Marriage Missions International

My Spouse Has An Awful Temper

The following was written by Dr. Lynn Weiss
when asked the following questions:

QUESTION: My spouse has an awful temper but blames me for causing it. What can I do to avoid triggering it? Is there anything I can do to take the steam out of his temper if he won’t work on it?

ANSWER: When you two are in a calm mood, ask him what hurt him. Then, practice saying things in a matter-of-fact way. Know, however, that he needs to take responsibility for his display of temper.

Do not reinforce his temper. When he blasts off, do not argue. The most you want to say is, “I’ll talk with you when you’re calm.” You may need to wait until he is calm to say this.

Most people with tempers will display just as much temper as they can get away with. So, if you don’t like the temper outbursts, tell him you are simply unwilling to put up with them. Tell him what will happen when he allows his temper to get out of control. You might say, “When you yell, I’m going to leave the house. I’ll return when you speak in a normal voice.” Then you must be willing to follow through. You will find that you can set the limit anywhere you want and, if you mean it, the person will adjust his behavior.


Dr Weiss also addresses the issue of controlling your own temper. The following is advice she’s written to help you with this problem:

GETTING YOUR TEMPER UNDER CONTROL:

The earlier temper control is begun, the easier it is to effect alternative ways for its management. A temper is something that lives only through reinforcement. It can be controlled in the child if the child is taught to find other means to get his or her needs met. But, because that rarely happens, let’s pick up on the adult level, learning how to break the temper cycle.

Temper gets a particular hold on ADD [those with Attention Deficit Disorder] people because of the tendency for emotional flooding to occur. So:

• Never try to deal with a temper when it is active.

• Make plans when all is calm, cool, and collected.

• Acknowledge that you have a temper.

• Forget the business of blaming others. To be sure, someone cutting in front of you on the freeway may have triggered your anxiety, surprised you, or frightened you, but your particular reaction of temper is your responsibility.

• You must realize that there are other ways to react to the stress. And with your willingness, you can learn alternatives that work particularly well for you in dealing with family and work settings, the places where temper is most likely to work against you.

1) Decide on a signal that means it’s time to stop whatever is going on. In our house, it’s the “time out” sign used in sports. Anyone in the family can use it and we automatically stop—no questions asked. The questions can come later. This time-out breaks into the flooding and stops the emotions from taking over.

Tell your partner, “I’m going to read for a while.” If others are around, tell them you’ll be back in a little while. Go to the store for milk if you have to. If it is your partner who’s having the trouble, be nonchalant with other people and just say, “He’s taking a break.”

2) Identify the feeling underlying the anger—fear, frustration, helplessness, hopelessness—and use words to express that feeling. “I feel helpless in this situation.” — “I felt frightened when that car pulled out in front of me.” — “I feel put down by you.”

Be honest. It may be hard at first, but pays off once you’ve learned to do it. Start by making the statements to yourself, if it’s too difficult to do so with others initially.

3) Ask yourself two simple questions: “What do I need to feel better or become a winner here? How can I get it?”

4) Promise yourself that you will continue to work to get what you want without throwing a temper tantrum.

5) Congratulate yourself on a job well done.

You’ll be surprised how quickly you can break the temper cycle by following these steps. It is not a long, trying process—unless someone around you enables you to continue with your temper or even cultivates it by reinforcing it. They do you no favor but probably don’t know any better, so you might as well make up your mind to open up alternatives in spite of them.


QUESTION: I used to have a temper but it is much better now that I’ve been working on it. My husband still reacts as if I have one though. How can I get him to stop?

ANSWER: Ask him, “What will it take to get you to relax? I’ve changed and I need you to catch up with my changes.” Do realize, though, that it may take several months for him to catch up. It won’t happen all in one day, either. So some patience on your part is wise.


QUESTION: Are there certain circumstances when a person’s temper will be more likely to erupt even after control measures have been learned?

ANSWER: Tiredness is the biggest culprit I know. Also, keep track of the amount of stress that you are under. Times of change are high stress times and likely circumstances for an explosion.

[Marriage Missions Editor's Note: Keep in mind that if you're too busy to be kind —you're too busy. You need to look to see what life style choices can be made so this stressful time can be defused in such a way that you're able to approach life as marital partners —not enemies. Your spouse is not to be treated as the enemy.

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not pay evil with evil or insult with insult , but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it " (1 Peter 3:8-11).]

The above article came from the writings of Dr Lynn Weiss in her secular book, Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults: A Different Way of Thinking, published by Taylor Publishing Company. Dr. Lynn Weiss, is a psychotherapist and mother of an ADD son. In this book Dr Weiss answers questions of concerned readers, explaining what ADD is how it manifests itself in adults, and what can be done to cope with it.

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100 Responses to “My Spouse Has An Awful Temper”
  1. Seema says:

    (INDIA) I am sorry to learn that abuse is so prevalent everywhere. I am also a domestic abuse victim. My husband has such a bad temper. The first time he hit me was when we had been married for 6 mos. It was on the bus stand in front of everyone. I put up with that and the frequency and degree increased with the passing time…so much so that after our baby was born, I had to send him to my parent’s place to protect him from this environment.

    There came a stage when he took a meat knife to stab me in the heart. By God’s grace my arm came in between and the knife passed through it. There was a major operation done and I was helpless for 8 months. I could not move my arm, no driving, I couldn’t even bathe on my own. He promised he will never hit me again. After 3 years, it again started and all my neighbors know it. I just can’t go on the street, meet people who know this. I don’t know but I feel ashamed and to top this off my son was diagnosed with Autism. I just cry and cry the whole day. The moment I confront him or I have some issues, he starts yelling and threatens to kill me or kill himself.

  2. Rosie says:

    (USA) So here I am. It’s 3 am, my husband left me in the hotel because of a petty fight we just had. We are an hour away from home, he rented a hotel and bought us tickets to Seaworld for my birthday, and we packed our things and come out here. For what? So he could yell at me for laughing out loud at the tv and waking him up. He’s so upset he starts screaming at me, tells me how stupid I am. I apologized for waking him up and begged him not to get upset. He gets more mad. He grabs his blanket and leaves and slams the door. I’m sitting here, alone, abandoned once again. What a wonderful husband I have. Marriage is exactly what I pictured as a little girl. What a lucky girl I am. I’m looking out the hotel window and notice our car gone. Happy birthday to me.

  3. Tina says:

    (USA) I can tell when anger is coming on. So I will walk away. But my husband on the other hand, wants to fix things when I’m angry so we end up in a big fight. How can I fix that?

  4. Ann says:

    (UNITED STATES) I have been married to my husband for almost 2 years now. We didn’t date very long before getting engaged, and our engagement was only 4 months as well. However, I felt strongly that he was the one. I prayed lots about it. I did discover his temper when we were dating, but did not know the extent of it. He was also addicted to World of Warcraft, which I thought he only played occasionally. About a month before the wedding I had a feeling to postpone it, but was too scared so I didn’t. However, now that we’re married and I’ve seen his worst, I don’t know that I can handle it.

    I have always said that the only way I’ll ever get a divorce is if there is abuse or certain cases of infidelity, or if he fell away from our church and we hadn’t had kids yet. But now I’m not so sure. He’s been a little verbally abusive. Not too terrible but enough to really hurt. The tiniest things make him angry. He gets it from his parents, who I’ve never seen be affectionate to one another. His family is so negative and disfuntional and I’m worried were going to be like that (luckily we don’t have kids yet). He once yelled at me because I said I wanted to get involved with service projects. Once when my parents couldn’t take us on their wave runners, he got so angry he threw his phone at the wall (it barely missed my head), and yelled at me saying I should have planned better. I don’t get it.

    Yesterday I injured myself at the gym and can barely walk, so I asked him to go upstairs an lock the door before bed. He had a fit. I ended up hobbling up the stars to do it myself. His mother is always screaming and yelling. She screamed at my brother in law for asking what he should clean the couch with after the dog peed on it, so she didnt have to. She was seriously screaming at the top of her lungs “I can’t believe you would ever think that cleaner would work” etc… He was in tears and packing his bags to move out right after.

    I am someone who will not allow that in my home, but he was raised that way. So even though he’s gotten a little better over time, it’s still too much and it’s been two years. Every time he yells and says hurtfull things, or pulls a temper tantrum, he pretends nothing ever happened like ten minutes later and often expects sex or some sort of physical touch after with no apology or anything. I know I’m not nearly as happy as I used to be, and I’ve become a more negative person. I never had depression until I got married, and it’s to the point where I’m sick all the time and I have no motivation to do anything anymore. I find myself looking for reasons to leave even when we’re not fighting and things seem to be going well, but I still love him and it hurts me to think about it. :( I don’t know what to do.

  5. Elli says:

    (SA) I stumbled across this cause I was doing some research wanting to know if it’s normal. I’m in the very same boat. Every time there’s an outburst it rips away a piece of my sanity and the quality of our parenting drops cause I allow our child to be exposed to this. I feel guilty. This is not healthy but what do I do? It’s like you are trapped in!

    Women that have tempers get all the easy men yet I find myself so easy-going and such a happy person, stuck with a negative, bitter person who goes into a rage over petty things. I’ve tried shutting up, walking away –it errupts even worse like a volcano and then things start coming my way! I’m aware of the no apology and expecting everything to be normal afterwards behaviour. I’m getting to a point where if the outburst comes I no longer want to shut up. I want to defend myself and stab with something. It’s a brewing hate, yet they expect to be loved.

  6. Sophia says:

    (CANADA) I have been with this man for almost 4 years. We have a daughter together. He is the nicest and very kind person, very good father and husband. However when he is tired, hungry or something is not going his way, here comes the total opposite of what I have mentioned. He becomes hurtful and screams and loses control of himself.

    Once he is feeling better instead of apologizing or trying to work on it, he blames everyhting around him. And when I explained to him that he shouldn’t do that, he snaps and says that he doesn’t wanna speak about it and that he was pushed to act that way because of this and that reason. Never takes accountability for his tempers reactions. I love him very much and that only happens 5% of the time. However, I feel it shouldn’t happen at all, since I am often scared that he can act that way at any given time if things aren’t favorable for him. What to do, help me!!!

  7. Hart says:

    (NIGERIA) My spouse is so jealous of me to the extent he does not allow me to say hello to people I know, as a student am main to have my course mates number but he refused. Each time he sees any boy’s number on my phone he will change my sim card. The worst part is that he’s hot tempered. Once he called me on the phone and I didn’t pick it up immediately and we are into a quarrel. He beats me most of the time. What will I do?

  8. Carolyn says:

    (USA) I’ve been married for 17years. I knew from the beginning that he had a temper and that he was very selfish but thought it would change once we were married. Well, I was wrong. He does what he wants when he wants to. He has attended school, taking exercise classes, goes on trips with friends, goes to swap meets, signs up for church doings without the family. This is all while I’m home taking care of the kids. I don’t get to do anything outside of work and housework and taking care of the kids to and from their doings.

    We got into a heated fight and he told me to shut the **** up in which he was never been that disrespectful; it’s just getting worse. Of course my kids heard everything and I certainly don’t want my girls to think that it is ok for a husband to talk to his wife like that. I hope my girls have observed and learned something from all this fighting and that they will marry a loving and respectful man. I wanted a loving romantic marriage…

  9. Richard says:

    (USA) I loved how this question was not addressed. It is the typical controlling statement that escalates arguments. It is obvious by the question that the person does not care about the spouses anger. Most people are not abusive. So, not counting the exceptions, this individual has not cared about the hurt partners feelings and then you state they should leave the argument until the angry person calms down? No. If they don’t care to fix the problem and then exhibit controlling actions, the angry person had better find someone else.

    If that individual had cared at all they would have asked what was the problem early on in the disagreement. If they could not do what was needed they should have offered a compromise. The advice here is only offering controlling steps to anger the slighted person further. It does not address what the problem is.

  10. Sun says:

    (USA) My situation is one where I am running out of strength. My husband and I have been married 18 years and 3 boys –2 of which have ADHD. I manage all of it. My husband has chosen to look past it. He has a horrible temper. When the boys were younger, it would turn physical in terms of holding them down and yelling at them, holding them hard up against the wall and yelling at them, etc. As they’ve gotten older, he doesn’t do that, but he does different things. For instance the other night my middle son (11) had a toy on the floor. Without warning he picked it up, yelled at my son for having it in the room “again” then promptly threw it down on the floor, stomped on it, breaking it. My son was shocked and never saw it coming. To him, it was out of the blue. My husband used to do this stuff in front of me. Now he does it when I’m out of the room and then will downplay what the kids tell me.

    Emotionally, I’m checked out of this marriage. I don’t even want to be alone with him. The kids want him gone. My oldest son is overweight and has always heard his Dad put him down. He can do nothing to please him. Oh, in front of me he’ll be all nice (wasn’t when he was younger). But then later, he’ll pull him aside saying how lazy and fat he is and how he should do something worth while rather than watching tv or playing video games. I’ve prayed. I’ve read all kinds of books and articles on diffusing situations. We’ve discussed his mood swings …and it goes nowhere. I’ve written him letters thinking it would go over easier …and nothing happens. He’ll pretend he doesn’t have time to read it or instead, writes me back claiming how much is my fault.

    He has sooo much potential, but I truly think I’m lying to myself thinking he’ll change. To leave this marriage means uprooting my boys from the house they know, the neighborhood they love, and the security we all have of our surroundings. But to stay …is sheer unhappiness. I realize God doesn’t like divorce and being a child of one, I know exactly what’s involved. But this current arrangement isn’t healthy either.

    What to do, what to do. We’ve tried counseling –he was unresponsive (therapist’s words). I tried kicking him out 2 years ago. He refused saying we couldn’t work on anything if he wasn’t with us. But …nothing has changed! It’s maddening! Now, he DOES do nice things. He does our laundry. He tries to keep the house clean. He helps the boys with their homework. But emotionally, he’s just not there for anyone. He has his own agenda. It’s almost narcissistic in nature. It’s gotten to where when he does something nice, I have to think about what he gained from it, rather than thinking it was from his heart.

    I swear that if I do decide to divorce him, I’d never date. I wouldn’t dare trust my judgment ever again and my boys are worth so much more than any man. There were a couple of red flags before we married, but being in love, I chose to look past them thinking that everyone has their moments and no one is perfect. 18 years is a long moment.

    • Yoko says:

      (USA) I choked up while reading your comment. Forgive my mistakes in English since it’s not my native tongue. Your situation is very similar to mine. I have two boys, 21 and 17, married for 24 years. He yelled at me frequently for what I did or what I didn’t. Depending on his mood, one thing is perfectly all right for him one day and completely outraging another day. There is the cycle that I’m the perfect wife for him one week and I’m the worst, cold, oblivious wife another week.

      About 2 years ago, I felt so drained and decided to leave him after my young one will take off to college. Then our mutual friend recommended to go to counseling so we did. Up to that point, I told him many times that I don’t like his behavior, especially his yelling and screaming, but he has never stopped by saying that he is a kind of person to diffuse his emotion by yelling and calm down very quickly after that. He said I’m quiet but a passive aggressive and hold onto the negative feeling for a long time. But he usually doesn’t speak or even look at me for at least one week after being mad at me. Anyway he always tells me that I’m making him to yell. I alwasy felt like I’m walking on a minefield.

      I told him to stop yelling so many times but never told him that unless he stops I will leave him because I was so afraid that he will be more angry and take that anger out on our sons. I felt that I was the only one to protect my sons. When he is not angry he is a pretty good father who coaches my sons sports teams and watches every game.

      But at counselling for the first time, I told him that I’m thinking of devorcing him if he can’t stop yelling at me. I was less afraid to say this time since there was a third person, counselor, in the same room and also by knowing that my sons are ready to leave home in a few years. My husband finally saw the situation in which he will be divorced if he continues his behavior. Somehow he finally realized that this is very serious and he stopped yelling to my surprise. (So why he couldn’t stop yelling for years and years. He was just like a bully who bullies his victim but stop as soon as the victim retaliates. Maybe.)

      But the problem is that now I can’t forgive him. For all those years, my tears, heartache, fear, lost happiness. Actually I can forgive him but I can’t forget. If I don’t live with him I guess that I can forget but when I’m with him those past painful days come back to me like flashback. I don’t love him anymore. My feeling towards him is very numb and null. I don’t feel any joy to be with him and I feel very nervous around him. He stopped yelling but still he has such an up and down in his mood and it depresses me. I can’t live like this for the rest of his life. I’m 52 now and I’d like to be free from him. On the other hand I feel so guilty to leave him after he started to change. But I feel it’s too late. I can’t find my way back to love him.

      Everyday I’m wondering if I should stay or leave. Everyday I’m trying to find a way to forget everything in the past and forgive him. At the same time, everyday I’m longing for his emotional up and down. I’m in such a habit of trying to read his mind. I can’t feel happiness with him like this.

  11. Stacy from United States says:

    I don’t know what to think.I have read all your comments and I could relate to the lady that spoke about him ignoring the situation after an explosive argument. My husband is a good man and he is loyal to me, which is hard to find, but he gets really angry with me.

    We have terrible arguments where he will throw or break stuff. I have holes in walls, dented doors, and a broken shower door to name a few. He has never laid a hand on me until today. He got so mad and grabbed my head with both hands and shook me back and forth. It doesn’t happen alot, but has gotten more frequent. We have been married 8 years and I don’t know what to think anymore. He will blame his outburst on me or act like nothing happened. I’m afraid to even bring it back up again. I don’t know if it is abusive or if I am just exaggerating. I don’t know who I am anymore.

  12. Melinda from United States says:

    I have been married to my husband for almost 5 yrs and he gets so upset at anything anymore and takes it out on me, our 5 yr old and 9 yr old. We all have been walking on egg shells around the house for over 4 months. I have tried everything; I even left my house for the day and still when I walked through the door he is still raging and saying it’s all my fault.

    I don’t see how we have a 99 blazer that broke down and then 2 hrs later my 01 pt cruiser just stopped running so we’re out of cars but it’s my fault. He calls me names, calls me stupid and gets up in my face. I love him and he has never been this mean but he just keeps getting worse. I don’t want my kids to live like this but at the same time both kids want us to stay together so now I don’t know what to do.

    I ask him to go talk to someone but he won’t. He is even being very mean at work and yelling at his boss. He is the only one bringing any income into this house so if he gets fired we lose it all. Does anyone have any ideas cause I’m lost and I’m almost to the point of taking my kids and disappearing.

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