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How To Deal With a Partner's Anger Problem

You're closest to the fire and hurt most often, even though it's not about you. Try these ways to neutralize the effects of your partner's anger on both of you.


  • Step 1: Pay attention and listen Pay attention, listen, and try to understand – but not to excuse – your partner's problem. Learn what you can about the source of the anger. This will also help to defuse an escalation.
  • Step 2: Change how you respond Ask yourself how you've handled your partner's anger in the past. Did you hide, become combative, habitually deny, or fearfully run? Change your response to interrupt your partner's patterns.
  • Step 3: Protect yourself Protect your self-esteem in all matters, without indulging the urge to be defensive or retaliatory.
  • : Talk to friends or a trusted professional to gauge whether you are in danger. If you ever feel your safety is threatened, leave immediately.
  • Step 4: Define rules of engagement Define rules of engagement: no harsh or insulting statements, no blaming, and no discussion until the partner can be calm.
  • Step 5: Breathe without speaking Breathe slowly without saying anything. Make eye contact but relax, and remind yourself that this is not about you.
  • Step 6: Acknowledge their anger Acknowledge verbally that you see they are angry, without necessarily needing to understand or agree. They have a right to their feelings, as long as they are not threatening you.
  • FACT: Did you know? For college graduates, the divorce rate in the first10 years of marriage dropped from 27 percent of those married between 1975 and 1979 to just over 16 percent of those married between 1990 and 1994.

You Will Need

  • Listening skills
  • Empathy
  • A change in response
  • Rules of engagement
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Advice from a friend or professional (optional)

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