Marriage, Anger and the Search for Deep Connection

 There is a subtle change happening through time in the quality of ongoing male-female relationships, like marriage, when initial expectations of each other are compared with what we really get. If we were dreaming of receiving perhaps real love or deep acceptance and they are not forthcoming, a growing sense of disillusion grows.
Of course what we expect is originated in our deep needs…if we have needed all our lives to receive a broad message of: "I love you exactly as you are," we are going to be frustrated and impatient at the vast improvement program that our partner dishes out to us, too early in the game…again, where is the acceptance once promised or imagined?

Probably we all humans marry out of a deep need for wholesale acceptance, warts and all…if we had issues with our parents, (and who hasn't?) which were unable to approve or love us as we were and not as they expected us to be, then having a partner is our spanking new opportunity to really be loved and accepted…right?
You can guess what follows: What we will probably get in this bargain is more of the same, because we are out and about choosing and courting someone who knows the situation from the inside out because being starved himself!
Or not, but what I want to talk here is about a deep, almost legitimate source of male rage pretty much ignored and worth explaining. Of course, you can say: Is there any acceptable source of rage? Of course there is!
What finally matters is what do we do with the rage, but rage is a real and valid human emotion…sometimes too ignored in its origin and only perceived as the insane engine for violent destruction.
Let me explain here that I condemn any acting out of rage on others who can suffer aggression and emotional abuse. It is necessary to open a space of reflection between feeling the anger and acting it out on others. In this kind of a "space of reflection," is where my comments on the roots of anger get validated.
Women have lots of resources to help them deal with disappointment and frustration. They can express themselves, talk with family and friends, write a diary, find similar experiences in books and TV programs, and in general use lots of channels to process their emotions and find solutions.
For men the path is less straightforward, because doing a lot of emotional self-expression is not accepted as part of the male typical behavior…as a result, what they do with their emotions is a process that ends up complicating but not resolving them.
As they also are hidden seekers of compliments and acceptance, but at the same time deeply blocked from asking for them, they are reduced to wait and interpret and signal sent their view as responding to the vital question:
"Does she love/accept/recognize me or not?"  "Am I finally loved as I am?"
If the answer is not clear, or is contingent upon conditions, like "You would be a wonderful husband if you would behave in X, Y, or Z way,"  then any emotional reaction looks like a step-by-step description of a path from frustration to anger attacks.
First is the feeling of disconnection because not being accepted, then the surge of old emotions like previous disappointment and frustrations, then the usual male response to emotional confusion: ignoring or masking such emotions by withdrawal, silence, denial or isolation.

When this foundation is built, any new frustration will trigger an anger explosion that is not proportionate to the actual trigger, but it is congruent with the hidden package of old frustration and emotional repression.
Not having a perceived legitimate path to express hard emotions, (because the fear of more rejection is even more powerful), the foundations for an anger explosion are built.

Why is so frequently ignored this root of anger? Why we don't have a more transparent talk about this fear of rejection as being so important? All men around us will agree in reinforcing the usual stereotypes, "we don't ask for love," we don't beg, etc….
Perhaps men have been trained for too long to project an image of security, based on freedom from needs and wants, to be able now to accept that they have unsolved but basic needs… and the only external aspect of this frustration is the rage attack by which men attempt to regain control, call women's attention and receive recognition without having to ask for it.
A tall order, made more impossible by the display of rage! This is the worst way to call for attention and care, because it confirms the aggressiveness and anger of men, exactly when they are trying to get a solution to the opposite hunger….
Is this an impossible situation? It looks like one, indeed. We offer here a different framing, inviting brave women witnessing the rage explosion to ask the real question:
"Which kind of frustration is in the heart of his anger attack?" Or: "if I don't pay attention to the loudness of his voice, what kind of pain is this I hear?" 
Perhaps if they only could think of this different framing, they would find a hidden path to reduce anger to its core: a desperate need for acceptance and why not, even for love.

Neil Warner

Neil Warner

Neil Warner

I'm the “relationship guru,” and my main focus is to increase the quality of love-based relationship experiences. In this ground-breaking guide I offer useful strategies on healing a difficult angry relationship with love and compassion.  You don't have to stay in an unhealthy relationship one more minute. Let us share our tools with you today.


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