How do I stop getting angry? (and other, more important things)

Hi Edahn,

I'm 22 years old and I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend who is 33 for a year and 3 months. Things have been less than perfect, but we love each other very much. When we fight it's not yelling although my voice does raise a little. I use to be much worse and much more emotionally out of control in my previous relationship. In this relationship I do get upset often like once a week, but I feel that it's how we handle the issue that is the problem. He is passive and I am aggressive. I always want to explain myself and, and he wants to just be left alone.

I also feel that he takes me for granted which is why I tend to get upset at little things. I do everything. Sweet things, all the cleaning, I support his career, and spend time with his family, get along with all of his friends even his exes, surprises, I'm not overly affectionate, and I tend to keep my feelings to myself, although I am very physically affectionate at times. On the other hand he spends little time on surprises, or cleaning, and he barely sees my family, and he hates my friends. I understand my friends seem dumb because hes 11 years older, his dad is also very sick with cancer, so his mind is preoccupied so I do understand but I think he should still make more of an effort. He also gets very strict about me going out in different outfits, if it fits to tight he feels its sending a message. He expresses how much he dislikes the way I am and he starts saying "you ALWAYS do this, and you ALWAYS do that". We are both generally good people, but we can't seem to get along. I feel like this relationship can be amazing.

I feel like I have a negative perspective due to my very abusive childhood, I feel that it will gradually get better the older I get. But I need to know how to work things out better. I always tell myself that I will be more understanding next time, and I do always end up resolving it with a calm mature perspective. But how can I avoid all of this and just stay mature?? I feel like I am young, and my mind cant quite understand things the way he does, but I would like to control myself more. Please HELP. Thank you.

AS MUCH AS YOU thinkand have been toldthat you're the one to blame here, I think there's a lot more going on. Your boyfriend is experiencing severe fear, and that fear is coming out in a lot of quirky ways. He's paranoid about you leaving him, which is why he controls the way you dress with subtle comments. He also becomes somewhat depressed, which is why he shits on your friends. He identifies you as the cause of his fear, instead of attributing it to himself and his upbringing (truth it, it's a lot of things), so he's pulled away from you emotionally, because in his mind, you're the thing that's causing his discomfort. A big part of him wants to pull away, which is why he hasn't made much effort to integrate with your friends and family or do the things that tell you he wants to be with you, like the surprises. You're sensing that, and it's making you feel worried and frustrated, so you're reacting. Yes, your history is part of it, but I don't think your reaction is abnormal, so I wouldn't be so quick to blame yourself despite what you're being told. 

When you fight, you want to get things out, he just wants to wait it out. Neither of you are wrong. I suspect that for him, waiting it out is a good option because a lot of his anger is being internally triggered by his fear. Meaning, talking and doing won't really resolve it. For you, the anger is being triggered externally (by him), so talking and doing will resolve it. You're not immature because you want to discuss it. That's horseshit. If you want to work through your anger, that's fine. I'd suggest you do one of two things: either wait it out or take a walk until your body has calmed down, or try and catch it earlier, before it turns into a full-blown shitstorm, and just try understanding both people's sides. The best way to resolve conflict is usually to understand the other person's side and help the other person understand your side. Doing that takes some practice at removing all the insulting language from your message. For example:
"You never say nice things to me and I'm fucking sick of it!"
 can be rephrased as
"I start to feel bad when I don't hear nice things. It makes me think that you really don't care about me, and then I start getting anxious and irritable." 
The shift in language makes it so the focus is you, not him, and that shifts the tone from blaming (you suck you suck you suck) to understanding (this is how things are unfolding). It's really like learning a new language.

The thing is, you need a willing partner to practice this style of communication. Otherwise, you're going to get taken advantage of, just like the nice guy gets taken advantage of in a negotiation. When he's upset and wants space, I'd suggest you give it to him, then approach him later and see if he's willing to talk about it this new way. If you want to read more about this, check out articles on Fighting Fair.

But I feel like we haven't addressed the elephant in the room, which is the merit of your relationship. I don't usually tell people whether or not they should break up because it's their decision, not mine. They're the ones who have to live with it and they're the ones who'll grow from making these tough decisions. They're also in a better position to make the decision, and...I'm not omniscient. I don't have all the answers and I haven't collected all the wisdom in the world, just little pieces I find here and there. This is a test for you. This is a challenge to you, to see if you can step up to the plate, read the defense, and figure out where you're going to strike. By that I mean, rising up, figuring out what's going on, taking some responsibility but not all the blame, and figuring out what the right move is. I'm not implying what you should do, and I wouldn't fault you for trying to work things out. The only thing I expect is that you be strong and know what you want and deserve.

*fist bump*

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