Anger can be a difficult emotion for us to manage, yet it is not an uncommon one to feel. Sometimes, it arises when we are snubbed at the workplace. Other times, it creeps up on us when a family member forgets to do the dishes. It can even strike when we miss the bus. When faced with unfavourable circumstances, anger is a normal and healthy emotion. However, our anger can have a destructive impact on our relationships if we simply act in accordance to how we feel. Besides, getting angry more frequently has been correlated with having a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases (Reitman, 2020). One solution worth exploring is seeking means to manage our own anger. This would mean reducing the intensity of feelings of anger and our physiological reaction to them (American Psychological Association, 2021). Self-help books are readily available sources of information that can help us to better manage our anger.

Anger Management Books for Self-help and Relationships

Anger Management Books for Self-help

Listed below are some bestseller self-help books for anger management, lauded for their practical strategies to better cope with anger. In fact, there are a plethora of books that talk about how to deal with specific instances of anger. Their content caters mainly to the adult age group.

Anger: Taming a Powerful Emotion by Gary Chapman

Gary Chapman, a renowned counsellor, is the author of The 5 Love Languages, one of New York’s best-selling books. In his newly published book on anger, Chapman takes inspiration from biblical scriptures on anger and forgiveness. He explores both the protective and destructive influences anger can have in our lives. In addition, Chapman explains the root of our anger and identifies circumstances where anger can be arguably right or wrong. 

Through examples of clients he has counselled, Chapman highlights how both unadulterated and repressed anger can destroy relationships. While Chapman validates the shame and denial usually associated with anger, he also shares how to process them. 

In the book, Chapman delves into a step-by-step guide on managing long-term anger and processing repressed anger. Furthermore, he proposes means of responding constructively to angry people. He also discusses the ideas of forgiveness and reestablishing trusting relationships.

The Anger Trap: Free Yourself from the Frustrations that Sabotage Your Life by Les Carter and Frank Minirth

The Anger Trap is the brainchild of Carter and Minirth, mental health professionals with therapeutic and medical expertise respectively. It encourages readers to take note of their subtle experiences of anger in daily life. 

Although experiencing anger is inevitable, Carter and Minirth invite us to reflect on how we choose to respond to it. They highlight that our choice of response often is preceded with consequences on our relationships. The book also examine how cycles of anger can be perpetuated by patterns in our lives. These cycles can be broken through applying specific strategies in our interactions with others around us. This can come in the form of boundaries and advocating for our well-being. 

Through offering practical solutions, Carter and Minirth share means of managing our environmental stressors to reduce the incidence of anger.

How to Keep People from Pushing Your Buttons by Albert Ellis

Albert Ellis is a clinical psychologist and renowned pioneer of psychotherapy. The book provides overarching advice for readers in difficult interpersonal situations in life. This may include conflicts with loved ones and even colleagues in the workplace. 

Ellis draws inspiration from his theory on Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy, which promotes emotional regulation. He explores common beliefs we have that lend power to situations and people in our lives. 

Ellis proposes alternative thought processes that can be helpful for taking charge of our own life experiences. Thereafter, he provides means of coping with irrational fearful and angry thoughts.

Anger Management Books for Relationships

In our relationships, we will inevitably face moments when we need to manage our anger: be it when we disagree with our significant others or when we feel jealous or neglected. While being angry is completely normal, the health of our relationships depends on how we choose to respond. 

Anger management books are useful in teaching us how to navigate our anger in relationships. These strategies can be healthy for our emotional well-being and for the growth of our relationships.

Anger management Books for relationships

The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Pattern of Intimate Relationships by Harriet, G. Lerner

Harriet Lerner is a clinical psychologist, recognised for her contributions to psychoanalytic theories of family and feminism. In The Dance of Anger, she recognises how societal stereotypes have undermined women’s expression of anger.

Through this book, Lerner intends to empower women to enable their anger to change relationships for the better. She urges readers to hone their communication skills to better manage conflicts and allow their requests to be heard. 

The book draws a distinction between ineffective fighting and asserting oneself when experiencing anger. With this awareness, readers can better navigate conflict in their intimate relationships for more productive outcomes.

Love More, Fight Less: Communication Skills Every Couple Needs: A Relationship Workbook for Couples by Gina Senarighi

Love More, Fight Less is a book by Gina Senarighi, a certified relationship coach. This book serves as an interactive workbook with activities for couples to complete together.

Senarighi based the book on the concept that couples’ fights stem from ineffective communication between parties. Rather than seeing arguments as sign of a failed relationship, Senarighi urges couples to see them as opportunities for teamwork. 

Love More, Fight Less is filled with tools to tackle common areas of contention in relationships (eg. intimacy, finances, career). The book provides 30 communication skills and activities to bring awareness for both individuals of their own preferences, and highlights 29 common areas of weakness when navigating relationships. 

Anger Busting 101: The New ABCs for Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Newton Hightower

Newton Hightower is the Director for the Centre of Anger Resolution. In this book, he combines stories of personal experience and clients, with clinical data on anger. Hightower presents an easy-to-follow guide with practical advice on managing anger. 

He advocates for the Recovery Approach, a strategy he coined, to diffuse anger before it gets beyond control. Hightower provides readers with an ABC framework to create sustainable change in their destructive expressions of anger. 

Readers are first encouraged to abstain from destructive angry behaviour and verbal phrases. Next, they are to remember their belief in principles for peace, happiness, and permanent change. Lastly, readers will communicate with their new phrases.

Anger Management Books for Parents and Children

Anger Management Books for Parents

When parenting our children, we need to be mindful of our anger. As parents, we usually take upon both the roles of being a nurturer and disciplinarian. While caring for our children’s well-being, we need to teach them appropriate behaviours as well. 

The experience of anger towards our children is definitely a normal and necessary part of the parenting journey. However, we may need additional help in managing our emotions to ensure we fulfil our parenting roles effectively. Anger management books are one possible source we can turn to to deal with our emotions while managing our children.

How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Your Kids: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Calmer, Happier Parent by Carla Naumburg

How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Your Kids is a book by Carla Naumburg, a clinical social worker. An author of 3 parenting books, Naumburg is familiar with parenting struggles. She combines compassion, humour, and evidence-based practices to guide parents in managing their anger. She also makes sure to validates the struggles that parents face and affirms that they are not alone in this journey. 

Besides offering insight into behavioural habits, Naumburg provides practical guidance on improving parents’ behaviours. She attentively reminds parents to meet their own basic needs as well, to improve the regulation of their moods. 

The strategies Naumburg suggests are easily actionable and encourage greater self-awareness of one’s own triggers. She also advocates for self-compassionate practices, including building a support system to allow parents to take breaks from their responsibilities.

Anger Management for Parents: The Ultimate Guide to Positive Parenting Without Anger by Henry Hal

Anger Management for Parents is a book by Henry Hal, an educator and New York Times’ bestselling author. Hal recognises the stress of parenting, where influence of the media and peer pressure can mould and shape children. He acknowledges parents’ struggles in managing their child’s anger and their own. However, he highlights that some aspects of parental anger can have detrimental effects on a child’s development. 

Since anger can be an effective strategy in getting children to listen, parents may habitually get angry. Hal intends for readers to recognise that anger can potentially be their pattern of response in managing their children. This can occur even in circumstances where anger is not appropriate or necessary. 

The book hence includes solutions and strategies on effective communication with children. There are also tips for parents to manage their own anger so their emotions do not dictate their parenting.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Laura Markham

Laura Markham is a clinical psychologist who specialises in relationship-based parenting. Based on research in brain development and Markham’s experience working with parents, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids integrates this model of parenting as well. 

Markham believes that developing an emotional connection with our children can be a reliable basis for creating lasting behavioural changes. With this connection, parents will not have to lose their temper at their children. The book endeavours to help parents gain greater awareness of their own emotions and better manage them. This in turn allows them to develop empathy and boundaries, and learn to communicate effectively with their children. 

The book also comprehensively discusses how to assist a child in managing their anger and processing their emotions.

Anger Management Books for Kids

The concept of anger and managing their emotions can be foreign to children. They require more guidance in navigating their emotional worlds and learning how to deal with difficult feelings. While adults may not always be readily available to help children cope, books can be a reliable resource. They provide an avenue for children to learn about and explore their emotions independently.

Anger Management Books for Kids

Anger Management Workbook for Kids: 50 Fun Activities to Help Children Stay Calm and Make Better Choices When They Feel Mad by Samantha Snowden

Samantha Snowden is a mindfulness coach specialising in children and family. Children aged 6 to 12 years-old are the target audience of Anger Management Workbook

Snowden intends to help normalise children’s experience of difficult emotions, most notably, anger. This book guides them in recognising their feelings, being aware of their bodily reactions to them and naming them. Snowden specifically explains how the body reacts to anger in an easily comprehended manner for children. She also explores the complicated relationship between anger and other emotions like fear and sadness. These help children grow more aware of the triggers of their anger and how they usually express it.

In the activity section, children are given an array of resources to self-regulate and seek adult help when needed. The book emphasizes to children that other individuals in their life can feel anger as well. It teaches children about empathizing with these emotions in others and how to seek forgiveness.

Snowden reminds children that even when experiencing anger, they still are responsible to make good choices for themselves. This includes choosing safe methods to express their anger and calm themselves down.

Today I Am Mad by Michael Gordon

Today I Am Mad is a book by Michael Gordon is an author of several international best-selling children’s books. Gordon integrates self-regulation theory into his writing to encourage children to ventilate their emotions in a healthy manner. 

Today I Am Mad is a storybook aimed at children aged 3 to 5 years old. The protagonist, Josh encounters different situations where he and the people around him experienced anger. 

Gordon teaches young readers skills to deescalate conflicts with others who are angry. In other encounters where Josh was angry, he used strategies to help manage his own anger. These include deep breathing and finding a safe physical outlet for expression (eg. kicking a ball around). 

Besides delving into easily applicable self-regulation skills, he also includes lessons on how children can calm an angry friend down when they witness a conflict. The book is fully illustrated and written in simple language to be relatable for the younger age group.

Train Your Angry Dragon by Steve Herman

Steven Herman is a best-selling children’s book author. Train Your Angry Dragon is part of the My Dragon Books series where Herman writes about different emotional and developmental issues children face. This storybook series is aimed at children aged 4 to 9 years-old. In Train Your Angry Dragon, the protagonist Andrew attempts to train his dragon to manage its anger. Herman uses the angry dragon character to relate to young readers who experience anger. This teaches them how to identify their emotions. 

Herman encourages readers to manage their anger through strategies that Andrew teaches his dragon throughout the book. This includes perspective taking, where young readers are encouraged to recognise the needs of others in their interactions with them. Moreover, the book also shows readers how expressing anger can be destructive, while suggesting alternate healthier means of doing so. 

The book is fully illustrated and each line of the story is written in a rhyme. This would appeal more to children during story time, when the story can be read aloud.

All in all, anger is not a ‘bad’ emotion that we should attempt to dismiss or repress. Anger management books are possible sources of information to consider if you wish to better manage your anger when it arises, and get in touch with your emotions.

Nonetheless, if you find it difficult to cope with your anger alone, therapy is another viable option. Speaking with a therapist can help you process your emotions and delve deeper into the root of your anger. 

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References

American Psychological Association. (2021). Controlling anger before it controls you. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control

Reitman, E. (2020). Stress and anger may exacerbate heart failure. Retrieved from https://news.yale.edu/2020/08/11/stress-and-anger-may-exacerbate-heart-failure

Tags: anger, relationship, emotions

Failing to control one’s anger in a relationship can be detrimental in the long term. Naturally, we tend to shy away from projecting our anger on our partners. Likewise, we often feel at a loss or defensive when we become the recipients of an angry outburst. 

Nonetheless, occasional clashes are inevitable in intimate relationships. In fact, conflicts can promote a healthy relationship if they are handled well (Gathpazian, 2021). 

During conflicts, anger can be the dominant emotion that is felt between parties involved. What effect does anger have on our relationships with our partners? How can we control our anger in a relationship, and prevent minor frustrations from escalating into full-blown rage?

Is it Normal to Feel Angry in a Relationship?

Anger has a bad reputation in relationships. It has often been associated with being immoral and having violent tendencies (Tarabay & Warburton, 2017). It is important to remember that we all experience anger in our day-to-day lives. Feeling angry at our partner is definitely not a sign that the relationship is doomed. In fact, it is normal, from time-to-time, to feel angry in a relationship.

The short-term discomfort of communicating our anger can lead to honest conversations that benefit the relationship in the long-run (Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2012). When anger is managed appropriately, it can lead to the deepening of intimacy in our relationships (Navarra, 2021). 

On the flipside, when anger is suppressed, we can feel deeply dissatisfied in our relationships (Uehara, Tamura & Nakagawa, 2018). Therefore, it is important for us to be forthright in expressing our anger to our partner.

The main function that anger serves is bringing our awareness to situations where we have been treated unfairly (Kassinove, 2012). This motivates us to right the perceived wrong that has been done to us. One way in which we seek to rectify the discomfort of injustice is through expressing our anger.

Some benefits of expressing our anger in relationships are that it:

Builds Understanding Between Partners

When we communicate our anger, we inform our partners what behaviours are considered transgressive to us. Our agitated tone and body language alerts them to pay extra attention. They understand better how we prefer to be treated and the boundaries in the relationship.

Allows the Angry Party to Feel Heard

When our anger is met with understanding, we feel heard in our relationships. Our expression of anger also presents our partners with the opportunity to discuss what’s not working well, and figure out how to arrive at a compromise.

Acknowledging your partner's anger allows them to feel heard and validated.

Evokes Feelings of Satisfaction

When we express our anger instead of bottling it up, we feel relieved. Our feelings of agitation and physical tension are given an outlet. Furthermore, when we come to a consensus with our partner through a fruitful discussion afterwards, we can feel accomplished.

How Anger Damages Relationships

We now know that anger does not inherently have a negative influence on our relationships. It can be beneficial and presents us with opportunities to deepen the bond with our partner.

However, it is equally important to bear in mind that anger can become destructive if it is not handled well. Our inability to control or express anger in a relationship may give rise to the following adverse outcomes. 

Aggression Towards Our Partner

When we are hurt by our partner, we may in turn feel the inclination to inflict hurt back on them. This results in aggressive behaviour. Aggression is one way in which anger manifests in our relationships. The four different forms of aggression are:

  • Verbal aggression can mean name-calling, making threats and intimidation.
  • Physical aggression is a more well-known form of aggression and can be expressed through physically hurting our partner or damaging property.
  • Relational aggression can involve sabotaging our partner’s other relationships (eg family and friends).
  • Passive aggression is a more subtle form of aggression that can be exhibited through behaviour such as guilt-tripping and responding to our partner’s requests bitterly.

Aggressive behaviour heightens the tension between partners and creates a hostile environment. This can be very damaging to our relationships.

Repression of Anger

Our desire to maintain peace in a relationship often leads to a repression of anger. While we are able to control anger in a relationship temporarily, this lack of communication between partners results in unmet needs or expectations. 

Over a prolonged period of time, a build-up of resentment may occur. The relationship can become less satisfying, and more crucially, its longevity can be threatened (Uehara, Tamura & Nakagawa, 2018).

When Anger Becomes Emotional Abuse

While mutually aggressive behaviours can surface during disagreements, it is important to distinguish aggression from abuse. This helps us identify the kind of help we would need for our relationship. 

Abusive behaviour involves an imbalanced dynamic, such as one partner imposing coercive control over another (Geffner, 2016). Intimidation is a common tactic used by abusers, where they will threaten their partner to maintain their hold over them.

If you recognise that the unhealthy dynamic between you and your partner has progressed to abuse, it is vital to seek help. Please speak to a trusted loved one about your experiences or seek out support groups. 

Therapy is another option you can consider as a safe environment for you to process your experiences. Your experiences are valid and you deserve the support required to free yourself from a difficult and harmful relationship.

Dealing with Your Anger

While communicating our feelings is crucial in a healthy relationship we cannot simply react based on our emotions all the time. It is important to manage our anger first before engaging in a meaningful discussion with our partners.

If you are unsure of how to control your anger in a relationship, or find your current coping methods ineffective, here are some strategies for managing your own feelings of anger (Kashdan & Biswas-Diener, 2014; Kassinove, 2012; Savarese, 2013):

Acknowledge Your Anger

Remind yourself that anger is a normal emotion that surfaces from time-to-time in our interactions with others. Even when you feel anger towards your partner, know that it is a valid experience and that you do not need to avoid your emotion.

Allow Yourself Space to Process Your Anger

When we feel angry, it may not be productive to communicate our anger immediately as our world view tends to become a black and white binary. As a result, we make snap judgements or overgeneralisations about someone else’s behaviour, such as “you always overlook my feelings” or “you never take responsibility”. 

Yet, situations are generally more complex and grey. We may need time to compose ourselves and recognise alternative scenarios and explanations.

During this period of composing ourselves, it is important to focus on caring for ourselves too. This means allowing yourself time away from your partner. If you find it difficult to calm yourself down, some useful techniques you can employ are:

  • Mindful breathing: Focus your attention on each breath, allowing for a longer exhalation period than inhalation period.
  •  Exercising: This can range from a brisk walk to engaging in sports.
  • Safe outlets for anger expression: This can include tearing paper or yelling into a pillow.
  • Distractions: Any activity that takes your mind off the situation, such as playing an instrument or video game.

Give yourself time and space to compose yourself. Solitude will help you process your emotions and brainstorm how to best communicate your needs. 

As anger is a secondary emotion, you may wish to consider whether there are underlying emotions such as fear or sadness. Thereafter, share them with your partner to give them insights into how you are feeling.

Remind yourself to look at the situation from the perspective of working on the relationship. This prevents you from focusing excessively on your partner’s wrongdoing. Don’t forget to pay attention to your partner’s opinions as they are entitled to their view as well, which may differ from yours. 

Express Anger Assertively

After thinking through the situation, you may wish to share your thoughts with your partner. To express your anger assertively, communicate your feelings directly – in a respectful but firm tone. 

This does not need to involve demeaning or criticising your partner in any way. For instance, you may state “When you forgot to inform me about the family dinner, I felt angry. I would like to discuss how we can improve our communication.”. As opposed to “You are always so forgetful, I don’t know how to deal with you.”

Ideally, your partner would be eager to resolve the issue with you. Don’t shy away from asking for what you need from your partner to feel better. This can be in the form of an apology, or a commitment to change their behaviour.

Dealing with Your Partner’s Anger

When our partners communicate their anger, we must recognise that they are attempting to be vulnerable with us. This presents us with an opportunity to acknowledge their feelings and improve our relationship. 

It is natural to feel frustrated when our partners express their anger. However, we must remember that reacting in anger will only promote a cycle of angry responses. In order to facilitate consensus and compromise with our partner, we must first understand them (Savarese, 2013). We can do so in the following ways:

Acknowledge Your Partner’s Anger and Listen Actively

When your partner lets you in on their feelings, they are being vulnerable with you. It is important for you to acknowledge and respect their emotions. 

Listen to them attentively without interrupting. You can show them that you are paying attention by asking them questions. If you have any doubts, you can use this time to clarify your understanding with them.

Remember that Your Partner’s Perspective is Valid

The perspective that your partner has on the situation is their own and is valid. It is natural to feel defensive when we are confronted. But remember that both of you are against the problem, not each other. This can be a good way to remind yourself not to take their words as a personal attack and to stay calm.

It is important for you to hold space and allow your partner to share their thoughts and feelings. At this time, they need empathy from you. Bring in your perspective only when your partner is ready to listen. Then discuss how future situations can be better handled to avoid triggering similar emotions for your partner. Finally, be ready to apologise if your partner needs it to feel comforted.

How to Control Anger Outbursts when Interacting with My Partner?

It is not always easy to control anger in a relationship, especially during arguments. In the heat of the moment, you may lash out at your partner, and regret your actions after. This shows that more conscious effort may need to be put into creating a calm and non-confrontational environment. Here are some strategies you may find useful (Novaco & DiGiuseppe, 2011):

Recognise Your Triggers

Reflect on the situations that have provoked your feelings of anger. After identifying these scenarios, look for solutions to avoid these situations. For instance, you may find yourself consistently arguing with your partner about the choice of food they purchase. 

Rather than berate them, you may wish to provide them with a list of food you both enjoy. This allows your partner to better understand your preferences and make adjustments gradually.

Forgive and Not Dwell

It can be tempting to remind yourself of past incidents that have piqued your anger. However, this often builds up resentment towards your partner. It is good to let bygones be bygones, especially if the incident has already been addressed and resolved. 

You can place your focus instead on aspects of your partner that you appreciate. Practicing gratitude is more beneficial and productive for the future of your relationship.

Stay Aware of Your Emotions

Being able to spot physiological signs when you are getting angry is important. This allows you to remove yourself from the situation or distract yourself before your anger transforms into full-blown rage. By being self-aware, you spare your partner from becoming the target of your angry outbursts.

After removing yourself from the situation, you can attempt to regulate your emotions by giving yourself an outlet to vent and process them. This can be through writing, drawing or even confiding in a trusted friend outside of the relationship.

However, if you find it difficult to identify your triggers or process your emotions, therapy can be a viable option moving forward. Therapists can facilitate a better understanding of your triggers and guide you in formulating solutions to better manage your anger.

Always remember that with consistent communication and effort, it is definitely possible to control anger in a relationship, and forge a healthier bond with your partner. 

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References

Kashdan, T. & Biswar-Diener, R. (2014). The Right Way to Get Angry. Greater Good Magazine: Science-based Insights for a Meaningful Life. Retrived from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_right_way_to_get_angry.

Kassinove, H. (2012). How to recognize and deal with anger. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/recognize.

Gathpazian, A. (2021). Healthy Relationships: Definition, Characteristics, and Tips. Berkeley Well-Being Institute. Retrieved from https://www.berkeleywellbeing.com/healthy-relationships.html.

Geffner, R. (2016). Partner Aggression Versus Partner Abuse Terminology: Moving the Field Forward and Resolving Controversies. Journal of Family Violence, 31, 923-25. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10896-016-9898-8.

Navarra, R. (2021). The Positive Side of Anger in Relationships: A Door to Increasing Intimacy. Retrieved from

https://drrobertnavarra.com/the-positive-side-of-anger-in-relationships-a-door-to-increasing-intimacy/.

Novaco, R. W. & DiGiuseppe, R. (2011). Strategies for controlling your anger: Keeping anger in check. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from Strategies for controlling your anger: Keeping anger in check (apa.org).

Savarese, I. H. (2013). Anger in Relationships: Owning Yours, Softening Your Partner’s. GoodTherapy. Retrieved from

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/anger-in-relationships-owning-yours-softening-your-partners-0919134.

Society for Personality and Social Psychology. (2012). Sometimes expressing anger can help a relationship in the long-term. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120802133649.htm.

Tarabay, C & Warburton, W. (2017). Anger, aggression and violence: it matters that we know the difference. The Conversation. Retrieved from

 https://theconversation.com/anger-aggression-and-violence-it-matters-that-we-know-the-difference-82918.

Uehara, S., Tamura, T & Nakagawa, T. (2018). The Positivity of Anger: Non-Expression of Anger Causes Deterioration in Relationships. Psychology, 9, 1444-1452. doi: 10.4236/psych.2018.96088. https://www.scirp.org/journal/paperinformation.aspx?paperid=85730.