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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Uploaded: Jan 7, 2015
I am for anger. It's a useful feeling that lets us know a boundary has been crossed. Anger lets us know we need to do something about that.

It's what and how we do it, and in what volume and circumstance that we express our anger, that can make anger constructive or destructive.

Anger is like a road sign; e.g., Merge Ahead. That lets us know we need to respond to traffic around us. We don't stop our car there; it would cause an accident. Likewise, we don't want to stew in anger, it exhausts us.

We can tell our mate that we are angry, and why. We can ask what her intention was. We can give him the benefit of the doubt that while the impact on me was difficult, his intention was good (and hopefully it was).

At times, we say, "No," loudly to get our spouse's attention. When we don't feel heard, we often raise the volume. If that happens, the listener can say, "I'm right here, I'm listening."

If we try to shut down the important thing our beloved is trying to tell us, things will often escalate.

Anger is a great tool; makes me think of a hammer. Anger can't be the only tool in our toolbox. We need to develop more tools. Everything is not a nail, so we need more than a hammer.

As the Gottman research shows, as long as we have the 5:1 ratio of good interactions to poor ones, our marriage can last and be happy. But if too many interactions are angry or anger-driven, our marriage may be in trouble.

So use anger wisely. It will serve you well.

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Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Jan 7, 2015 at 8:33 am

A few relevant quotes from the past.

"Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy." -Aristotle

He wisely notes that it is not an easy task, nor will it available to everyone, but it follows along the same train of thought.

"Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one." -Benjamin Franklin

Same basic concept.

Here's one from the opposing point of view:

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." -Buddha

The expected stance from this particular source.

And here is one for the pragmatists:

"For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

And I'll conclude with this:

"There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot." -Plato

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jan 9, 2015 at 11:26 am

I have not read that much Gottman, but what I did read the toxic element was not so much anger as contempt? No?

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Gottman's four apocalyptic horsemen: contempt, stonewalling, criticism, defensiveness.

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