Although it is rewarding to be in a relationship, it is not entirely a bed of roses. However, how you handle the challenges is what makes the difference.
Ali Male, a relationship councillor at YMCA, says in any healthy relationship there must be differences. However, he notes that a relationship can only work if the partners are able to work out whatever differences that may arise without it leading to anger and resentment.
Male explains that some of the signs of aggression in a relationship include disguised verbal hostility which entails negative gossip, habitual criticism of ideas, addressing an adult as a child, invalidation of others experiences and feelings, which in most cases lead to fights.
Evelyn Katutu says within the first year of her marriage, her husband was so quarrelsome. She recalls being scolded one evening in front of her neighbours causing her to shout back, leading to a fight between her and the husband.
She says the act ashamed them and ever since she resorted to never fighting back. “I learnt that this was his character and I had to find a way of living with it. Nowadays, I am always calm and when he confronts me, I keep quiet. This also calms him and later, he apologises,” she says.
According to Margaret Tumusiime, a counsellor with Girl Talk Uganda, anger fuels anger, so the calmer you remain, the quicker your partner’s anger subsides. She says shouting at a partner in a rage escalates their anger, and joining a passive aggressive partner in a temper can make the situation go on forever.
Ali Mali says although it is tempting to yell back when your partner gets angry, it is wise to refrain and instead aim to neutralise the heightened emotions.
“Yelling at an already aggressive partner can escalate the situation. Also they are not going to become more cooperative as a result. Instead, wait for them to calm down so you can talk out the dispute in a respectful manner,” he advises. Male says disengaging from an angry conversation is a sign of respect for yourself.
Katutu says in a relationship where one partner is aggressive, it is important for one to behave in a way that demonstrates that they want to make peace. She says this may mean saying you are sorry or acknowledging your role in a problem.
She says in most cases, partners continue to be angry when no one is listening to them. “Everybody loves to be listened to. Listen to what is making your partner angry e and when they notice that you are giving them attention, they will feel loved and cared for,” she says.
Male says partners should also be able to share feelings which might help them rectify the problem.
“If you are feeling angry then open up to your partner. If you are nervous, upset or frustrated by your partner’s anger, then share that also. This is especially important with passive aggression, when a partner may want to deny that their behaviour has any impact on the one who might be offended,” he says.
Tumusiime says it is important to note why people get angry in the first place. She says anger often comes from one person feeling like they are unappreciated or not being heard.
“If you can create an environment between you and your partner that encourages good listening, compassion, and understanding, you might get shocked by the disappearance of anger in your lives,” she says. She adds that it is important to learn what makes your partner unhappy so that you can easily address it. “Communicate with your partner what you want, what your values are, and where your limit is and let them do the same. Not only does doing this cultivate a respectful environment, but gives room to understand where the anger is coming from,” she says.
However, Tumusiime says if the anger and aggression escalates into fights, it is important to report to the authorities.
Rhitah Kirungi, the state attorney in West Nile Region, says there are family protection units at police and whoever is experiencing domestic violence can report and get helped.
“These units are open to everyone who might be experiencing domestic violence, it is a criminal act, so do not hesitate to report,” she says.
Do not control
Do not focus on trying to change your partner. You can, however, influence your partner and show them the benefits of your position. You can influence your partner by creating a positive environment that is conducive to cooperation rather than control.
You may have heard the expression, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” When you treat your partner with sweetness, you may bring them closer to you—and closer to understanding how you feel and why you feel that way. This may increase your chances of productive outcomes.