Is it okay for him to curse me?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: My husband and I have been married for almost three years. We dated for over six years before we married. I felt like I knew him so well and we would be fine. I knew he had a temper (at times)but overall he is an amazing person. He really is very loving and kind overall. Sometimes though (more frequently recently) he gets SO angry. He curses at me and calls me names. I feel like he really hates me at those moments. He doesn’t hit me he just yells a lot and I can tell he is FURIOUS! He gets angry when things don’t go his way. He’s fine if all is well but if things go downhill just a little (the car breaks down, I’m late for something etc)he gets angry really easily. I feel like he is a spoiled brat sometimes because he gets so mad when he doesn’t get his way.

People that know him socially, would be shocked to see him when he’s angry. He is such a nice person most of the time and kindhearted but it’s like he’s someone else when he gets angry. My question really is what’s ok for me to take and when do I stop and say “this isn’t ok”. Is it ok for him to curse at me and call me names? Do I have a right to be upset about this? I really don’t know what to do.

A: It sounds like you married the Hulk of Marvel comic fame. When frustrated, mild mannered Bruce Banner becomes a giant, turns green, and goes on a rampage, leaving wreckage in his wake. Unable to contain his rage, he becomes inbcreasingly isolated and eventually unable to maintain close relationships. (Even comic books can teach us something.)

Your husband has little tolerance for the least bit of frustration and takes it out on you. Of course it’s not okay for him to curse you. Of course you have a right to be upset. If the two of you decide to have children, this is likely to get even worse since caring for children rarely goes smoothly.

Whatever his other wonderful qualities, his behavior is not acceptable in anyone over the age of two. My biggest worry is that someday your husband will lose it and will hit you or break something important or get into a road rage contest or an argument and seriously hurt somebody. Before something truly terrible happens, he needs to either take an anger management course or see a therapist to learn how to manage his anxiety when things don’t go exactly as he expects. I hope he is mature enough and values your marriage enough to take charge of himself and get the help he needs. I hope you respect yourself enough to insist on it.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Feb 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Is it okay for him to curse me?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 2, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/02/06/is-it-okay-for-him-to-curse-me/