I have to believe that there is more to your husband than this behavior or you wouldn’t be describing him as a “great guy.” From what you shared, he sounds like a man who has you walking on eggshells lest you set him off. He is making you responsible for his immature behavior. But the fact is, you don’t have control of his temper. He does. Apologies are worth the paper they’re written on if they don’t lead to change. It makes sense to me that you are feeling disrespected and resentful. After 100 conversations about the same thing, it’s hard to be up for conversation #101.
The only behavior you can change is your own. If you yell back, cry, defend yourself, or challenge him, it will only keep the argument going. Here’s what you can do to try to break the pattern between you:
During one of your talks, explain how much you hate the fights. Explain that you understand that you have a share in it and that you want to change that. Then tell him that when he yells or gets mad, you will just say something like “I understand that you are upset but I can’t hear when someone yells at me. Let’s take a time out until you get back in control.” Tell him you will then stop talking and will wait patiently or go to another part of the house until he calms down.
When you try this, it’s important that you say and do it calmly and kindly. No sighs. No eye-rolling. No angry looks. It’s just a simple statement of fact. As soon as he calms down, let him know you are pleased and see if you can talk through the problem of the moment rationally. If he gets angry again, just repeat your lines.
A few tips from PairedLife’s website: “Don’t get angry in response. It is not wise to get angry in response to your husband’s anger. If you weather his verbal onslaught and remain relaxed and calm, he will likely be embarrassed about his behavior, reflect on it to correct it, and respect you even more. Think of a time when you were insufferable, but in turn, someone dealt with your emotionally charged state peacefully and professionally. Also, know when to walk away. You need to make difficult decisions if they are called for. If all else fails and your husband is making your life too miserable, the bad outweighs the good, he’s not the man you married, or you just aren’t happy, then you have a difficult choice to make. Reassess the situation and think about whether you stay in the relationship (considering emotional attachment, kids, property, and so forth) or do you make a choice to let bygones be bygones and move on in search for a better quality of life. Remember, an abusive relationship does not serve anyone’s interests. When there’s a lot of anger in the house, everyone suffers: you, your husband, your kids, even your pets.”
Hopefully, this system will help you find a more respectful and loving way to deal with stress and disagreements.
I wish you well.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on July 16, 2010.