As a Portland relationship counselor, I’ve heard all the platitudes. Forgive and forget. Move on. Table it. Everything that we’ve been told is that anger and arguing do us no good – in fact, they are what cause marriage problems!

Well, nothing is ever quite so black and white, and a recent article on ScienceDaily proves my point by arguing for, well, arguing. Moreover, the author even dares to suggest that if you’re angry about something your spouse does it’s not the worst thing in the world to show them how you feel by displaying some of that anger.

The argument (there’s that word again) is that repressing or bottling up anger can actually make the problem worse in the long run because it may prevent it from being solved and cause a bigger blow up down the road. Expressing your anger over something now might cause some hurt feelings and raised voices, but that’s a small price to pay to resolve an issue that’s bothering you.

Portland Relationship Counselor: Anger Can Be Good – With the Right Communication Tools

While I agree with the article’s general principle, I definitely think it’s important to add a caveat, or you could risk creating further marriage problems: you need to know how to argue and communicate effectively.

What does that mean? If you’re angry, go ahead and tell your spouse, but don’t use your anger to attack them. The point of bringing your anger into the conversation is to talk about your emotions and why the situation makes you feel that way.

Both you and your partner need to know how to engage in a dialogue that dissolves tension and refrains from blame. That way, you can be productive in your problem solving. The anger is essentially just a reason to enter into the discussion: “What you just said really makes me mad and I think we need to talk about it.” Maybe your spouse wasn’t paying attention before, but they should be now.

Good communication is mostly about having the ability to listen and understand the other person’s point of view without losing your own, but there are specific tools that can help as well. If you’ve tried having a productive “angry” conversation and it just doesn’t seem to be working, a Portland relationship counselor can help.