I took a test this week and found it asked some tough questions of me. This was not an academic test. I’ve had enough of those in my life and thankfully I can say that the bulk of those are well behind me now.
Now I think about it, test is too strong a word. It was just a simple assessment of the way I deal with things. Here’s a taste:
- Do you have a tendency to criticise others?
- Do you keep things bottled up and then eventually explode at tiny irritation?
- Do you get upset when people disagree with you?
- If you’re angry, do you tend to take it out on someone other than the person you are angry with?
- Do you act politely when fuming inside?
And so it went on with a few more in the same vein. Now I consider myself to be a calm person and feel I cope well with the stresses and strains of life. As a rule, I would say mostly “no’s” in answer to these questions. However, I know there are times and situations when I could have said yes to every one as well.
This all came about as part looking at the wider services we offer to our clients and working with allied professional, catering for a whole host of needs of clients, not just legal services when it comes to divorce and separation.
And it has brought home to me more than ever before just what a key role anger can play in how a break-up affects someone.
Failing to control anger, or managing these feeling badly, affects loved ones, friends and family, not just ex-partners. Domestic violence is perhaps the most commonly discussed example of anger in a relationship and a key reason behind many break-ups. Specific support groups for this are well known and the law also offers some support for individuals in an abusive relationship as everyone has the right to live without fear for their safety.
However, there are many different manifestations of anger and it can be damaging in many different ways if not properly channelled and managed. The very fact that someone feels angry about a situation they are in, perhaps because they blame themselves for as relationship breakdown, are not seeing their children as much as they would want to or simply feel hard done to by the process, can feed further feelings of guilt which in turn cause anger and the problem snowballs.
Managing anger effectively can help prevent a break-up in the first place. If separation is inevitable, it can help a person deal with the process in a more effective way without frustrations spilling out into, say, their working life and so having a bigger impact. It can also help ensure that relationships with friends and family, whose support is so key at a time of break-up, are not inadvertently damaged.
There are simple steps a person can take to relieve the build up of anger and a whole raft of sessions, some with a more general remit like simply beating anger, to more focused ones, like understanding anger for parents, as Paula from the British Association of Anger Management showed us.
Support like this can only be good in saving relationships and helping to achieve a more amicable divorce. I am keen to find out more so will report back in the not-too-distant future again on this topic. In the meantime, if you have any personal experience of this type of session or the effects that well or poorly-managed anger can have on relationships, I would love to hear from you.
Woolley & Co, family law solicitors