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I want to know how to help my husband. He is angry about everything. He seems to deal with every emotion by getting mad.
It runs the gamut--from constantly yelling at other drivers in traffic to raging at co-workers and berating me. He is not violent. I do not fear him. I simply do not want to grow to resent and avoid him because the experience is so often negative, especially if he's stressed.
It's so bad that friends and family have tried to talk to me about him. Our 3 year old tells him to "stop complaining about Mommy." He just can't seem to stop himself.
This is a man I love deeply. But I wish I had some tools to make him look at his tone of voice and negativity. I know it stems from his own childhood but how do I help motivate him to do some work on this issue?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not innocent in this scenario. When pushed I get angry back and I always regret it. It's not my nature but so often I feel backed into a corner unable to stop myself from barking back just to get some peace.
I need constructive ways to cope with this in my daily life. How can I deal with this? Help!
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Candy, and thanks for telling your story here. It is clear that you love your husband, and it is also clear that he has serious anger issues.
I'm going to recommend that you work on your own issues, for two reasons:
1) The best way you can help your husband is to help yourself. He either will or won't face his issues, and you can't control that. I will help you, however, to have the most positive influence posssible on him.
2) You acknowledged that you do have your own anger issues, and you may (I can't tell for sure from what you've written) have some personal history that sets you up for this kind of verbal and emotional abuse. If that's the case, you need to deal with that, so that you don't unconsciously support his behavior, or send the message that it's okay with you to be abused.
Start by reviewing your own past trauma, using the writing exercise described on this page, and then continue with the other two journaling processes.
Then use these imagery processes for emotional healing to resolve these issues. This will really help you.
Also start doing the anger journaling exercises in the above link on a daily basis. This gives you an inside view of your anger, and more conscious control.
The third journaling exercise is a positive one, described in the above journaling link. This helps you to retrain your brain to look at what is good, right and working about you, your marriage, your husband and your life in general.
Now, having done this work on yourself, consider these approaches to your husband:
1) Tell him that you're using these tools to work on your anger. Do this without hinting that you want him to do the same. See how he responds.
2) Picture your husband getting better in your mind. Imagine him making better and better choices, and becoming less and less angry. This is part of the "Goodfinding" approach you did in the third journaling process.
3) If after all of this your husband is still not looking at himself and working on his own issues, then try a loving confrontation. Tell him how much you love him, and all of the things you love about him. Then tell him how you feel when he vents his anger on you. Only do this if you feel strongly that it will help. Then, if it seems like he's really hearing you, ask him to get some help, for the sake of your marriage and your child.
Believe in yourself, Candy, and believe in your husband. Choose daily, moment by moment to expect the best to emerge within both of you.
My very best to you,
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