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Dr. Gary J. Oliver

Dr. Oliver has over 30 years experience in individual, premarital, marital and family counseling and for the past 20 years he has had an extensive nationwide teaching ministry with Promise Keepers and The American Association of Christian Counselors. read bio

Real Love Involves Conflict and Anger

One of the most devastating marital myths that cripples relationships is that when two people are really in love with each other, there will be few disagreements and virtually no conflict or anger. This sounds logical, but it just isn't true.         

We've talked with many people who really believe that healthy couples don't have conflict or get angry. Now it is true that mannequins don't have conflict. It's also true that cadavers don't get angry. But real people in real relationships, who are actively working toward figuring out what it means to become one while remaining individuals, experience disagreement, conflict, and anger.    

The people to whom we give the most time and energy, in whom we invest the greatest amount of love and other emotions, are the ones we have the highest expectations of and are the ones with the greatest potential to trigger painful emotions such as fear, hurt, frustration, and eventually anger. Anger is not necessarily a sign of relationship immaturity or instability. In fact, anger is an inherent component of all human relationships. But it is especially prevalent in romantic ones. The more dependent on someone and vulnerable you feel, the more likely they'll be the object of your anger as well as your affection. 

Research tells us that happily married couples disagree and argue almost as much as unhappily married couples. The difference is whether they express their anger in a healthy or unhealthy ways. The healthy expression of our anger can help us clarify, understand, and appreciate our differences. When we deny our anger and run from conflict we are running from the very process that God can use to heal our hurts and knit our hearts more tightly together in love.      

Relationships that can't acknowledge or express appropriate anger are usually fragile, unstable, and anemic. When two people aren't secure in their love for each other, the marriage isn't strong enough to handle a disagreement. This immaturity and insecurity leads to the chameleon syndrome: the tendency to be the beholder whatever they think the beholder wants to see.     

The long-term success of a relationship and the depth of intimacy a couple will experience depend on their willingness to find healthy ways for expressing and dealing with each other's emotions, and that includes the emotion of anger.

Used with permission from the book Mad About Us: Moving from Anger to Intimacy with Your Spouse by Gary J. Oliver and Carrie Oliver, (Bethany House).

Medical information within this site is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of any health condition. Please consult a licensed health care professional for the treatment or diagnosis of any medical condition.

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