I’m Not Angry

In a recent couples counseling session, Christine insisted that Danny was angry and he was emphatic that he wasn’t angry. Christine persisted that he was and he insisted he wasn’t.

This is an example of a loop in relationships. In this case, both partners are determined that their points of view are the correct one—angry or not angry. I then gave a suggestion how to circumvent this loop.

If Christine moves the accusatory “You are angry” to “You seem angry.” she shares her perception without insisting she is right. If Danny moves from the defensive “I’m not angry” to “I’m not aware of being angry,” this creates the possibility that he could be angry even though he’s not aware of it in the moment.

This is an example of the subtlety of language. If either one of them makes a change, this may be enough to avert a fight. Rather, they would be sharing their perspectives instead of insisting.