cover for pain.  

I was good at rescuing her from the Waifish pain (The Waif wants to be rescued because life is too hard,  according to Christine Ann Lawson). That's one reason why we were attracted to rest other.  When the switch to Witch happens is where I was lost,  yet the underlying need was the same: "I need to be heard." In other words, "valued and validated that my feelings count."

Validating without rescuing is tough.
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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2018, 02:32:34 AM »



Don’t Make It Worse

Partners who don’t treat their partner with respect make it worse and send a message that says, “You are not worthy.” These partners often respond with yelling or disrespectful comments, such as "I will not stand here for abuse - I'm leaving and will return when you have cooled off." This encourages the partner to yell back and get madder; there may even be door slamming and screaming back. It’s a vicious cycle that breeds anger in both parties.



That is very very interesting. I have never thought about it this way. It is rare for me to face his anger, but when anger comes, I do exactly what I shouldn't. It scares me. I go away and I tell him it is not fine... .I will see it differently now. I was hesitating to press on this topic as I don't see my husband as very angry person, but it is really eyes opening information. Thank you.



She replied,  "I just want everyone else to feel my pain!"



That explains so much, thank you for sharing.
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« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2018, 03:51:07 PM »

She replied,  "I just want everyone else to feel my pain!"

My ex also said this.
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