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My Angry Life

by Phil

My wife of 26 years left me over the weekend. It devastated me. She came home though, within 24 hours because she said she didn't want to leave that way. It's my anger and my outbursts over the years that have driven her away. She was raised in a family that rarely showed anger and when it did it was usually controlled or vented elsewhere.

My family was more direct and "in your face" about issues and arguing. My father had anger issues - I know that now. Growing up he was just a tough man and hardcore about life, work, patriotism, and obedience to him. Thats all we knew. I saw my in-laws as weak and lilly-livered because they let their boys get away with things I would have gotten yelled at and maybe hit or spanked over. So I guess I felt like I needed to be more like my father and be a "tough old bird".

Consequently, I have hurt my wife over the years who is not used to that sort of lifestyle and she just clams up and endured it. My outbursts are not every day occurrences but are frequent enough that I know they are a problem. I even gravitated to tough friends and activities - the whole machismo scene. I think that feeds my anger and agressive, high-alert attitude. It's manly - at least that's what I thought.

One thing I made a conscious decision concerning discipline and anger about though was raising our kids. I never have abused them or abandoned them - never wanted them to ever feel like they weren't accepted by me. That's because inside I knew I felt rejected by my father. I made the decision to avoid that with them but was unable to connect the dots in my own life to see that that very thing I guarded against with them was destroying me and my marriage.

That fear of rejection, fear of failure, frustration from never measuring up to someone else's standard, and pressure to always be ahead of the ball on everything at all times has carried over into my work life. My old supervisor was just like my father and would manage by abuse, anger and rejection. And I stayed at this job - also a pattern from my father. He has long left but it just reopened those wounds and reinforced those long held fears and anger in return.

I stayed here because that's the way I was raised - tough it out and stick it out. It has been better in these recent years but I am not sure it was worth it. That fed the anger beast in me which made it worse at home.

Anyway, I have committed to getting help - locally in person, and that's how I found this site too--by digging for help. I want to be rid of my burden of past hurts and phobias and get control of my emotions so I can love my wife and family to the fullest. Sorry for the long post - I like what I am seeing here on this site. My quest is to be a better man for myself and my loved ones.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Phil, and thanks for telling your story here. I respect your willingness to be honest about yourself, and take responsibility for your behavior patterns in your marriage and in your life.

In my 62 years of living and 38 years of professional counseling, I have found the that toughest and most manly thing any man can do is to look at himself and take full responsibility for his actions. And that's just the beginning. From there, you have the challenge of learning to be a kind, loving, sensitive husband.

I encourage you to write out a full description of that manly man image you got from your father and other men, and ask yourself if that's who you really want to be. Then write out a description of the kind of man you want to be. Here are some ideas about a healthy man to get you started on that second part.

There are two additional processes I strongly encourage you to go through, to help yourself on your quest. Read #1 and #9 in our FAQ page (link on your left). These processes will help you tremendously, if you use them carefully and consistently.

I also suggest you and your wife read Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix, and complete all of the exercises in the back of the book together. You will find this to be extremely beneficial and healing to your marriage.

Follow all of these guidelines, Paul, and I assure you that you will receive great benefit and make significant progress toward being the man you want to be.

Believe in the man you really are, and let the goodness of your heart guide you.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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