Nothing is worth fighting over. Fighting has zero sum positive attributes. If you feel angry that means you did or didn’t notice you were hurt or afraid or both before you got angry.

Anger is a “masking” emotion and there’s always something behind it. Imagine primitive man parting the tall grass and coming face to face with a tiger. If he feels his fear he’s likely to become paralyzed by it just before he becomes a satisfying tiger lunch. If he moves  quickly past the fear so it doesn’t even register (until later) and finds a way to fight he has just gotten a nice rush of adrenaline that will allow him to survive (since he probably can’t run away fast enough).

In today’s world anger is a pretty useless emotion although there are some times when anger helps; your boss has passed you over for a raise three times and you’re afraid you’re going to lose your job if you bring it up to her. Getting angry and then controlling the anger will likely allow you to be assertive and self-promoting in a one on one meeting with her where she feels your energy, which isn’t threatening since it’s controlled, and you’re more likely to get the raise than if you had a one on one meeting with her and cried about her neglect of you.

However, most times anger is useless and gets you what you don’t want. Screaming, yelling, name calling, be it your partner, child, employer, neighbor, or friend is ineffective and hurtful. So when you feel suddenly empowered to “tell it like it is” and to hell with moderating your tone or volume you need to recognize immediately that you’re not staring down a tiger.

You’re hurt, afraid, or both and you need to effectively communicate that because you’re most likely to get what you need if you come from those emotional states instead of anger.

Example: You’re waiting for your wife to get home from work. She’s an hour late and didn’t call. The door opens and she says, “I stopped for a drink after work with Cindee. Sorry I’m late. (But she doesn’t look sorry).”

You could say, “Really? Don’t give me that crap you could have called and you didn’t bother. How many guys were hitting on you? That’s why you didn’t come home. You don’t give a shit about me so I’m going to go have a drink and see how you like it.” Then you do the most inappropriate thing you can think of and rush past her, slamming the door as hard as you can when exiting.

It would be much more effective to remain calm. Yes, she was rude not to call. She was rude not to consider how you might feel waiting for her to come home at the end of the day, that you were looking forward to seeing her and enjoying her company. You’ll probably think that you’re not as important to her as she is to you. You might feel jealous imagining her sitting in a bar after work enjoying other men instead of you.

To communicate positively so a positive outcome is more likely you could say, “I was worried about you. I thought you’d call me if you were going to be late and when you didn’t I thought something happened. I tried to call you but you didn’t answer and then I was even more worried. Now that I know you were having a drink with a friend I’m relieved but I’m also feeling hurt that you didn’t think about how I would feel waiting for you. I was really looking forward to seeing you and that’s why I’m disappointed. After you get comfortable will you talk with me about how we can make sure I don’t have to feel those feelings again?

I know guys reading this are likely to think that sounds like whining and be turned off by the thought of communicating that way. Just think about how has the other way has worked for you in the past. It hasn’t. The goal is to get your needs met and to keep your relationship healthy and happy. You want her to hear you and you want her to understand how you feel. If you raise your voice or hurl insults at her you’ll just give her a reason to cut you off and then distance herself from you, justifying in her own mind that she shouldn’t have to call you because you’re just a jerk after all. Don’t give her a reason to justify or normalize her behavior but giving her your anger. Instead give her what she deserves, your hurt or fear or disappointment. She’ll have a hard time not responding appropriately to that.

This example can be reversed and everything still applies. Women can put themselves in the position of waiting at home and following through in the same way. It takes practice to keep that adrenaline on a leash since you get flooded with it but you can learn how to do it and to communicate in a civilized manner. Once you experience a different result it gets easier.

This is just one example. There are many times in a relationship where one of the partners feels upset at the other partner’s behavior. If your relationship breaks down because of verbal and/or psychological abuse no one wins.