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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,
I'm new here, and joined because I am dealing with many issues in my marriage. I'll try to make this brief (I do like to write and sometimes go on and on LOL), but at the heart of the matter is that my husband is chronically negative (around me) and has occasional temper tantrums like a child when things don't work right, break, or otherwise annoy him. He is 40 years old: I am 35 years old. We've been married six years and we are each other's first romantic relationship. We have no children, and frankly, at the way things are going, I don't know if we ever will, though one of his greatest dreams is to be a dad.

We also have been in couple's counseling for almost a year, but it seems like it isn't helping much.

Some examples of his behavior: On the surface, my husband is what one might call a "nice guy." He says "please" and "thank you," holds doors open for people, (will open the car door for me), at work, everyone thinks that, though he is a quiet person, that he is a good listener, hard worker, and pleasant, if not very forthcoming. He was raised in a conservative Catholic household in an intact family with four siblings. While his faith is important to him, he isn't particularly dogmatic (I'm Methodist and very liberal, by point of contrast).

When my husband visits with his parents, siblings and his extended family, he is always in a jovial, goofy mood; playing with the nieces and nephews, talking with everyone, his eyes are lit up in happiness and he jokes around and is basically a lot of fun.

Around my family, though, he is very quiet to the point of not saying a word, looking down, acting bored and like he'd rather be anywhere else. My family is relatively small (my parents, one sister, and two nephews). My nephews love my husband and he enjoys spending time with them, but he has no real interest in interacting with anyone else. My family members have noticed this and asked me if he was 'ok' and if he wasn't feeling well. In any case, it's a marked contrast to how he acts with his family.

Onto the issue at hand: Despite his nice-guy personae, my husband has a temper. He tries to hide it and usually does well (he's never had job issues with it, for example). No one in our extended families see it or seems aware of it; he lets it out around me, though, even though it's rarely directed at me specifically. Here are some examples:

1. When we were dating, we were renting an apartment. We both worked at the same office and had put in a late night. After we got home, we realized someone had taken our parking spot. My husband freaked out and slammed on the horn multiple times, yelling at the top of his voice while doing so. This was the first show of his temper that I had seen. He ranted and raved, and continued laying on the horn. Finally, the guilty party stepped out of the apartment building, saying, 'Sorry,' and that he hadn't realized he had taken our spot. My husband immediately stopped ranting and smiled and said, 'Sure, thanks, no problem!' as if he hadn't just gone completely crazy. That was the end of that, or so I thought.

2. We were at our house, outside and trying to cut down some saplings with a hand saw. My husband attacked one of the trees with too much force and broke the saw. This immediately enraged him, and he started swearing at the top of his lungs. I had noticed when we went outside that there were two young girls playing in the next yard. By the time my husband finished yelling, they had moved to the alleyway where they stood, silently, watching him from a distance.

3. Thanksgiving this past year: We had planned on visiting his parents, who live 2 hours away. His mom called in the morning and told us that everyone was sick with the stomach flu. Well, instead of saying, "Maybe we can go visit my wife's parents (who live only a half-hour away) my husband asks, 'Well, you still want us to come, right?' So, we take off, and shortly into our trip, I expressed my concern about catching the flu. He suddenly slams on the brakes and abruptly pulls over on the shoulder, and asks in a threatning tone, 'Do you want me to turn around and go back home?' Knowing that would only make him more upset, I say, "No, we can go ahead.' When we got there, everyone was sick and by the time we returned home, so we we. It was only then that my husband apologized for insisting we go.

4. After a session of marriage counseling, we had a tense ride home. I don't remember the nature of the conversation, except that I said, 'Maybe I should just leave, I'm obviously not the right person for you.' My husband slammed on the brakes like before and pulled over on the shoulder, saying, 'Don't keep saying that!! I don't like it when you say that; leaving is the easy way out!' I was crying by that point because I felt like he was treating me like a child who had misbehaved. We rode the rest of the way home in silence.

5. One time, we were having an argument late at night, around Midnight. My husband got out of bed and walked to the back door, and stood there, saying, "Maybe I should just end it all." I went to him and tried to coax him back to bed, but he was firmly planted to the spot and resisted my efforts to turn him around and guide him back to bed. Finally, he let me.

6. We have intimacy problems (obviously). Neither of us had any previous experience with partners before marriage, and I have had a difficult time relaxing enough to really enjoy it much of the time. My husband asks, almost in an accusing tone, "How much lube do you need? When are you ever going to be in the mood? If we skip one night, who's to say one night won't turn into a week and that into a month?' One time, he even mimicked the sounds I had made during one session, because he thought they were directed at him not doing a good enough job, and he was personally affronted by that.

7. The latest: I was driving to meet someone at a business location with which I was not familiar. I ended up lost and low on gas. I called my husband asking if he could bring a container of gas to help me out. He was frustrated but agreed. He got there and proceed to try and fill my gas tank, but there was a leak in the nozzle and some of it feel on the parking lot of the business where I had parked my car. My husband instantly got mad and yelled swear words at the top of his lungs. The business owner and two customers chose that moment (of course) to exit the buildling and heard my husband's outbursts, and my husband, throughout this, seemed oblivious to their presence. Finally, the owner said we could borrow his container, but my husband by then had wrapped some plastic bags around the leak and figured it was ok. Talk about an embarrassment, though; I was mortified he had gone balistic in public.

So, those are just some of the many issues at hand. As for his anger issues, he claims that, as the counselor says, people handle anger differently and that he needs to be able to "let off steam." He says, "I'm sorry I can't be a saint like your dad and never get angry." My question: Is any of this normal behavior? It doesn't seem like it to me, but then again, I grew up in a home where I never heard my parents argue.
 

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Hi everyone,
I'm new here, and joined because I am dealing with many issues in my marriage. I'll try to make this brief (I do like to write and sometimes go on and on LOL), but at the heart of the matter is that my husband is chronically negative (around me) and has occasional temper tantrums like a child when things don't work right, break, or otherwise annoy him. He is 40 years old: I am 35 years old. We've been married six years and we are each other's first romantic relationship. We have no children, and frankly, at the way things are going, I don't know if we ever will, though one of his greatest dreams is to be a dad.

We also have been in couple's counseling for almost a year, but it seems like it isn't helping much.

Some examples of his behavior: On the surface, my husband is what one might call a "nice guy." He says "please" and "thank you," holds doors open for people, (will open the car door for me), at work, everyone thinks that, though he is a quiet person, that he is a good listener, hard worker, and pleasant, if not very forthcoming. He was raised in a conservative Catholic household in an intact family with four siblings. While his faith is important to him, he isn't particularly dogmatic (I'm Methodist and very liberal, by point of contrast).

When my husband visits with his parents, siblings and his extended family, he is always in a jovial, goofy mood; playing with the nieces and nephews, talking with everyone, his eyes are lit up in happiness and he jokes around and is basically a lot of fun.

Around my family, though, he is very quiet to the point of not saying a word, looking down, acting bored and like he'd rather be anywhere else. My family is relatively small (my parents, one sister, and two nephews). My nephews love my husband and he enjoys spending time with them, but he has no real interest in interacting with anyone else. My family members have noticed this and asked me if he was 'ok' and if he wasn't feeling well. In any case, it's a marked contrast to how he acts with his family.

Onto the issue at hand: Despite his nice-guy personae, my husband has a temper. He tries to hide it and usually does well (he's never had job issues with it, for example). No one in our extended families see it or seems aware of it; he lets it out around me, though, even though it's rarely directed at me specifically. Here are some examples:

1. When we were dating, we were renting an apartment. We both worked at the same office and had put in a late night. After we got home, we realized someone had taken our parking spot. My husband freaked out and slammed on the horn multiple times, yelling at the top of his voice while doing so. This was the first show of his temper that I had seen. He ranted and raved, and continued laying on the horn. Finally, the guilty party stepped out of the apartment building, saying, 'Sorry,' and that he hadn't realized he had taken our spot. My husband immediately stopped ranting and smiled and said, 'Sure, thanks, no problem!' as if he hadn't just gone completely crazy. That was the end of that, or so I thought.

2. We were at our house, outside and trying to cut down some saplings with a hand saw. My husband attacked one of the trees with too much force and broke the saw. This immediately enraged him, and he started swearing at the top of his lungs. I had noticed when we went outside that there were two young girls playing in the next yard. By the time my husband finished yelling, they had moved to the alleyway where they stood, silently, watching him from a distance.

3. Thanksgiving this past year: We had planned on visiting his parents, who live 2 hours away. His mom called in the morning and told us that everyone was sick with the stomach flu. Well, instead of saying, "Maybe we can go visit my wife's parents (who live only a half-hour away) my husband asks, 'Well, you still want us to come, right?' So, we take off, and shortly into our trip, I expressed my concern about catching the flu. He suddenly slams on the brakes and abruptly pulls over on the shoulder, and asks in a threatning tone, 'Do you want me to turn around and go back home?' Knowing that would only make him more upset, I say, "No, we can go ahead.' When we got there, everyone was sick and by the time we returned home, so we we. It was only then that my husband apologized for insisting we go.

4. After a session of marriage counseling, we had a tense ride home. I don't remember the nature of the conversation, except that I said, 'Maybe I should just leave, I'm obviously not the right person for you.' My husband slammed on the brakes like before and pulled over on the shoulder, saying, 'Don't keep saying that!! I don't like it when you say that; leaving is the easy way out!' I was crying by that point because I felt like he was treating me like a child who had misbehaved. We rode the rest of the way home in silence.

5. One time, we were having an argument late at night, around Midnight. My husband got out of bed and walked to the back door, and stood there, saying, "Maybe I should just end it all." I went to him and tried to coax him back to bed, but he was firmly planted to the spot and resisted my efforts to turn him around and guide him back to bed. Finally, he let me.

6. We have intimacy problems (obviously). Neither of us had any previous experience with partners before marriage, and I have had a difficult time relaxing enough to really enjoy it much of the time. My husband asks, almost in an accusing tone, "How much lube do you need? When are you ever going to be in the mood? If we skip one night, who's to say one night won't turn into a week and that into a month?' One time, he even mimicked the sounds I had made during one session, because he thought they were directed at him not doing a good enough job, and he was personally affronted by that.

7. The latest: I was driving to meet someone at a business location with which I was not familiar. I ended up lost and low on gas. I called my husband asking if he could bring a container of gas to help me out. He was frustrated but agreed. He got there and proceed to try and fill my gas tank, but there was a leak in the nozzle and some of it feel on the parking lot of the business where I had parked my car. My husband instantly got mad and yelled swear words at the top of his lungs. The business owner and two customers chose that moment (of course) to exit the buildling and heard my husband's outbursts, and my husband, throughout this, seemed oblivious to their presence. Finally, the owner said we could borrow his container, but my husband by then had wrapped some plastic bags around the leak and figured it was ok. Talk about an embarrassment, though; I was mortified he had gone balistic in public.

So, those are just some of the many issues at hand. As for his anger issues, he claims that, as the counselor says, people handle anger differently and that he needs to be able to "let off steam." He says, "I'm sorry I can't be a saint like your dad and never get angry." My question: Is any of this normal behavior? It doesn't seem like it to me, but then again, I grew up in a home where I never heard my parents argue.
What anyone considers "normal" is very subjective, but his actions and anger issues/temper are not healthy at all. He sounds like a ticking timbe bomb waiting to really explode. What is happening whether you know it now or not (and somehow I think deep down you do know it) is he's abusing you emotionally.

I have had some issues with temper and anger management in the past. Some of it quite frankly very much like your husbands. I guess it's a positive sign that I can register to this site (have been guest lurking for a few weeks now) just to reply to your post as I recognize some of me in him and hope I can help, even if I just share my story a bit. It's hard to admit that, but I guess it's good I can admit it and be honest about who I am and my shortcomings.

I've been going to counseling for almost a year now, but until recently when my wife decided she wanted me gone from her and our twins lives and our home, I didn't really admit that my anger and tantrums had caused a lot of harm and damage to her, our marriage, even myself. Thankfully our still toddler little angels have been sheltered from the majority of our unhappy marriage and my issues. Thankfully I'm trying to man up and change who I am, grow, put the anger away so they never have to know that side of their daddy. I started anger management specific counseling and am just getting into the thick of it. It's a nasty and often hidden thing -uncontrolled anger - but it's very real, very detrimental and very dangerous.

Anyway, I hate to say this but I don't think things will get better with him - for you - with the both of you - until he comes to some serious hard self realizations. How one comes to such enlightenment is anybody's guess...unfortunately for me it took essentially losing everything and my soon to be ex wife pulling the trigger on me losing everything. She has her issues, this much is true and I'm starting to see how unhealthy she was right along with me, how unhappy and lonely I was. But I try to look in the mirror and realize it's a a very fragile glass house I live in, so I never really throw that stone in her direction (ok well out loud anyway!).

My suggestion to you is if you care for him, you want to try to work things out, you want to try and force his hand and help him - bring up exactly what you posted here to him. Do it in an open public place if you need to and are scared (although if you are that is a very telling sign that you should heed). Tell him you want him to get specific anger management counseling and that he can do it alone or with you but that it must be done. If you feel like it's a last straw be honest with him and tell him "listen if we don't do this, if you don't do this I'm going to leave you and never look back".

If my wife would have told me that instead of holding all of her anger and frustration and fear in and then unleashing it in the worst of ways (look around these boards I'm sure I'll start sharing my whole story more in detail in the next few days or so) I'd still be tucking my daughters into bed every night in the comfort of our home. Then again, I would probably still be living a lie as would my one time bride, with neither of us forced to work on ourselves, to grow, to learn.

I hope your story doesn't have to end like mine and wish you the best. Be strong, be self respectful. Feel free to share more, ask questions, yell at me even if you want to... I'll keep an eye on this thread and am here for you if I can be in any sort of way.
 

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He needs anger management. You need some counseling because you're showing signs of modifying your own behavior solely for the purpose of avoiding his anger and hinting at walking on eggshells around him. You already suspect that something isn't right with the situation.

Yelling at you to control whether or not you concede to his wishes is disrespectful. Forcing you to have sex when you are not in the mood by way of ridicule, mockery, or insistence is disrespectful -- and intimately cruel. Humiliating you at your workplace by having a temper tantrum there that was witnessed by your co-workers is disrespectful. I say all of this because I think you should consider issues of power and respect in this relationship. Yes, he needs to let off steam once in a while and yes, he might need to be in charge of things a lot of the time, but...those two things are getting in the way of you expressing and getting met your own needs for security, safety, and love; this is problematic because marriage should be about BOTH people getting their needs met, getting support, feeling safe, and not about one person getting those things while the other person just plays the self-sacrificing side-kick.

The more energy you spend managing the facade of your marriage, walking on eggshells to make it work, the less you have to spend on your real goals (shared or individual). You will lose yourself to his temper. He needs to deal with his anger. You need to deal with your passivity. Make it a deal breaker. Ultimatum -- anger management or separation. In truth, I think that you're more rattled by this situation than you are letting on.

I've been in your shoes. Don't enable him to lash out at your expense; it's better for both of you if he gets his anger under control and you get your passivity under control. It's better to deal with this head on and at your own choice than to let it blow up in your face later. Right now, you're seeing anger around you. Once it's directed toward you, it's abuse. Do what you can to right the balance of power now. And don't become small and passive.

Read "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry, Controlling Men" by Lundy Bancroft, who has also written "Should I Stay or Should I Go?: A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can and Should Be Saved".
 

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If he won't confront the problem, even when you suggest how serious you think it is, then I suggest you separate until he sorts himself out. If he has been, in any way, physically abusive to you or threatened you with physical violence during an angry outburst, I suggest you separate right away and then try to work things out from a distance. You haven't suggested that it has gotten to that extent, which is why I didn't say "just leave". You obviously love him and want to work things out; just make sure that you're not sacrificing yourself to do so because neither of you benefits from that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi everyone,
Thank you so much for your insight; I really appreciate it. The stories you have shared have really given me some tools to work with in the next days/weeks/months as I try to figure out what to do.

As to some of the questions you've addressed to me: It is true that he has *not* been physically abusive; he hasn't laid a hand on me or even restrained me in any way. He claims he would "never hurt me." I honestly don't think he sees what he *does* do as abusive, though; I don't think he has the insight (and maybe he hasn't even heard of) emotional abuse.

Today, I mentioned the ongoing pattern of temper issues with him and how they bother me. I said, "I'm an adult, and this behavior scares /me/; can you imagine how a child would react?" His response was: 'I'll try not to do that in front of a child. I'll go out in the car and yell in there." When I asked if shooting hoops outside or riding his bike around town would be enough to help him get the aggression out, he said, "It helps, but sometimes I have to yell and swear and just....get it out that way."

To him, "learning to control his emotions" (my phrase) = "bottling things up." He said, "Our counselor said it's not healthy to bottle things up; I can't be like your dad and just "stuff everything deep, deep down and not get upset sometimes."

He told me his two brothers would sometimes react the way he does (one even punched a hole through the wall when he was a teenager). The difference is, though, that both seem much more mellow now that they are grown up and in their 40s (at least at family gatherings). Their father, who is in his 70s, also often acts emotionally immature when upset (though I've never seen him lash out physically). My husband said, "In my family, people have to "let it out; that's how it is."

When I pointed out the various ways in which my he intimidates me by being unable to control his temper, my husband said, "Ok, so if I promise to keep working on it, we don't have to spend a whole hour talking about it with the counselor, do we?" He said it's embarrassing for him to have his issues laid out like that. I told him that I will tell her what I want to tell her, and that since it's an ongoing issue we haven't worked out, that obviously it needs to be addressed. He said, "You're not perfect, either." I told him I never said that I was (and we have gone over my anxiety/depression issues in counseling extensively). I said, "If you actively work on channeling your anger before you blow up, and if you learn to control these outbursts before they happen, I will have seen some progress, instead of you just going from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds." He said, "I said I'm sorry, ok? How many times do you want me to apologize?! We've gone over this already, and I said I'd work on things."

So, that was what happened today. I think I'm also going to bring up anger management at the next counseling session. I do know I need to work on my passivity (that's the perfect word for my way of responding to him). It's not healthy, either, and it's allowing him all of the power. I am trying to be more assertive and express my needs to him. The unfortunate thing I'm seeing in his responses (so far) are defensiveness and saying what he feels he needs to say to get me to stop bringing it up. This seems markedly different than the sort of response where you would say, "I understand why this would be intimidating to you and since I know how much it unnerves you I will do whatever it takes to learn to deal with my emotions and change.' I would love to hear something like that, instead of the defensiveness, but I don't know if he has the insight to understand that.
 
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