AngerCoach Show – Episode #14 – How to Tank Your Relationship: part 3

In this months episode we provide couples with suggestions on how to tank your relationship, an exciting new series offered by Dr. Tony Fiore. In part 3, we highlight a habit that can start eager couples down that path to divorce: Never ask your partner to meet you half way on an issue of disagreement. Surprisingly this habit involves never standing up for yourself during a disagreement. How can you stand up for yourself and avoid destructive angry outbursts? Listen and see.

Stay tuned as in the coming months we continue in this exciting new series!

AngerCoach Show – Episode #13 – How to Tank Your Relationship: part 2

In this months episode we provide couples with suggestions on how to tank your relationship, an exciting new series offered by Dr. Tony Fiore. In part 2, we highlight communication styles that can start eager couples down that path to divorce. The way you choose to handle arguments can sway your relationship towards or away divorce – but that choice is up to you. Anger does not have to ruin a relationship! Stay tuned as in the coming months we continue in this exciting new series!

Is Marriage like a Rorschach Test?

Have you ever noticed that you and your partner sometimes see things very differently? The very same things. Reminds me of the classic Woody Allen film “Annie Hall” with Woody himself (“Alvy Singer”) and Diane Keaton (“Annie Hall”), in which we see a split screen with both of them talking to their separate therapists about sex:

Alvy Singer’s Therapist: How often do you sleep together?
Annie Hall’s Therapist: Do you have sex often?
Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I’d say three times a week

Fact is, most marital conflicts arise not so much out of the outlandish behavior of one or both partners, as out of each partner’s perception of the “meaning” of the behavior.

As Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach discovered in the 1940’s, rather than perceiving things objectively, we tend to “project’ our needs, personality, motivations, and backgrounds into how we see things. He developed a test, the Rorschach test, (or “Inkblot” test, as it is sometimes called)  to diagnose mental and personality disorders and to better understand and analyze how a person mentally functions.

Recently, Cartoonist Chato Stewart made up his own “ink blot” test as shown above.

Test Yourself
Just for fun, let’ s test this principal! What do you see in the above ink blot? Does it differ from what your partner sees? Click here to go to a web page where you can list what you see. I will report the group results in the next newsletter. Would you predict that there will be a wide variety of responses?

Seeing the behavior of your partner in a  different light
According to marriage therapist and writer Brent Atkinson, Ph.D. (, “A hallmark of people who are re good at getting their partners to treat them well is that they know that when they get upset with their partners, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their partners have done something wrong. They realize that there are many different ways of prioritizing things that can work in relationships. People who are less effective in their relationships don’t realize this.”

Seeing the behavior of your partner in a different light can drastically change how upset you get over it! See it one way and you might go ballistic. See the same behavior from another perspective and you may be much more tolerant, understanding, and conciliatory.

So, what are these different “lights” under which you can interpret your partner’s behavior that upsets you? One way to do it, according to Dr. Atkinson, is to see their behavior as a way to calm their nervous system. Research shows that there are five specific differences in nervous system wiring that most often result in partners becoming critical of each other. Briefly they are:

(1) Independence First vs Togetherness First
One partner prefers to engage in activities and tasks independently. Often is critical of other by saying things like “You want me to read your mind. You expect too much. You’re  too needy.” If the other prefers to engage in activities and tasks together (“togetherness first”)  , they criticize by saying thing like “You live in your own little world! You are selfish. Any moron would have realized that I needed help. I shouldn’t have asked.”

(2) Invest in The Future First vs Live for the Moment First
One partner believes in “work first, then play.” Other partner believes in living for the moment first. The “work first’ partner often criticizes the other as “being lazy,” and irresponsible or says : “You are like a child who has to have everything right now.” On the other hand, The “play first” partner criticizes the other by saying thing s like “You’re anal, neurotic, anxious.”

(3) Predictability First vs Spontaneity First
One partner seeks security, predictability and order first, then feels safe to experiment within the safe parameters. The other seeks adventure, creativity, open-mindedness. The “safe” partner may criticize the other by saying things like “You’re reckless.” The adventurous one may see the other as boring, or even create conflict by saying something like “you’re a coward.”

(4) Slow to Upset vs Readily Upset
One partner feels that getting upset doesn’t help anything. He/she doesn’t make a big deal of things, thinking “It’ s not the end of the world if everything doesn’t go the way you want it to.”  The other partner may  think it is normal to feel upset when something seems wrong, deficient or less than it should be, thinking, “If nobody gets upset, nothing changes.” In this scenario, the slow- to- upset person criticizes the other by saying things like “You are never satisfied. You’re a negative person. You’re not happy unless you have something to be upset about.” In defense, the readily upset partner fights back with criticisms such as “You’re a fake. Underneath it all, you get just as upset as I do. You’re just afraid of a little conflict! You’re a wimp!”

(5) Problem Solving First vs Understanding First
One partner feels better by doing something about the upsetting situation with the philosophy “solve the problem or make a plan and you’ll feel better.” Unfortunately they often criticize their “understanding first” partner by saying things like: “You’re a hopelessly negative person, a whiner, a victim. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get over it. “ The “understanding first” partner fees better by feeling understood.  However, they often criticize their “problem-solving” partner by saying things like “You could care less about how I feel! You just want to pretend the whole thing never happened.”


As we teach in our local anger management classes, in our private marriage therapy sessions, and in our distance learning programs, realizing and accepting that you and your partner may have different ways of “doing” life” goes a long way toward marital happiness and less conflict.

For more information, be sure to visit our websites and resources listed below:

Dr Fiore website

Anger Coach website



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AngerCoach Show – Episode #12 – How to Tank Your Relationship: part 1

In this months episode we provide couples with suggestions on how to tank your relationship, an exciting new series offered by Dr. Tony Fiore. In part 1, we highlight three ways couples often start down that path to divorce. This podcast centers around a typical argument that couples often have and how what you say is often what predicts divorce – not the actual problem. Stay tuned as in the coming months we continue in this exciting new series!

How To Tank Your Relationship – Lesson 3

Chuck warding off critical wife Latesha
Chuck warding off critical wife Latesha

In our latest series of blogs, we have been trying to teach you what research tells us as to how to tank a relationship, if you really want to. Marriage researchers now know with  a fairly high degree if accuracy (about 91% ) which habits and traits predict marital success and which will probably destroy it. The fist of these habits was that of being overly judgmental and assuming that there is only one way (your way) to do the thing that is bothering you about your partner, or there is only one way to interpret the bad behavior shown by him or her. The second habit that predicts divorce is that of handling anger poorly in your relationship either in terns if being excessively angry or never standing up for yourself so that resentment builds.

For those die-hards who still need more ammunition, we now present  a third habit that should put your over the top:

Habit #3 that predicts tanking a relationship: Never ask your partner to meet you half way on an issue of disagreement.

Stated another way, to put yourself in divorce court, never stand up for yourself (without putting your partner down), give equal regard to their opinion or viewpoint, or offer reassurances that you don’t want to fight or attack, but you want to just solve the problem.

Why would an anger coach encourage you to stand up for yourself? Won’t that cause more conflict? Yes, sometimes it will, but often you might be surprised at the change in behavior by your partner when you stand up for yourself and insist that they take into account your viewpoint or opinions or feelings  on the matter, instead of being dismissive, bullying, or controlling. Standing up for yourself doesn’t mean that you insist you are right and they are wrong; rather it means asking them to make room for your equally valid input around  the issue.

According to Chuck, Latesha criticizes almost everything about him – constantly.  In this instance, Chuck is doing the correct thing to try and influence  Latesha’s critical behavior in the future. He is saying, “ Hey, I’m willing to listen to you, but I’m having a hard time because it feels like you’ve already decided that I’m wrong. Could you slow down a bit and tell me why you’re upset?

But,  what should he do if Latesha continues to be stubborn, uncooperative or unrelenting in her attack?

Chuck, in the graphic above, does not want to tank his relationship. So, he  is using what marital therapist Dr. Bret Atkinson calls the “offer and ask” technique in response to warding off attacks by his highly critical wife, Latesha.

Basically, it means  firing a warning shot into the air before pulling out the big guns in marital battles.

To do this, Chuck might try something like: “Hey, I’m trying to work with you here, but it feels like I’m not getting it back! Will you work with me?

In the “offer and ask” tactic, you offer assurance (“I’m willing to listen; I’m not saying that things have to be entirely my way; I’m not saying that I’m right and you’re wrong; I care how you feel too, and I’m willing to work with you) and you ask her to be willing to do the same thing (“Will you work with me? Will you stop criticizing me and just tell me what’ s bothering you?“)

To be effective, according to Dr. Atkinson, the “offering” and the “asking” must be done in a clam but firm manner. You must make it clear that you are still willing to try and maintain a cooperative attitude, but only if your partner is ready to return cooperativeness.

If that still doesn’t work you will need to go to Lesson 4- Tank your relationship by Not Taking a Stand. Stay tuned.

Century Anger Management Re-Approved In California

Century Anger Management (The Training and Education Site for The Anger Coach and AJ Novick Group) are re-approved for the 6th year in a row by the California State Board of Corrections (a.k.a. Corrections Standard Authority) for the training of probation, parole and correctional officers.  Their contact information can be found on the Board of Corrections provider list.

They were approved again due to their involvement with the Standard Corrections Authority and their model of intervention being evaluated by corrections staff and personnel.  There are very few models of anger management intervention chosen by the state of California for employee training, and we are honored to be part of this important provider list.

Century Anger Management and The Anger Coach provide Professional Anger Management Certification Training to those interested in teaching anger management classes or programs.  For information on getting certified in the Century Anger Management model of intervention, please visit our website at Century Anger Management.

Anger Management Certification Training Date Announced

Century Anger Management, the training company of The Anger Coach and AJ Novick Group, announces the first of its “live” certification trainings in 2010 in Orange, CA. This training, to be held on Friday, February 12,  will satisfy 8 of the required 40-hour certification program. The remaining 32 hours is done online in our unique program. Century Anger Management has developed into one of the leading anger management  training companies in the United States with hundreds of providers across the country and in 5 other countries, serving thousands of angry clients. Details and sign-up at or call Dr Fiore at 714-745-1393 for more information.

Participate in Coping With Rage Documentary by Discovery Channel

Would you like to be in a documentary?

I was contacted recently by Discovery channel to find someone interested in being part of a documentary called “Coping with Rage. According to the producer: ” In our documentary, we will meet individuals whose anger is impairing their functioning and explore how it affects them, their families, friends and associates.  We will accompany these people as they seek therapy and attempt to handle their anger more effectively and bring about positive change in their lives.”


The Anger Coach will provide free classes to participants using our famed 8-tools model of anger control. Participants can join classes in either Orange or Long Beach, California. I believe that either older adolescents and adults can apply.

Interested applicants should contact Dr Fiore at or call 714-745-1393.


AngerCoach Show Episode#8 The Positive Emotions

This months episode discusses the positive emotions and what we can do to acquire, and put into practice nine different emotions that will help reduce stress and anger.

Please note: This anger program and these anger tips are not meant to substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or advice. If you have intense, serious or chronic anger problems, or you have to deal with someone else who does, you should immediately consult a mental health or medical professional for help.

How Q-Tip can Help With Anger

One of the really nice “side benefits” of teaching up to three anger classes per week is that of learning from my students who are struggling with their anger control. One such incidence took place this Tuesday night in our weekly class in Orange, California at which time we were learning Tool #4 of anger control called “Change Your Self-Talk.” In this lesson we teach pariticpants to change what they are telling themselves about an anger stressor in order to dial-down the level of their angry feelings. One man then shared that his wife taught him a little trick that always works for him, called “The Q-Tip” technique. When ever he gets angry, she tapes a Q-tip on on the television screen or the bathroom mirror. Of course, everybody was curious as to what this stood for and how it works. He told is the following:

Q= Quit
T= Taking
I=  It
P= Personally

In addition to being humorous, this little trick can do a lot to increase awareness of using anger management tools and it reminds us that we often we get angry because we indeed are taking the situation too personally. Here are some examples:

  • The guy who cuts us off on the freeway isn’t doing it to you personally; you just happen to be occupying a space he wants.
  • The drive-up window lady didn’t get your order wrong purposely to make your life miserable; she just got it wrong.
  • Your partner didn’t leave the lights on in the bedroom all day (and burn electricity)  to personally irritate you; he just forgot.

I’m sure you get the idea. How angry you get depends alot on what you tell yourself about the motives and intent of the person or situation that angers you. Practice telling yourself different things so you don’t take it personally – remember Q-TIP– and your anger will dial-down.

Now, why did my computer just start to crash? Doesn’t it like me? Does it want to ruin my day?…………………………..

Much more at