154/444 Healing from Infidelity: Practical Ways to Process Anger #1
We've covered myths of anger, purposes of anger, and styles of expressing anger. Let's turn to practical ways to process anger. The following partly comes from Torn Asunder by Dave Carder.
First off it is important to learn to feel your feelings. This sounds obvious but it is anything but that. We are taught in many places and ways to not feel our feelings. This is especially true if your home is a little more dysfunctional than typical. The more dysfunction the more denial that is there. So one often has to learn what exactly their feelings are and how to put words to them. This can take time. Ann used to be able to say, "I don't know what I am feeling." She was telling the truth. So be patient with you and/or your spouse as feeling and expressing emotions is learned. Just like everything else it is a process.
Ann and I were with friends recently. A while back we had the privilege of being with them as they processed some important events from the past that were impacting their marriage in the present. As we visited the guy shared with gratitude, "Through that I've learned how to feel. I used to not feel emotion at all. Now I'm more connected to my heart than I ever was before. I allow myself to feel everything more, including sadness and tears."
He is really turning into a real renaissance man. He is focused, disciplined, works hard; he is tender, compassionate, a great listener to his wife and involved with his kids. It warms my heart to see him more comfortable with his heart.
His wife has also learned to own more of what is going on in her soul. Walking through anger was part of that process.
So each spouse has to learn to own his or her feelings, including anger, and then learn to express them in unregrettable ways. Unregrettable ways include: crying, yelling or screaming in private, going for a long run, walk, bike ride or other physical activity. Also, playing a sport where you whomp a ball can be helpful.
Once you have allowed yourself to feel those feelings and process them on your own, it is then important to discuss them. Developing this big inner world to keep to yourself is not the goal. Connecting at deeper levels in safety is the goal here. Find a place to connect with God perhaps praying out loud. There is something significant about talking out loud to God. I'd do this in a private place so others around you won't think you are talking to them.
On a related topic I was working in a group home once where a man experienced auditory hallucinations. He heard voices and responded to them. I was new there and wasn't quite used to it. He was walking through the living room. He let out some choice curse words that would make Betty White blush. My first instinct was to think he was insulting me. Then I chuckled as I realized my mistake that he was doing what he normally does.
So when you are talking out loud to God it's best to do that in private so others won't think you are talking to them.
It can also help to find a safe friend, typically of the same gender. If your affair was same gender, figure out who your friends are who won't stir up that temptation.
Mostly and especially talk to your spouse in vulnerable heart-to-heart talks. It's imperative that you both learn to listen non-defensively. It really helps us to use the Speaker/Listener technique when emotions are running high. Validation of our feelings in these circumstances is crucial. The technique helps me keep focused on Ann's heart when she is sad, fearful, wounded or angry. Likewise, I appreciate it when she stays present, physically and emotionally when I'm sharing my anger and feelings of hurt with her.