Do a simple Google search for the phrase ‘angry husband’ and you’ll get a glimpse of how widespread the problem is.
I came up with these related phrases:
“My husband gets angry when I tell him how I feel.”
“My husband gets mad when I ask for help.”
“My husband gets angry when I say ‘No!’
“My husband gets upset when I cry.”
“My husband gets angry when I disagree.”
These are just a few of the symptoms of an angry relationship. They are symptoms because they manifest something deeper. We discussed the causes in Part 3.
How do you deal with a husband who seems to get angry constantly?
Is there a way to get peace in the home?
In this article we’ll discuss 7 Keys on How To Deal With An Angry Husband (Spouse).
In This Article
- Anger in the Family [Part 3]
- 7 Keys on How To Deal With An Angry Husband (Spouse).
- Wrapping It Up
Anger in the Family [Part 3]
This is Part 3 in the Anger in the Family Series
The Series in a Nutshell:
I recently ran across this comment from a forum reader named Ashley. Her comments are echoed by a lot of women married to angry men.
The situation with my angry husband really takes a toll on the relationship.
I honestly don’t know what mood he’s gonna be in when he comes home from work. Sometimes he comes back normal. But there are other days when he has had a lot of stress at work and then gets home and I’m the one he takes his anger out on.
Today he came home clearly in a bad mood. He was looking for a reason to fight.
First it was why do I not do things as he has instructed me. Then it was he didn’t like the food I cooked for him.
Since that didn’t work he went for the most senseless issue. We have a 5 month old baby whom I breastfeed. He started saying I only feed the baby from one breast (I do feed him from both btw and he’s seen it). He went on and on and on about it.
He is the same way with his mother.
Sometimes he comes home and barely talks to me or the kids. Honestly that is tiring because I do not know when he’s going to go off.
This woman is being held hostage by anger.
Her story is not uncommon. That’s unfortunate. Marriage should be the place we feel the safest. When it is not, it is tormenting.
Before we delve into how to deal with an angry husband (spouse), …
This man appears to have a character problem that goes back to his childhood. If he speaks to his mother in this manner, this is not an emotional issue. It is a character issue.
My first piece of advice to this wife is to get professional help. Trying to change him will be difficult. And I’m not suggesting this course of action. This is about her safety and well-being.
Unfortunately, most of the ‘help’ you find online is flawed.
One lady (Kate) responded to some advice in a forum with these words:
So according to this we should just stand there while our husbands scream and throw and menace us. If he drops a fork then repeatedly stabs that fork into the dishwasher, red faced and screaming, we should just wait until he calms down? These tantrums affect my intestines, stomach, blood pressure and sleep. And the best answer is to wait it out? While he’s destroying the house? While screaming in my face? While frightening me and anyone else who is in earshot?
If you’ve ever felt like Kate, hopefully this will help you formulate a game plan that will actually move you forward in your relationship.
I want this to be clear up front; anger issues are not isolated to a specific gender. I’ve seen women who were the ones with anger issues in the home.
Most of the references in this article are to men (husband’s) who have anger problems. If your situation is different, substitute the correct gender or role.
Also, not all anger is bad or wrong. Everyone experiences isolated instances where they get upset and mad. This article addresses the deeper issues of anger and now to deal with a spouse who routinely expresses anger.
Throughout the article I’ll try to make clear distinctions when possible.
Let’s move on…
7 Keys on How To Deal With An Angry Husband (Spouse).
Not all anger is equal. Abusive, chronic and habitual anger must be dealt with. These seven principles will help you navigate the murky waters of the ‘bad kind of anger.’ The kind that ruins your family.
1) Leave if He is Abusive
I want to put this ‘out there’ right up front. If there is abuse, leave. Period.
Many people think if they hang on in the marriage things will eventually turn around. It rarely happens. Instead, an abuser generally gets worse.
Have a no tolerance policy on physical and emotional abusive behavior.
Staying in an abusive situation will not help your marriage. It could be signaling that the behavior will continue to be tolerated. That’s not the message you want to send.
Until the abuser is confronted with their bad behavior (character), they will not change. And may not change even once confronted.
So be prepared.
Leaving doesn’t necessarily mean divorce. It means get out of the situation so you can think clearly and heal.
Any decision made before you get out will probably not be the best. Give yourself some time to clear your head and heart.
Once out of the abuse, get professional help to put you on the road to emotional and mental well-being.
2) Keep Your Composure
Don’t get mad in return. The one who maintains control wins. Keep that in mind.
Someone recently commented about this in a forum:
“I find it frustrating that all of this is based on us being in control of our emotions because he cant control his…”
I realize it is frustrating.
First, this doesn’t mean you have to become a doormat for your spouse’s emotional abuse. Quite the opposite.
By maintaining your control, you might not change his behavior, but you put yourself in the position to make better decisions for yourself.In an angry situation, you must maintain your control. This might not change their behavior, but you put yourself in the position to make better decisions for yourself. Click To Tweet
Remember, the one who maintains control wins!
This may mean you have to walk away. That’s okay. Knowing when to leave the conversation (or the house) is a valuable trait. If it seems like the conversation will not end well, leave.
Second, this advice is NOT ‘if you just react right everything will be better.’
Don’t miss that statement.
No one is saying that it’s your fault. That if YOU just did something different things would change.
It simply means that if you lose your cool, the situation will definitely not resolve itself.
If a small thing has the power to make you angry, does that not indicate something about your size?
– Sydney J. Harris
In the next point we’ll see that it IS necessary to take a firm stand.
3) Firmly Take a Stand
You don’t have to be pushed around and demeaned. It’s okay to state your case and take a stand to refuse mean behavior.
We treat people how to treat us.
That’s a mantra my wife and I live. We’ve both seen abusive situations grow worse because the anger was permitted to continue without confrontation.
When confronting, just remember point #2. Keep your composure. Two wrongs won’t make a right.
Dr. Steven Stosny, Ph.D. calls this confrontation and stance ‘Compassionate Assertiveness.’
“In demanding change from your partner, your emotional demeanor is more important than the words you use, and it must stem from the deep conviction that he or she will not recover without learning to sustain compassion. You must be convinced that you and your family deserve a better life and be determined to achieve it. It is important to see your partner not as an enemy or opponent, but someone who is betraying his or her deepest values by mistreating you.
“You are most humane when you model compassion and insist that your partner do the same.
To understand this, let’s define compassion. It is treating your partner with respect and expecting respect in return.
As Dr. Stosny puts it:
The most compassionate thing for you to do is insist that he or she treat you with the value and respect you deserve if you are to stay in the relationship.’
This doesn’t mean retaliation or revenge.
We’ve all heard of the golden rule: Do unto others as we would have them do unto us.The most compassionate thing for you to do is insist that he or she treat you with the value and respect you deserve if you are to stay in the relationship.’ -Dr. Steven Stosny Click To Tweet
Marty Babits says we often get caught up in the ‘Fool’s Golden Rule.’ It says: I can do it to them because they did it to me. That’s retaliation. And it never works out the way you want.
It feels intuitively right to many partners. They seek to match what they do to what has been done to them. If you are hurt you want to exact pain from your partner. If you are intimidated you want to see your partner squirm. This impulse is easy to understand. But when the common denominator of your interactions are guided by this matching principle, you find yourself in a downward spiral of acts that cause and then compound disconnection.
Bottom line: Taking a stand doesn’t equal getting even. It simply means you refuse to let ‘their’ anger control you.
4) Don’t Take the Blame
Dr. Kurt Smith shares the story of Bob and Kim (probably not their real names). Here’s a snippet of the story:
Over the next year, Bob’s outbursts became more frequent, until one morning, in the middle of an argument whose subject neither of us remembers, he picked up the wooden table at which we were eating breakfast and brought it down so hard it shattered. I backed to the wall. Mouth twisted, Bob grabbed my arms. “Why are you making me do this?” he said through clenched teeth. I shook my head, unable to make sense of the question, afraid to attempt an answer.
Dr. Smith adds…
Probably one of the most damaging things about the man above, Bob, is his blaming Kim for his wrong behavior — “Why are you making me do this?” This is a common response in anger and other forms of abuse. Blaming others is part of the mental mind games people play to avoid responsibility and the accompanying uncomfortable feelings, such as guilt and shame.
When dealing with angry people we need them to feel responsible for their actions.
As strange as it sounds, I’ve often heard women (and men) say…
- If I was just a little more sensitive to him he wouldn’t be like this.
- It’s really my fault, I shouldn’t have said ________.
- I brought it on myself. I no better than to __________.
I want you to read this next statement several times. Focus on these words and let them sink in.
You are never responsible for someone else’s anger. Ever.
Think about it.
No one can MAKE you be angry. It’s a choice you make.
Sure, people can do things you don’t like. Things that upset you. Things that irritate you.
But no one can make you angry. You are the only one that can allow their behavior to control your emotions.No one can MAKE you be angry. It’s a choice you make. They can do things you don’t like. Things that upset you. Things that irritate you. But you are the only one that can allow their behavior to control your emotions. Click To Tweet
We’ve all had moments when something happened, or something was said to us that was upsetting or wrong. Being upset is not the same as losing your control. Or losing your temper.
That’s a choice.
Those are not easy words to live by, but they are true.
Just because you don’t like something…just because someone offended you…just because something was said that upset you…doesn’t mean you HAVE to lose control.
It is a choice. We are responsible.
Someone once broke that down to say, we are ‘response able.’
I say this because when an angry person says, ‘You brought this on…you made me do this!’ Know that it is not true. They made a choice of bad behavior.
Back to Bob and Kim
Kim eventually took a stand and gave Bob an ultimatum. His behavior had gotten to a breaking point. She told him to either get help from a counselor or the marriage was over.
Bob made the decision to get help. And it saved their marriage.
The first step though, was not Bob getting help. It was when Kim acknowledged it wasn’t her problem. It was his.
She refused to take the blame for his anger. This was the turning point.
She stopped making excuses, covering up his bad behavior and letting him off the hook by blaming her.
Refusing to take the blame was a step toward freedom for her.
5) Try to Determine Why He Is Angry
I open this up with caution. Please do not read into this a ‘blame the victim’ or ‘if you would just be a better wife (spouse) he wouldn’t be this way.’
I’m not suggesting any of that.
One writer had this to say:
There is a difference between an angry person and one who chooses to be angry, controlling, selfish, disrespectful, stonewalls, gaslights and completely lacking in empathy.
As we try to determine the cause of anger, I’m talking about someone who is experiencing anger. Not someone who is an angry person by nature.
Some people have negative temperament. The remedy for that is different than dismantling someone who is angry over an issue.
For the husband who is expressing anger, let’s look at a few things that could be the cause:
1. Work issues
2. Sexual frustration
3. Hormonal imbalance
Yes, that’s right. Men have hormonal issues too.
Studies show that men with low testosterone can have mood swings that cause them to be irritated and angry.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that sends signals from one area of the brain to another. Low serotonin interferes with the transmission of ‘happy feelings’ leaving you feeling frustrated and angry.
This is certainly not an excuse for bad behavior. If anger issues are the result of a hormonal imbalance, there is help.
5. Emotional Trauma
Anger is generally an emotional response to something painful.
Some people cry. Others laugh inappropriately. And some get angry.
Has there been an event that triggered the behavior?
Can you narrow it down and identify it?
Can HE narrow it down and identify it?
Trying to suppress emotional trauma only builds up for an explosion.
6. High Stress
Stressful situations release cortisol which can lead to irritability and anger.
Learning how to manage stress is crucial for anyone in high pressure situations.
The video below discusses how stress affects your brain.
A brief recap of the video:
The brain releases cortisol in times of great stress. These high levels of cortisol can damage the brain.
Chronic stress increases the activity level and number of neural connections in the amygdala which is the brains fear center.
As levels of cortisol rise, electric signals in the hippocampus (which controls learning, memory and stress control) deteriorate. This limits your ability to control your stress.Chronic stress increases cortisol levels in the brain. As levels rise, electric signals in the hippocampus (which controls learning, memory and stress control) deteriorate. This limits your ability to control your stress. Click To Tweet
It’s no wonder stress is a leading cause of anger.
6) Realize that Anger Can Become a Bad Habit
Anything we practice over a period of time has potential (and will) become a habit. Even emotions such as anger.
We become accustomed to responding in a certain way and over time it becomes our normal way of reacting. Especially if it goes without challenge. That’s why we’ve already addressed the issue of confronting the problem.
Most things won’t go away without addressing them. The longer the negative emotion continues, the more it becomes engrained in their lifestyle.
Our Magnificent Brain
The human brain is amazing.
It’s always working to make things more efficient. To better use it’s resources, it takes things we do on a regular basis and turns them into mindless habits. Habits require less resources than things we have concentrate on.
For example, which is harder, boiling an egg? Or finding the square root of 4,940 [without a calculator]? By the way, the answer is 70.28513356322232 (I know some of you will stop reading and look it up).
Unless you are Pythagoras (one of the smartest mathematicians of all time), boiling an egg is much easier. But did you realize how ‘complicated’ it is to boil an egg? The water has to reach 160 degrees for 12 minutes. Of course this depends on your elevation. There are so many calculations and details it’s hard to list them all.
Boiling an egg is complicated and intricate. BUT because you’ve done it hundreds (if not thousands of times) you don’t even think about what to do. You just do it.
This is because your brain is super efficient. It desires to conserve energy, so it makes routine things you do…routine. It helps you by letting you go on autopilot to get the job done.
It takes more mental energy to do the math on my square root problem.
How does this apply to anger?
Anger becomes a habit because the brain seeks efficiency. You train your mind to respond with anger in certain situations, so it takes over and reproduces the anger feelings when that situation happens again. Even a similar situation will trigger the brain to go into anger mode.Anger becomes a habit because the brain seeks efficiency. You train your mind to respond with anger in certain situations, so it takes over and reproduces the anger feelings when that situation happens again. Click To Tweet
This way the brain can go about doing other things. It passes off the ‘trigger situation’ to your emotions. Then anger takes over because that’s how your brain has been trained.
It’s important to know this. Very few programs that deal with anger address the ‘habit issue.’ Yet this is one of the most significant reasons for anger. We literally train our brain to get mad.
This can be reversed. But it takes time. And energy. This is where most people fail. They allow their emotions to go into default mode.
If you partner’s default mode is anger, it may be necessary to read this together and devise a game plan to recognize and reverse the pattern.
That simple step can be a powerful tool to use to transform your relationship.
I talk about this more in Part 4: What To Do If You Are Angry
For now, work with your partner to recognize the patterns, and reverse the response.
Through love and support you can reprogram their reactions.
7) Get Professional Help
The final step is to get help.
If talking about the issue doesn’t move you toward a solution seek professional help.
As long as you and your spouse are making progress, you can prolong this. But the moment you become deadlocked and the behavior becomes routine, get help.
There are two aspects to this:
Aspect one is help for your spouse. They need to see a counselor. Preferably someone trained in anger management solutions.
Aspect two is about you. It may be necessary for you to seek help because of the scars and wounds you’ve received over the years.
One thing is absolutely true…
If you don’t get help dealing with the hurt, the hurt will destroy your hope of making things better.
Hurt usually leads to lack of trust, emotional disconnection, and broken intimacy.
It’s not worth holding the pain. Find out how to let it go, and release it. For YOUR sake. Not theirs.
Forgiveness is not about them necessarily. It’s about you.
There’s an old English proverb that reads:
Anger is often more hurtful than the injury that caused it.
We could very well substitute the word unforgiveness.
Wrapping It Up
Anger has many tentacles. It reaches into every area of our life. And relationship.
Failure to deal with it only empowers it to grow.
In this article we talked about 7 ways to deal with an angry spouse. Here’s a recap:
- 1) Leave if He is Abusive
- 2) Keep Your Composure
- 3) Firmly Take a Stand
- 4) Don’t Take the Blame
- 5) Try to Determine Why He Is Angry
- 6) Realize that Anger Can Become a Bad Habit
- 7) Get Professional Help
Next Article [Part 4]: What To Do If You Have Anger Issues
Have you dealt with anger issues?
Has anger impacted your relationship?
What is the most significant thing you read in this article?
These 7 keys can help you start the journey of dealing with an angry spouse. If you need further help, we recommend the following programs.
Save the Marriage System by Lee Baucom
Dr. Baucom reveals the 8 phases of a marriage crisis and what to do at each stage.
Marriage Max Fitness by Mort Fertel
Marriage Max uncovers the 7 steps to rebuild your relationship, even if you are the only one trying.
Anger Management Now by Think Right Now, Inc
I love the programs from Think Right Now. They are based on science and psychology. And they work. These are not subliminal programs, they are audio programs that help you reprogram your brain.