Anger: Living in the Minefield
I’ve had several requests to post about anger. Specifically his anger.
Before we go any further, anger should never turn to abuse. If his anger has ever pushed him to hurt anyone, you’re in a very bad place. He needs to know you have a zero tolerance for abuse of you or the kids. He needs to know abuse will land him in jail, and you will get a restraining order until such time as he has really dealt with the problem. If your husband is abusive, please go to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Anger, a Man’s Emotion
Obvious anger is more common in men than women, and it’s far more likely to result in violence in men. In part, this is because testosterone fuels anger, but it’s also more culturally acceptable for a man to be angry and to act badly because of it.
Anger is a powerful and “manly emotion”. Being angry feels better than feeling sad or mad. Some men never learned to deal with most other “negative” emotions because they drown them all with anger. Feel sad? Get angry. Feel lonely? Get Angry. Feel rejected or wronged? GET ANGRY!
Anger is a choice
Not just what we do with it, anger itself is a choice. We can’t just turn it off, but we can choose to gain control over it. When a man chooses not to control his anger at home it’s because he’s getting something out of it and is unwilling to learn a better way.
What’s Not Anger
- Some families yell… ALL. THE. TIME. I don’t understand it, but I’ve experienced it. Happy, sad, or mad, they yell. If your husband is this way and it eats at you, then deal with it. But don’t call it anger if it’s not.
- Passion is not anger, even if it gets loud or energetic. Feeling strongly about things is common for men. Your discomfort about this is worth noting, but it doesn’t mean he is wrong or needs to change.
- Short term anger is anger, but if it’s occasional, for good reason, and goes away it’s not a big deal. If he deals well with his anger, don’t get all over him about it.
Emotions don’t happen in a vacuum. A long hard day increases the urge to response with anger. Lack of sleep, stress, and frustration are anger triggers. Low blood sugar can also push anger (see Learn To Identify Hangry). Sexual refusal is a common trigger for men, but it’s often subtle and difficult to tie to an anger event.
Love dictates we give our spouse a bit of space and TLC when they’ve had a rough time. This does not mean put up with anger, but if he generally has anger under control a bit of discretion when he’s been poked by anger triggers might help him stay in control.
A Personal Confession
Once, early on when we were having significant problems, I once got so angry I hit and broke a thin plywood panel on the side of a bookcase. Lori had left the room and did not witness this. It scared me bad to have lost control to that degree. It forced me to look at my anger and deal with it. A one-time escalation like this may be a wake-up call for a man. If it’s not, it should be a wake-up call for his wife.
~ Paul – I’m XY, and anger does not control me, I control it!
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