How to Deal with an Angry Husband
Living with a husband who has anger problems can present quite a challenge. You’re in love, and you have lots of fun together. But, you feel you have to walk on eggshells around him knowing the slightest thing could quickly turn a lovely evening sour.
You know the feeling: your husband gets home, and you quickly look for any tips that might indicate his mood. And even if he’s in a pleasant mood at first, you never fully exhale, knowing things might change on a dime.
You love your husband, but even if things are good more often than not, this is a very stressful way to live. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Anger is not a fundamental part of someone’s personality; it’s just an emotion like any other, no matter the cause. And it’s something the two of you can work through together.
Here are a few tips and strategies to help the two of you on your journey towards the harmonious marriage you both know you’re capable of.
Don’t Try to “Fix Him” On Your Own
This is essential: you can’t make him better on your own. it needs to be a collaborative process between the two of you as a couple, and while you can help and support him throughout, it is ultimately going to be up to him to make the necessary growth.
Broaching this topic may feel like a daunting task. And frankly, it may be. This is a painful subject for both of you, surely. But if your husband is indeed the man you should be spending the rest of your life with, he will be willing to commit to this. It’s a difficult conversation, but difficult conversations are incredibly valuable tools for growth.
Anger is, generally, a way for a person to express underlying suffering. And while it is unequivocally true that they and they alone are responsible for the damage that their anger causes, most who suffer from anger problems would like to heal. I’m sure your husband would like to leave his anger in the past.
And even if he doesn’t consider it a problem, if he’s the right guy, he’ll take it seriously for you. Express to him, kindly but firmly, the way it makes you feel. If he truly values you and your relationship and understands how important this is to you, it will be important to him as well.
How to Address an Outburst in the Moment
When your husband’s anger surfaces, it’s good to have a strategy in mind for how to handle it. While these are all just temporary solutions and not something that will address the root of the issue, it’s still better to have these strategies than not. Anger problems don’t go away overnight, but if you find a plan that works for the two of you, you can at least mitigate the way it affects your lives.
None of these approaches are surefire, catch-all solutions that will work for everyone. You will ultimately have to figure out what methods do and do not work best for you and your husband. But these are some of the best tips and techniques to help you approach in-the-moment anger management.
De-escalate the Situation
The first tactic is to try to de-escalate the situation emotionally. Don’t try to match his anger; this will only cause the situation to build and escalate further.
Instead, do what you can to remain calm and neutral. If you let your husband get their anger out, without adding to the emotional intensity of the situation, they will calm themselves down on their own. And the calmer you remain, the faster that will happen.
Escalate the Situation?
Ignore everything I just said! Some people will get into a spiral, with their anger feeding itself continuously if it goes unchecked. If their partner remains calm in what they clearly feel is a serious situation, that can cause them to get even angrier.
Sometimes, all it takes is for you to snap back in response to breaking them out of the cycle. That is far less common than the previous approach, and should probably be the last of these approaches that you try. But for certain individuals, in specific situations, it can be very effective.
It doesn’t excuse their behavior, but people with anger problems often turn to anger because they’re suffering from emotional pain. Men can often be uncomfortable honestly expressing negative emotions like sadness or grief, so their pain is expressed through anger instead.
They and they alone are responsible for their anger and the way it affects others. But if you believe their anger is an expression of their suffering, demonstrating that you empathize with them, and are willing to support them through their pain can help them to calm down much sooner.
Don’t Try to Control Him
Anger is often a way for someone to feel in control of a situation. The situation may be harmful, but they and they alone are determining the way things go.
So the more you try to overtly take control back, even if it’s in the form of positive suggestions, the more he’s going to lash out and sink deeper into his anger. If this is characteristic of your husband, don’t try to engage with him, or take command of the situation. Try to de-escalate, then as he’s beginning to calm down, gently guide him towards a different outcome.
Reflect on Your Own Actions
Your husband’s anger is never your fault, and it’s no one’s responsibility but his own. But during the interim, while he works towards a more permanent solution, it can’t hurt to reflect on your interactions and see if you can piece together patterns of your own behavior that can spark his anger.
You shouldn’t have to spend your life walking on eggshells around the man you love. But as you work through his anger problems, if you can avoid things that are triggers for him, that can only help. If you notice any specific behaviors or actions tend to precede his outbursts, avoid those if it’s possible.
Pick Your Battles
If his anger is a regular occurrence, you’re not going to be able to make a point of every single one of them. You should focus on incidents that have the most potential for growth. Just because you may be right, doesn’t mean a point is worth making. If it’s not constructive, it’s not helping him grow as an individual, or the two of you grow together as a couple.
Remember, marriage isn’t about “winning” fights. It’s about strengthening your partnership.
Communicate When You’re Calm
You’re not going to make much headway trying to communicate when he’s at his angriest. The most constructive interactions can take place after the situation has calmed down.
Describe how things made you feel. See if your husband will explore what might have caused his outburst. That will be an uncomfortable territory for a lot of men, but if you express how important this is to you, it should be important to him too.
Now is also an excellent time to discuss some of the above strategies for conflict resolution. Talk to your husband about what he feels he might respond to best. Discuss plans for short and long term strategies.
You don’t need to discuss all of this at once. If this is uncomfortable for your husband, you can take things one step at a time. But one of the best times to cover these topics is when things are calm, but the incident is still fresh in your memories.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques—typically based around deep, mindful breathing—are among the most effective strategies for anger management. People who are upset will naturally take short, sharp breaths, and their heart rate becomes elevated.
By taking control of their breath, a person can alter these physiological responses, and naturally relax. Breathe in deeply and slowly, and then exhale for twice as long. Do this a few times, and you will immediately feel your heart rate slows, and your body relaxes.
This isn’t a technique your husband will be able to learn in the middle of an outburst. But if you practice ahead of time, it might be a go-to strategy he can use to bring himself the rest of the way back once he starts to calm down.
What’s the Cause of His Anger?
Being able to handle isolated anger-related incidents is a tremendous tool. It can help salvage evenings that would otherwise have gone off the rails and can do wonders for your relationship overall.
But, in the end, this is only just a bandaid. Addressing the symptoms is great, but it won’t stop the outbursts from happening. Ultimately, to really move on, you’re going to need to identify and address the cause of your husband’s anger.
It’s is rarely black and white. There is rarely one single cause for a person’s anger problems; likely, there are several, inextricably linked from one another. But here are some of the most common causes of anger problems, to help you get started.
Keep in mind, identifying a cause is not, in and of itself, a cure. More on this later. But it can help your husband identify what he’s feeling, and take steps to break the cycle. Here are some of the most common causes of anger:
One of the biggest reasons for anger is a buildup of stress. That is particularly likely if his anger problems have increased over time. Stress and anger are heavily linked; stress feeds anger, and anger adds to stress. That can create a never-ending vicious cycle if left unaddressed.
Stress can come from any number of causes. These can include:
- Financial problems
- Interpersonal relationships
- Disliking your job
- Insufficient sleep
- Loss of a loved one
Plus many more. These issues can often be directly intertwined. For example, say someone dislikes their job, but because of financial troubles, they need to work extra long hours to make ends meet. So they’re spending more time at a place they hate, over-exerting themselves, and getting insufficient sleep, all with the specter of money problems hanging over their heads. Each of those issues is challenging on their own, but when they combine, they become even stronger.
Effective stress management techniques would require more space than this to explain sufficiently. But they do exist, and while things may seem hopeless, there are ways to work through them.
Feelings of Isolation
Loneliness can be a significant cause of stress and anger. How could your husband be lonely, though, when he’s married to a woman he loves? The fact is, any couple can get in a rut where they can lose a feeling of connection.
It’s incredibly easy to settle into a routine of getting home from work, turning on the TV, sitting next to each other to watch without really interacting, then going to sleep to do the same thing all over again the next day. Does that sound familiar? You’re in each other’s presence all evening, but not really connecting.
That can certainly make anyone lonely, and that could be a big contributing factor to your husband lashing out. It takes effort, especially if you’ve been in a routine for a while, but try committing to some time each week where you’re genuinely spending time with each other.
It doesn’t even require going on a date, you can do it right at home, by simply leaving your TV off and your phones in the other room. Hopefully, this will help ease some of your husband’s anger problems, but even if it doesn’t, it should make both of you happier and help strengthen your relationship.
Another area that is often linked with anger problems is unresolved trauma that a person experienced earlier in life. That can cause years of pain, fear, and stress to build up inside someone, which they only let out through anger.
This issue isn’t something that you’ll be able to quickly solve at home, even if you figure out the source. We’ve all seen those movies where someone has some traumatic event from their past they’ve been suppressing until they have that “a-ha” moment where they recall their trauma, and they’re immediately cured. In real life, though, it’s not that simple at all.
Understanding the source of the pain is only the beginning. It can take years of work to overcome, often with the help of a professional. And this can be an intimidating prospect; it may seem easier for your husband to continue “dealing with it” the same way they always have.
But working through this trauma can make a tremendous difference in a person’s wellbeing, happiness, and relationship success. All you can do is help your husband see the potential benefits and support them through any challenges they face.
Unfortunately, sometimes people simply have a brain chemical imbalance that can cause them to be angrier and more aggressive. The brain chemical serotonin plays a major role in regulating anger.
A chemical imbalance can cause someone to have anger problems through no fault of their own. That may seem unfair, and frankly, that’s because it is. But the bright side is that it’s treatable. With the right medication, brain chemistry can be corrected, and this can play a significant role in addressing anger problems.
Your husband may not be prescribed the exact right medication right away. It takes time and persistence to find the proper prescription that works for each individual. But if you support him through the process, It can make a tremendous difference in his anger and the overall health of your relationship.
Explore Professional Help
I know this can be a daunting suggesting. Many of you may have already written it off. But please, hear me out. I know therapy carries a heavy stigma with it. You hear a couple is going to therapy, and you think, “who knew? They seemed so happy!” It’s a natural reaction, given the way the subject is so often discussed.
Going to therapy feels like an admission that your relationship is doomed. But the fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. It is, instead, a declaration that your relationship is worth fighting for. And that you’re going to do everything in your power to do so.
Here are some of the most significant benefits that come from exploring therapy.
Learning Key Skills, Proactively
Exploring couples therapy doesn’t even necessarily mean that anything is wrong with your relationship. More and more couples are going to therapy early on in their relationship, even while they’re still in that honeymoon stage. Why?
The idea is that rather than waiting until it’s too late, going to therapy early allows couples to proactively prevent problems before they begin, rather than waiting to react once issues arise. No relationship is ever going to be perfect. But by going to therapy early, you gain the tools to identify and solve problems, to make your relationship last.
So if you go to therapy, you could work through the issues caused by your husband’s anger. But you could gain so much more than that! You will also learn about yourselves and each other, and gain important skills to deepen and strengthen your relationship for the long haul.
Take Advantage of Their Expertise
In the previous section, we discussed several approaches to identifying and addressing the cause of your husband’s anger. While it is possible to try to work through some of them at home, therapists are experts in this field and can help both of you understand what your husband is feeling, and identify possible paths forward.
And specific causes (unresolved trauma, in particular) may be next to impossible to work through without the help of a professional. I’m sure you want to help your husband as much as possible yourself, but sometimes the best way to help someone is to acknowledge that what they need is beyond what you are capable of.
Going to therapy can be very difficult for many men, so you can still help your husband by holding his hand and supporting him.
Get Clinical Help
If brain chemistry is the driving force behind your husband’s anger, there is, unfortunately, nothing you can do without the assistance of a professional. But a qualified psychiatrist will be able to talk to your husband, identify what he’s dealing with, and help him find the proper medication. That’s their job!
This might not be an immediate fix; sometimes, you’ll have to try two or three different prescriptions before you find one that works. But if you’re persistent, this can be the solution that the two of you are looking for.
The Final Word
No matter how in love a couple is, anger problems can put a strain on any marriage. But if you and your husband commit to working together, finding a solution is possible.
First, work to develop skills and strategies for handling outbursts of anger in the moment. That will help mitigate the strain while you search for a long term, permanent solution. Ultimately, healing will require understanding the causes of your husband’s anger. You can’t find a solution if you don’t know the problem. So this is an important place to begin.
Finally, I implore you not to rule out the benefits of professional help. Going to therapy as a couple does not mean that your relationship is in trouble. It simply means you are willing to do everything in your power to make it as healthy as possible. You are sure to learn skills that will improve your relationship in all areas, even beyond the strain caused by your husband’s anger.
And your husband may benefit from going to therapy as an individual as well. While many men believe that they should be able to work through their struggles alone, a therapist will be able to help your husband understand what he’s feeling and help find permanent solutions.