How to avoid snapping at your partner

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A sudden wave of anger, shouting, and hurtful words: words that you’ll regret later on, and in an hour you’ll think, “What kind of bug bit me?!  I could’ve kept silent, answered with dignity, and could’ve not begun shouting like a wild Neanderthal”.

Only in Italian movies these passionate moments spice up the plot. In real life, in an impulse of anger, we can unfairly offend others, or do something that we can then bitterly regret later on.

Under the thunderstorm of hurtful words and uncontrolled aggression, a relationship quite quickly begins to crack. Grievances accumulate and press on us from all sides, preventing us from existing together. 

But what can we do if our emotions are boiling and bursting out? On one hand, following the recommendations of those “connoisseurs of the soul”, you should never suppress or keep your negativity pent up inside, otherwise all those psychosomatic side effects will bloom. On the other hand, dumping all this waste on your loved ones is also not the right way out of the situation.

Let’s try to find the golden mean here and choose a more environmentally friendly way out for emotions that doesn’t involve shouting, insults, or throwing objects. 

Nervous tension doesn’t appear just like that, there will always be a reason or prerequisite.

  1. Physiology

Uncontrollable irritation can end up being nothing more than an SOS from your body: fatigue from several sleepless nights, a feeling of hunger or thirst, a constraining belt or tie, jet lag, a migraine, or overfilling bowels or bladder (yes!). Listen to your feelings more often to prevent a sudden breakdown.

  1. Jealousy and envy

It can be very annoying that your partner doesn’t go to bed until ten, and you have to be on the subway at seven with your eyes glued together. Your significant other is the soul of the group at every party and you, you’re always just some appendix sticking out. It seems that here you should be honest and admit your feelings, and in no case whatsoever accumulate negative emotions. Be sure also to work them out with a partner or a specialist.

  1. Boundaries

Someone forces you to do something that not only ruins your plans, but also grossly violates your privacy. Being irritated here is only fair. If taking a shower is a very intimate ritual for you, and your partner always knocks or stops by to ask you “something urgent”, then the actual sin here is not snapping at them.

  1. Hidden desires

Another reason for a breakdown might be, on one hand, your exaggerated expectations from your partner, and on the other hand, your inability to identify your desires and ask for help in fulfilling them. It is naive to think that your partner should always guess what you’re thinking and never forget or confuse anything, while at the same time, pulling everything onto yourself, making yourself the victim, and then shouting in anger, “Will I ever see the day that you’ll help me?” Oh, what? You needed help? What kind of help? Well, maybe you should’ve asked for it first. 

  1. Displacement

Negative emotions accumulated in one sphere of life and can unfortunately shift into another. You can’t snap at the boss, on children, or patients at work and so negativity starts to accumulate, and when you meet the person you love, all of these “good thoughts” pour onto their head. The anger is justified, sure, but it’s coming out at the completely wrong place.

As you can see, some types of irritation can be dealt with at the very beginning (for example, going to the bathroom in time or taking a pill for a headache). Others will require you to work and treat your feelings thoughtfully and consciously.

What can you do if there’s a storm at bay?

▸ STEP ONE

Ask yourself the question: “What do I feel now? Do I feel irritation, anger, despair, or anxiety?” Just knowing your current emotion will help you lower the heat.  Are you dissatisfied with something your partner did, or do you just want to have a tantrum for no particular reason? You will learn to clearly identify the true cause of anger and resentment and it will be much easier to deal with strong emotions.

▸ STEP TWO

Make sure you’re clear on how you feel.  Breathe in and out, and after a few seconds, we’ll create an eco-friendly phrase based on the following plan:

  • Your feelings presented in an “I…” form. 
  • A neutral, innocuous description of what your partner did to elicit these strong emotions.
  • A description of your solution or an invitation to discuss.

Example: 

“It’s a real shame to see you throwing your stuff around the room. I really want to make our place cozier. Let’s think of a way to change this situation.”

“I get so angry and upset when you plan your meetings with your friends so suddenly, ruining all of our plans. I want as little as these overlaps as possible. Do you have any ideas?”

“I get scared, and the worst thoughts come to mind when you don’t return my calls for so long. Please, it’s really not a whim; a short text that says you’re okay is more than enough.”  

▸ STEP THREE

Perhaps this step should’ve been first, the precautionary one. We’re talking about triggers – those provocative situations that can cause a breakdown.  Think back and analyze your latest outbreaks and make a list of your main sources of irritation. For example, dirty dishes on the table, your partner’s boss calling outside work hours, fingerprints on the computer screen, or talking about the family home. Think about why these things throw you off balance. Now discuss these triggers with your partner and together, think about how you can get through them.

Additional ways to calm down when you’re “in the moment.” 

  • Count to a hundred (or any other number): this method is as old as time, but it helps a little. You should count slowly, taking deep breaths in and out, preferably without looking at whatever’s irritating you. And with the increased amount of oxygen in your blood, new ideas for solving conflict and blossom.
  • Water: Inside or out, depending on the situation. Drink a glass of cool water, or soak your hands or neck in water (or forehead, temples…); if you can stand under the shower, that’d be great.
  • Work therapy: channel your negative energy into a peaceful direction: wash the mirrors, iron out all the towels, and rub down the coffee maker or kettle until it shines. Good music while you work is recommended.
  • Special techniques: you can find them in the “Psycho-Sutra” section.