This post is for men who blow up at their wives or significant others. Even if you are aware that you tend to become defensive, and criticize and blame your wife, you may have a hard time stopping this behavior. If you are blowing up and becoming angry, let’s first look at why you might be angry, so you can start to change the dynamics in your relationship.
Anger often is the “tip of the iceberg”. It can be a protective emotion that is hiding another emotion underneath. The visible emotion is anger, but there is an unseen emotion that is fueling it. For example, if your wife asks you to help her clean the house and you blow up, you could be feeling any number of things. Are you exhausted? Do you believe that if your wife “wants” something, you have failed as a husband to “satisfy her”? You could be feeling painful shame and covering it with anger. Do you feel when she legitimately requests something from you that she is “telling you what to do”? Perhaps anger is covering your feelings of insecurity, or perhaps you feel unappreciated for all you do. Perhaps you are hurt, or afraid. Your anger could be a signal to you that you need to look inside and see what’s going on. If your wife is open, share your findings with her. Tell her what you have been feeling. If the timing isn’t right to share with her, try journaling or make an appointment with a counselor.
Once you have discovered the source of your anger, you have some valuable information that will help you make some necessary changes. For example, let’s say you are exhausted. You and your wife may have to rethink all of your obligations. Perhaps it’s more than two people can keep up with! Or, perhaps you feel emasculated because you feel she is “telling you what to do” even if the requests are legitimate. If this is the situation, consider that people who have influence allow themselves to be influenced by others. If you reject her requests, feelings, etc., she is much less likely to be open to your wishes. If you let her know that you appreciate and admire her, she will be much more likely to appreciate and admire you and to try to meet your requests. This is simply a skill that you can acquire, similar to learning how to start and stop a car. If you need some training in relationships, get it! It will give you the confidence to go forward in your marriage and to start enjoying each other again.