Dear Dr. Brown: Because of health problems, my husband is no longer able to drive. Most of the time he accepts that he is dependent on me to transport him. But there are times when he becomes very angry with me and acts as if it is my fault that he is so confined. How can I deal with my spouses outbursts of anger?
The problem you describe is not uncommon. This is especially true as married couples begin to experience serious health problems. The tension between the desire to maintain independence and acceptance of limitations is severe. The struggle is difficult for both partners and can easily lead to outbursts of anger.
When your husband’s outbursts occur, it is important that you remain as objective as possible. Understand that while his anger is directed at you, in all probability you are not the real reason for it. Your husband’s remarks are more a statement about how he feels than about you.
Do not let yourself be pulled into an argument. Don’t try to explain the circumstances logically. In times of high emotions, logic gets lost. It often fuels extended, heated, inappropriate discussion.
When outbursts occur, get a grip on your own emotions. Say something like, “I can see how frustrated you are right now. And I’m sorry that things are this way. Maybe we can talk about it later when you feel better.” If your husband is unwilling to discontinue the conversation, leave the room. Busy yourself with another activity. Make it clear that you will not continue to listen to accusing or abusive comments.
Response to Spouses Outbursts
Hopefully, this kind of response will diminish and calm the outburst. However, it probably will not keep you from having hurt feelings and sadness about your own circumstances. So, how do you comfort yourself?
Remind yourself that your husband has major health problems. It has permanently changed his life. Imagine how you might feel if you were in his place. I am not suggesting that you should take abuse just because he is frustrated. I am suggesting that when you have withdrawn from the conflict, focus on what it must be like to be in your husband’s situation. Don’t focus not on what he should or shouldn’t have done. Remember that his remarks are much more about himself than about you. Perhaps thinking thoughts like these will help you to let go of some of the hurt.
It might be helpful to discuss this behavior with your physician. Medications can exacerbate irritableness. It is also probable that your husband is experiencing some level of depression. Your physician could offer treatment, if needed.
Finally, find someone to talk with about your experiences. It might be your pastor or a trusted, mature Christian. If you have access to a professional counselor, consider contacting that person.
Let me encourage you to take steps to help you cope better. It will benefit both you and your
This article is shared with us courtesy of Mature Living Magazine. It was originally posted on the Internet on the great resource web site of Lifeway.com. They not only publish Mature Living, but other Family Magazines, as well.
It is written by Dr Polly Cooper Brown, who is a retired psychologist who is now residing in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.