please help - how to deal with my husband's temper
Hey. I've been married for a little over two years. My husband and I love each other very much. We are best friends. But there has been one problem that has really bothered me since shortly after we got married. I don't believe in going to friends or family with marital issues because I think it can cause more drama than anything else, and I don't really know how to handle this. So I found this site.
My husband has an explosive temper. I grew up in a family where I never once saw my parents fight. To me, yelling and losing your temper isn't something you do to an equal that you're married to and respect. And I don't mean regular arguing and raising your voice....to be honest, we're both guilty of that. Every few months, he'll go into a screaming rage, and it scares me. When he is depressed it's more frequent.
It's always over something small and insignificant...usually after we've argued for a little while and he loses patience. He will yell at the top of his lungs, swear at me, and intimidate me into backing down. Just the look he gets on his face is enough to completely freak me out, and honestly, I don't even know how to describe it here. It's like he's a different person. Sometimes he gets in my face but he usually doesn't touch me. A couple of times, when we were in the car, he would start driving fast to scare me. Once when I tried to walk away he grabbed my arm and yanked me back, another time he grabbed my shoulders and pushed me against the wall to keep me from walking away. He's never hit me.
At first I tried talking to him rationally to calm him down, but this usually just prolonged it. After awhile I would shut up completely and cry a lot. He'd rage for a few minutes and then ten minutes after he'd be holding me and apologizing and he'd really feel terrible.
We both realized recently that this steady bullying over the course of our marriage has kind of broken my spirit a little. I became scared of him and afraid of setting off his temper, so I was constantly walking on eggshells. I admit I started overreacting to things. I have always been a fiery, independently minded woman, but I had become so sensitive, getting very upset at the first signs of anger.
We talked about it and both agreed that I shouldn't have to live that way anymore. He encouraged me to stand up for myself so I don't have to feel so vulnerable in the relationship. Obviously fighting back when he loses his temper is pointless, so we decided that the only way for me to handle it is to walk away when he starts getting ugly. We agreed that I don't have to let him talk to me that way, and that I can walk away and continue the discussion when he's cooled down.
Since then I have been a lot more assertive with mixed results. I try not use that as license to be mean or disregard his feelings.
The other day, we got in an argument which started to escalate to raised voices and talking over each other. I suggested we cool down, and that we could continue the discussion when we'd both taken a step back. The conversation itself wasn't a big deal. My teenage sister was in the room, so I was particularly concerned with it not getting out of hand. This made him really angry because he had been trying to get a point out, he glared and said, "No, you are going to shut the f*** up and listen to me." I was upset that he was starting to get that way around my sister. I immediately sent her out the apartment and tried to follow her. I told my husband I would be happy to be completely quiet and listen as soon as he calmed down, but I didn't have to let him talk to me that way. He immediately started trying to intimidate me into backing down. Every time I tried to talk he told me to shut the f*** up. I tried to walk away from him as we had discussed, but he physically wouldn't let me. He cornered me against a wall when I was trying to get my shoes to leave, pushed me back when I tried to walk past him, and physically stopped me from walking away. He got in my face to try and scare me, told me "you WILL shut the f*** up and f***ing listen to me," said I was being a b****, told me he wouldn't hit me but he wanted to. I wouldn't back down....I just kept telling him that I didn't need to take this, he had to let me walk away, he was crossing a huge line. I told him to back off. I felt like giving in to him would make me feel victimized and controlled. I didn't scream back, and I wasn't mean to him.
Eventually he calmed down a little and I let him rant at me about what made him so angry. I was very, very upset that he had used his physical strength to his advantage. I hated the feeling that I literally did not have the power to walk away. After talking through this for awhile, he said he was sorry and he knew he had crossed a line, but he thought I was overreacting.
He said, "you're acting like I punched you across the face or something." Actually...if he had punched me across the face, I would be out the door. This pushing (not to physically hurt me, but touching me out of anger to control me), and holding me in place seems kind of gray. I think it is very, very wrong. I think the way he tries to scare me into submission is really unhealthy and shows a major lack of respect. But when things are good between us, they are *very* good. I think it's a big, big deal that could turn into something much worse if we don't get it under control. I suggested we go to counseling to get a professional opinion, but he squashed that down immediately. He made suggestions for what I could do not to make him mad, but the things that set him off are NEVER intentional on my part, and I really hate him putting the responsibility on me. I feel like you should NEVER treat your spouse that way. It really, really hurts me and I can't understand why he does it, just knowing how it makes me feel.
Sorry this is so long. I really need some perspective here. Am I making this a bigger deal than it is? What should I do?