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

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Photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.


Choose! Your Mother Or Me!

Despite five years of living with Martin, Tanya was still competing with Martin’s mother for the top spot in his attentions. She wanted to feel his soft responsiveness – she Tanya wanted to be his one and only. She had a very clear picture of how things should be if Martin was truly committed to her The zoom lens in her mind zeroed in on Martin and Tanya holding hands in the forefront. All other family members were wallpaper in the background.

A savage bile rose in Tanya’s throat as she heard Martin talk to his mother on the phone. His patient, understanding and placating voice made Tanya want to cut the wire on the land line and smash up his cell phone.

Tanya Presents An Ultimatum

” I expect you to be with me at my office awards function tomorrow” Tanya threw out at Martin as he got off the phone with his mother.

” Look Tanya, I know it is an important day for you, but my mother isn’t doing well. Her blood pressure is up, and I need to take her to the doctor ” replied Martin pleading to be let off the hook.

” Her blood pressure is always high, and you fall for it every time! What about my blood pressure? I’m sick of playing second fiddle. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. If you care about our future together, you will come to my office party tomorrow ” Tanya snarled back.

” She doesn’t always report the side effects of her medication so I need to be there to get it all straight. You know I can’t be fully present with you if I am worrying about her.” Martin said, ending the struggle.

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Photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Tanya Gives Martin The Cold Shoulder

Seething with anger and humiliation Tanya stormed off. For the next few days she donned the hat of supreme self-reliance banishing Martin from her heart and mind. This was the fight of her life. It was her chance to insist on having a relationship on her terms.

Martin is Desperate To Win Tanya Back

As time wore on, Martin felt empty and lonely. Playing the responsible son didn’t feel so good anymore. He had lost his life line to his partner. He felt ashamed that being such a caring son could cost him big time. So he made frantic efforts to penetrate Tanya’s well sealed sanctuary.

Suffering Tanya and Martin Forgive but Don’t Forget

In her fortress Tanya shifted from righteous indignation towards loneliness and hurt. She spurned Martin’s efforts to make up, until hurt and isolation overwhelmed her pride. Eventually their mutual hunger to restore the status quo propelled them to forgive one and other. Both vowed to be more understanding and supportive during times of conflict. Until the next time Tanya felt she was in competition with Martin’s mother for his attention. And so the cycle continued.

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Photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Should Martin Jump Out Of the Pan Into the Fire?

Martin was attracted to Tanya’s strong will, determination and independence. He envied her confidence to do as she pleased. He loved her ability to be direct and up front about what she thought and felt. There was something comforting in her certainty. Ever since his father died Martin had been the man in the family. Torn between being the apple of his mother’s eye and the love of Tanya’s life, he was overwhelmed with conflict. The silver lining showed through when he felt the strong pull of both women wanting him. That was worth all the agonies he endured.

Tanya Wants All Or Nothing

Tanya was drawn to Martin’s close family ties that lasted well into adulthood. If things didn’t work out for Martin he always had his family to fall back on. Not her, she had no one. She had brought herself up, relying on no one but herself. But now she wanted some of that for herself. She wanted to have that strong tie, just like Martin had with his mother. She had waited long enough to find the right person. Martin had seemed just right for the job. He was warm, loving, loyal and a good listener. The only trouble was, Tanya wasn’t willing to share. It had to be all or nothing. He had to give up his mother and choose Tanya to prove his love.

Tanya and Martin Both Feel Powerless

Both Tanya and Martin share a sense of powerlessness. Tanya the independent one wants to depend on Martin. She is unable to wrest him away from his mother and claim him for herself. Martin wants to be independent of his mother but not get sucked into another dependent relationship with Tanya. What if Tanya leaves him and he has no mother to fall back on?

Unhooking From the Power Pegs

Both have an excellent chance of making their relationship work if they follow these guide lines. Psychotherapy will help both become stronger in themselves, more flexible and more tolerant of one another.

1. Martin has to develop boundaries that are able to safeguard him from fear of being engulfed.

2. Martin needs to experiment with acting on his own initiative and build his emotional muscles

3. Tanya needs to play with her definition of love, making it more elastic and allowing for ebbs and flows depending on circumstance

4. Tanya needs to tell herself that she doesn’t have to win a war in order to be worthy of being loved.

Research indicates that couples have the best chance of maintaining a solid connection if they learn to feel gratitude towards one another and if they genuinely forgive the everyday hurts that come with the territory.