Anger Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

thorn in the side - Are you covering up the sadness of being a bad parent with anger?

Judgements about her parenting were like thorns arousing anger!


Charlotte was irritated with her three year old daughter who wouldn’t stop pulling the cat’s tail.

She was about ready to tear her hair out when Millie just squealed and pulled even harder with each reprimand Charlotte uttered. What really made her angry was her husband’s response.

Barry had the nerve to come over and say “I’m tired of hearing you yell at Millie when I get home from work!”

“ So why don’t you give me some tips on being a better parent!” Charlotte said, while hoping to pick up some successful strategies without having to admit her desperation.

“Why can’t you just be more patient!” Barry replied impulsively but truthfully.

“ You should have stayed at work!” Charlotte said, twisting the knife into Barry’s sore spot.

“Stop ordering me around. I hate it when you speak to me as if I’m an idiot.” Barry hit back.

skeleton in closet being brought out - Are you covering up the sadness of being a bad parent with anger?

fear at skeletons coming out of the closet sparked anger

Overwhelming anger was much safer than feeling sad and helpless

Barry was furious that he was being rejected

Charlotte was angry that she was being judged.

Both got defensive and attacked each other to protect themselves from further blows.

Both avoided facing a worse feeling – pain and sadness.

Anger protects Charlotte and Barry from feeling wiped out

Getting in touch with sadness and grief can be overwhelming. You fear that it will be like a big black greedy hole sucking you in like a turbo charged vacuum cleaner. You imagine that you will never be able to get back out and function in a meaningful way. You will be helpless and hopeless. Deep sadness can threaten to rob you of your sense of power and control, because it touches you in a place where you are at the mercy of a loved one’s attention. The full force of loss hits you in a way that is unbearable. Facing the loss of attention and focus of your loved one may as well mean you don’t exist.

What is the awful sadness that Barry and Charlotte can’t face?

Charlotte’s sadness stems from the fact that.

1. She can’t control her daughter and feels like a bad mother.

2. Her husband doesn’t notice her struggle.

3. Her husband doesn’t show her how to handle the situation.

4. Barry doesn’t teach her how to be patient

5. She is left feeling helpless and unsupported by the one person who she looks to for help

6. She may as well not exist.

Barry’s sadness arises from the sense that

1. He can’t get his wife to see the futility of her ways with Millie.

2. His wife doesn’t make him feel needed.

3. He feels unimportant and useless.

4. His way of helping isn’t received in a positive manner.

5. He is dismissed when he steps in.

6. He may as well not exist

being refused intimacy(1) - Are you covering up the sadness of being a bad parent with anger?

anger shuts the door on closeness and mutual support

Anger gives you vitality – but you lose the intimacy you crave

  • Anger is a great way to defend against your fear of loss and feeling wiped out as a result.
  • But you pay a big price.
  • You may feel fully alive and vital.
  • You may feel entitled to your view of the situation.
  • But you are cut off from the other person’s point of view and see only half the picture.
  • Possibilities for understanding and connection are destroyed.

How to use sadness rather than anger to improve relationships

1. Consider your loved one as having similar needs to yourself

2. Picture your loved being sad just like you.

3. Let sadness be your common ground

4. Ask your loved one about their fears regarding fears about being judged by you.

5. Share your own concerns about how you will be judged if you admit your faults.

6. Connect in the space where you are both sad.

Benefits to both parties

A. Realizing you are not alone in the sadness will make it bearable.

B. Reaching out for connection through sadness will lessen the fear of being wiped out, and ultimately reduce the need for defensive anger.

C.You complement one another so that you are a team rather than two separate people vying for the title of ‘perfect person.’

D.Supportive interactions using sadness rather than defense through anger makes you stronger and more secure.

Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you might have while reading the article or implementing the suggestions therein.