I Put Up My Dukes When…

The following exercise can help you identify when you get angry in your intimate relationship, and can you look beyond your anger and locate the true issues and emotions that cause your anger.  Check every statement that describes you at least some of the time in your intimate relationship.
I feel anger when…

___ My partner is having trouble at work

___ My partner neglects to do something s/he promised to do

___ I suspect that my partner is lying about something

___ My partner refuses to take responsibility for wrong doing

___ My partner won’t listen to or accept my point of view in a disagreement

___ My partner is late or missing for an event that is especially important to me

___ My partner puts down my family or friends

___ My partner is rejecting or critical about my appearance

___ I need help and my partner is nowhere to be found

___ My partner tells me what I am doing wrong

___ My partner hits me over the head with a list of problems as soon as I walk in the door

___ My partner does something foolish, and bad consequences occur

___ My partner lets someone else down

___ My partner treats our children unfairly

___ My partner screws up our finances

___ My partner doesn’t tell me anything about his/her life away from me

___My partner doesn’t include me in the things that s/he enjoys the most

___ I need support and my partner gives me advice

___ My partner explodes at me for no good reason

___ My partner gives me the silent treatment

___ My partner criticizes, critiques or judges me

___ My partner doesn’t trust me

___ My partner is rude to me

___ My partner treats me poorly

___ My partner is doesn’t treat my happiness or my feelings as important

___ My partner expects me to do things his/her way

___ My partner is only interested in his/her own needs, wants, desires or feelings, not mine

___ My partner isn’t physically available enough

___ My partner isn’t emotionally together or isn’t present when we’re together

___ Any others?

Now go back through all the items you checked, and answer the following questions for each item:  What is the emotion underneath your anger?  Is it fear, hurt, sadness, frustration, fear of rejection?  What specifically is it in the situation that causes you to feel angry?  How have you communicated those feelings to your partner?  What do you think keeps you from expressing your wounded emotions honestly and effectively to your intimate partner?

These questions were adapted from Phillip McGraw’s The Relationship Rescue Workbook (Hyperion).  Next week, I will address how you can express wounded or hurt emotions without resorting to anger.

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