— “Never go to bed angry.”
— “This is a great philosophy,” said the first.
— “Yes. And our record of staying up is five days.”
Ah, the anger! I can talk about it. My record was the opposite: going to sleep angry. I do not remember how many days in a row I went to bed angry with Cristiane (she should remember it better), but they were many, and for many years.
The cycle was like this: She did something I did not like, usually unintentionally—a misplaced word, a decision she made without consulting me, a criticism or a demand. A siren went off inside of me. Within seconds, my body reacted. A burning sensation in the chest, restless hands and a desire to climb the walls; but I did not express that in an offensive manner. Instead, I kept quiet and closed up. Nothing would come out of me. Neither words nor affection, love or favors—nothing.
And so I remained for days. “She’ll see,” I thought, “I’ll make her pay for this.” In my mind, I was punishing Cristiane. And indeed, my behavior punished her. But I felt the pain too.
Deep down, I hated it. I didn’t want to do like my father, whom I saw doing this many times to my mother. But I could not control myself. Only days later would I slowly return to normal, until the next episode.
Anger has been the reason for many broken relationships. And men usually have more difficulty dealing with it. Some implode, like me; others take it out on their wives. Both reactions destroy the relationship in the same way.
How to change this?
Three things helped me. First, I recognized that I had a problem. Before, I thought it was who I was and would never change. But when I acknowledged that it was an evil inside of me, I could make a decision to do something about it.
Then, I got to know myself better in that aspect. I started to notice myself more: how the cycle began, my typical reactions, what kinds of thoughts I entertained, what emotions ruled me. I was able to detect my flaws and anticipate them the next time around.
Finally, I decided to put common sense in control. I would no longer let my emotions control me. I would not act out of habit. By using my head, I decided to break the cycle. Whenever Cristiane did something that displeased me, I used that siren as a sign that I needed to talk to her about that problem and solve it as soon as possible.
We adopted the rule of “never going to sleep angry” to our marriage. It worked, and still does.
These three steps can help you too. I still feel angry because it is inherent in human beings. But now it does not use me anymore. This is I who takes advantage of it.