How do I help my angry husband?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: I left my husband of 15 years 3 weeks ago. we have 3 children. The fighting was constant both have full time jobs and he worked lots of overtime. Lots of animals for him to care for that the kids and I did not want. He worked night shift and I day shift . I was tired of waiting for him to want to spend time with me and the kids he always had better things to do and when I had a night away from the kids I went to be with my friends because he was too involved in avoiding me.
He got angry when i spent time with friends at home or away and when he and I did spend time together we argued and nagged each other It was affecting the kids not only were they angry all the time but they were mocking our behavior and using it towards each other.
So I had had enough of waiting aroung for him to spend time with the kids and I . Tired of seeing him do things that seemed more important than the kids and I tired of not being able to have friends or go to my families homes and play cards tired of him making jokes about things I was trying to express to him that were serious. tired of being insulted and made fun of. tired of my kids and I both being unhappy so I left.
Now he calls me 3 and 4 times a day threatens to make me lose my job and kids. He yells and screams at me says he will go to marriage counseling and then changes his mind every other day. I understand he is hurt that I left but I am so tired of doing this with him. Playing his games taking his threats to get me back into the house I worked so hard to get away from. How do I help him get past the anger stage and accept that its over so that my kids and I can finally have a little peace and happiness?

A: As much as you want to, you probably can’t help your husband get past his anger. He’s having a tantrum because he isn’t getting his way. You can’t reason someone out of a tantrum, no matter how old he is. Your energy is better spent taking care of yourself and your children.

First, give yourself a tremendous amount of credit for getting you all out of an emotionally toxic environment. You are showing your children that people have the choice of staying in a bad situation or doing something to change it. As tired as you are, you found the strength and the courage to say “Enough is enough.” Good for you!

Now you need some support and some good information. The people at the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800 799 7233) are there 24/7 to help. Their website is http://www.ndvh.org. Quoting from their homepage: “At the National Domestic Violence Hotlineā€¦ We believe that every caller deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. We believe that every family deserves to live in a world free from violence. We believe that safe homes and safe families are the foundation of a safe society. ”

If your kids are showing distress, it would be a good idea to find a family therapist to help you all get through this difficult time. Experienced therapists have been through this kind of family crisis many times and often have solid advice to offer as well as good information about local sources of help. If your husband will stop playing games and go to sessions, your therapist may also be able to help the two of you figure out how to separate in a healthy way and how to co-parent the children.

Finally, please see a lawyer about what your rights are in your state and how best to protect yourself from your husband’s threats.

It’s a lot to do, I know. But it seems like you’ve always been the adult in your relationship with your husband so chances are you will also need to be the adult as you separate. You can do it. Eventually, the peace and peace of mind will make it worth it.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Sep 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). How do I help my angry husband?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/09/16/how-do-i-help-my-angry-husband/