Thanks for your prayers. I need and appreciate them. Still trying to figure out what I need to eliminate in order to create more balance in my life. I love how you care for one another so tenderly. Even though I don’t always comment, I read almost every comment posted.
Today's Question: My husband has anger issues. He acknowledges it but doesn't see it as a genuine problem. (And he absolutely REFUSES to get help). I know he would never get physically violent. In our 12+ years of marriage, it's never escalated beyond yelling and cussing me out.
But I feel like I'm walking on eggshells. I'm afraid of taking a wrong step, doing or saying something wrong that could potentially set him off into a rage. I hide my mistakes from him. I suppress my disagreements and disappointments. I never tell him that I'm unhappy with our relationship, so he has NO IDEA that anything is wrong. I've learned how to keep the peace.
I try to not do anything to ‘spark the fuse.' So he can actually go long periods of time between rants and rages as long as I'm ‘acting right.' We otherwise have an amazing marriage full of fun, laughter, romance, etc.
How can I overcome my fears and not lose myself in this relationship?
Answer: It sounds like you have already lost yourself in your marriage – at least a significant part of yourself. Your full self is in hiding. You don’t let your husband see or know the self that makes mistakes, the self that is angry, the self that is disappointed, the self that is hurt, the self that disagrees with him or the self that is unhappy. What’s left? The pretender self. The compliant self. The fearful self. And the self that enjoys his charming side and has fun together.
Your question is how can you overcome your fears? What specifically are you afraid of? You said you are sure he won’t be physically abusive. Are you afraid of him yelling at you? Cursing angrily at you? For sure it’s unpleasant and hurtful for someone to treat you that way, but what else are you afraid of? What does he do when he’s angry that feels scary to you? So scary that you would rather pretend and hide than be honest?
I’m also confused by your statement, “Otherwise we have an amazing marriage full of fun, laughter, romance.” Otherwise – – meaning what? Other than losing much of yourself and you can’t be a real person in your own marriage, you have a great relationship? How can you have an amazing relationship with someone who doesn't even know who you are or doesn’t have a clue how you feel much of the time?
One of the blessings in God’s design for marriage is that we are to be fully known – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually by another person. And, that union creates a unique, special bond, a one-flesh relationship that is reserved for marriage. Click To Tweet
From what you describe, your husband acts loving as long as you act like everything is wonderful, you are perfect and do no wrong, and he is perfect and never disappoints you or upsets you. That sounds like Barbie and Ken, the plastic dolls I played with as a child.
Please don’t hear me say that you should intentionally provoke your husband, or that you need to share every little negative thought or feeling that you have. But you are hiding a whole part of yourself just to keep the peace in this relationship. Is that healthy for your marriage or glorifying to God?
It also seems to me that you have taken it upon yourself to manage your husband’s anger, but his anger is his responsibility to manage. How does he handle his anger at work? I imagine he does just fine. Why? Because he knows if he yelled and cursed at people he worked with unless he’s the boss, he’d probably get fired.
You also mentioned that he refuses to go for help even though he does admit to having a problem with his temper. What about his simply taking responsibility for his own outbursts? That’s what grown-ups do. They don't like something. They feel angry. But they manage their own negative feelings in a way that does not squash the voice or personhood of the other person.
So you have a tough decision to make. You can be more real and honest, risking upsetting the life the two of you have created in the hopes to build a more authentic, truthful marriage. Or, you can continue to please and placate and make nice, pretending that you both are perfect people who have no problems or faults or issues to deal with.
But my vote is for you to first get yourself into some counseling so that you can figure out what you are so afraid of and why you’ve been willing to silence and truncate yourself to keep the relationship pleasant but superficial. Don’t misunderstand me. If you had written me and said “we have a superficial marriage because I’m afraid to speak up,” I would have responded differently to you. Superficiality is the relational consequence when we are unable to be vulnerable and authentic.
But because you wrote and told me that you can’t be real but in spite of that fact, “we have an amazing marriage,” there is something within you that has been willing to sacrifice yourself to keep pretending something is amazing that doesn’t sound so amazing to me. That something, whatever it is, is important for you to discover so that you can face it, grow, and know what your next steps forward will be.
Friend, Have you been in this woman’s shoes? Charmed into believing something was good when it was slowly choking the very life out of your soul and spirit? How did you face your fear of rocking the boat and it capsizing?