Anger Management In Action: Let sleeping dogs lie?
Posted Jun 11 2013 8:36pm
“How did your week go, Samuel?” I asked my married patient who consulted me for anger management and anger management skills to deal with his wife.
“Much better,” he replied, “because I kept my mouth shut this time when I desperately wanted to argue with her because I knew I was right. I decided to apply one of the anger management tools you taught me.”
“What did you do instead?” I asked him.
Sam replied: ” I took your advice and simply left the house, went into the back yard for 10 minutes to cool off, then came back in and everything was OK. I didn’t argue with her over the issue because it wasn’t that important. I didn’t have to win this time; I just let it go.”
We continued our therapy session by agreeing that “talking” about an issue doesn’t always solve it. In fact, sometimes it makes it worse. In intimate relationships, sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie, as they say. Believe it or not, over-asking about the issue sometimes becomes the issue.
Have you ever had this conversation with your partner?
“What are you upset about?”
“I’m not upset.”
“Yes, you are. tell me why you are upset. Was it something I said?”
“OK. if you insist. I am upset because you keep asking me if I’m upset.”
Of course, couples should discuss their issues, but not all the time and not necessarily at this moment in time. Timing is everything. Perhaps the outcome would be different if the issue was discussed later, or in a different setting, or when one or both partners is in a better mood.
Keeping your mouth shut and holding back is not easy when your partner truly provokes you and you feel a strong need to argue, to set your partner straight, to rectify the injustice your partner is bestowing upon you, or to get revenge.
But, showing restraint is a sign of maturity and self-control, two traits that bode well for relationship success. Blurt at your own peril. Zip it up once in a while and see if you don’t start getting more positive responses from your partner. Remember, sometimes the sleeping dog just needs to sleep.