It took a near tragic event for Steven Lake to appreciate that his wife would not be around forever, and getting angry at her was no longer possible.
How not to get mad at your wife – that’s easy. Marry someone who:
- never argues with you
- always says yes to everything you say
- dresses exactly like you want
- looks at you with adoring eyes, always
- never questions any decision you make
- knows what you want even before you do
- is willing to do every crazy sexual position you can imagine
- is always available for sex, anytime, anyplace, and with enthusiasm
- is an amazing cook and never, ever burns a meal
- makes a crap load of money (unless this threatens you)
- acts as outgoing or demure as you feel comfortable with in social situations
- has an amazing ability to focus everyone’s attention on you (unless this threatens you)
- supports whatever crazy investment scheme you want to get involved with
- takes out the garbage (unless this threatens you)
- has the same religious, political, ethical, and moral beliefs as you
- has the same ideas of how to bring up children
- likes the same food you do
- likes guns (unless this scares you)
- has the same taste in books and movies,
- loves the same sports you do
- loves and plays the same card games, sports, and outdoor activities as you
- has the right amount of education so you don’t feel threatened
- always checks in with you before planning anything
- never takes the TV remote control
- never complains or whines, especially about you
- has a mother who thinks you are God’s gift to women – just like her daughter
Enough already! Obviously this woman does not exist and if she does, her name is Barbie. And Barbie is plastic, not real at all.
If you are involved with someone on an intimate level, you know first-hand that they do not fit into your image of what a partner should be. No, they are real, with their own wants and desires and these needs sometimes conflict with yours.
Indeed, he or she can drive you crazy at times. When they do, it is normal to feel anger rise up from the depths within and want to spew out like a volcano. Some of us explode and some of us hold it in. But the feeling of anger is real whatever the origins.
There are many theories and practices for controlling your anger. I have even written about them myself in articles and books. But what I am about to propose is something different. This idea came to me in the days after my wife collapsed at a restaurant and when, for a brief moment, I thought she had died.
There is nothing like having or witnessing a near death experience for identifying what is really important in life. Fighting with my partner is not high up on my list of important things. No. Not even close.
But I do get angry with her at times. That is life. So how do I not get angry with my beloved? After the incident at the restaurant and my appreciation that my relationship with my wife is finite, I made a decision. I stated, in her presence, that I was not going to be angry at her anymore.
When I said this, something amazing happened. A look of relief and joy came over her that, as I think about it now, makes me sad. She said that she felt released from a certain anxiety. Like she had been nervous, trying not to incite, not so much my anger, but my judgement or criticism.
I do know where this comes from – old family of origin stuff. This declaration not only made her feel relieved, it also freed me. Even though my way of being around this issue was mostly unconscious, I am now more aware and have a felt sense of being less worried about what is happening in my environment, and specifically, with how my wife is doing any task.
I may get angry, but I don’t get angry at her. What I mean by this is my anger is no longer directed at her. I feel the anger, express it to the universe, or not, and realize that it is my anger and nothing more. I have the choice of what I do with it. I choose not to direct my irritation, frustration, and anger at my wife.
Like the Sweetness Project, this shift in behavior has improved our experience of each other. We have not had to work up to this. The benefits have been immediate – moment to moment, hour by hour and day to day.
Unlike all the anger management courses I have taught, this is a simple process. A verbal or written declaration, a willingness to attend to one’s experience of anger that wants to direct itself at your partner, and making the choice not to make her wrong, is all you need.
I don’t for one moment believe that this approach will be easy for everyone. It has been (so far) not only easy, but delightful. Maybe, seeing the very real possibility of my partner no longer being on this earth, woke me up to what is important in life, and has made the process of letting go of an old habit easier.
Photo: Flickr/Akshay Mahajan/Untitled