Anger: Defusing the Minefield
I’d like to tell you there’s something you can do to defuse your husband’s anger. But that’s only possible if his anger is your fault, and it’s not. (If your husband is abusive, please go to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.)
What you can do is make his anger a problem for him, which may motivate him to change. The problem with this is a man given to anger will use anger to avoid changing. Your efforts will initially result in more anger. You need to understand this and be ready for it. Pick a good time in your life to confront this, and get some prayer support from one or two friends who know how to keep a confidence.
If you think you can do it, start by letting hubby know his anger has become a problem for you and you’re going to make changes to protect yourself and perhaps precipitate change. Let him know you think you’d both be happier if he was less angry.
Getting him to change means taking away the benefits he gets from anger. He does it because it works for him. Take that away and his motivation to keep doing it is gone. Make his anger cost him, and he has a reason to change.
When he passes a reasonable level of anger, walk away. Say “It’s a waste of time to talk with you when you’re angry” as you leave. It takes at least 20 minutes to burn through the hormones and chemicals that feed anger, so give him at least that long.
One caveat here – you must be fair about how you define anger. If you walk away at any hint of anger you’re not being fair and your husband will see that and dismiss anything you say about his anger. Women tend to be more sensitive to anger and set the bar lower. I’m not asking you to put up with wrong behaviour on his part, but be fair to him. If he’s angry but doesn’t let it control him, see that as his doing the right thing.
Don’t Give In
If he uses anger to win fights or get his way, start resisting. Be as gracious and loving as you can, but stand firm. Saying something like “I will not be manipulated by your anger” would help him understand.
Don’t Argue About Anger
He will likely say “I’m not angry.” (Or he may yell it.) Alternatively, he may try to justify his anger. Don’t be pulled into these things, they’re traps. You might ask why he treats you differently when others are around, and suggest he knows others would not approve of the anger he shows you at home. Beyond that, don’t play.
Deal With Your Own Emotions
Learn to be okay with yourself regardless of how he is feeling or acting. It’s okay to be happy when he’s upset. It’s healthy to not allow him to drag you down with him. This also shows him he’s not in control of your reality. The less his anger affects you, the less it works for him.
Reward Good Behaviour
Be on the lookout for things you can praise or reward. If he avoids anger when he would have used it in the past, or catches himself and backs down, say something about it. Often it will be better to wait and comment later, but be sure to do it. Praise his successes, and acknowledge the difficulty in breaking a long-standing habit.
See your marriage as one of three things: how it was before, how it is unless and until he deals with his anger, and how it will be if he deals with his anger. The second of those is tough, but it’s better than the first and the surest way to get to the third.
Be Ready to Bail
If he’s never been violent before, odds are he won’t start now. If he ever hints or heads that way let him know you will leave and take legal action to protect yourself and the kids. Make it clear where the line is and what crossing that line will cost him.
~ Paul – I’m XY and you have my prayers.