Friday, September 9, 2011

Anger Management – or, How to NOT throw shoes at your husband’s head

I had a dream the other night. The details aren't important, but I woke up angry. Not just a general 'mad at the world' type of malaise, but a 'brimming with venomous rage' type of pissed. At my husband. Lucky him.

I think I got over it pretty quickly, but he might disagree. Now that a few days have passed, I've become a bit more philosophical about anger management. Actually, I'm analyzing it. Which my husband might claim is worse than my irrational fury.

Thanks to a recent Laurell K Hamilton Facebook post (she's one of my favorite authors… if you haven't read her Anita Blake vampire hunter series, you're missing out) I was introduced to a profound quote. Aristotle said, "Anyone can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody's power and is not easy."

Now, when I woke up mad the other day, I concede that my husband did not deserve the serious case of 'tude I threw his way. Not an appropriate expression of anger, nor was it directed at the right person.

In my defense, when he accused me of being "hormonal" I still firmly believe that a commensurate response SHOULD have been a clunky high heeled shoe thrown at his head. But I didn't. I held it in check. It was a proud moment for me. Sidenote: I haven't always been so self-contained. Shortly after we married (or maybe it was before, ancient history, you know) he was in fact a recipient of a clunky shoe against the noggin. I never said I was perfect, people….

Anyway, I find that it's more difficult as we get older to determine appropriate times, places, and (ahem) targets for our anger. I'm a mother, wife, friend, and hard worker at not only one, but two jobs if you count writing books as a second job. Which I do, because it takes far more discipline to write in the scant off hours of my day than to focus during 8-5 for my "real" job.

I'm far more likely to repress anger and let it seep out in unfitting areas of my life than face it head on, afraid I'll offend someone (at least, anyone other than my husband, God love him). But really, isn't this the case with lots of people?

All the normal things we're told to do…take deep breaths, take a walk, drink heavily…those don't really work so hot for me. Taking deep breaths only provides more oxygen to fan the flames of rage, and taking a walk makes me feel like I'm running away from the problem, which irritates me even more and incites an exponentially worse confrontation when I get back because I've had time to think up all the caustic remarks I'm going to make. Ok, maybe drinking heavily isn't something "they" say to do…but it works better than the other crap. Unfortunately, it's not my style. So I'm stuck with just dealing with it, and I'm not ashamed to say sometimes I think through my anger better than other times. As a general rule, I'm a typical "woman" who buries my irritation and lets it fester, becoming a virtual powder keg. Waiting, ever waiting, for that fateful, altogether unpredictable match to strike that will unwittingly set me off.

Luckily, my husband is the opposite of me. He blows up at the slightest provocation, and then forgets his anger just as quickly…like smoke dissipating after an extinguished birthday cake candle. He is the only reason our fights last about as long as a 30 minute sitcom when you fast forward through the commercials, and my slow fuse is the reason they are as infrequent as Groundhog Day (if you choose to watch the movie about once a month anyway).

I figure together, we can navigate the rocky road of marital anger management with only a few bumps and scratches, other than the very rare but necessary occurrence of a clunky shoe hurled with love against his head. J

Here's to anger management – and the weekend. Cheers!


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