please help - how to deal with my husband's temper
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Old 08-27-2010, 04:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 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?
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Old 08-27-2010, 06:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

This isn't a "marital issue" this is abuse BIG TIME. It will escalate in the very near future. This is a big deal, a very big deal. You suggest going to counseling and he tells you no way and that you need to learn to not make him angry?
Get out now. I really mean it. When it does become physical you will not leave. At that point you will be so "conditioned" to this abuse that a slap across your face will make you tell yourself that you set him off or deserved it. Look at what you wrote: "but the things that set him off are never intentional on my part". You are already getting your spirit slowly taken from you and he is making YOU shoulder the blame for his actions! He has serious issues that will only get worse. Your spirit will be even more broken then it already is. PLEASE talk to your family, friends, pastor, anybody who can help you out of this situation. I don't know your family dynamic but I am willing to bet that they wouldn't want their daughter to be treated like this. I think your friends would feel the same way. He isn't a "best friend". He is an abuser who uses force, intimidation, words and scare tactics to mentally beat you in to submission. Your teenage sister has to witness this. Would you want this for her? If not, then why you?
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

"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."

What you describe is a domestic assault as real as a punch in the face and as legally enforceable. Clearly unacceptable, illegal, and dangerous. I know you don't like involving others in your marital business but this is different. You have reason to be concerned for you safety. Without his knowledge, I would develop a safety plan (just in case). Put aside a little money, stash a car key outside the house. Assume you might have to quickly leave the house with the clothes on your back at any time.
When both of you are calm, tell him his behavior is unacceptable and frightening and that you won't tolerate it one second longer. The next time he gets loud or verbally abusive, walk out. Make it clear that if he's going to act like an out-of-control idiot, he will do it alone. You aren't his sparring partner. If he escalates, call 911.
If he gets physically combative, a face full of OC spray works like a champ. If you have a little money, Taser international makes a product that will take the wind out of his sail but won't kill him. Naturally, call the police as soon as you can, following such an event. These things rarely just immediately happen. They build up. Don't wait for him to go completely nutz before you try to hit the door. Don't hang around having a discussion with him about it.
If you leave the second he crosses the line and you do this every time, he will quickly learn there is no benefit associated with thuggish behavior. If he wants a fight, call the police. We get paid to fight and we don't mind. We have lots of cool, expensive toys and the taxpayers expect us to use them. It would be nice if you can avoid such a scene, but that's his choice. Perhaps you can help him learn some manners. If he doesn't want to learn with your help, we can help him. If we can't help him, the judge can. If the judge can't help him, large convicts will help him. Either way, at some point, effective education will occur.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

Just because he hasn't actually hit you doesn't make this any less than physical abuse. If he tied you to a chair, would you say that wasn't abuse just because he didn't punch you first? Of course not. He restrained you just as if he tied you to a chair. That makes it abuse. And then, just like any abuser, he blamed you. Told you what you should do and not do so that he won't get mad at you. It's bull. You do what he says, and then it'll be something else. You'll change that, and then it'll be something else...you see where I'm going with this, right?

Don't stick around for this. You suggested counseling; he refused. While I am a strong advocate for doing all you can to save your marriage, I'm an even stronger advocate for not letting a man beat the crap out of you, which I believe is where this will eventually go.

Get rid of him. If necessary, get a restraining order to protect you and any kids you have. If he fights you, you can always tell him counseling again - this time for him alone, and as a prerequisite to you even *considering* the possibility of resuming your relationship with him.
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Old 08-28-2010, 12:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

Call the police, and see how fast he can controll his anger when they show up. My husband pulled that on me and I took it. After all was calm I told him if he ever pulled that again the police would be called.
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Old 08-28-2010, 01:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

Thank you for your replies. Deep down I've known that his behavior is abusive, but he convinces me that I'm being hyperbolic because he doesn't usually get physical and he hasn't hit me or bruised me or seriously physically hurt me.

I talked to my husband tonight. I told him that I was insisting on getting counseling and tried to explain why. He was VERY opposed to the idea of counseling. He said we are two intelligent adults who should be able to work out our problems on our own. It turned into a long, drawn out argument....he was basically saying that it isn't a pattern of abuse because he has only gotten physical with me twice and has never set out to hurt me. As for all the other yelling, he doesn't think it should be lumped in with the more severe times. He says I can't expect him to just "not get angry." That it isn't fair that I get to take the moral higher ground just because my anger is less loud than his.

He kept insisting that he understands that he crossed a major line the other night that he never should have and it will never happen again. But then he says it's absolutely ridiculous that I think we should go to counseling.

I found myself afraid to threaten divorce. Probably because I know I don't really want to leave him. Which kind of scares me.

At one point he raised his voice (not the screamy rage kind) and said that the reason he got like that the other day is because he's so stressed out from working two jobs, and I don't keep a very clean house and want to spend money on trips and concerts. He says there's no solace at home for him. He says he knows exactly why he lost it and what to do to keep from going there again.

He also said repeatedly that he recognizes that what happened was completely his fault, says he takes total blame and he knows it was very wrong.

Basically my brain just feels all turned around. He criticized me for having the agenda of counseling at the beginning of the conversation, said I should be willing to compromise. He has ADD and is not medicated, he suggested that he try medication first to see if that helps....I guess a lot of people with ADD can have anger issues. Does that seem fair? Do I need to take a harder line? Should I go to my family? He just makes me feel like I'm being a big drama queen.....but it's really a big deal to me. I don't know what to do.
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Old 08-28-2010, 01:52 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

Let's see....he agrees he was wrong but it's really your fault, it's not a pattern yet, you'r overreacting, you have an agenda? That about right? That's an apology? That's accepting responsibility? He can have ADD, PTSD, Bipolar, or the heartbreak of psoriasis. He can work 5 jobs and the house can look like a pig pen. None of that excuses abusive behavior. You don't expect him to not get angry. You just expect him to control his temper just like the rest of free society does. It doesn't have to be a choice between divorce or counseling. It could be separation until he completes counseling. You don't want a divorce but you also don't want to be dead or hospitalized. He forced this choice on you by his repeated outbursts. When confronted about it, he tried to avoid responsibility for his bullying behavior by painting you as the culprit. The abuse and manipulation continues, just in a different form....till next time. Hope springs eternal, but I'll be amazed if he doesn't continue this sort of behavior.
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Old 08-28-2010, 02:15 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

When my husband said, "I really just want to punch you right now", during a fight, I knew I would leave him. And I did.

Look at it like this. You know how you can be on a diet, and you say, "I'd love a piece of chocolate right now!" You know you aren't going to eat it, but that doesn't mean you aren't speaking the truth when you say you want it.

If he says he wants to hit you, he does. When he does it is a matter of time. He doesn't really love you. You don't want to hit people you love. If he really loved you he would never even say something like that.

Just my two cents - start gearing yourself up to leave. People with this kind of problem usually can't stop it and don't get better.

Best wishes to you.
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Old 08-28-2010, 03:11 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

Right now, you are in a cycle of abuse and he has already conditioned you to wonder if you have caused it and if it's really not that bad.

He needs serious help or he will not change. There is nothing you can do to help him with this. This pattern of abusive behavior, then apologies, then blame and 'rationalizing',then kisses, then abuse again is going to steadily get worse unless you take drastic measures.

This is not anything you want to try to fix yourself. You need to leave and go to a safe place like parents or friends for now. If you can't do that, there are women's shelters that can help you. And yes, you need help as well.

Demand that any talk of getting back together will be after he has gotten help from certified professionals and follow up on it. Require proof so he can't just lie about going to classes or sessions.

If he loves you, he will do this. If he doesn't agree to help, you'll have to walk away. Just because you love someone doesn't mean you have to stay and hope and pray and wish he'll change. He will need to do this on his own.

I urge you not to stay there while he is untreated. This is a potentially dangerous situation.
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Old 08-28-2010, 12:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Angry Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

No abuser "set's out" to hurt the other person. That's the scary part. It just happens over time. You are being abused, make no mistake about that.
You said he took responsibility for the other night. No he didn't. He blamed his job, the house and everything else. Not once did he say "I know I lost it and I need to seek help to make certain this never happens again". Instead he told you that he was intelligent and that verbal abuse isn't really abuse. It is.
Again, I ask you, would you want this for your younger sister? She lives there and sees this and eventually will think this is normal. Is that what you want?
You are NOT his verbal punching bag!! Soon you will become his ACTUAL punching bag.
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Old 09-01-2010, 05:54 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

Your story sounds very similar to mine. My husband would get angry over the smallest of things, such as not putting the washing out correctly. Initially I let it go like water off a ducks back. But eventually it all started beating down, and I felt as though I was walking on eggshells. I became quiet and an introvert. He always complained that I never could communicate, but how could I after his anger and verbal abuse? I suggested both of us going to counselling but he refused, same as your husband - we can sort this out on our own together. It got worse - leading to me getting hurt - again not a punch in the face but pushed and bruised. It went from him throwing something by accident to him actually hurting me.

I've left him now, and he still won't go counselling. I hope your husband changes his mind and seeks help. If he doesn't, you should leave. It's difficult because I love him, and every day is a rollercoaster of emotions, but the abuse/anger is no longer part of my week.
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:13 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

Quote:
Originally Posted by theduchess View Post





He made suggestions for what I could do not to make him mad,
that is crazy. He does need to take responsibility for his actions. Not you. He needs anger management, not marriage counseling
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Old 11-19-2012, 11:15 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

Agree with everyone here. You are already in the cycle, this will only get worse. If you stay with no consequences you are telling him you are fine with the way he treats you.

Counselling is the least he can do to try heal the relationship. It is him that should be trying to fix this. The very fact that he is not is a huge red flag. I would be speaking to a solicitor finding out what my options are (even if you dont end up following through).


This is not a grey area, this is physical abuse.
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Old 01-19-2013, 05:13 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Sounds a lot like what I'm dealing with lately. My husbands attitude has been getting so out of control. He hasn't hit me per say, but he's shoved me into the wall and off the bed, the last one resulted in me getting a nasty bruise and he felt bad. He hasn't done that since. But he continues to threaten me and block my exits, my way to calm down is to be left alone and blow off the steam, he insists on being in my face and yelling at me. He gets this look in his eyes sometimes and even raises his fist, it makes me feel so small and helpless, and completely at his mercy. I hate feeling that way, he's supposed to make me feel safe, instead I'd feel safer as far away as possible (when he's like this). He can be so sweet and caring, I love him SO much, and I'd like to say that I'd leave if I ever had to, but I've already proved otherwise.

During our fights he swears at me and calls me horrible things, insults me worse than I ever though possible, belittling me so much I constantly feel beaten down. I find myself doing what I can to keep him happy, tiptoeing around any arguments, but it doesn't work anymore, he still finds a way to turn it into a verbal brawl. I mentioned counseling, but he told me I could go, he didn't need any. I suggested couples therapy and he said we fight like married couples do. He suggests things I can do to keep him happy and i try, but it never lasts for long, I have stuff to get done too.

I don't want to tell him he scares me, but he really really does sometimes. I want to avoid divorce or seperation as much as possible, i don't want our families involved either. We have children and I'm afraid he could take off with them, but it has to stop somewhere, right? He's on meds, but I don't know if he's taking them often enough, when he takes them regularly everything is great! I'm just, lost, hurt, and frustrated with feeling like a verbal door mat. I want things to change, I want to like him again (I will always love him).
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:08 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: please help - how to deal with my husband's temper

Verbal/emotional/physical abuse that's going to turn much more physical if something doesn't change. The fact that he tells you he wants to hit you should be all the evidence you need that you are living with an abuser. Have you investigated his past for evidence of domestic violence? Restraining orders, etc.
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