I can’t shake my anger toward my husband for what he has done to me and our family. Sometimes I almost hate him. He is working hard to become a different man, and I really do want to move on, but I don’t know how. What do you suggest?

Anger is a natural human response that most partners feel at some point as they move through the process of grieving their lost dreams and expectations of emotional and/or physical faithfulness. Anger produces energy that needs to be expelled in ways that allow us to release it without harming ourselves or anyone else. If we try to hold it in and clamp down on it because we feel guilty about our anger, we drive the energy inward where it can foster depression, illness, stress, resentment, or, it can boil and build until it explodes like a volcano, spewing damage on our relationships.

Understanding our emotions and finding helpful ways to deal with them is an important part of knowing ourselves and gaining emotional maturity. Some people find that doing physical exercise, such as running or lifting weight while mentally and emotionally processing their anger expends its energy. Creative people often find that painting, journaling, or playing a musical instrument works best for them. Others process anger best by talking it out with a counselor, along with using “experiential therapy” to expel it. One way to do this is to write down a word or two that represents the injury, such as the word betrayal, tape it to a padded chair, then use a plastic or foam bat, or something similar, to hit the “injury” again and again. You will know if this works because of the flood of emotion and tears that pour out when you give yourself permission to let it go.

Whichever method you use to deal with your anger, you may need to repeat your efforts to complete the release of negative emotions. But you will become aware that you are “done” when the anger feels like a dry well-empty, with nothing left to pour out.

If anger continues to plague you, you have probably not been able to reach forgiveness for your husband. Christian psychologist, Doug Weiss, Ph.D., outlines a helpful experiential therapy exercise in his book, A 100 Day Guide To Intimacy (Siloam, 2001), pages 47-66, to help readers reach out toward forgiveness.

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