Tackling Anger, A Work in Progress

I have a long fuse, but a hot temper once the fuse runs out. Ask my husband. I am calm and forgiving to a point and then, bam! I move straight to mad and can be (as we say in Texas) pure-D mean. I am working on not being a hothead but it comes somewhat naturally. I grew up with four brothers and they loved to tease and torment me until I sailed straight through the air in a physical attack. Then we’d wrestle around on the floor (which they loved to do) until one or the other of us got tired and called out calf rope. (Is calf rope a thing outside Texas?)

It didn’t help that I married a man who loves to tease and torment me as well and thinks it’s funny when I get really mad. Ray loves to poke until my anger flairs. He doesn’t even mind when I yell out a whole slew of swear words and storm out of the room. Likely as not, in about ten minutes he’ll appear in the room where I’m holed up and start chuckling.

Ray said to me the other day that he is glad that I can stand up for myself and don’t fold when he gets mad. He has a quicker temper than me and he can be loud, but I learned a long time ago that he needs to get his feelings out and once they’ve been expressed, he moves right along without another thought. We probably have scared people who have heard us fight. We’re not unlike our corgi and our terrier when they get cross-ways. The terrier is the one who eventually snaps and attacks. Our corgi (whose annoying hovering caused the attack in the first place) climbs on the terrier’s back and patiently wants for her to calm down. As soon as she does, the corgi licks her ears. I guess it’s obvious that I’m the terrier.

Ray and I took a personality test the other day called the enneagram. I was unfamiliar with this test but have been fairly surprised by its accuracy. We both came out as 8s, the Challenger, which means we are both comfortable with anger and also bring “energy, vitality, and passion” to the relationship. Apparently, this character type sees anger as a way to connect more than as a way to hurt.

Still, I am working on not going straight to mad. I think living a calmer life makes sense and, besides, after 41 years of marriage, I understand often why Ray has become irritated in the first place. But old habits die hard. I have to make a conscious effort not to go into a knee-jerk reaction.

I have, however, made one improvement that I’m proud of. A few years back, I stopped sailing through the air. We both agreed at some point that my jumping on Ray’s back was not the best approach to a resolution.

Who says I can’t grow?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeanne Guy says:

    I laughed out loud with this blog, Len. I’m big on the Enneagram and didn’t realize you’re an 8 and had no idea about the length of your fuse. This was hysterical. This 2 is so glad to have you in her life! I’ll promise not to poke.

  2. Glad I made you laugh, Jeanne. Liz is a 2 too and apparently, that’s a winning combination. No wonder we get along! You can poke since, as I said, I have a LONG fuse. But when I’m done, Katie bar the door. Liz can tell you! I bought several books on the Enneagram to gain a better understanding. Already that anger component has been helpful in understanding why Ray and I fight and how it actually helps us feel connected. Please lend any guidance! I am all ears.

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