Looking for tips on how to deal with an angry person in a relationship? If you got yourself a hostile husband, a grumpy wife, or a hot-headed partner, it’s so not easy being in love at all times. You never know what to say or do; you are always walking on eggshells in order to avoid a volcanic explosion. Raised voices, clenched fists, temper tantrums, name-calling…living with someone with anger issues is not at all a pretty sight. 

That is not to say that being angry with your partner is complete blasphemy. It’s always better to let the negative emotions out instead of suffering in silence as long as your expression of anger doesn’t reach the point of verbal or physical abuse. But anything in excess is never good. And if you are dealing with anger in another person for the long term, it can leave you with a deep scar affecting all your future relationships.

This is why we reached out to emotional wellness and mindfulness coach Pooja Priyamvada, certified in Psychological and Mental Health First Aid from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Sydney. She specializes in counseling for extramarital affairs, breakups, separation, grief, and loss, to name a few. And we are here to solve your relationship problems regarding ‘How to deal with anger in a relationship?’, ‘How to talk to someone with anger issues?’ and more.

What Causes Anger Issues In A Person?

As Pooja points out, “Any person can get angry. Some people might have a tendency to lose their temper quickly. Some might have specific triggers. Others might have just a phase when their anger is off the mark. Feeling angry in a relationship often comes from frustration and angst. When people feel they are losing control of anything or feel offended, they enter the anger cycle.”

But what is the root cause of rage issues in a marriage or relationship? Research points out that the evolutionary roots of anger and resentment can be traced back to animals preparing for an attack to ward off opponents. Anger is a response to survival threats and it serves to suppress fear, pain, and shame.

Another study shows that avoiding coping with stress and lack of self-confidence in interpersonal problem-solving often add fuel to the temperament of angry people. If your situation is as bad as “My husband’s anger gives me anxiety” or “My wife gets mad at everything I do”, you should first comprehend the possible causes of anger issues in relationships:

  • Upbringing in a household wherein being angry was normalized
  • Unresolved feelings about past trauma/abuse
  • Unexpressed grief from losing someone special
  • Consequence of alcoholism 
  • Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/Bipolar Disorder
  • Response to unfair treatment/feeling invalidated
  • Overcompensating for low self-esteem
  • Suffering from anxiety/depression
  • Feeling frustrated/powerless/threatened/attacked

How Do You Calm An Angry Partner?

Our reader Melissa writes to us from Texas seeking help in dealing with anger, “My boyfriend has a temper problem. We have different beliefs on certain matters but he is so obstinate when it comes to accepting other opinions that even the small things lead to big, ugly fights. To be honest, my boyfriend’s anger is ruining our relationship. Should I walk away or seek professional help for him? How to deal with an angry partner?”

Pooja emphasizes, “An angry spouse or partner is often impatient and shows an unwillingness to listen to any contrary opinion. They don’t even realize the magnitude of their behavior during fits of rage.” Dealing with someone with anger issues can hence be tricky. Here’s your guide on how to deal with an angry person in a relationship:

1. Don’t shout back 

An eye for an eye? Oh no, that’s so not the right strategy to resolve angry spouse/partner issues. If one partner is losing their cool and the other person, too, joins the shout show immediately, it will be a complete disaster. When dealing with a controlling wife or a husband with anger issues, these are the big no-nos, according to Pooja:

  • Don’t shout back
  • Don’t blame them
  • Don’t bring up old issues
  • Don’t try to shut them down

Related Reading: 8 Ways Blame-Shifting In A Relationship Harms It

2. Use anger management techniques

Pooja articulates, “Venting negative feelings is one of the most effective strategies for de-escalating anger. While it is healthy to vent, you should do it in a non-violent and sensitive way. One can write or express anger in some form of performance art too. Anger can be expressed creatively.”

A variety of techniques can be used to defuse anger in a relationship. Calmly tell your partner about the different ways in which they can combat their anger. Here are some effective anger management techniques, according to research:

  • Counting (letting the first impulse to react pass)
  • Breathing slowly (yoga/meditation calms the mind)
  • Taking a time-out and stepping back from the situation
  • Brisk walking/running/swimming
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3. Let them express their reasons for anger 

My boyfriend has a temper problem. Over time I’ve realized that all he needs is to feel heard. Our expert suggests, “ Anger management in relationships is incomplete without empathy. As long as they are not violent or abusive, let them express themselves. Try to be compassionate toward them.” So, instead of targeting them back by saying things like “You always shout at me when you are angry”, say something along the lines of “Can you tell me what’s bothering you?”

Your partner should not feel attacked by anything you say. It will trigger them to lash out even more. If you are looking for tips on how to deal with an angry boyfriend/partner, the most important one is trying to find out the underlying reason behind their anger. Have open communication about how they treated you, but don’t have it during their outburst.

4. Offer them a solution

Still figuring out how to deal with an angry person in a relationship? Well, when a person gets mad, there must be some unresolved issues in the back of their mind. Something must not have gone their way resulting in the outbursts. As a person loving someone with anger issues, you can look for an answer to assuage them. For instance,

  • If they are cross with you and you realize that you are, in fact, at fault, simply set aside your ego and apologize sincerely
  • If your partner is punishing you for something completely unreasonable, ask them what went wrong and what were their expectations regarding that particular matter
  • Try to clarify your perspective and show your partner why you are right and they are being unrealistic
  • If they have an open mind, you can discuss the problem at hand and mutually come to a solution
  • In case, they are mad at someone else, you may suggest what they could do or say differently to handle that situation more calmly

Related Reading: Emotional Flooding: What Does It Mean In A Relationship?

5. Distract them

An effective tip on how to calm down an angry person is focusing their attention on something else, in a subtle way. You can say something along the lines of “Hey, let’s go for a walk. Let’s get some fresh air and clear our heads”. In fact, a study found that rumination increases the feelings of anger, while distraction helps in decreasing them.

You can use a funny video or crack a joke to defuse their anger. A distraction will help them to get back to their normal self, even if for a second, and reflect on how they have been reacting. However, do this only if your partner is moderately angry. If a person has intense anger issues, this can irritate them even more.

How To Deal With An Angry Person In A Relationship – Expert Strategies

Given that you are still reading, we can assume your girlfriend or wife has anger issues or perhaps you don’t know what to do when your husband blames you for everything. And that constant anger, the air of negativity – it’s all putting you in deep emotional distress. Trust me, our heart goes out to you. If you could keep an open mind and practice patience for a little longer, we can definitely help you deal with an angry spouse/partner and build a healthy defense mechanism.

The first step toward overcoming anger and resentment in marriage is to understand the cycles of anger. Pooja explains, “The arousal cycle of anger has five phases: trigger, escalation, crisis, recovery, and depression. Understanding the cycle helps us to understand our own reactions and those of others.” Here are the 5 phases of anger:

  • Phase 1 of anger: The trigger phase is when an event gets the anger cycle started
  • Phase 2: The escalation phase is when our body prepares for a crisis with increased respiration and heart rate and raised blood pressure. Muscles tense up, the voice may become louder or acquire an altered pitch, our eyes change shape, pupils enlarge, and brow falls
  • Phase 3: The crisis phase is when our survival instinct steps in (the fight or flight response). The decisions we take during this phase lack quality judgment
  • Phase 4: The recovery phase takes place after some action has resulted during the crisis phase. The reasoning starts to replace the survival response
  • Phase 5: The post-crisis depression phase is when the heart rate slips below normal so the body can regain its balance. We experience guilt, regret, or emotional depression

So, giving your partner tips to calm down in the escalation phase or the crisis phase is just futile. They are not in the right frame of mind at that time. Their anger is messing with their minds and yours too. After all, living with someone with anger issues can affect your mental health. So here are some expert-backed tips on how to deal with an angry boyfriend or girlfriend:

1. Make a note of your partner’s triggers

To cope with passive-aggressive behavior or the full-fledged rage of your partner, you need to be one step ahead of them. So, your husband has explosive anger. But what exactly are the alarming points that activate his snappy mode? Identifying these triggers is extremely important to defuse anger in a relationship and how?

Pooja answers, “The first step is to observe and introspect but sometimes it isn’t easy to identify them on their own. So one must seek help from a licensed clinical psychologist.” If at any point you consider counseling, our panel of experts is always here to help you with various methods. Here are some common examples of anger triggers. See if one of these leads to outbursts from your partner:

  • Being disrespected/invalidated/not heard
  • Insulting language
  • Traffic jam
  • Breach of personal space
  • Heavy workload
  • Financial problems
  • Lack of appreciation/fair treatment

2. Tell your partner about grounding techniques

I ask Pooja, “My boyfriend has a temper. What are some of the tips that you can suggest for my partner because my boyfriend’s anger is ruining our relationship?” Pooja answers, “Remember the escalation phase of anger? In it, our body prepares for a crisis with rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and raised blood pressure. The muscles tense for action, the voice may become louder, and the pupils enlarge. Tell him to take note of these things next time he feels angry. His body stance may change as well.” 

The strategy that Pooja has suggested is called ‘grounding’. As research points out, this technique is common among dance movement therapists and body psychotherapists. It expresses a stable physical and emotional presence – ‘supported by the ground’. If your partner is trying to work on ‘How to stop being aggressive and angry?’, here are some other grounding techniques they can use to calm themselves:

  • Listening to music
  • Listing things that bring them joy
  • Touching something comforting (and feeling the fabric on their skin)
  • Sitting with a pet
  • Watching funny videos

Related Reading: Verbal Abuse In Relationships: Signs, Effects And How To Cope

3. Suggest behavioral techniques

You may not be aware but chances are your partner is also looking for answers to ‘How to deal with anger in a relationship?’ They just don’t know how to channel their negative emotions and irrational thoughts in a refined manner. Research points out that behavioral and cognitive restructuring techniques are pretty effective in case of rage issues in a marriage or relationship. Here are some of the behavioral techniques approved by the APA (American Psychological Association) that your partner can use:

  • Repeating calm words to themselves like “Relax” or “Take it easy”
  • Saying “I would like” instead of “I demand” or “I must have”
  • Slowing down and thinking before answering
  • Using humor as a coping mechanism 
rage issues in marriage
Try effective grounding techniques to calm down an angry partner

4. Be patient and kind with an angry partner

“When you’re living with an angry person, know that their anger is adversely affecting their mental health too. It can dent their self-confidence and self-respect,” says Pooja. It is killing them from the inside. So, you can try to be empathetic toward your angry partner, instead of pointing fingers at them. 

Pooja adds, “Don’t respond immediately. Let the immediate reaction pass and then respond. Take the issue up with the person when both of you are calmer.” So, an expert tip on how to deal with an angry person in a relationship would be to allow the negative energy to pass first. Then, have a rational discussion. They will be more open to understanding your point of view when they are calm.

If they are keen on taking responsibility for their actions and have a problem-solving attitude, you may suggest they join anger management classes. Just the assurance that in this unfair world, you are there to hold their hands might bring you one step closer to building a healthy relationship.

5. Put yourself first

When struggling with the thought of “How to deal with an angry partner?”, self-care should be your number one priority. We receive letters from our readers – someone whose husband gets angry easily and tends to break things, another person says, “My wife and I fight every day over petty, small stuff.” And they are all living in a rabbit hole of complete darkness and negativity.

So, as you are dealing with someone with anger issues, you have got to create a positive environment for yourself to cultivate positive energy. Here are some tips for you:

  • Take care of yourself through yoga/meditation or even a cup of tea or going for a swim (you can only be a safe space for someone else if you’re grounded enough)
  • Do not sacrifice anything dear to your heart fretting to upset an angry husband or partner
  • Do NOT (even for a second) believe that something is wrong with you or that you need to change for them to be less angry/abusive
  • Keep your family members or friends posted about your situation. Sharing often alleviates suffering
  • Make a detailed safety plan – who you can call or where you can go in dangerous situations. Always keep the national domestic violence hotline numbers handy in case you have an abusive partner

Related Reading: 11 Things To Do When Someone Treats You Badly In A Relationship

6. Don’t tolerate disrespect

Just because we asked you to be kind to your partner doesn’t mean we are justifying their actions on any level. Neither do we advise you to stay and put up with this mental abuse against your will. Stand up for yourself whenever they cross the line of basic decency and disrespect you, insult you, or abuse you in some other way. It doesn’t always have to be loud, or aggressive. Even silent treatment after every fight is a form of disrespect.

That’s when your communication skills prove to be beneficial. Because when you are countering angry spouses/partners, you need to choose your words carefully so it doesn’t escalate the argument any further. Acknowledge that you understand where they are coming from, you are open to discussing the matter but at the same time, make it clear how they are overstepping your emotional boundaries.

  • Set boundaries by saying, “I am not willing to be yelled at. I really want to understand where you’re coming from. But now is not the right time”
  • You can also say, “I get that you are upset. But my attention is all over the place at this moment. Can we reconnect at a better time?”
  • Say this if you’re feeling overwhelmed, “I love you. But it’s difficult to listen when you are shouting at the top of your lungs. Let me know when you can talk without pointing fingers. I am always here for you”
stories on anger management

7. Think about the bigger picture

At this point, there are a few questions you should ask yourself and find your own answers. Let’s break it down for you:

  • Do you need a strategy for the long term? What we mean is, are you on the verge of a breakup if these anger-control techniques don’t show any instant results? Or, you are determined to spend the rest of your life with this person?

  • If you plan on staying, first, you should check on your own actions for once. Is there anything you are doing that particularly gets your angry partner all riled up? These issues can always be discussed and resolved by the intervention of a couples counselor
  • If the problem lies in them, you have to learn to pick your battles for your own sanity in the long run. You decide which ones are worth fighting for and you let the rest go
  • Finally, if you try all this and it still doesn’t work out, don’t feel guilty for leaving your partner. Make sure you break up in a public place to ensure your safety and express everything to them with sincerity and honesty

We hope now you have a better grasp on ‘How to deal with an angry person in a relationship?’ Also, remember that your job is not to change your partner or ‘fix’ them. All you can do is influence them and enable an environment of cooperation, instead of control. At the same time, you don’t have to be submissive and fearful of your partner. Treat them with respect but also be assertive so that you can get the respect that you deserve.

Key Pointers

  • Don’t shout back or bring up old issues when your partner is angry
  • Persuade your partner to try their hand at brisk walking or deep breathing
  • Also, make sure that you validate their feelings and distract them
  • Suggest a good therapist to them and also tell them about grounding techniques
  • Be patient, kind, and empathetic; your job is not to ‘fix’ them
  • If your relationship is becoming physically/mentally abusive, walk away

If you could think of it this way that we are all human beings with obvious flaws and shortcomings. Your partner deserves a chance to overcome their anger issues. At the same time, you have your own limitations and there’s only so much you can do to help them without damaging your own mental health. Try everything in your power so you don’t have to regret later no matter what decision you make in the end.

This article has been updated in July, 2023. 


1. Can anger break relationships?

Yes, loving someone with anger issues can get really exhausting sometimes. If you’re unable to understand how to deal with an angry partner after repeated attempts and if they are not open to seeking help, the relationship/marriage can even become toxic and abusive.

2. What does anger do to relationships?

Anger issues can cause permanent scars in a relationship. They affect the physical and mental health of both the people involved. If your partner has explosive anger issues, it prevents you from being honest or comfortable with them.

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