Negative Emotions in Marriage?

Couples have to learn how to manage negative emotions, instead of acting them out

Man telling his wife what is she allowed to do.

husband controlling her

There is a lot of talk about emotional health now. For the body-based emotional health system, there are no “negative” or “positive” emotions. Then, emotional health is the ability to feel and express all emotions, without repression. All are legitimate reactions of a person to the environmental (external and internal) stimulus. It doesn’t mean that all emotions have to be externally expressed, but only that the person is able to recognize and own his/her own emotions as they happen.

Now is the time to include in the definition of emotional health the ability to express all emotions appropriately. Those who have this ability are surely mentally healthy, and able to keep their relationships with other growing. The opposite, being emotionally blocked and unable to know what feelings are present and how to express those feelings to others indicates a lack of emotional health.

A person might be stuck in depression or in permanent stress; stuck in anger; stuck in obsessive fears, or stuck in perpetual guilt or shame. Each one of them indicates a solution that was chosen as the least of evils way back then when growing up that now is hindering adult emotional development.

If we watch young children, as young as two years old, we can see the gamut of expressions being externalized as they happen. Emotions are there, and all the social and family education gets to work on the young person to control those expressions that are socially upsetting. Sadly, we repress emotions instead of accepting and channeling them as indicators of deep unsolved needs.

When we grow up, the most socially troublesome emotion is anger. How we accept anger in ourselves, how to process it as an indicator of some unjust frustration suffered, and what to do to use it constructively is the challenge.
Emotionally healthy adults, with respect to anger, usually are comfortable with anger and hatred, their own and others. It’s not easy to accept but is part of human emotions and it has a legitimate place.

The problem appears when socially we have no permission to feel or express anger. The message of emotional needs frustration is lost and can’t be solved, and moreover, we suffer social rejection because of acting angry. We could even get more isolation and rejection the more the need prompts us to express anger in the wrong places.

This is one of the known roots of passive aggression: anger gets hidden, and it can’t be expressed in normal ways. It then gets channeled in more hidden ways: sullenness, sabotage, resistance, and emotional withdrawal…

Anger (including irritation, rage, hatred, etc.) is always based upon unfulfilled expectations. But we need to have the anger expressed if we want to be able to offer any relief! What do you do in the case that you have only the smoke (passive aggression) but not the real, subjacent anger? Here is where you need to step into the readings about passive aggressive!


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