"Kate is a 28 yr old married woman with 2 young children. Her family relocated from New Zealand 3 months before as her husband started his new job in Doha. Prior to coming to Doha Kate had a good job which she enjoyed doing. She gave up that job for the family to stay together. Even though her husband didn’t put any pressure on her, she felt that she did not have much choice, as moving to Doha was a really good opportunity for her husband’s career. Since coming to Doha, she had been getting very angry for trivial matters and that started to cause a lot of problems in her marriage. Her husband complained that when she got angry, she had a tendency to bring up the past issues repeatedly. Although she acknowledged that this was true, she could not control doing it, especially when she felt neglected by him. Looking back she knew that he was not doing it deliberately, but when she got caught up in situations such as getting stuck in the house dealing with the tantrums of the children, she got in to angry outbursts during which she tended to scream and shout at her husband. Her husband retaliated with sharp remarks which worsened her anger towards him. The couple sought marital counselling as these situations were becoming repetitive and causing significant strain in the marriage."  

Anger is one of the commonest emotions. This is a natural reaction to the pain and suffering experienced when you believe that an offence or injustice is committed against you or against someone you care for. 

 In Kate’s case, there are some major stress factors perpetuating her anger. Having to relocate to a different part of the world with 2 young children is quite stressful. On top of that, giving up the job that she enjoyed for the sake of her husband’s career seemed to have brought about a sense of resentment in her towards him. Suddenly, life could have seemed very different for her with a lot of dependence on her husband. Further to this, when he was unable to fully meet her needs, she ended up feeling victimised by him, resulting in her anger towards him. In her heightened state of anger she tended to lose her self-monitoring capacity and objectivity. She then became very sensitive to any kind of negative reaction from her husband, which in her view justified her anger towards him. When caught up in such situations her husband also felt angry towards her as he felt she was becoming unreasonable and aggressive towards him. Seeing his angry reaction she perceived herself as more of a victim and she was collecting confirmatory evidence of his role in victimising her. This became a repetitive behavioural pattern between the two of them and maintained her anger towards him. 

Kate’s anger is an example of what is happening in a lot of relationships these days. To be able to maintain your self control when you are experiencing anger, you need to learn to look beyond your negative assumptions about the other person and stop reacting impulsively. You need to learn to urge yourself to take time out of such intense situations. When you are feeling less emotional, discuss the matter with the person concerned. It is usually better to communicate to him/her, what made you feel angry towards him/her, when you are not in the state of anger. This might help the other person to listen to your problems without being too defensive about his/her behaviours. Tell him/her that your intention is not to fight with him/her, but to address your underlying negative feelings and anger. In Kate’s case, she felt that she gave up too much to follow her husband’s dreams. Whilst accepting that her situation is frustrating at present, it would help her to try and look at this as only temporary, as in the near future life could start getting more settled for the whole family. Her husband is likely to feel more settled in his job and she is likely to develop her own social and support networks in the new place. She needs to find a good play school/nursery where she feels comfortable leaving her children so that she can have some respite from the house bound state. She could also plan to get a driving licence and a car, which would help her move around more freely reducing her over-reliance on her husband. She may even find a good job fairly soon as long as she is not getting caught up in the vicious circle of self pity and anger. 

Finally, it is important to know that anger could be a symptom of an underlying mental health problem. For a young mother like Kate, it could be related to an untreated Post Natal Depression. There are other conditions such as Bipolar Affective Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Psychotic Illnesses etc, which could cause intense bouts of anger. To assess these in detail and to formulate a treatment plan, a visit to a Psychiatrist could help significantly. 

 Dr Aju Abraham, Consultant Psychiatrist
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