Unfortunately, intense or prolonged anger is a core problem in many problem marriages. In addition, mental illness is rarely the cause of divorce. Uncontrolled anger is by far the most frequent creator of conflict in marriages.
Case example 1
I have had the experience of providing anger management for a number of physicians. I began with a couple (who were also physicians) who originally came ostensibly because of a disagreement over whether or not to have children. One-half of this couple wanted to have children, while the other did not. Both experienced intense, prolonged anger, which resulted in emotional estrangement.
Following an anger management assessment, as well as an E.Q. Map test, it was determined by both of them that a substantive issue was an irreconcilable disagreement over finances and their lifestyle.
They made a decision to pursue an amicable divorce without fault; hence, the anger management coaching was a success.
Case example 2
A second case example consists of a Surgeon whose wife has a PhD. This couple came after a number of years of individual and couples counseling. These resources failed to help with the husband’s anger. This case did not proceed to coaching, as the husband lied on both of the assessment instruments and insisted that he did not have any problems whatsoever. Surprisingly, the husband’s behavior in the assessment helped the couple decide that he was not motivated to make any changes in his behavior. This resulted in his wife’s decision to end the marriage.
Anger management is not a panacea. However, it is an intervention that can be helpful for couples that have problems managing anger, stress, assertive communication and/or emotional intelligence.
George Anderson, MSW, BCD, CAMF, CEAP
Diplomate, American Association of Anger Management Providers