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Married to an Angry Man - A Wife's View of Her Husband's Anger



                      Married to an Angry Man - A Wife's View of Her Husband's Anger

Here's a very accurate story of one wife's experience of her husband's anger.  The following excerpts are from With This Rage, I Thee Wed, by Kim Barnes (The Oprah Magazine, October 2009).

Given that no person and no marriage is perfect, if you could pick your mate's flaw-the one flaw you could live with-what would it be?Nothing so slight as socks on the floor or a residual jones for Pac-Man. I meant the things we keep hidden from even our closest confidants, the things that can prove fatal to a marriage: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, wrath, and pride.

 "I want a husband like yours," she told me...To Lacey, it seemed a storybook romance. What she didn't know was how close I had come to leaving the marriage she idealized. I'd never told her the flaw I'd chosen-that Bob was a wrathful man.

And soon after we moved in together, I got my first glimpse of his rage...The lawn sprinkler that failed to oscillate? Bob beat it into the ground, gaskets flying. The chain saw that wouldn't run, he pitched against a tree until it snapped into pieces.

But one afternoon the summer we married, Bob and I were driving back from the store when we found ourselves behind an elderly woman at a traffic light. She hesitated, not sure if she wanted to turn left or right. Bob grimly rode her bumper. "Get off the road, you old bag!" As we roared by, he flipped her off; on her face was a mix of befuddlement and fear...I sat stunned. Outraged. Speechless. Silently fuming.

Over the next year, Bob's outbursts became more frequent, until one morning, in the middle of an argument whose subject neither of us remembers, he picked up the wooden table at which we were eating breakfast and brought it down so hard it shattered. I backed to the wall. Mouth twisted, Bob grabbed my arms. "Why are you making me do this?" he said through clenched teeth. I shook my head, unable to make sense of the question, afraid to attempt an answer.

Surely I had enough objectivity, enough perspective, to know that busting out a window with your bare knuckles-or kicking a hole in a wall, or denting the car hood with your fist-wasn't standard behavior. And I was beginning to fear that he might turn his rage on me.

Waiting in line at a McDonald's drive-through made Bob furious. His rage was like a sudden squall-I spent my energy keeping his anger from swamping us all.

Torn between self-doubt and shame, I kept on keeping my secret, though I still longed for someone to tell me: How would I know when it had gone too far?

The answer came one day as Bob and I were driving down the highway to the hardware store. I was fretting, imagining the minor mishap that would turn our little jaunt into hell on wheels (a flat tire, someone's badly parked car, an inept clerk), and wondering aloud if I should have just stayed home. I had become that little old woman at the light, unsure of which way to turn.

Back home, I gave him an ultimatum: See a counselor, or our marriage was over...And maybe this is the difference between a flaw and a fatal flaw. Even though it meant exposing his failures, Bob chose to keep our marriage alive. We made appointments separately and together.

I've come to realize that you never know the secrets of someone else's marriage-but that when it comes to your own, it's better to break the silence before the silence breaks you. I couldn't hear the truth until I gave it voice, and neither could Bob. By reaching out for help, we chose to leave the isolated island of shame and blame and hitch ourselves to something truer than a perfect marriage: a union defined by our desire to grow beyond our flaws...Today Bob's rages are a thing of the past.

When Lacey turned the tables on me-"What flaw would you choose?"-I didn't give it a second thought..."Anything but wrath."...And then I told her why. What I saw in her face was disappointment and relief: My marriage wasn't so perfect after all, yet somehow it had survived. Could she, should she allow her soon-to-be ex a chance to redeem himself?

I've worked with a number of wives who can vividly relate to these experiences.  If you might be an angry man with an anger management problem, I hope you'll follow Bob's example and get some counseling help.  If you're a wife like Kim, married to an angry man, do what she did, break the silence and give the truth a voice, and get the professional counseling support necessary to force things to change.

Can you relate to any parts of this story? Please share your experience with others below.


We all have faults, but being married to a man who is constantly yelling, or gets upset and throws things or breaks them, is getting to be more than I can handle. I was hoping it would change, after he was diagnosed with colon cancer. It hasn't, and now that he is taking chemo, his attitude about anything is worse than it was in the past. I am seeking God, and the church for my salvation, but I forget it, once I am home, and my husband starts acting up with his anger. I don't know how long I can put up with it anymore. I love him, but thirty years of this is too much. Can someone help me with answers as to how he can calm his temper, and attitude? He won't seek counseling, or anger management help. He can speak anyway he wants to his mother, so he thinks he can do the same to me. I am his wife, and I love him, but he makes it hard on me, and I get hurt and depressed. I shouldn't feel hurt today, for it is my 59th birthday. He yelled quickly at me when I went to close the door to the car, and I felt madness and hurt inside. I told him I won't go to my daughter's house with him, and I walked back inside the house. He drove away. It's my party, and my daughter's have planned this for a while now. I know they will call, and come and pick me up, but if he didn't yell at me, I would be at my daughter's house right now with him. I don't know what to do with this anger all the time, especially since spiritually, I want peace and happiness within myself at all times now.
Posted @ Sunday, November 13, 2011 7:17 PM by Audrey C. Smith
Sometimes I cry and wonder why me? My husband takes out his anger on me and the girls on almost a daily basis, not hitting us, but yelling, degrading, and slamming things. I have blamed my self so many times for allowing our girls to live in this environment, but I don't know what to do. I see his hurt (he has had a very hard life) but this hurt is causing our girls to have their own very hard life. I am not allowed to have friends without accusations of me being lesbian or cheating coming out of his mounth. I feel like a bird in a cage with him.
Posted @ Wednesday, May 16, 2012 7:37 PM by Peggy
Peggy, I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. Please read some of the posts under the topic Abusive Relationships for advice on what to do. Your girls need you to be strong and learn how to respond to his anger and abuse. -Kurt
Posted @ Saturday, May 19, 2012 9:43 AM by Kurt Smith, MFT, AFC
The question "why are you making me do this" The questions I've heard for four years of our marriage anger always looks to blame someone else and it never takes the responsibilty for its own actions. The force that drives the man I love so much. Watching him being consumed drowning daily in hurt rage and frustrations of day to day life. Rage is a very loud cry for help. My story is my husband is in prison and has been there for three of the four years we've been married. The key is to expose the truth, the spirit that motivates an individual to out bursts of rage and let's not forget the immediately apology that follows every time he can't control himself. (For more of my story look for my book "Married to Anger")
Posted @ Wednesday, August 01, 2012 9:23 AM by Ta'Nisha
I am that angry guy, still am.. Been married 16 years, and I break things, kick dogs, etc. and know that my spouse is constantly in fear of what will set me off next. Inept store clerk? Sure I called the publix sandwich lady a cunt, spit on the counter and smacked a bunch of chips off the rack cause she rolled her eyes at me..bad driver? I tore the handle off the inside of the car trying to get out and attack another driver that cut us off once. I could go on and on.. but basically I believe (in my case) it comes down to resentment.. and the fact that I just really don't give a damn.. hell to be honest I'm not half as angry away from her as I am with her. But that's marriage, and it sucks. So long as you accept the fact that marriage is the slow and inevitable death of your soul then you got no reason to change..
Posted @ Monday, December 03, 2012 7:34 AM by R
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