Theresa Fearon, Life and Relationship Coach


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Are you co-creating a toxic relationship?

Posted on 9 May, 2019 at 9:55

In session, my client was telling me about a really caustic argument she’d had with her husband. He’d said some really vile things – she’d never seen him this angry. They were meant to be attending a works thing – for him, and she had cried off, telling him she had a prior arrangement which she’d forgotten about. He had pleaded with her to change her mind, but she didn’t so he went alone.

She was, however, taken aback by his level of anger. I asked whether she had tried the diffusing strategies we had previously worked on. As with most relationships, they argued from time to time.

“You know the ‘I’m sorry you’re so angry about this’ line works for you both. Did you not try that?” I asked.

“No. Because I was not sorry he was upset. I wanted him to be angry. I wanted him to feel exactly what it feels like to be in that position.”

It turned out that at Christmas, they were supposed to be visiting her sister and he didn’t go. He didn’t just drop it on her, he’d given her warning he wasn’t going to go (the men do not get on) but as it was the first Christmas for her sister and brother-in-law in their new home, my client felt he should attend. She was angry at having to attend on her own and felt he’d let her down.

I asked whether her husband knew how angry she had felt.

She said he did.

I doubt it. I doubt he knew she’d sat on her anger for however long (nearly 6 months) to get her tit-for-tat revenge. And in all that time, her anger had grown and morphed into something deeper than it already was. This wasn’t just about not visiting the in-laws…..

If you find yourself on a tit-for-tat revenge path, step off now and evaluate whether you still want this relationship. Otherwise it will become real toxic real quick. Teaching a quick lesson is one thing, deliberately scanning your relationship for an opportunity to inflict a hurt on purpose is another. And it doesn’t stop there.

For healthy ways to express anger in your relationship contact me.