Bob Howat, a marriage and family therapist from Fernandina Beach, Florida, recently shared his tips for avoiding the negative effects of anger. As a marriage counselor, he agrees with other experts that unchecked anger can unnecessarily lead to divorce.
Of course, some anger is healthy and natural, such as when it is part of the grieving process after a death or divorce, but if anger stays around too long it can become debilitating. Howat counsels couples that anger is often a choice, and teaches an “ABC” method for avoiding unnecessary anger. It is based on the Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy model developed by psychotherapist Albert Ellis.
The ABC method is actually made up of 5 steps, which include:
A. An Activating experience or event
B. Beliefs and/or thoughts about A
C. Emotional Consequences – how you feel
D. Consciously Disputing B
E. Embodying a new, more rational, feeling instead of C
For most people, when something bad happens (A), they become angry (C). These people believe that A is what is making them angry, when it is really B, what they are telling themselves about A, that is making them angry. For example, if someone cuts you off on the freeway, you may believe that they are a jerk and treating you poorly, which deserves an angry response. If, on the other hand, you believe that you should be disappointed in the other person’s driving skills, or concerned for the driver’s safety, you will not get angry – and on the highway that could save lives.
When dealing with your spouse, stopping to think about the ABCs can diffuse arguments and remind couples that they don’t have to be angry to make a point or to ask their partner to change his or her behavior. Read about these anger-management tactics in more detail at Coping: The ABCs of anger.
If you are considering divorce, please contact our Jacksonville, Florida law firm for legal counsel.