Relationships and Respect: Words in Anger and Name-Calling

I joined the food ordering line behind a forty-ish fellow, who at that moment spun around. He first began glaring and then shouted in the direction of someone behind me.

“You can’t insult ignorant people!”

I turned in time to see a 30 something woman shoot up an unfriendly finger gesture.

“But you can kiss ignorant people’s asses.”

Yes, for real, that was the scene. Then I observed each party resume conversation with their lunch mates, ending a dispute which was evidently on a roll before I arrived. Oh my goodness-gracious, gramma would say.

These were words spit in anger for sure. Somebody was having a bad day—-or was about to begin one. I know I felt their nasty exchange imprint a stain on me. Then I began reflecting on how couples disrespect each other and perpetrate similar negativity —-and often excuse it.

Couples will argue vigorously on subjects they later admit were unimportant. Yet one or both will sustain emotional wounds from words said in anger. Later, attempts are made to excuse the ugliness—

“You know I only said that because I was angry.”

“You know I don’t really mean that.”

“I was just trying to get back at you for what you said.”

“You were ignorant first.”

—as if any of these disclaimers was enough to erase the sting and was a sufficient method of amends. Ugliness cannot be retracted so easily.

Years later those “in anger” incidents—-name-calling, insults, I-don’t-love-you’s, and lies—- return to haunt the couple if left unrepaired.

If you are incapable of just “saying no” to engaging in angry battles leaving word war wounds, remember that what you say is never harmless or doesn’t “count” because you said it “in anger”. You allowed yourself to become out of control. How can that be an excuse?

The hostile pair in the restaurant will likely never meet again. I imagine they have forgotten the angry exchange. I have not. I recall it periodically to keep myself in line.


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 © Copyright 2012 P.H. Pickett, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.

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