Anger Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Lorraine feels like a dangling yo-yo doing Joe’s bidding
Joe’s selfishness drives Lorraine crazy
Lorraine was infuriated. She got in her car, raced the engine and zoomed into the street, the screeching tires magnifying her frustrated rage. She’d show him! Let him worry about where she was, whether she was okay, and sweat over when she would be back. He’d soon find out how valuable she was when he had to bathe the kids and put them to bed, and had no one to complain to about his tough day at work.
What a selfish and self-centered man he was! He had done it again- made it all about him. She asked for one weekend to spend with her girlfriend, but Joe’s work commitments and deadlines came first. He objected to being the sole care taker of the kids.
Joe’s predictable behavior makes Lorraine feel superior
As her rage subsided, a smug smile danced on Lorraine’s face. It made her feel secure that Joe had behaved exactly as predicted. Her anger was validated. He truly deserved the bad guy label because he put himself first, last and always.
Lorraine needs to be off the hook
What’s in it for kind, considerate Lorraine to be with egotistical and selfish Joe?
There are five pay offs for Lorraine to stay mad at Joe.
1. He’s bad, I am good!
When he is inconsiderate and unreasonable Lorraine feels superior and good about herself. All the bad stuff seems situated in Joe.
2. He’s bad, so I don’t have to feel guilty or selfish!
Each time Joe puts himself first, Lorraine doesn’t have to deal with her discomfort about wanting time away from the kids. If her selfish streak was let out of the bag, she would feel guilty and awful about herself. Far better to let Joe own the self-centered parts of each of them.
3. He never supports me, so now I have something to get him on!
Joe’s reluctance to give Lorraine what she wants is disappointing. But it allows her to think of herself as a long suffering martyr. Resentful and full of righteous indignation, Lorraine can punish him as she sees fit. She can torture him by running off and making him worry. She can use his selfish acts as whips to lash him with whenever she needs to feel powerful and in control.
4. Joe is responsible for making me feel so awful!
By handing over the reins to Joe Lorraine makes it about him by putting him in charge. She makes him the captain of the ship and then gets enraged when he exercises the authority to steer the course he thinks best.
5. He needs to change, not me!
Entrusting Joe with the sole responsibility for her happiness means that Lorraine sets herself up for a great deal of heartache, stress and low self-esteem. She sabotages herself by giving control to Joe.
However she is willing to pay that price so long as she can blame him for being mean and uncaring. Since he is the bad guy, he is the one who has to change. As the good guy Lorraine is let off the hook and avoids accessing her personal resources for managing her life.
Lorraine needs to nurture herself with a wide range of supports
How can Lorraine feel good without making Joe bad?
1.By making arrangements in advance with family, friends, neighbors and Joe for the care of the children when she wants to get away.
2.By involving her team in supporting her plan. That makes Joe feel useful rather than burdened. Joe is more likely to encourage her to take a much needed break.
3. By taking the lions share of responsibility in achieving her goals makes it more likely that she will feel fulfilled. Joe will be attracted to her independence and want to be included in her ventures.
4. Lorraine has to chose self-empowerment more than the superior feeling and vindication she gets when she punishes Joe.
5. Switching from battle mode where there is only one victor to a win-win mode allows both Lorraine and Joe to feel good. That involves giving up the belief that relationships are all about
” I did — for you, so I expect and demand that you do — for me.”
Lorraine has to do things in her marriage because she wants to, not only because of what it may bring her in return.
6. This may be difficult for Lorraine to get her head around. At this moment there is a pay off for her in setting Joe up to be the bad guy. Her reward is feeling saintly. If she is willing to allow both of them to have good bits and bad bits instead of apportioning them out, she can be find greater acceptance of herself and her partner, making the relationship flexible and battle free.