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“Don’t I have a right to get angry when someone hurts me?” asked Allison in one of our phone sessions. Allison had sought me out for counseling because she had discovered that her husband, Jerry, was having an affair.

She loved Jerry and didn’t want to leave the relationship, but she didn’t know what to do. She was not just angry – she was furious.

“Of course you have a right to get angry,” I told her. “But what’s the point? What do you hope to gain by getting angry?”

“What do you mean, ‘What’s the point?’ He has betrayed me. I am hurt and angry. Wouldn’t anyone be hurt and angry in this situation?”
“Yes, most people would. But going back to the Inner Bonding concept of intent – what is the intent of getting angry?

 Are you taking loving care of yourself or trying to control Jerry when you get angry at him?”

“I’m taking care of myself by getting him to see how badly he has hurt me. He has stopped the affair, but I want to make sure he never does this again.”

“So you are telling yourself that if you can get him – with your anger - to see that he has hurt you, you will have control over the future and you will feel better, is that right?”
“Allison, does Jerry know that you feel hurt?”
“Yes,” “Are you feeling better?”
“No. I still feel furious.”
“I’d like you to go inside to the angry part of you. Ask your inner child why she is angry at YOU.”
“Little Allison, why are you angry at me?” “Now allow your inner child to talk with you. Allow her to express her anger at you.” (Little Allison) “You keep wanting Jerry to love me and pay attention to me, but you don’t. You never listen to me. You never hear me. I’m not important to you. If you paid half as much attention to me as you do trying to get Jerry to pay attention to me, I would feel a lot better. You even told me that it is my fault that Jerry had an affair. You always tell me that I’m not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough. I’m so angry at you! I hate you!”

“Wow!” said Allison. “I didn’t know that was in there!”

“Allison, anger at another person is generally a projection of our inner child’s anger at us for not taking care of ourselves.

You are getting angry at Jerry to try to have control over getting Jerry to love you, instead of taking responsibility for loving yourself. Your anger at Jerry did not start with the affair, as you’ve told me. You have been angry at him for years for not giving you what you want, is that right?”

“Yes. I have always felt unimportant to him. Only now it’s worse.”

“Allison, your anger is your wounded self’s way of trying to control getting what you want, and Jerry’s withdrawal and having an affair are his wounded self’s ways of trying to have control over not being controlled. Both of you are acting from your wounded selves in violating and disrespectful ways toward each other. Neither of you are taking loving care of yourselves.
Instead of continuing to get angry at Jerry for his wounded self, why not open to learning about your own wounded self? Continuing to be angry at Jerry only perpetuate the dysfunctional system that the two of you are operating in. It’s not that you don’t have a right to your anger – it’s that it is not working for you to dump it on Jerry rather than learn about why your inner child is angry at you.

And there is a good possibility that if you start to take responsibility for your own feelings instead of making Jerry responsible for them, the two of you can heal the dysfunction in this relationship. Are you willing to take your eyes of Jerry and put them on yourself?”

Allison was willing and spent the next six months in weekly sessions, learning how to take loving care of herself. After a couple of months Jerry also started working on himself. Allison and Jerry have a ways to go, but they are well on their way to a far more loving relationship.