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Frustrated Father And Husband

by Patrick
(Welland Canada)

I am a frustrated father. Nothing I do to try and have a happy home seems to work. I do all the usual stuff a dad does--work, provide for my family and get them what they need. And all I get is grief. I'm told I don't help enough, don't watch the kids properly, or don't treat my wife properly.

It is non-stop, thus the anger comes into play.

I have lost all the self-esteem I once had, and all faith in my wife. The constant badgering has pushed me so far away from her. I always see the light at the end of the tunnel but never seem to get there. I try to put up with the insults and past hurtful things thrown in my face, until I get to the point I've had enough.

Then the blow starts. I use foul language and definitely a lot of harsh words. And there is some pushing. I know this is damaging to the kids but it goes on. I have asked her to stop before it gets to that point, but she knows the right buttons to push. I am guilty of this, because I allow her to get under my skin.

This where I want help, to be able to diffuse the situation before it gets to that point. The every other day problems always get the best of me. I think to myself that a stay-at-home mom cannot possibly have that many issues over and over again.

What am I doing wrong and how can I fix this?


Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Pat, and thanks for telling your story on this site where others might benefit. I can tell that you are a good man who wants to do the right thing. I can also tell that you have some anger issues, and that you're concerned about hurting your wife and children.

I respect the extent to which you're taking responsibility for your actions. That is where your freedom lies. You cannot change your wife, or get her to act the way you want her to. However, you have a lot more power than you know to make a positive difference in your situation.

You say that your wife "pushes your buttons." I know what you mean, and I'm sure at those times you feel like a helpless victim to your emotions--after all, she's the one that pushed the buttons. The fact is, you are not a victim to your emotions, and your wife is not the cause of your actions or reactions.

You have tremendous ability to change your situation, and I will help you do that.

You will find a full description of the tools and exercises you need on this FAQ page. I encourage you to do all of the exercises diligently...that is how you will produce the benefit you want.

In those exercises, you will do a lot of writing about your thoughts and feelings. You will find that you are responsible for your "buttons," and there is a story behind them. The wiring behind your buttons is made up of past pain, fear and anger from your own childhood and adult experience. When you write about these experiences, it will help you sort out the emotions, and it will (ideally) undo the wiring behind your buttons--meaning, you will get less angry, and be able to choose more constructive responses when you've "had enough." Then go on with the next exercise on that page about "Getting Your Anger Out On Paper."

It appears to me from what you've written that you are caught in the illusion that your anger is your wife's fault--for "letting it get that far" and for "pushing your buttons." It is extremely important that you take total responsibility for your anger and your actions. You won't be able to improve your situation unless you do. She is totally responsible for her actions also. You cannot get her to change, but if you improve your own behavior, you will certainly improve the relationship...the rest is up to her.

Here are some things to consider:

1) Nothing justifies verbal or physical abuse of any kind--no matter how frustrated you are, or how far she's "pushed you."
2) You are responsible for protecting your wife and your children from verbal abuse of all kinds.

You're a good man, Pat, and that's why you want to change. Now you have the tools to act according to the goodness inside you. You love your family, and you don't want to hurt them. Follow my guidelines above to the letter, and you will see positive change in your relationships with your wife and children.

Do not give up on yourself or your marriage, Pat. Believe in yourself, and believe in your wife.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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