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September 06, 2008 -
Find solutions to anger before it ruins your life

I divorced three years ago when my wife of 20 years left me for another man. 

Whenever I have to talk to her about the kids and their needs, I feel tremendous anger that’s barely contained. I try to be civil but it’s hard to maintain my cool. Is this normal or am I over-reacting? 

I’ve met a very nice lady and we get along great, so why am I feeling this way?

- Barely Civil

Persistent, consuming anger is a double-edged sword: You turn it on others, but the person most affected physically and emotionally is YOU. 

The reaction wasn’t uncommon – for a while - but it’s unhealthy for you, your kids, and any future relationship, so work hard to overcome it. 

When you must talk to your ex about your children, practice calming yourself and thinking through the likely points, before having the conversation. Remember that your kids will feel your tension from these exchanges; in time, they’ll get fed up with it or try to avoid involving you. 

No new girlfriend wants to repeatedly hear your stories of how you were wronged, or deal with your anger after every incident. 

If you can’t get past this, seek an anger management course through a community agency such as the YMCA; or sign on for sessions with a therapist who deals with behaviour modification.

My fiancee’s parents turn every family event into a command performance. Even if it’s a casual barbeque in a cousin’s backyard, all the siblings and their partners MUST attend or be considered cold, snobbish, etc. 

We rarely have time to ourselves. What can we do?

- Always a Crowd

Set your own standards together; do it now, before withdrawing from events is seen as an insult to particular relatives. Decide which are important occasions you should both attend, which ones you can drop into, or she can go alone, and which you can both skip. 

Then, she’s the one who should tell her parents what you two want for your own lifestyle together, and your need for time as a couple.

My boyfriend of four years has just announced that he wants to move out of the city. We’ve been living together for a year. 

He basically said, “Come or go, but I’m going.” 

I just landed a great job, and moving away would create a huge commute for me - less for him - adding stress to the relationship and/or my job. 

He said he’d still want to date even if we got separate places, but I see it as a backwards move. 

Is his lack of consideration and flexibility just a cowardly way for him to break up? 

We’re not getting any younger. 

Should I not waste any more of my best years on someone who doesn’t include me in his future plans?

- Left Behind?

Ask him: “Do you want to break up?” If no, then insist on the discussion that he forgot to have – 1) Why is he so intent on leaving the city? 2) Can his ultimate goal (more recreation, nature, whatever) be met in any other way, e.g. more weekend getaways? 

Then, explain your reasons for resisting the move and come up with some reasonable compromises… moving to a different location that’s not so far away, etc. 

If there’s no meeting ground here, and you’re unwilling to give the move a try, then you’re both not seriously ready for a long-term commitment to each other.

I’m 16, female and bisexual. 

I’ve only had one girlfriend, off and on for a year. 

My parents just blow it off like it’s nothing. My mom said, “You haven’t dated enough guys to know.” 

My dad said,  “If you’re going to be that, you won’t be living here.” 

I want my parents to accept me for who I am.

- Upset

Your parents didn’t blow it off, they let you know their feelings: Mom wants you to be open-minded and not base your sexual identity on limited experience. Dad is not open-minded; he’s clearly uncomfortable with the whole subject. 

These aren’t the reactions you wanted, but they’re entitled to them. 

So long as they express love for you and are supportive in other areas of your life, such as education and providing necessities, this is a personal aspect that doesn’t need to be labelled and/or discussed until you’re on your own.

Tip of the Day: Chronic anger is often more harmful to the person feeling it than to the one to whom it’s directed.

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