Husband Over Reacts With Rage
My husband of 18 years has occasions where he completely over reacts with anger. He yells and lays blame and insults in the most over-the-top manner. My daughter and I are usually left shell-shocked after one of his tirades. Then when it's over and he's had a chance to calm down he feels very badly about what happened and apologizes.
The last outburst was yesterday. He was supposed to pick up my daughter early from school. She told him to be there to get her out of school at 1:45 pm for an appointment she had. He arrived at the school at 1:45 and waited in the parking lot for her to arrive. By 2:00 she still had not come out to meet him, and he called me at work angry wondering where she was.
I told him he can't wait in the parking lot, he needs to sign her out at the school's office. This just made him angrier. He was blaming me and her for not telling him this before hand. I told him to calm down, that it was a simple misunderstanding, and that he was getting worked up over something that was not that big of a deal.
We hung up, but later I found out that he yelled at my daughter the whole car ride (20 minutes) to her appointment for making him look like a fool, and not informing him that he needed to sign her out. He was scaring her with his anger, because he was yelling at drivers for the way they were driving. He would speed past them and call them names.
I worry that he is causing irreparable damage to his relationship with our teenage daughter. She doesn't understand where the anger comes from. She recognizes that his anger is over-blown and feels hurt and angry towards her dad. Even though he apologizes, it's hard to forgive him knowing that he will eventually do it again.
It seems that his outbursts have been more frequent these last 3 or 4 years of our marriage.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Erika, and thanks for telling your story here. Your situation is very challenging, and it is good that you are seeking help to know the best thing to do.
Only you can decide the next best step. You're right that your daughter is being damaged, as are you.
I have written several web pages specifically to help people in your circumstances. I suggest you read them all, and see if that helps you know what you need to do.
Start with this page on abusive relationships and how to know what to do next.
I strongly encourage you to consider that you are all your daughter has to keep her safe from your husband's anger.
Here are some questions for you to consider:
1) Have you told him exactly how you feel about his anger, or do you accommodate him to avoid his anger--thereby giving him the message that he is justified?
2) Have you asked your daughter how she feels--not just once, but over time. You need to have ongoing conversations with her to get a real sense of how she feels. Do not put her in charge of the decision--you have to be the one who decides what to do.
3) Have you sought counseling? Have you asked your husband to get help?
These questions are just to help you along in deciding what to do.
I wish you all the best in making the best possible decision for yourself, your daughter and your family.