How to Deal with Ongoing Annoyances Without Starting a Fight
Like many, you may be experiencing more squabbles with your partner. And the reason this is likely happening is pretty straightforward.
Most of us are together in a restricted space. And although we love each other, everyone can be annoying (that includes you!). If we experience ongoing annoyances (and who isn’t right now?), it can lead to feelings of anger.
Ultimately, you need to let your partner know that you have upset feelings. Stuffing your feelings down isn’t helpful. And in fact, most often leads to a greater explosion.
However, expressing yourself while you are still angry will result in two things:
- you won’t feel heard, and
- your partner will feel hurt.
So, how do you do the important work of getting something off your chest without making things worse?
Keys to Discussing Frustrations Productively
First, you need to calm down. Yes, we know: no one likes being told to calm down when they’re feeling frustrated. But it really is important if you want to have a positive, productive interaction with your partner.
In our award-winning book Rock Solid Relationship, we have an entire chapter dedicated to the mechanics of how to relax and have a do-over. Here are some of the tips we offer for calming down and starting over.
Let your partner know that you feel too upset to talk constructively
Tell them you love them and will come back in 30 minutes to check in. Then follow through. Even if you are still too angry to talk in 30 minutes, check in and assure your partner you will be back soon.
Do not build your case during the time away. Instead use the methods below to change your mindset.
If your partner asks for a time-out, let them go! Don’t follow to get in the last word. You must also focus on calming yourself down and trust they will return shortly, and not be angrier with you.
Reduce your anger and get ready to connect
There are three main ways that you can reduce your anger and become ready to reconnect:
- calming down your emotional brain,
- “changing the channel” by doing a mental or physical activity, and
- adjusting your perspective.
How exactly do you do these things?
Calming Down Your Emotional Brain
When you are angry, your brain isn’t thinking clearly. It is focused on fight or flight. The below techniques will help you move the energy from your limbic system to your more relaxed, clear thinking brain:
- Do the opposite of what your emotions are telling you to do. If you want to yell, use a quiet voice. If you want to storm out, say quietly, “I need to calm down.”
- Sit down, close your eyes, and quietly breathe for 5-10 minutes.
- Count backwards from 50.
- Pray for guidance.
- Visualize a peaceful scene.
- Listen to relaxing music.
Changing the Channel
This one is pretty simple. You get your brain of its current state by doing something completely unrelated — preferably something that uses up energy.
- Go for a walk, run, or bike ride and pay attention to the scenery.
- Do yoga.
- Do a chore like folding laundry or unloading the dishwasher.
Adjusting Your Perspective
Most things your partner does are just normal human behaviors. It’s important to let go of your “fault finding” and remember that together, you two can most likely come up with a win-win solution. These techniques work well to bring you a negative mindset back to neutral:
- Turn on your positive thoughts: Close your eyes and think about what you love and appreciate about your partner
- Journal: Check in with your mood before the incident. Were you already upset or having a bad day?
- Put yourself in their shoes: Think about what your partner might be feeling or needing from you right now.
If the issues making you angry are chronic, ask your partner to meet as a couple with Tim or Norene. They can help you not only get to the bottom of them, but also learn communication tools you can use for a lifetime. Schedule a free 30-minute strategy session today to get started.
Online Therapy Sessions: Get Help Now
Both Tim and Norene have been offering online couple’s sessions for years. Rest assured, we’re experts at helping you set things up on your end.
It will be some time before you can safely attend in-person sessions, so we have created a system that will help you now. Not months from now when things in your relationship have exploded.
If you need individual help with anxiety or depression during this time, we can help with that, too.