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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
Well, I can relate to every aspect of the comments made above. That being said, here is my short detailed situation of how I know that my man, (not husband yet) thanks to careful insight, needs anger management and a few other therapeutic sessions. First let me quote a saying by Maya Angelou that has come to me too late, but it may help someone else reading this comment. She stated, "If someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." Please give it some thought. It is self-explanatory. Everyone gets angry at some time or another. The response to the anger is the most important factor to consider when considering how it was resolved. Some of us, like myself, turn a blind eye to what we see over and over again, until the anger is lashed out physically and emotionally against us. Then and only then is when we see red flags. But the signs were there all along, however they were not solely taken out on us. It was the chair, the window, the wall, the store clerk, the other driver, etc. I am dealing with a man whom I have known for quite sometime. Now that we are living together and engaged to be married, his anger issues are more pronounced. I have been reading all sorts of blogs about this topic among others that pertain to my personal situations with him. He is a lovely man with a great heart. But that does not dismiss or make it right that he has other issues that I have no control over. The only control I have is a choice of whether to leave or stay. Staying silent about the issues that are making me depressive is no outlet. This behavior is unacceptable for any couple going into a marriage. I have told myself that getting married at this point would be the worst scenario. I know that all of our problems will not be solved before we get married and we will more likely have other problems after marriage. However, this is a major concern that can be the deal breaker. So I have to be assertive and let him know that this is unacceptable. The silence of the turmoil has reached a maximum. I will not walk around on eggshells because he can't understand that this behavior, no matter how long it has gone on, is not normal. I believe there are underlying issues that provoke this kind of behavior that leads to other things with negative effects. There is only one solution to this problem. He has no other choice but to get professional help, because I have do not have the credentials behind my name to help him. I can love him to death, but at some time you have to come up for air in order to breath and see life as it really is and stop the charade of pretending we are happy. I can no longer depend on any man to make me happy. Iam the only one who can do that. Happiness comes first from within. I have to save myself and love myself more than I love any man. So this is what I will present to him and if he even thinks about getting angry before I can finish saying what I have to say; then I will abruptly cut it short and my answer to leave will be justified. I will not put myself in harms way for a man who "claims" to love me, when he can't even love himself enough to see the pain he causes others. I hope that you can gain some perspective with my comments and apply them however you see fit, to your own situation. May you find the peace you are seeking for yourself. God Bless.  
Posted @ Saturday, May 31, 2014 1:43 PM by Rhonda
Very well said, Rhonda. "I can no longer depend on any man to make me happy. I am the only one who can do that. Happiness comes first from within." You're exactly right and the same goes for all of us. Thank you for your honest and transparent comment. I am sure it will help others.
Posted @ Saturday, May 31, 2014 6:00 PM by Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC
I was always the mellow family male. My dad and brother were the crazy ones. They threw stuff, got drunk, kicked out car windows, anything in sight would get destroyed my first memory was my dad was trying to get something out of a closet and the shelf collapsed and all the Christmas decorations in storage fell out on him. He proceeded to throw everything through the window and kicked the closet door in. The next extremely memorable event was dad working on the car and he busted a knuckle and was bleeding so he got a hammer and smashed the headlights out and threw the hammer across the street . This same pattern continued in my brother who was an alcoholic at 17 years old and was always in trouble in school. Although maintaining all A's on his report card he had a temper and the police were at the door AT LEAST once a month for fighting , assault , public property destruction..His two boys are just like him both have done weeks in jail for anger related mischief. His wife is the same. Vindictive and full of revenge as is her mother who was always involved in the scrums. My mom and dad divorced when I was 24, my brother divorced and remarried the same woman twice. The problems continue. I always thought I was the normal one, but over the past 7 years have I wrecked my life due to, my excuse is I have cancer, but that is under control and is no excuse. The truth is I was never very great at anything just average student average athlete and average mediocre person. 4 years ago I met again my high school love my one and only. I have said terrible things that "sorry" can't fix nor can I take back. She left her kids and job in TX to be with me in Colorado and I can't keep my temper whether it be the government the news traffic..etc...every thing sets me off and I cant control it and I used to pride myself on my ability to let things roll off my back. I was never as bad as my dad and brother. But now I am as bad as them. I went to anger counseling after my nephew and brother stole about 10,000 dollars from me. I ended up fighting all of them and got arrested for it. Even though they struck first I told myself I was in the right by going after them. I now have a scared wife who will leave me very soon if I don't get control. I have made appointments for more counseling. Don't know what's gonna happen but I am scared but don't know where to turn . God did not help , I pray for patience but it doesn't come. Lost and scared at 52 years old. Gary in Colorado
Posted @ Saturday, July 19, 2014 4:30 PM by Gary
Gary, Don't give up on counseling or God. Make sure you're working with a counselor who really knows how to treat anger problems. Check out how we do  
anger management classes differently. Keep in mind sometimes God is there and we just don't see Him. Send me a message if you want my help. -Kurt
Posted @ Tuesday, July 29, 2014 7:35 AM by Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC
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