Anger Management for Women
It may not have been my first rageaholic episode, but I have a cringe-worthy memory of verbally ripping my sister up one side and down the other in anger when I was in college.
Her crime? She locked my keys in the car.
I could not contain the barrage of ugly words that came pouring out of me.
I said choice things like, “How could you be so stupid? What were you thinking? Obviously you weren’t! What an IDIOT you are!”
I went on and on in a shrill voice–all in front of my roommate.
I could not stop myself from berating her. It gave me a release that seemed impossible to deny.
It’s hard to convey the utter horror of the bully that I was.
Raging was a regular occurrence for me for over a decade. Managing that anger was impossible as far as I could tell.
I picked on unlucky store clerks, bank tellers and customer service reps.
But most of all, I raged at my husband, whose response was to suffer through my episodes by saying very little and escaping as soon as he could.
I always felt tremendous shame and remorse afterward. But that didn’t help me when the urge arose the next time. And the next, and the next–hundreds of times.
But I no longer feel that urge. I haven’t had a Godzilla episode in over 17 years. I don’t miss them. At all.
The cure for my anger was a byproduct of my journey to fix another problem: My broken marriage.
I’m not the only one—my clients and coaches also report that their anger subsided and they regained their dignity when they adopted these simple practices:
1. I learned how to say what I want without criticism or complaint.
Another embarrassing, out-of-control anger incident happened when my husband took me to Hawaii before we were married.
He thought it would be fun to go see a volcano. I was afraid that if I said that I wanted to go to the beach it would cause a conflict, and therefore separation, and I really wanted to be close.
(That’s what all of us angry women want deep down, by the way–to be close and connected.)
My solution was to be “nice” by ignoring what I wanted and not even telling him.
There was just one problem. I couldn’t quite keep it in.
Just ignoring my own desires didn’t work. They came out sideways and ugly in a temper tantrum.
Now I know how to express my preference directly and beautifully.
These days, I know that sucking it up and ignoring my own desires is a setup for an unpleasant outburst.
2. I made myself happy.
When I was angry, I was also miserable. I thought that was because of my situation and my husband and other things outside of me.
Now I know that it’s my job to make myself happy, and my happiness doesn’t depend on anyone else. That’s all me.
I put myself on a happy plan of doing three pleasurable things a day every day.
Just to make myself feel good.
Just to make me smile.
At first it felt hard. I felt guilty. Suffering and complaining felt more familiar at first.
Now I can tell right away if my happiness tank is low, and I know what to do: Stop, drop and find some fun.
I’ve found it’s hard to be angry when I’m ridiculously happy and grinning.
3. I asked myself how I felt and what I wanted.
In the mad old days, I was focused on what was going on outside of me.
One big distraction was focusing on what my husband hadn’t done and what I thought he should be doing.
Turns out, it’s impossible to take good care of myself when I’m focused on other people. And when I don’t take good care of me, I get mad! And tired. And afraid.
That’s a dangerous combo for a rager like me.
Today, I’m constantly turning my attention back to myself by asking myself these two magical questions:
How do I feel?
What do I want?
Tuning into, listening to and honoring myself this way gives me an astonishing sense of calm and confidence.
That’s something angry me didn’t know about.
4. I practiced acting in faith when I felt incredibly afraid.
Along with being an angry person, I was also a controlling person, which means I was a fearful person.Control is always about being afraid. Click To Tweet
Problem was, all that control was hurting my marriage.
When I developed my world-famous system for relinquishing inappropriate control of my husband, it included deciding to act in faith by trusting him–even when I felt afraid he was going to screw up the taxes and we’d end up with a big IRS bill, for example.
The more I practiced letting go of the control, the more courageous I actually became. I was feeding my faith and starving my fear.
The more courageous I became, the less the fear would mix with the anger and cause an explosion.
Then one glorious day, my faith became bigger than my fear, and there were no more explosions.
5. I let myself fall apart.
One of the things I feared the most was dropping all the balls I had in the air. Most of them weren’t even mine, but I imagined that I was keeping them in the air anyway.
My worst fear was falling apart and having everyone see how very small and scared I felt. How far over my head I really was. I didn’t want to be vulnerable like that.
But it turns out that was actually a great thing to do.
When I finally fell apart and cried, shooting tears and snot out of my face, I thought my husband would be disgusted. Instead, he came closer.
He thinks that side of me is beautiful.
Who would have thought?
At first, all of these things felt awkward and uncomfortable. They seriously challenged my beliefs about the world and myself.
And it’s not to say that I never get angry. I get furious at some of the ridiculous relationship advice I read, for example.
But it’s what I’d call clean anger–not rage. It’s not dirtied by fear and resentment, and it doesn’t drive me to lash out at loved ones or hapless store clerks.
If I’m mad at someone I’m close to, I can look for the hurt underneath and lead with my vulnerability to preserve the connection.
“Anger management” seems like the wrong term to me now. I’m not so much managing my anger as I am honoring myself.
I’m happy to say that underneath that angry exterior was the real me: a soft, calm and loving woman.
If you identify with my anger issues, I hope you get that it’s not just me–that you could also be free of the kind of anger you desperately want to manage and can’t.
That’s what I see over and over for the women who adopt the practices above.
I’m confident that if you adopt the same practices, what would emerge for you would be just as beautiful and amazing.
17 replies on “Anger Management for Women”
Well said. Sounds like personal responsibility, faith, and authenticity. Thank you for sharing.
I am eternally greatful for your gift to the world of this work. It will be 3 years for me using intimacy skills in March and guidance under one of your amazing coaches Gladys for 2 years the best investment ever of anything. I have a marriage most envy-33 years together now and blissful except if I forget every now and then haha. But I very quickly and efficiently get out of my ditches. I can’t wait to be one of your coaches in a couple of years! This is the best producing miracle effecting influences existing I remain eternally greatful!!!!!
Congrats, Elizabeth! I’m so happy to hear of your success in your marriage. And I look forward to getting to know you in coach training. Sounds like you will be a wonderful coach with a great story to share with your clients! Here’s where you go to learn more about becoming a coach and apply for a complimentary discovery session to help decide if it’s right for you:
Laura I discovered your books a few days ago. I’ve been a Christian for 30 years and I discovered all about being respectful of my husband by reading the bible and praying. I went above my husband to trust God with the problems. Our marriage was a disaster 30 years ago the problem was neither of us wanted to control or have responsibility of any kind….. I’m enjoying reading your book which is filling in a few gaps for me in understanding our marriage.
I love your books, and I’ve been trying to put them into practice. One question I have is, what if you express your desire to go to the beach and he reacts by saying something like, “That’s boring. We should go see the volcano”? At that point would you go to the volcano with him, since you’ve expressed your desire and now need to trust him to make the right choice? I usually do this and still end up resenting it. Or would you go your separate ways – he goes to the volcano and you go to the beach – even if he might be angry with you for not being willing to do his preferred activity?
VL, Now that I’ve been respectful and vulnerable and grateful and receptive for all these years my husband is eager to please me. On Saturdays I play volleyball and he runs, so we go our separate ways and then it’s fun to get back together. I’m mindful not to offer to do things that I’ll resent him for later. If I sell myself out like that we’ll both suffer and I’m doing nobody a favor. The atmosphere is good over all so it’s unlikely he’ll get angry at me for not doing what he wants. But if he does get angry when I can’t do something (without resenting him later, say) then I leave him to deal with that problem himself. It’s nothing I can change.
I’m just struggling with this…all the way around. The hurt/anger is so deep, it just wells up at times. And I find myself in the same situations with him, over and over….I’m beginning to wonder if this marriage is really worth saving.
Roxanne, Saving my marriage was a miraculous project that changed me for the better and was worth it for me, regardless of how he responded. He responded beautifully but it was an inside job and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
Laura, I found this post to be very helpful. I do not lose my temper and rage at my husband, or anyone else for that matter. But, you described my husband’s behavior very accurately and that is very difficult for me. I am trying to follow your suggestions, but it is hard to accept the outbursts when they occur even if it doesn’t happen often. Your post with the description of how it feels to be the person who is angry gives me a better understanding of how my husband must feel. I must also say that while I do not have angry outbursts I do get angry for many of the same reasons and instead keep it within where it can simmer and damage my feelings for my husband. The anger shows itself in other more subtle ways.
I too suffer from this problem and I feel like everything you wrote describes me. Sometimes I feel though, unless I show my anger things don’t get done correctly and it’s so hard to let go of that control. Like just yesterday we were supposed to look at houses and my husband wanted to cancel the appointment and he already cancelled something that would help us make the decision to move earlier this week and regretfully I blew up at him. Next to the kids too. 🙁 it just seems so hard. I read the book and follow the advice and then I fall back and it’s hard to find the inspiration to continue practicing the skills in the book. Any tips on how to keep the inspiration to follow the tips for Intimacy skills so I don’t lose that discipline?
Margarita, I can relate to feeling like nothing will get done if I don’t blow up, but I was wrong about that. I get way more of what I want being calm and dignified and self-honoring. How I stay motivated is support! It does get easier over time and practice. You would really benefit from having a guide. Have you applied for a complimentary discovery call yet? You can do that here:
Dear Laura, your book and blog was so helpful for me, and I also like this post so much.
I wonder what you would suggest if a husband just doesn’t care when you are saying what you want. I am having so much of these problems, like I am saying “I don’t like/want that” and he literally responds “I don’t care.” Just last month, I was really sick and was hoping he would help me a bit with our children, but instead, he told me that his friends son wants to come over for a playdate. When I was saying “Not today, you see how I am. I can’t bare this.” he didn’t care. He was even telling me I am unsocial, this is just a little boy who wants to play a bit etc. Needless to say I was alone with the children the rest of the day, and I was furious. What to do in such cases?
Caralin, So sorry to hear that your husband doesn’t seem to care about what you want! That sounds painful. I remember what that was like. The good news is that it’s completely solvable. Consider applying for a complimentary discovery call to discover the best move for your marriage. You can do that here:
Wooow!! I feel like I just read my own diary, but this time there were solutions next to the disastrous behaviours and consequences. I am definitely saving this post and reading more from you. 🙂
My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 7 years and I think around the 4 year mark, I started getting angry. Now, it’s so awful: I’m such a controlling bully.
You know? He used to be the angry one. One day, it’s like we swapped shoes and it has taken me 3 years of anger and rage to finally look within, rather than hold onto how my partner used to be and berate him for continuing to let us down… I’M letting HIM down.
So I turned to Google and the link to this post was first on the page. I’m so glad I read it.
I look forward to putting your advice to good use, and fixing my relationship with my partner, and myself.
P.s. If the little story into my life makes you think of another post that may help me, please let me know. 🙂 🙂 🙂 thank you!
Dear Laura, thank you so much for your book and this article. It’s been so good reading it and it helps me understanding myself better and my relationship.
I got a better grip on my angry outbursts, although it’s still so hard. But now I notice that my guy is the one who doesn’t do much self-care and his irritations just keep building up. It feels so sad that I found a way of controlling my anger and feeling better, but he is still stuck and becomes mad about every little thing. Should I just let him be and keep focusing on myself? Let him get mad at me and trying to be understanding?
He is the greatest guy when he is relaxed, but for the last few weeks he had been tired, focusing on my shortcomings and so easily tempted to get very angry. It’s very difficult.
I have a girl friend who also holds in her anger about a remark or action be it from her husband or friend if she doesn’t agree , rather than put the point she wishes to make calmly at the time as she wishes not to upset the person. But typically it comes out after a glass of wine a few days later, as the alcohol seems to release her inhibitions about not agreeing in the 1st place and speaking to the person about it, it’s like a red rage. Of course it’s a disaster as some poor person gets a tirade.
It is also now a programmed response to 23yr marriage to a narcissistic husband, victim abuse I believe it’s called . She wishes to stay with him but what was initially just a feeling of continuous guilt and of being made to feel worthless due to emotional abuse, has (after marriage councillor guidance) become anger, as she now has been told what she is married to and evidents she can never please his addiction for control. But she wishes to some how live with it for the sake of the children. But the anger and arguments are enormous now. To keep her from leaving as she has asked for some space to think things through and he is panicking he has lost his play thing. He threatens to tell the children it’s all their mothers fault if she leaves as she can’t control her anger. Of course this terrifies her. Also he refuses to pay the school fees so the children will not only suffer separation but a change of school and house at 14. As to go to a new school she will have to move to get in catchment there are no places locally.
Any thoughts on situation? Because of the anger she can’t remain calm when he manipulates her emaotions and of course she can’t think straight.
I need help with my anger towards my husband and son.