The following was written by Dr. Lynn Weiss. She was asked the following questions concerning a spouse who has an awful temper:
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?
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 those with ADD [Attention Deficit Disorder] because of the tendency for emotional flooding to occur.
So, here are some tips:
• 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. Someone cutting in front of you on the freeway may have triggered your anxiety, surprised you, or frightened you, but your reaction 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. “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.
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?
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.
Are there certain circumstances when a person’s temper will be more likely to erupt even after control measures have been learned?
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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Filed under: Abuse in Marriage Communication and Conflict
146 responses to “My Spouse Has An Awful Temper”
I just read this. Will try harder to control my temper and not let my frustration get the better of me.
When my husband is enraged nothing you say or do will alleviate it. If you try to placate him it gets worse. If you sit like a dummy with a blank face, ignore, argue back, walk away…it gets worse. In 11 years and numerous episodes there is not one tactic that will help. Usually dumb stuff sets him off….he won’t even try to address the outburst afterwards if I bring it up he acts like it never happened.
I’m reading some of your stories. I am Christian and a religious woman. I am stuck in my relationship but if I had money to make sure I was financially safe I would for sure have been long gone. If your spouse hasn’t changed in 30 years….praying over him and being submissive won’t change him. If I could do anything at this point and you are suffering whilst he is getting the picture that his behavior is being tolerated and he can continue on. I love God, but he wants us women to be happy and healthy to raise our children to see respectful relationships. God did NOT choose your partner for you- you did…and man makes mistakes.
I’m sorry Hannah and I can totally relate. I’ve only been married for a year – nothing compared to 30. I’ll pray for you, of course (please, pray for me and my wife). Anyway, I’ll let you know what helps – I insist on “helps” since this is not a cure or a magic trick. First of all, don’t lose your faith. Second, try to do something for yourself, something that pleases you. In my case, jogging, meditation and cooking have given me great pleasure and some space away from the problems, which help me (sort of ) rearrange my mind. If you can convince your husband to go to couples therapy, it would be great. No results guaranteed, though. However, having a third neutral party between you might help and gain some insight. And last, try to be more social. In my case, I’ve noticed that my wife’s anger levels decrease whenever we’re with other people. I don’t know if it’s out of politeness or because she’s pleased to share with others, but it works. God loves you and shares your suffering. May he give you peace.
I am too scared to talk to my husband about what happened when he has calmed down after a temper/rage explosion, because it will trigger another outburst. Therefore we have never progressed as couple. I have become somewhat passive aggressive because I can’t get my point across. Sometimes, depending on the visciousness of the outburst, I can be physically ill for up to 3 days, but mostly I am just sad and tired of it all.
My daughter says just say “whatever” and walk away, but it is not adult behaviour, not to address issues. I have on occasion left the house, but mostly leave the room. I am getting to the stage of wanting to leave the marriage, because I want a peaceful life and think I deserve it. I have had a heart attack and have read that stress boosts risk of cancer. I may need to do this for my health.
In almost all aspects of our life there is stress, even shopping, social situations where he will often not join in or join me in a group. He is very resistant to change, especially technological.
Hi everyone. I need advice as my husband’s temper is really bad. I will rate it as 3 out of 10. Simple things he snaps easily. A simple argument will lead to fights and bigger argument. He said I’m a nagger but honestly I nag because he provokes me. For example, every Thursday of each week he goes out with his friends to drink and he always says I will be back early but then he comes home most of the time 3-4 am and he drives while being under the influence of alcohol. He’s doing this for more than 4 yrs now.
But last night was really my turning point. I’ve been patient most of the time. So I cooked dinner for him but he arrives in an angry mood, stressed due to work -no kiss. I asked him “how’s my cooking?” He said ok sarcastically. He finished eating what I dished out, then washed all the mess and asked him a simple favor to clean the cats liter because I have asthma. Before coming home I actually texted him to buy cat liter but he came home without it. I was quiet and instead just called the grocery for delivery. So he did not hear any word from me because I saw that he was so stressed. So I asked him politely kindly change the cats liter and he snapped out again angrily and he said I WILL DO THAT! TOM PLS PLS STOP BOTHERING ME! I can’t wait Tom as the litter is very smelly and it triggers my asthma. So he still cleaned but with banging sounds. He just put the liter box inside the toilet without cleaning. So I went inside cleaned the toilet and locked the door.
Then I could not take it anymore; I screamed inside the toilet banged the shampoos etc. and crying soooo hard…really hard because I was tired of preparing dinner and then he comes home with all this BAD attitude – I cant take it. I quit smoking for long time and I lit a cigar as I was really shaking out of frustration, questions, anger. I was ready to take my luggage and pack some of my clothes and just leave for few days but I don’t have enough money. Please advise me. P.S. he is the type of guy if you address his mistakes he will just say “ah, ok” so he doesn’t take it seriously. I really want to leave our house for few weeks but I don’t know if that is a good idea.
I’m not sure what good leaving will do, but pray about it. Sometimes leaving for a while can backfire, but I’m not sure if it will for you. Somehow, you both need to talk at a non-combative time (also where neither of you is hungry or tired or upset about something). You need to talk about how to get both of your needs met. I’m not sure if he would do that or not. But pray about this too… Ask God how to change this situation and how to approach your husband, and when. Somehow, just going on as you always have is not working. I do know that I probably wouldn’t ask him for a compliment (on my cooking, or otherwise) because he doesn’t seem to to be kind about giving them. Also, I understand the pull of smoking, but don’t go backward in your progress to better health because of your husband’s bad attitude. YOU become the loser in this. Find a healthier way to work through an upset like this.
I hope you are able to get your husband to talk about times like you are going through right now. Try to approach him in a softened way if you can. It seems to go a lot better when we do that –it’s the principle of “a soft answer turns away wrath” and seems to be that a softened approach can do the same thing. Consider it. I hope this helps.
I wish I could help my husband with his temper. But I don’t think he wants help or my support in any way. I’ve talked with him on good days but he jokes like I’m not serious. When I do approach him about anything he didn’t want to talk about he just walks away like I’m not even there. I think that’s more hurtful than him being sarcastic. There is just no communication.
Married 2 yr to a Christian preacher. We are an older couple, both were previously married. I’m a very calm, loving person and I love my Lord. I met my spouse on line and 3 wks later married him. After being married 2 wks I was shocked at his anger. He never acts like he will hit me or never calls me bad names, but he constantly gets angry over every little thing. He yells a lot, has slammed doors. I love him, but I despise his personality. I’m a happy person, but I’m now sad a lot. I don’t want my children or family who live over 100 miles away to know of his behavior.
I have seen my husbands temper put men in a hospital, I saw him in 2009 over me and his father taking his Orient Express reservations and cancelling them and then holding his passport until we were in the air, He was so furious over it he dislocated my shoulder, and tired strangling his father to death when all he had to do was wait until the promised Christmas Surprise for a better vacation starting the second of January Five week vacation rental for us in St Croix. Instead of making man with 32 years less seniority take his Honey moon in November.
The period was one we had tried to get him to consider since 1987. I did not feel that 24 years of no time off warranted his Throwing me around because we made his decision for him.
After MRSA in his Spine later that year HE came home after three years in rehab with his temper even worse and no intention to even try to listen to any needs other than his.. now cry alot, He decided right after he came home from Rehab that there was nobody that had any say in his life. Especially me. He also decided that I was only going to be on his arm that evening no matter the event I was invited to was not inclusive of him. I was keeping the promises I had made and broken over 31 years to him before any one else had one kept. HE forced me into the sex he wanted since his return in 1985. Hurting me again over something that could have been worked through over time. He has not stopped forcing his way into vacations, time off and holiday traditions that he wanted since. He’s even hurt many other people gaining his rights and trying to talk to him now is one word. “No.”
I disagree with this. People who have a clinical mental diagnosis including anxiety, depression, bipolar, ADHD, OCD, spectrum or other are not always in control regardless of what techniques are used. They are motivated neither by positive nor negative reinforcement, punishments, rewards, etc. like typical people. There is a lot of mental illness out there that people are not aware of. It is not as simple as the “typical” normal population thinks. We have been to four specialists for our son who has a host of mental disorders and the strategies we use sometimes work and sometimes not. It is always a challenge. My husband displays similar traits, and though he tries, he still has the random outbursts.
My husband’s temper makes me feel like I’m walking on egg shells. Home life has become miserable. If I dare ask questions like where he’s been, he loses control, which by the way, may confirm his guilt. So I stopped asking. If we have a disagreement over finances, pets, or anything for that matter, he starts flailing his arms and yells and curses me. He has a history of heart problems and blames me for “starting” an argument. This has led to virtually no conversation between us. When I have asked him to sit down and talk to me about our problems, he loses it again. Often if he is working on something and I’m at the other end of the house, I can hear him yelling and cursing if something doesn’t go his way. He also did this alone out in the yard today and I can imagine what the neighbors think of us. I’m at my end of tolerance and can see our marriage maybe needs to end.
I’ve been married almost six years. My wife’s temper frightens me. I always try to stay calm, remember what has upset her and try to prevent it. But it seems to happen anyway. Since our second child was born, she gets angry all the time. It’s never her fault, and she doesn’t own up to it and rarely apologizes. I don’t know what to do. I’ve developed ulcers that had gotten so bad that they were bleeding into my stomach. I’m on medication to help it heal, but how do I tell her she’s a major cause of the stress? When she’s calm, I’m afraid to say anything, because I don’t want it to flare up again.
I’ve tried to remind her of the love scripture in 1 Corinthians when she’s losing her patience, but she doesn’t want to hear it. I’m ashamed to say it, but I’m genuinely afraid of my wife’s temper. I grew up with guilt as the primary form of discipline, and often take the blame for things I probably shouldn’t take blame for. It didn’t want to have a marriage where I feel guilty all the time, and watch my every move to make sure I don’t trigger my wife’s rage.
Fascinating article. I struggle with a bad temper. I buy into the methods a little less when the outbursts coincide with the kind of longstanding, unresolved issues that sometimes occur in families.
I understand and appreciate your suggestions, and have previously tried most. Unfortunately, bringing up the subject of anger just triggers an outbreak – even at the best moment and most carefully. It’s very hard to keep cool during the verbal onslaughts. Sometimes I fail to withstand the illogic and injustice. No good comes of this. It doesn’t help that my husband is a non-believer. At such times, my only solution is prayer. Searching for prayers brought me here. No solution, but it still helps. Thank you. Bless you.