In terms of getting upset and angry about things my husband and I greatly vary. I am more passive and wait until I feel calm before I make a decision on what to do or what to say if a person was the cause. My husband has the tendency to easily get angry and when he does it is a predictable cycle. He will overreact irrationally and bring up every little thing that has bothered him past and present, say things he doesn't mean, calm down a bit, overreact again, and then finally by the next day or two days later he will be officially calm. However after the fact, he has a tendency to talk about what made him angry to death and then the day after and sometimes even one random day the week after.
Is there even such thing as talking about something to death in a marriage?
If so, how do I deal with it? The fact that he cannot let things go and the way he gets ridiculously irrational does affect our marriage and sadly our relationships with other people. My first reaction when he is on that first stage of being angry is to give him space after a while of hearing him go on and on and on, but he gets so upset when I do that even when I tell him if I don't walk away I'm going to explode myself. Other times if I leave him alone for a bit, he gets worse. I sometimes wish he would talk to somebody professionally, but he refuses.
In the view of this armchair observer:
If he talks about it day after day, then there's some kind of resolution he wants, but isn't getting.
Before elaborating on what comes after that, let me present an interesting view on ange
Many years ago, I audited a substance abuse remediation group, as part of my college education. I forget the name, but this program, rather than focusing on the substance abuse, focused on building healthy relationships and a flourishing social circle. A good bit of the time was spent evaluating each person's current methods of relating to others, with the purpose of creating intentional and hopefully long-lasting change.
Anger was brought up and given extensive coverage. The course creators and the facilitator were adamant that anger is unique to humans...animals don't experience it. An animal attacks to protect their young, to eat, to protect themselves but those are self-preservation methods, not anger.
The claim was made that humans get angry because we can and do remember past hurts
and they build and build. And, when anger occurs, it's because we are experiencing something that forms a repeated and undesirable pattern
in our lives, and we actually experience fear - fear that this problem will never go away, which then leads to feelings of claustrophobia: "Let me get the h*** out of here!".
In short, they claimed that anger is
not a primary emotion, but a secondary emotion
. And, the way to resolve it isn't to deal with the anger directly, but instead, to identify the underlying negative feelings
and figure out how to resolve them or their causes.
When I heard this, I instantly recognized that for me, it was true. Might not be true in all cases, but I've had chats about this with pals and so far, they all say it fits them too.
How about your husband? What's the repeated thing that might lead to this anger?
Anyway, back to the resolution your husband wants but is not getting
Again, in just my view, I see two possible paths:
- The resolution he seeks is reasonable.
- The resolution he seeks is unrealistic.
What kinds of resolutions might be reasonable? If he thinks you said something that hurt him, and the resolution he wants is nothing more than you saying "I'm sorry you felt hurt when I said that". Seems reasonable to me...that exact phrase isn't admitting guilt, but it's acknowledging that his feelings, like all feelings, are real. I have no clue what the actual initiating event is, but with this line of thought, maybe you can consider events and figure it out.
What is unreasonable? Any expectation that someone else needs to change for his happiness. That's the whole point of my sig line. Do yourself a favor and find all the free stuff online by Byron Katie and her outstanding (and short!) "Little Book" called "The Work".
In summary, what's said there is:
* There is reality. There are your thoughts. They are not the same. Every human being filters what we see, hear, read, etc, through a belief system built up over time, that prohibits us from seeing reality accurately.
* Reality is always correct...what's out there is what's out there.
* Here's the hard-to-swallow part that Byron Katie expands upon: If you feel suffering, it is because you believe your thoughts are more correct than reality.
I would say read it for yourself, then exclaim to hubs "I found this awesome free little book".
That's how you deal with the unreasonable...HE has to see it as unreasonable. An example I have to live with:
My wife's general approach to everything is fear. Fear of driving, fear of eating, fear of...oh, does she like to buy insurance, and when selecting a car, it's an 8 year process because she fears making a decision that isn't perfect. Perfectionism and fear go hand in hand.
The communications style exhibited by such people is dead silence, any time a discussion gets touchy. If I express, no matter how gently, that I would have preferred she do something else - like consult me before selling $200,000 in stock to pay off the mortgage, which resulted in a nasty tax hit - she goes silent. Dead silent. John Gottman calls this "stonewalling" and lists it as the worst communications habit one can have - arguing is better, at least there's the chance of progress.
Well, she's read Gottman, our counselor has told her in words she accepted that "your husband wants to learn how to work with you in ways that are more comfortable for you. But when you go silent, you are not giving him anything to work with. How can you help?" But...no change.
So, where was I suffering? I believed she could and would change. But that's my thought arguing with ... well, what reality probably is. Truth is, I have no idea if she can or will, but I have to be OK with the possibility that she can't or won't. Of course, the part of me that suffered over her making financial decisions without asking is still wanting help...and the way to deal with that is to care a lot less about money...it's her fear anyway, not mine...and for the money that matters, put it only in my name.
You have to figure solutions that work for you, of course, but I'm thinking you could get useful perspective by studying those two things:
1) Where is this anger coming from? What are the repeating unpleasant things that happen to cause initial upset, which gets repeated, finally leading to anger
2) What are husband's unfulfilled expectations? If reasonable, satisfy them, if unreasonable, try to get him to learn about the business stuff - The Work by Katie.