Spouse with anxiety and anger?

• What are some tips for dealing with a spouse with anger and anxiety issues?

Andrew Byrne, LMFT:

Before I discuss possible tips of how to show up for a partner who may be guided more strongly by his/her emotions, I feel it is important to first acknowledge the potential safety issues for you as the partner of this person. It is important to draw a distinction between an appropriate, or even slightly elevated, emotional response and a reaction which may be dangerous. If you notice that your partner is often or always reacting from anger or anxiety, pay attention if the behavior appears controlling or even violent as this is not okay and you may need to protect yourself or insist this person gets support from a therapist as this behavior can quickly escalate and consume the relationship. Whether this is the case, or your partner simply seems to react and struggle to manage his/her emotions, it is always important that you maintain healthy and effective boundaries and convey that those emotions will not be in charge of the relationship. It is then important that your partner’s emotions be heard and understood by you, conveying to the emotions that they are valid and have a space to be expressed in a healthy way. It is important to note that anger is often an emotion that comes to the rescue of fear or other emotions, so it is important that you try to remain in a state of compassion and support your partner in expressing any hurt or anxiety they may be experiencing. But remember, compassion does not equate to being complacent to behaviors. We can hold firm to boundaries and love the human at the same time.

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