This week’s question: I can't say my husband is abusive or that I have a destructive marriage, but we do have a very stained one. My husband is a very angry man. We have been together 32 years and it just gets harder to deal with his temper, outbursts, and horrible language. He has never been physically violent toward me or the kids (who are grown and on their own), but throws and slams things.
We are in counseling now and the throwing part has gotten better. The constant rage and language are not directed at me but just in general at anything and everything else. It's like living in a landmine. I never know what, when, or how often he will explode.
It's like a rollercoaster in our home. I work part-time but stay away a lot longer, even when I'm out running errands and such because I just don't want to be home. When I am home, we are talking less and less and even in separate rooms a lot of the time.
My husband really doesn't seem to see a problem and feels he has a right to be angry. Sometimes he doesn't even know why he is. Am I just being too sensitive or over reacting? If so, please give some advice as to how I can stop letting this bother me so much.
Answer: Let me address your first questions. You wonder if you are too sensitive or overreacting? No! Living with an angry person takes its toll on us physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally and spiritually.
Daniel Goleman, the author of the book Social Intelligence writes, “Neuroscience has discovered that our brain’s very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain linkup whenever we engage with another person. That neural bridge lets us affect the brain-and so the body of everyone we interact with, just as they do us.”
In other words, emotions are contagious. As a child, my younger sister Pat and I always got into trouble because once one of us started giggling, the other couldn’t help giggling too, even if we had no idea what was so funny. Likewise, living with someone who regularly emits negativity and anger (even if not directly targeted towards you) makes one extremely vulnerable to feeling pessimistic and negative.
Again Goleman writes, “When someone dumps their toxic feelings on us – explodes in anger or threats, shows disgust or contempt – they activate in us circuitry for those very same distressing emotions” Please don’t underestimate the immediate as well as long-term consequences of living with someone spewing chronic anger.
Research now proves strong links between the kinds of relationships we have and our physical health. Goleman writes,
“Our social interactions operate as modulators, something like interpersonal thermostats that continually reset key aspects of our brain function as they orchestrate our emotions.
The resulting feelings have far-reaching consequences that ripple throughout our body, sending out cascades of hormones that regulate biological systems from our heart to our immune cells. Perhaps most astonishing, science now tracks connections between the most stressful relationships and the operation of specific genes that regulate the immune system.
To a surprising extent, then our relationships mold not just our experiences but our biology…
That link is a double-edged sword: nourishing relationships have a beneficial impact on our healthy, while toxic ones act like a slow poison in our bodies.”
Therefore you are affected by your husband’s anger and that is just a fact.
But it’s not just secular research that sounds the alarm bells about the toxic affect of living with a chronically angry person. The Bible has much to say about the negative effects of living with an angry person.
God warns us to be careful about the friends we choose because they influence us and affect us (Proverbs 12:26). For example, he cautions us not to associate with angry people lest we become like them (Proverbs 22:24-25), and that socializing with violent people will take us down destructive paths (Proverbs 1:10-15; Proverbs 16:29). The apostle Pal tells us that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33).
God’s Word also encourage us: as we gain wisdom, our bodies will get healthier and our stress levels will decrease (Proverbs 3:78; Proverbs 4:20-23, Proverbs 14:30)
God never minimizes the damage that sin causes to bodies, spirits, and minds, which is why he teaches us how to treat one another. Sin’s destruction isn’t merely personal, it’s interpersonal. It’s foolish to think we can remain in close proximity to angry individuals and stay immune to its toxic effects. It’s like thinking we can live with someone who smokes cigarettes and not experience the effect of second hand smoke. It’s not possible.
But I’d like to also like to briefly address your husband’s thought that he has a right to his anger. It’s true. When we don’t get what we want or things go awry we tend to feel angry. This isn’t true only for adults, but also for children. When babies aren’t getting what they want they cry, not just a sad cry but sometimes an angry cry. “Mom, I want my food NOW!” But part of maturity is learning to contain and express anger in constructive and not destructive ways.
Not only does your spouse feel entitled to his anger, but he feels entitled to express it in sinful and damaging ways. That is not okay. God’s word says that “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and sow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19,20). Paul also says that in our anger, we should not sin. (Ephesians 4:26) and goes on to say, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it ay benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29).
Instead of feeling like a helpless victim during your husband’s rants, I think you need to be a better steward of YOU and set a boundary for yourself when he gets this way. Stay away like you have already been doing. You can say something like, “You may feel totally entitled to your anger, but the way you express it is not okay and it negatively affects me. I’m going to leave the house (or the room) until you can calm yourself down.” Invest in some good noise cancelling headphones, put them on, go for a walk, go to your bedroom or get out of the house when he is like that. His unrestrained anger will negatively affect his health but you do not need to allow it to negatively affect yours. Take steps now to distance yourself from it when he erupts. Hopefully he will learn that when he doesn’t have an audience for his anger, it gets pretty boring to rant and rave all alone.
Friends, how would you protect yourself from someone’s anger when it’s not directly targeted towards you but you still feel like you are living in a war zone?
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Wonderful insight as always, Leslie, based on my own experience a complete physical and / or exploration of wellness and natural and alternative healing might be in order. There are many toxins and medical issues that can affect on’es ability to process anger, and change our responses to emotions. I don’t disagree with anything said here, but do be sure there isn’t a physical / medical / wellness issue in addition to the rest.
In a conversation, I would say I have to leave. After the angry event, I need time to go reflect and pray. I love to think about God and His character and how He is not like what I have been experiencing. He is gentle and meek. God is slow to anger and longsuffering.
I think it is very sad that you feel the need to stay away because you know what he will be like. Throwing things is physical abuse even if it is not thrown directly at you. He has no right to continually be angray over whatever little thing went wrong. He should actually not come home until he has released all of that and can be a kinder, gentler husband/father.
in a way, i think its good that we feel pain when anger, bad language etc is displayed in our presence as it shows that we are sensitive to sinful behaviour and what grieves God our Father, grieves us too. To cope with someone always in a bad mood is very hard. i also get out the house as much as I can and get on with my life without him. To go anywhere with him is a nightmare. he will shout at someone…the waiter, the garage attendant, the other driver and so on. This week his anger nearly cost us our job and I had to apologise for his rash words. It hurts me so much, but i am trapped to stay with him at the moment.
The first thing I’d like to say is that I don’t agree with the first sentence in the question. This sounds abusive and destructive to me. Two nights ago I was sitting in bed reading “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship” where it says how to respond to the abuse. Husband comes to bed and starts challenging me. If I tried to answer he’d shout me down, so I quietly grabbed my pillow, said, “I have to leave. Thank you for showing me how you really feel about me.” and spent the night in another room. Thanks you for your books, Leslie. I just got the marriage one from the library. It’s so good to have resources. Twenty years ago there was very little to be found.
My husband and I are both Christians, he is the Sunday school director and a deacon and for 7 1/2 years he has been urting me with explosive behavior and angry outburst. Last year I made a decision to leave, but did not. We “made up” but he would never acknowledge he was wrong or apologize. For a few months we were okay, but he started again. I became extremely depressed. When we had another enormous blow up on Christmas Eve (because I would not let him show me how to do something on my cell phone WHILE he was driving in the dark down a country lane. The next day I found Leslie’s website and read everything on it. When he next tried to confront me, I knew exactly how NOT to respond and how TO respond. For the first time in our marriage we had a conversation without yelling, anger or hurt. I FINALLY got my point across. This week we had a minor incident because I wanted a fresh hamburger instead of frozen. I was able to freely say what I had to say and calmly rebutt his arguments against my own opnion. I can’t wait to buy the “Emotionally Destructive Marriage” book and tell other women there is hope.
I too live with an angry man that explodes. It’s terrifying. I pray much for God’s intervention and am now reading Leslie’s book to gain better skills at dealing with him. Prayers for you!
The only predictable thing about these people is the certainty that they will explode again.
I, too, am married to a man with “anger problems”. It only took a couple of times of me leaving the house quietly, mid-outburst and with daughter in tow, and then calling him and telling him that we were in a safe place and would be back later. I haven’t seen the all-out rage since January. I have seen more passive aggressive behavior though.
PS – I decided on the leaving strategy after reading The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.
It’s a great book, Jane D. I recommend it on my blog all the time! 🙂
Ha! I spoke too soon. Another all out rage, followed by me and daughter leaving to join friends for the weekend. It worked out well for both me and her. Don’t like the anxiety a three day weekend generally causes for me though.
I recently moved out of the home because of my husband’s anger and am now starting dialogue with a divorce attorney.
I have been married for 24 years, with 2 teenage kids. I have an executive career. I am a strong women and always have been.
My husband’s anger slowly crept into me millimeter by millimeter over the years and I woke up in surprise by where we have come. He was verbally abusive, angry, overweight, controlling, dismissive and reclusive. But worst of all, I was making excuses for him and no longer pushing back.
I spite of it all, it is still extremely hard to leave. I feel like he did not love me in a mature way or he would not have treated me like that. I feel like his pain was more important than seeing what he was doing to me. I have come to realize that he is not a partner that is there for me. I have been on my own, alone, even when I have been with him.
Today, I have an anxiety twitch that I am having trouble controlling because I am always waiting for him to blow up. Just thinking about him makes me twitch. I have Lyme Disease that I can’t get under control because, I believe, the stress is hurting my immune system.
As I mentioned, even as broken as I feel, I still struggle with leaving. The moments of him not being angry falsely woo me in. I am trying to stay strong in my resolve that leaving means taking care of me. …..not taking care of me is the greatest sin.
Good luck to you.
Kelly I’m glad you’re here. Making tough choices is always hard but it does mean that you do need to listen to what your body is telling you about the stress you’ve been under. If he is unwilling to change and work on himself then you lack safety and that is affecting your health
I can attest to how horrible I feel when my husband has anger & rage outbursts. I get migraines & dizziness after particularly difficult weeks. I know this is not God’s will to live in a relationship where it is difficult to function freely because of the fear of my husbands unpredictable outbursts. I keep turning it over to The Lord and trying to disconnect from it and just do what I have to do and not care anymore. I tell myself I know he has a serious problem that has nothing to do with me and I can’t change him but I just draw closer to God and ask for his peace. I also pray a lot and ask God to please show me what to do to best benefit my family.
That is me. I know God does not want me to live this way and that I must take action. For years I have prayed for my husband to change. I have changed to try to please my husband but I always fail. Even when I succeed there I still failure. But I know in my head that I cannot please him- ever but my heart still wants to at times. And I should not want to please him. He is sick. I care for him though. I want him to be better emotionally for him and for my children. I know i need to live to please God. But I struggle with what I had hoped my kids would have as a family. I know the hole of divorce in my heart from my childhood and I struggle to avoid that for my children. I have all this head knowledge of God providing. But leaping into the faith in my heart and trusting is hard for me. Although there is still this nagging feeling that God wants me to take action now. That my husband continues to get deeper in his sin and shows no remorse or signs of improvement. I read about all the women on here that are struggling with these men and it breaks my heart but I am so glad we have each other. There is comfort is sharing. I also read about the issues other ladies see in their grown children as a result if these destructive marriages and that scared me to death. I don’t want that for my children. I am angry that tho is my life. I am angry that I have given and changed and still willing to get help so my children can have what they search in a family but there is no desire on my husbands part for any of that.
Thank you, Leslie for using
my question in your blog.
Much of what you said and
the scripture verses you gave
I have read and felt. It is
very helpful to just have listening support and encouragement. Thank you everyone else for your prayers and comments. I am so thankful to Jesus to have been given this help and support. Looking forward to getting stronger.
If it’s not directed at you, who is it directed at? I am divorcing my husband partly because of this very issue. I consider it abuse. As much as I hate divorce, I have to take care of my sanity and my physical and mental health. Staying in that abusive environment is not a way of living I want to stay in.
Giving someone choices sometimes helps. Maybe try asking….could you go for a walk or go in the other room until you have control over your emotions? (or something similar). This puts the responsibility on the angry person. If it doesn’t work then be safe and strong and walk away from the anger. Decide if you will return in 15 minutes or after he has gotten counseling and has developed solid skills in finding alternatives to the outbursts.
Jane, Amen. If your H loved you he would leave that baggage at the door. There is no excuse for behaving that way around your family on a constant basis. Home should be where you feel welcome and loved. A growly old bear should stay in the woods.
Thank you so much for this. I always love your articles. I think they apply not only to marriage relationships, but all relationships!! So many people could be benefiting from your articles if they only knew.
Thanks Amber – so share the articles with those you know and hopefully that will spread the word about how relationships work and get damaged.
Hi Leslie, What you wrote is very true. God doesn’t minimize, but my husband usually does. He tells me I am disrespectful when I say I don’t like how he is treating me and the kids. Meanwhile, he tells me to shut up and flips me off in front of him…totally blind to his own double standard.
Whether your husband minimizes or not, God does not. You must remember that or your husband’s words become the defining reality, not God and that’s where crazy making starts.
Unfortunately, whenever I tried to set boundaries with my abusive ex it never worked. If I told him his outbursts were not okay and hurting me and the children, and that I was going to leave for a while until he could calm down, he only followed me into the next room and continued to badger me. Or if I physically left the house he was in wait for me when I got back. It took me a long, long time to realize I did have a right to stand up for myself and my children against further abuse like that.
Sometimes the only answer is leaving – permanently.
Yes, and actually that was very sad to me at the time.
I always wondered why he couldn’t just be my friend and LIKE me. And although I admit I was so relieved when he walked out after 20 years of marriage and him refusing to do anything to get help, I was also saddened by the fact that neither the marriage nor myself meant enough to him to actually try and change.
I’ve been slammed by some for advocating leaving and even divorce in the case of abuse, but I don’t say it lightly and it saddens me every time I hear of someone having to walk away from their marriage.
That used to bother me too, that he didn’t love me and the kids enough to change – but over time I have thought differently about it. He did not intend to hurt me personally, he has fears and insecurities deep inside that will hurt anyone in his path just like a dangerous machine. If someone was using a bulldozer near your child you would grab your child and get out of the way. That’s what you need to do with abusive people until they are ready to get help. It doesn’t mean his love was small, it just means his issues are big and are getting in the way of him loving anyone completely. And you can learn how to spot people like that in the future.
I agree. And since being out of that marriage for over 5 years and re-married almost 3, I see it all so differently now.
Having stayed 36 years in a loveless marriage with a man who , after 35 years went to counseling with me, he told the counselors that he made a commitment and he keeps his commitments. I have had people tell me that it is never right to give up, that the woman with the issue of blood was sick for 12 yrs. etc. and the God hates divorce verse was a constant. What I was “hearing” from these people was that God would hate me as a divorced person. I filed for divorce 8 months ago and all the papers are signed and ready to go, and I have not been able to bring myself to send them and make it final. I am holding onto a drowning person and he is pulling me under. It is very hard to say I knew he didn’t love me for over 20 years. I am truly a daughter that didn’t want to disappoint my Father God. thank you for your post.
I can so relate to what you wrote. I too had those things said to me from others and also ‘heard’ that God would hate me and turn away from me for not sticking it out.
I can now say with all confidence that is not true! God does not walk away from us; He is always there and continues to love us each and every day.
Re: filing for divorce…I too had met with an attorney not long after my ex left me, but it took another 2 years to make it final. Part of that was because my ex kept wanting to make changes and wouldn’t sign the papers. I realize now that was his final way of keeping control over me.
You have stayed a long, long time and it may be time for you to let go. I will pray God gives you clear direction and peace with whatever choice you make.
He loves you far greater than your husband ever can. He will never forsake nor leave you no matter what you do.
Blessings dear sister.
Amy, I hear you but what I think is sadder, is when you realize how wonderfully God provides for you, in a way your husband never did. Or what also makes me sad, is all the years of stress and destructive living that was wasted, because he wouldn’t listen or get help, and your family has wounds that will take yrs to heal. There is much to be sad about. Good job on taking action, to stop the abuse!!
oh, how I can relate to what you said. I used to think of my 20 years in an abusive marriage as such wasted time and energy with so much stress and destruction caused by my ex who could never take responsibility for his actions.
But lately I’ve changed my thinking and I thank God for those years! Because even in the midst of the abuse that wore me down and reduced me to a shell of the person I am today, God was working it all out for my good even though I could not see it in those years.
Today, I can say that it is true! He brought me out of that valley onto a mountain top. And interestingly, as I have been in a struggle lately with what He is wanting me to I felt strong confirmation last week. He is leading me to share my story…finally. I’ve wanted to share it, to say it all out loud but it just wasn’t the right time. I believe He was still doing a work in my heart preparing me for the right moment to speak my words…and that time has arrived.
Hopefully in the next week I will be ready to unveil a blog I’m working on to bring hope and encouragement to those who have and still are walking through abusive marriages.
But for now I will end this by saying…nothing in our lives is wasted unless we allow it to be. God will use all the trials we go through in this life for His good!
And I say this with full confidence having walked through the valley of abuse and being brought to the mountain top of survival so I can shout…there is hope and life after abuse!
Amy sounds like God – who takes our mess and turns them into messages. Looking forward to reading your blog.
Am I addicted to fixing? I can not stand the thought of being anywhere near the man I married 39 years ago. The marriage has been deader than a door nail for decades and I can not pull the trigger. I am separated now 5 months – so happy, relieved, no longer oppressed, feel safe, free and basically at peace amid the pain of an ended marriage. I am grieving the loss of the dream of being loved, protected and successful. Anger has hit me big time today and I am so angry I have spent decades trying to make it work. Fix me. Fix him, Fix the marriage. I am so angry I can’t fix it. I know that I must leave permanently. He is utterly unrepentant and never really cared about me or the marriage – and I can’t pull trigger. I’m lined up – in position. Finances are equitable, I have an excellent attorney, good counseling. I am being counseled to work through the grief and mourning – to get to the acceptance and forgiveness. All excellent and wise counsel, but I am so afraid I’ll have to go back to this man. And, yet I am still so mad that I can’t fix it. That I have failed fixing it. I am afraid God will ask me to go back and try harder. 39 years! Hello! So, you can empathize with the anger. I am an Isaiah 54:5 woman. God is my Maker – My Husband, but I am cheating on My Maker because I won’t let this hypocrite go. Am I addicted? Am I so proud and arrogant that I can’t let go of this. I am kicking the grave site, don’t want to believe it’s over and I FAILED. I couldn’t fix it. Sounds like a self pity party to me. Regardless, I am mad., and frankly re reading this I sound a bit madder than a hatter. Why can’t I be OK with making it permanent? What is so scary? I have read Leslie’s excellent book. All wonderful counsel for those who have a chance to make it work. All, I can say is do it. Do what she suggests and don’t put it off. Curiously, as I compose this response, a cocker spaniel I’m tending just threw up. And guess, what? He returned to his own vomit. Good grief. Don’t delay. Do not delay getting a way from a mad man.
Oh Teri! My heart was racing by the time i finished reading your comment. I was there at one time in my life.
When my ex left over 5 years ago after 20 years of marriage I found myself also grieving for what never was and what I had longed for all those years. And the anger…oh yes, the anger that set in was at times so intense it almost scared me.
And I too was so afraid that if I forgave him it meant I would have to go back…and I could NOT go back there. In my mind I equated forgiveness with reconciliation, but my counselor very wisely told me one day that forgiving was meant to free ME from bitterness and resentment which was only keeping me bound to my ex and by forgiving I was releasing my ex to God who could deal with him. It released me from fixing him which somehow I thought was my responsibility.
Making the decision to leave is not always the hardest part…the hardest part is actually putting into motion what needs to be done to make it permanent.
I don’t think you are ‘addicted’ to fixing things, I think you are grieving the loss of a dream you had for what marriage should have been all those years and never was. And no matter how bad it was it is still hard to let go because letting go means releasing the dream of a happily-ever-after marriage we’d thought we were suppose to have with that person.
But when we release our grip on it we are better able to hold onto God with both hands and allow Him to take us to a far better place.
Prayers for you dear sister.
So true. The acceptance and release part is crucial. Too often we resist accepting reality and releasing our spouse or our desire or fantasy to fix him (or her). Then we heap on ourselves more suffering as a result because the resistance is causing additional turmoil.
My husband had serious anger issues for the first 15 years of our marriage. I always had the ‘Christian wife martyr syndrome’ where I told myself, “Well this is what you signed on for so I guess you’re stuck.” I didn’t realize that I had to hold him accountable, that it was wrong, and that it wasn’t just hurtful to me and our son, it was hurtful to our marriage and to our relationship with Christ.
I am separated from, but living in the same house with, my husband. After 15 years of verbal abuse, emotional abuse and passive aggressive behavior, and tantrums where he would throw things or abuse objects in the home, he started abusing alcohol. He has always minimized his behavior, made excuses for himself, blames everybody else for his problems, he would say he was sorry but then do the same exact thing a few weeks later.
He was put on Strattera 2 years ago from his psychiatrist who was originally hoping that an anti-depressant would do the trick, but it didn’t. The anti-depressant(Paxil), in my opinion, only helped him for the first few months but in those months the alcohol abuse increased and he got a DUI and then spent some time in jail. So, after he went off on me about my father who was dying and in hospice and he brought me to tears in front of our son, he finally told his doctor that the Paxil obviously isn’t working.
The strattera has actually helped his outbursts. If I can say one positive thing about our entire situation, I can at least say that he doesn’t blow up anymore. Unfortunately, there is a lot of water under the bridge in our marriage and it’s not just from the anger issues. Reading Leslie’s books have helped me to understand exactly what it is I want and need in a marriage. I also read a few other books that helped me including Lundy Bancroft’s book and many of the books from Henry Cloud and John Townsend. There is a book called, “Safe People” which I really found enlightening and it helped me see why I pick unsafe people to be in my life. Lots of Biblical reference and helpful anecdotal stories, too.
If your husband is up to it, can you suggest he see a psychiatrist and try ADHD meds? If not, would he be open to individual counseling instead of the couples counseling? When people have issues like out of control anger, misogynistic views, passive aggressive and immature behavior, undiagnosed ADHD, addictions, mental health issues such as personality disorders, etc individual counseling may help them see their part and hopefully will give them a better outlet to search their own hearts to find healing.
Yes, Bonnie – and adding closeted homosexual to the list. This is what was the root “my” problem marriage. I say he broke the covenant and I only legally ended the marriage.
Make no mistake – this is abuse. All women are daughters of the King. We deserve and demand better.
Slavery is illegal – don’t voluntary enslave yourself and your children..
Sarah, That doesn’t sound like breaking the marriage covenant. It sounds more like never having one.
Sarah, my husband is a closet homosexual, I fear. I pretty much know because I have seen enough gay website exchanges and text messages/emails discussing encounters that have or will occurr. I have confronted him on these things and he always discounts them or manipulates the answer in a way that makes me out to be the bad one for being sneaky in getting the information. I never would have thought he was homosexual as he was always overly sexual. I actually thought it was an addiction.
We attend church, we have children, he holds a prominent position in our community. He is a very smart man. Yet he blames everything on me, I do nothing right, all our problems and what we are going through now is a result of choices I made over a decade ago. I don’t understand how someone so intelligent is not able to see the poison in his heart especially when he knows in his heart he is participating in a lifestyle and activities that are so contrary to what anyone thinks he is.
Did your husband ever come clean and admit to homosexual behavior?
My husband has been physically abusive, verbally and emotionally abusive. Someone said it earlier about the abusers issues being so big they don’t know how to deal with them. That is so true. I tried to get help for us and I hoped he would see his need for healing with his issues. But he could only see mine and the pain I have caused him in our life. I pray for God to comfort my husband’s pain so he can find relief from this poison that is killing off anything good that ever existed in him. I don’t recognize him anymore. I want him to change and I pray for him to change, but I don’t think it is going to happen. Now, I think I just want him to go.
Leslie, your posts are excellent. Always filled with solid biblical points and backed up with scripture. They are such a help to me. I have read your destructive marriage book and I have a long way to go. Your response tonight about keeping the toxic behavior from affecting you is timely. I have been working on keeping my cool and maintaining joy with my children in the midst of the chaos of my marriage. It is hard. I refer back to your posts many times for encouragement. Thank you for your heart for those of us that are dying inside at the hands and words of an abuser. We have a choice and you help us to make that choice. No matter which one or how long it may take. I’m getting there.
What a can of worms you’ve opened up dear one. I could write a book and maybe someday I will. Simply put I’ve been married for 37 years to my husband…he loves me…and I am supposed to respect him…he loves me…with God’s grace and many prayers of the “faithful”, I have come out of 36 years of depression…he loves me…I am a better person now than what I was a year ago…I have learned to stop the negative self-talk in my head and soul…I now have true Bible believing friends that are there for me…he loves me…I would like a do over…37 years…such a long time…we have three children…our eldest son was such an angry, horrible child…my husband doesn’t know why…he loves us…my son married a wonderful girl, they then became Christians…they live far away with their six wonderful children…he loves us..my husband became a full blown schizophenic in 2004 while my son was in Iraq…for eight years I would call the state troopers and ask for a transport to the local clinic to have my husband put to sleep…it helped briefly…in 2009 we moved…in 2012 I could not take what was going on and called the troopers…he was taken away twice in handcuffs and sent to the county mental hospital…FINALLY medication that helped…he’s supposed to take two pills but takes one and still takes one because deep down I think he knows I will leave or have him put back in the hospital…he loves me…we have twin children that are 34 years old…my son the one in the Army in Iraq for a year came home with PTSD/TBI and about 5 other things…he’s permanently and totally disabled…he has two little girls…he is divorced…we never see the grandchildren…his sister/our daughter lives with us with our granddaughter a 12 year old that doesn’t listen and talks all the time…can anyone else besides me say “dysfunctional”…my husband loves me…he loves me…he was abused by a priest when he was a boy…his mom and dad were divorced when he was 2…he lived in a county orphanage and many foster homes…not the good kinds…when we were young, we met at a pentecostal church…I was led to believe that we should marry…it was the Lord…37 years…he loves me…I’m not depressed anymore…I AM ANGRY NOW MYSELF…ANGRY…he loves me 🙁
I have the same kind of problem w/ my husband, the unrestrained anger, raging, screaming, cursing, etc. And it can be directed at something as stupid as a spatula that he drops or the kids knocking over a cup of water. And I have seen how it is making me an angrier, shorter tempered, less patient mom and that kills me. I need to work harder on taking the kids and walking away during the outbursts, which I do try to do. I see how my 16yo is so bitter and my 10yo is having anger management prbs and mimicking some of his father’s behaviors and I’m worried about the long term effects on the little guys. Sometimes its hard to corral them all to get them out and away from it when it really does seem to happen constantly. But what about the nasty, “under the breath, just loud enough for you to catch part of” comments? It seems that they’re loud enough so you know how disgusted he is w/ you but not directed at you so that you can’t really respond. Is it better to just ignore that and let him stew in it or do you confront? I appreciate the recommendations of some of the books noted. I have Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage and need to finish reading it.
Thanks for posting this question. This is my life as well. I’m just trying to be who God wants me to be in this difficult situation. I no longer try to change his behavior as it causes more conflict. I focus on being who God wants me to be and leave the changing of his heart to God.
I lived with a man who raged in anger and I was worn down, defeated, depressed and literally numb from the outburst. I was often the target of his anger through belittling comments, bullying and cruelty. I felt helpless and hopeless. When I finally reached out for help and sought counseling, this was one of the focuses of our couples therapy. I was also in therapy individually and learned to establish boundaries. For me, I had to leave – the house. And I did. This is an area in which I did eventually see improvement in our relationship – he learned that I would not accept that rage and thus found a way to channel it differently.
Our marriage did not last for many reasons, but in this area I grew so much. Confidence and strength and learning to be healthy was beneficial to BOTH of us.
This weeks topic is timely as usual, I just know the Lord is in this. Anger, one of the tools from the control bag, only trouble is once the person your trying to control figures this out, it’s not so successful. A matter of fact it’s used almost exactly at the same time, when things aren’t going your way, that’s helpful too because it’s expected to come lurking around the corner. I’m just so thankful, it has nothing to do with me, it’s your problem. Amen
I am extremely busy with a house full of kids, who have places to be and things they need along with all the usual household responsibilities. My husband works a physically exhausting job, unlike myself (kidding) when he comes home he expects his dinner in a timely fashion, if it’s not he is moody. He is quite capable of getting a snack ect. and some days will. I have been working hard on a specific project, which he is aware of and still completing my usual tasks (I have seven children at home) but he’s been to work and played tennis for a couple hours or jogged a few miles after work so he’s hungry. Well we had a late lunch and when he came in from work was still a little warm so I offered it to him, while I’m extremely busy and he declined.(He is constantly watching his carbs and such so he wanted to wait till dinner.) Well one of the kids was cooking tonight and was at a sports event until late, so when he came home from playing tennis for a couple hours to no dinner. He had an angry moment, where is my dinner, I work hard all day and I’m hungry was his very loud comment. Well now the kids are yelling at him we’re busy here too, it’s coming. But he continued because he is entitled to his food, he has been doing this for 20 years. It started about his food, it was probably our first argument after marriage. I had never seen anything like it kind of running around in circles screaming about a foot away from me where is my supper. I use to run around hurrying to get it, I figured it was a blood sugar issue or something. Now I say your welcome to get it yourself, and he continues a little but if you don’t confront it gets boring. Anyway dinner was good, a little late but worth the wait. Patience is a virtue.
The hardest part of this type of situation is the children. When I tried to “put a lid on my husband’s anger in some way, he told me I was not allowed to say anything in front of the children as it “undermined his authority”. He said we were supposed to show a “united front”. But I was NOT “united” with that type of “front”. Yet I submissively became silent in order to have a “Biblical” marriage. When my husband was at work, I tried to teach my children how to treat people respectfully and lovingly, yet sometimes I felt like I was a “traitor” to my husband because I was having to say, “We don’t kick chairs when we get angry. We just move it if it is in the way. We don’t throw cell phones if the signal isn’t strong, we just wait patiently or we go to a different place to get a better signal, etc., etc., etc. Though my husband is somewhat outwardly calmer now, he has become very passive aggressive and sarcastic. My children hate his sarcasm and so do I. I don’t know what to do. I will no longer be quiet. How do I handle passive aggressive behavior or sarcasm? What do I say? I do try to take refuge in the Psalms and in hymns, but I want the sarcasm to stop being aimed at my children (and me too). Yet I am willing to bear it in their stead in order to get it off of them.
Sounds so familiar. I was told the same thing by my husband but there were times when I just couldn’t let it go on. I wish I would have stood up to him more as my adult children all have some issues due to verbal abuse in the home. I think the way you are talking to your children when he isn’t home is good. I suppose you could tell him that when he talks to you and the children like that, you will leave the room and when he stops the sarcasm you can resume the conversation. It is so much more difficult when the children are involved.
Olivia, I would really encourage you to read several books. Leslie has two books that will really help you to form a plan. The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, and How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong. The third book is by Jeff Crippen, A Cry for Justice. Educate yourself on how your abuser thinks, it’s a powerful tool. Jeff’s book covers the damage it does to kids watching mom get verbally abused. My older kids suffered through it. They are now in counseling, and will be fine. However, I am not making that mistake with the rest of my children. I understand how “stuck” and alone you feel right now. We all do. Read, read, read. It will help you.
I can also relate to what you wrote. My ex would get so angry if I stepped in when he was being very verbally and/or mentally abusive to our sons. He would tell me also that we needed to be on the same side as parents and that I was only taking the children’s side by undermining him as a father. I would try to explain how it hurt our sons so much to be talked to in a mean, sarcastic way, which usually did nothing more than to fan the flames more creating a more hostile, angry environment for all of us.
It’s a very tough situation because I believed him for so long that I didn’t have any right as a Godly wife to interfere between him and our boys, but that is just foolishness. If anyone else were harming your children, would you stand by?
We have every right to stand against evil even if that is in our own homes.
How do you handle it? That is tough, because trying to reason with someone who is passive/aggressive just isn’t possible.
I would also recommend simply saying that his words and/or tone of voice is hurtful and you will leave the room/house until he decides to speak in a more constructive way.
I will say though, when I tried that with my ex it never worked…he then said I was treating him like a child by reprimanding him like that. 🙁
I will pray you find clear direction.
Yes Amy, you are correct. Passive aggressives do not change. Period. Living with them is like walking on eggshells…I’m now making plans to separate from my PA husband…I just can’t take it anymore…I’m scared to death to be honest, but I’m going to have to trust God!
Yes Teris, it is like walking on eggshells and it becomes so wearisome.
The thing I remember most when my abusive ex walked out over 5 years ago was the freedom of not having to walk around on eggshells anymore. I was free and there was suddenly this peace in my home because what had been causing all the chaos, my ex, was gone. I think that’s when I realized that it hadn’t been me causing the problems like he had always told me.
I pray God gives you very clear direction as you start making decisions for your marriage.
I won’t pretend it was easy being on my own with two children, but I survived and am a much healthier person from leaving a toxic environment.
I’ve been remarried for almost 3 years and can clearly see now how unhealthy and destructive my first marriage was.
Praying for you! Blessings!
Olivia, I have lived what you’re living. It is not a Bibical Marriage, to not have the authority in your own home to call sin- wrong. The problem is not passive-aggressive, the problem is overt abuse and trying to convince you that you need to have a united front. If you havn’t read Leslie’s bks on speaking and standing up, I would recommend them. I am sorry you live in a situation where your voice is not heard. Have you considered finding a good counselor for you, as an individual that would like some help??
to my suffering sisters in Christ, as I read your comments with all the pain and brokenness, I couldn’t help but to cry out to our Lord to help each one of us. I often pray and ask, plz heal the broken hearted Lord and by faith Im believing for this.
I have an update on my situation for those who were praying for me. I tried to provoke my husband to anger and violence so I could call the police and get him out. He was on to me… as yelling, screaming, and throwing water on him (yes, I did that) are not usual behaviors for me. I asked him to leave for a couple hours so I could think. While he was out, I packed his bags, called, and told him that I needed more time to think, his bags were by the door, and I wanted him to leave. He said, “Seriously?” Before he left he said that I was depriving him of his children and that he would be back in a few days, not a week as I requested. That was yesterday. I am so relieved that he is gone for now. I will try to meet with a divorce attorney tomorrow or Wednesday. Please keep me in your prayers. Thank you for your encouragement!
Cait, I will continue to pray. I am glad you will be seeing an attorney. Do you have all of your financial statements together? Having a list of questions that you want to ask with you makes it easier.
Yes, I have all of the above. I’m going to go later this afternoon… as prepared as I’ll ever be. I’m looking forward to getting all of this behind me…
Lifting you up in prayer, Cait. Keep us informed on how things go.
You are a strong woman. You are in a take charge, responsible person in your career and you live with immune issues that need your attention. I am not on the executive pay scale, but I run the office for a financial advisor and live with Multiple Sclerosis, while you live with Lyme Disease. I am sure that you don’t let Lyme Disease become who you are, as I do not let MS become who I am, well on good days. I do have occasions when it takes over.
You do need to take care of yourself. Angry, abusive behavior doesn’t help our health. It takes away from our days here. I know it is hard on those few days when the H make us question our decisions. Divorce was my best hope and today marks 2 years of separation that lead to freedom. I no longer have contact and my health issues have not been as severe. I am able to walk further and don’t fall nearly as often.
You are not alone.
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Omg. I can’t believe this describes my exact relationship with my husband!!
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