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I married a man who has amazing qualities and anger was not one of them! He is smart, fun, and very successful with work. People always comment on how nice he is and easy to talk with.
At the beginning of our marriage we were hit pretty hard with betrayal from his business partner and employee that we thought were friends. Needless to say we started off a marriage with no income and had to start a business all over again. The stress was incredible and that is when I began to see the anger. I had to work with him in order to get the business started and he was very hard on me. He expected me to have lists and go through them and when I didn't do something he asked he would get angry.
I just chalked it up to the idea that spouses should not work together. Once I had our baby I started to work from home and it was much better. But the problem never vanished, he would still yell at me if I forgot to do something that he asked or was late to pay a bill. It is as if he expects perfection and if you don't give it he is unaccepting of you. When I would confront him with the anger and criticism, he always had an excuse.
Initially he would usually apologize for his behavior, but as the years passed, he stopped apologizing and started to add fuel behind his anger.
He thinks he is right and everyone else is wrong. The anger has now spread to the kids and it has created a difficult environment to live in. He wants to set a bunch of rules and regulations down, because he thinks everything I have done over the years is wrong. He says I don't follow through with discipline and I am too busy trying to be a friend instead of a parent.
I am trying to follow his rules for the sake of the marriage, but the kids don't like the way he treats me or them. The really weird thing is that he will yell at me and criticize me and then he will tell me that he loves me! I don't get it--where is the love?
When you live with him you feel that you are walking on eggshells because you never now what will set him off! I am a very verbal person and I find myself starting to get less and less verbal. Who I am is always in question so I try to change to please my husband, but I am starting to realize that it will never be enough for him.
His problem is separate from me and I just happen to be the unlucky recipient of his inner rage. I am not saying that I don't take responsibility for creating stress in his life, only that I feel that there is no right person for him unless he can program them like a robot. I can not live like this anymore. I am very concerned that he could become more physical, because the rage is so fierce and uncontrollable! Please let me know what you think is wrong with him and what I can do.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. I think you're seeing clearly what is going on in your marriage. Without realizing it, you may be giving your husband nonverbal messages that tell him that his anger is acceptable and justified. This often happens, where the spouse attempts to appease the angry person, thereby giving them positive feedback and support for their anger.
When you follow his rules and try to please him, you're giving him the message that his anger is working, and he feels justified in using it to get the results he wants.
Start by telling him that the continuing anger is unacceptable to you. If you feel that you are capable of this, let him know that you will be looking at separation or divorce if he does not improve or get help. If you don't feel that you can do this, or if it's not safe, then you probably need to consider leaving the marriage, temporarily or permanently.
This kind of abuse is only going to get worse until something changes, and the change will probably have to come from you. If you decide to wait, ask yourself what you're waiting for. How bad does it have to get? What would have to happen to end it for sure? Maybe you don't want to wait for that. It's your choice.
And you are responsible for protecting your children.
Read this page on the battered wife syndrome, and see if there is any help for you there. You will also benefit from one of these CD programs for couples.
Try keeping a daily journal of all your fears and anger, then read what you've written every few days to get a sense of the damage this is doing to you.
Be good to yourself. Your children need you.
My very best to you,
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