Hi there. My husband and I have been together for 10 years. I have eaten, lived and breathed his anger tantrums. And have gotten use to them. Now don't get me wrong, in comparison to what is out there I can say I do not have it that bad.
It basically boils down to this. He is a very temperamental person and gets set off on the smallest things. He has learned to tone it down and I can safely say it has gotten better (hence the reason I am still with him).
When he is stressed, or frustrated he rants, raves, screams, accuses, belittles and downright speaks words of hatred and hurtful things. In the beginning when I was feisty I would fight back but have given up on this. I will stand there, listen, and then walk away.
Is this the right approach? It seems to dampen his tantrum, but I am left with the emotional scarring of what was said with no "I'm sorry" afterwards.
Years and years of festering emotions are boiling up, and what I would give to be able to speak my mind or have him stop.
What do I do?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello, and thank you for your questions. Your writing is thoughtful and well expressed.
I'm assuming your husband is basically a good person, and that is why you've chosen to stay with him despite his tantrums. With that in mind, I think your approach of walking away is probably the best possible response under the circumstances. I also get it loud and clear that your emotions are boiling up now, and so just continuing to walk away may not work for you long term. The value of walking away is that you don't fuel his rage by adding your own to the mix.
The important focus here is for you to take really good care of yourself. The festering emotions you're having need to be expressed, and we'll look at some options of how you can do that. You don't want to either just continue to suppress them, or to wait until you have a blowup of your own. If you do the latter and have your own blowup, it will set you back, because you'll feel guilty for your behavior rather than staying focused on the years of coping with his.
There are a couple of possibilities here to consider. One is that actually telling him how you feel might be a good thing. I can't know that until I know more about you, your husband and your situation. But just in case you want to try expressing your feelings directly to him, this is what I recommend:
1) Write them down first. Follow the journaling guidelines on this page to begin a daily "anger journaling" exercise. The purpose of this is for you to sort out your thoughts and feelings before trying to talk to him. On that page, you will also find information on journaling about positive things. Be sure and do this, so that you keep your focus on what you love about your husband while dealing with your anger.
2) Look at your own personal history, and recognize how your current marriage patterns relate to past relationships. Journal about this as well, and decide which part of this if any you want to relate to your husband.
3) If you have childhood abuse, neglect or abandonment or any other type of emotional trauma in your past, use the imagery techniques on this page to help with your emotional healing.
4) Do not try this unless you feel strongly that he might actually listen to you and hear what you're saying. Do not do it when you're angry or when he's angry. Visualize a good conversation and a good outcome before doing it. Make up your mind that it will go well and have a good outcome.
If you think that talking to him about your feelings will make things worse, then just do 1) 2) and 3) above, and continue journaling. The daily writing should provide you with some relief from the festering emotions.
I hope this is helpful to you. You are worthy of being treated with respect and love. Make up your mind that you will be treated well, and never give up on that.
Feel free to write again if you choose.
My very best to you,
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