Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Advice please on marriage issues

(44 Posts)
Flofloflo Thu 01-May-14 10:57:41

I would be grateful for some honest opinions here, as is think I may be too close to see if I'm being unreasonable or note have been married for 8 years, 3 DC under the age of 5. Generally good marriage I would say. DH is lovely most of the time. Helpful around the house, takes his family commitments seriously and looks after us well (takes care of all bills etc) buys me thoughtful gifts for birthdays and anniversaries etc, loves the DC. However the issue I have is his reactions to things. He gets frustrated, angry, annoyed very easily. Eg, drops something on the floor and swears loudly in frustration. When we argue he can't express himself as well as me and so ends up swearing, shouting, resorting to childish tactics like point scoring. DS had a nightmare the other night and as DH couldn't settle him down he ended up walking out of the room swearing and kind of making a growling sound under his breath. I'm always the calm one, who says don't argue in front of kids. Always the one to calm the kids down, DH just gets frustrated with DC when they do something wrong, will raise voice and point in an aggressive way at them when telling them off.

It's very hard to describe it properly, but in a nutshell, he is just someone who massively over reacts to things, or rather reacts badly, in a frustrated and sometimes aggressive manner. My concerns are that he is teaching the DC to behave in this way, and also that, whilst I love him a lot, I'm not sure how I will feel about being on the brunt of this in another 10 years, it's getting to me al lot, not sure if I can stand it for the rest of my life. He always talks about it afterwards and says that his behaviour was unacceptable and unfair, but he doesn't seem to be able to change.
Given that he is a great husband and father otherwise, am I making too much of this do you think? It is wearing me down and often when we argue, we go to bed not speaking, affects our relationship for a few days afterwards. I can't see the wood for the trees now and not sure if I am making a big deal out of it, after all, no one is perfect. Thanks

Jan45 Thu 01-May-14 11:04:51

Nope, he's an angry man why should you accept that, you wouldn't from any other person. I'm afraid it will probably get worse unless he actually admits he has a problem and HE goes to the GP to find out what he can do to help.

Sorry but he can't be that great by what you have posted.

bauhausfan Thu 01-May-14 11:05:27

Did he have an unhappy childhood?

Flofloflo Thu 01-May-14 11:12:24

He did buy a book on anger management a while ago, read it and said that he had to avoid triggers for things that made him react badly, but we never managed to identify what the triggers were unfortunately. We have talked about it and agreed that in the midst of an occasion where he was over reacting or being angry, that if would point it out calmly and ask him to count to 10 before he said anything. Seemed like a good idea but in the heat of the moment, he can't listen to me, he just gets defensive.
No he didn't have an unhappy childhood at all, but one if his parents also have slight frustration or anger issues so I think it's just what he's known. But of course what I'm afraid of is that the pattern continues and our DC behave the same way from learning it from DH. Especially our DS, I don't want him to learn that "this is what it is to be a man". In contrast, my DF is very gentle and never angry, I learnt that from my parents so this is probably another reason why I find it hard to deal with now.

Flofloflo Thu 01-May-14 11:16:06

Also meant to say that he has said before that he was quite shy when younger (still can be actually) and felt walked over a few times in his life at work or by friends maybe, so his default position now is to go the other way.

Youdontneedacriminallawyer Thu 01-May-14 11:21:26

You've married a man with a short temper. But being married means loving and living with someone despite their inadequacies (physical abuse etc excepted obvs).
Kids do inherit personality traits from their parents, not all of it is nurture, some is definitely nature. You can work with them to help them manage their feelings though, and teach them anger managemetn techniques from a young age.
As far as DH goes, I think that you have to accept that he has a short temper, and live with it - unless you want to LTB.

Flofloflo Thu 01-May-14 11:30:11

No I don't want to leave him at all. I would be devastated to do that and I'm certainly nowhere near thinking about that at all. It's helpful to hear people's views, thank you. When you live with something and argue about it a lot, it actually becomes hard to see who's right and wrong, or even if there is a right and wrong at all. I'm worried I guess, that it might drive a wedge between us in the long term and I don't know what to do to stop it. As soon as I had DC, I became very aware of how I behave around them and also DH of course, it really really matters to me what kind of example we set them and I worry about it an awful lot. Having DC has changed me massively in this respect but I don't think it has in the same way for DH and I'm worried that while he says all the right things to me about how we bring them up and behave around them, as soon as he is frustrated with something, he just reacts and doesn't think. Very difficult.

Youdontneedacriminallawyer Thu 01-May-14 11:39:19

I don't think having children does change men as much as it changes women. I'll get flammed for saying that, but I think it's true.

TBH, if that's his personality, I don't think you can do much to change him. It would be easier to try and prevent these situations occuring.

My DM always said that when you don't like something, you only have a few options

Change the thing
Put up with the thing
Walk away from the thing

Galvanised Thu 01-May-14 11:56:35

Right, so there was a incident recently, you felt very upset about the effect of his anger on both you and your children. Flashes of realisation about the damage this can do (and you'd be right).
Then there is a bit of a cooling off period, you start to feel you are making too big a deal about it. Everything slips back to normal.
Or almost normal, because now you have another trigger (to add to the growing list of things that might frustrate your dh and set him off) that you will worry about in the future. But still, it's easier right now to let it go and hope it doesn't happen again.

Except you know it will happen again, and again.
You will keep getting these horribly uneasy feelings, feeling upset for days, worrying about how it's affecting your children, because fundamentally nothing ever changes.

And you can't actually do anything about it. Because it's not your anger it's his.
What is he doing to address things? Has he thought about counselling or therapy? Changing behaviour is something that can take years. How do you feel about that?

Flofloflo Thu 01-May-14 12:01:01

Galvanised, that's exactly how I feel. Things do go back to normal, and I forget about it for a while, but as soon as something happens again, I feel like I'm constantly dealing with and all the past examples come straight back to me.
I am wondering if counselling for us both together might help, at least it might be a preemptive strike to hopefully stop things getting worse between us. I really don't want our marriage to end, so maybe putting in some extra work now might help, do you think?

Jan45 Thu 01-May-14 12:06:08

OP it's him that needs to change not you, it's him that needs to decide to do something about it, not you, it doesn't sound like he is remotely interested in changing.

Flofloflo Thu 01-May-14 12:10:58

I know he has to do this Jan. I also know I can't change him. But to be fair to him, he does know he is being a pain and he does want to not be like this but I see him struggling because in the heat if the moment, it's like he just can't stop himself. It's so ingrained in him as the default position that it's hard to change. If I had to change an aspect of my personality, I would find to massively difficult so I do have some sympathy with him for finding it hard to change. Between the 2 of us, we're not managing to change anything so I am thinking counselling might be a good idea.

Jan45 Thu 01-May-14 12:19:06

I still don't get why this has to involve you though, he needs to go and seek help with anger management, I don't see how counselling for the two of you is relevant.

Sorry OP, I don't think he's interested in changing otherwise he would be doing something, not waiting for you to make him.

Flofloflo Thu 01-May-14 12:26:46

I actually think he's scared of not being able to change, ie if he faces it through anger management, and that fails, then what is he left with? It would be quite difficult to think that something in your personality hurts people that you love. I can understand that, but yes you're right to an extent I suppose, and in am frustrated with nothing changing. But like a previous poster said, you can't really change people, I'm not prefect either, is this not one of those things, ie an aspect of someone's personality that you don't like, yet still love them with their imperfections?? I just don't know, which is why I came he pre for advice. I suppose I thought counselling might help for us both, was so that we can explain what we are both frustrated with as I'm sure there are things about me that drive him mad, how it manifests itself, and explain the problems it causes our marriage. I'm not sure my DH, in an anger management session on his own, could really explain what probs it is causing us and how much it upsets me.

Flofloflo Thu 01-May-14 12:27:34

Rather, could NOT explain what problems it causes

Galvanised Thu 01-May-14 12:29:07

Flofloflo, I've sent you a pm.

Jan45 Thu 01-May-14 12:33:57

OP, if this bothered him as much as you he'd already have been making appointments etc, he hasn't.

Btw, I don't see this as a personality trait, it's a choice on how to react to things so he can change it, with the right help.

Don't see much hope then if you feel he won't even admit he has a problem in the first place, what's hard about saying I have a problem with my anger and it's affecting my family negatively..

WhoNickedMyName Thu 01-May-14 12:36:59

Is he able to control his anger and frustration in public? What about in work? Or in front of friends and family?

Handywoman Thu 01-May-14 12:46:29

Hmmm this is ringing alarm bells for me. Having been in this situation I wouldn't waste your time calling it 'anger issues' I would see this in terms of your H's belief that children are lesser beings who should comply easily and who should be 'put in their place' when they step out of line. Beliefs are a helluvalot harder to change than the reactions to the daily strife of family life. IMO (am prepared for a flaming here) if you have had one unsuccessful round of 'trying to sort this out' you are looking at things being this way long term, and getting worse, over the years. I would recommend counselling for yourself, alone, OP, to explore why your feelings don't seem to count as much as his.

Flofloflo Thu 01-May-14 12:46:32

Thanks jan. He can admit there's a problem but I don't think he woud be able to explain just how much of a problem it is for me. I think it's a fairly common trait not to want to address something for fear that you can't change it? But I do take your points on board and thank you for your advice. You are right, he does have to want to change and to do something to facilitate that.
WHO, he controls it at work I'm sure, as he's never been in any trouble for attitude issues, however I'm sure he's pretty bolshy and probably talks over people if he feels he's not being listened to. His family see this too, but it's not massively unusual for them to be angry and show frustration, which is partly why he feels it's normal. My upbringing was the opposite so I don't see it as normal. In public, he can be a bit road ragey for an example.
I read something a bit "facebooky" recently, some Chinese proverb where a lad has to hammer a nail in a wall every time he gets angry, then when he learns to control it, each time he stops himself being angry, he gets to take a nail out. In the end there is a wall with loads of holes in and the proverb is that anger and nasty comments etc, always leave a mark in the person on the receiving end. Exactly how I feel to be honest.

sicutlilium Thu 01-May-14 12:49:04

We have ... agreed that in the midst of an occasion where he was over reacting or being angry, that [I] would point it out calmly and ask him to count to 10 before he said anything. Seemed like a good idea but in the heat of the moment, he can't listen to me,
So he shifts the responsibility for managing his temper on to you, and then ignores you anyway? Mmmm.

Flofloflo Thu 01-May-14 13:02:54

SICUT I hadn't viewed it like that. I was coming from the perspective of marriage being a partnership, trying to help each other be as good as we can, trying to find ways to support and help facilitate a change.
This is why I'm getting so massively confused though, one person's support is another person's avoidance of responsibility, one person's accepting people for their flaws is another person's unnacceptable behaviour that shouldn't be tolerated. it's so hard to see what the right thing to do is.

Jan45 Thu 01-May-14 13:03:10

No didn't think he'd be like this at work or with friends, what a surprise.

He doesn't have to explain how his anger is affecting you, by having anger issues he will be affecting you, they will know that.

You can make all the excuses in the world but your situation isn't going to change because fundamentally he doesn't want to, or thinks he has to, he expects you to just `put up` with it. I also don't understand why you are making it a `we` problem when it isn't.

Galvanised Thu 01-May-14 13:16:43

Flofloflo, that's the perspective that relationship counselling takes. It just doesn't work when there is abuse.
And that's what you and your children are experiencing.

The approach you are taking is really to do with communication.
Communicating your feelings, having them heard and then being responded to appropriately.

You've done the communicating, he has heard and responded.
The problem is his response, not how you have been communicating.

He might not be able to behave differently right now.
This is how he was shown to behave from a young age, he thinks it's ok.
It's probably pretty complicated and it's not possible for you to change him by being 'supportive'.
He needs to accept his behaviour, the affect it has and look for ways of dealing with stresses/frustrations differently.
Is there any incentive for him to do this?
Not so far.

sykadelic Thu 01-May-14 13:36:54

Unfortunately I agree that his behavior is abuse. It's not a communication issue.

I would normally agree that he has an anger control problem but he DOES control it at work. The problem is his lack of respect for you and the children.

I think it's time you told him that you won't put up with the abuse anymore and neither should the children and that he needs to learn to control his temper.

I know you don't WANT to ltb but you need to do the right thing for the kids as well. Likely they will start living in fear of his "triggers" as well.

When you're afraid to express yourself because he might flip out.. you have to see that's abuse. He's definitely "changing" you, so the idea you can't change someone is wrong. It's just sad you are changing out of fear and he won't out of love.

Flofloflo Thu 01-May-14 13:48:49

Lots of food for thought. Thank you

Jan45 Thu 01-May-14 14:21:01

Good luck!

Flofloflo Fri 02-May-14 08:22:29

As an update, I've decided you are right.
We had an argument this morning which started because of something DH said about catchments for schools, I told him it didn't work like he thought it did which triggered him going off upstairs in a bit of a mood. He hates it when I do this, he sees is as me correcting him like a child. I try very hard not to make it this way, I was just telling him something which I thought was perfectly reasonable. Anyway, it escalated to him raising his voice in front of the kids and bringing his hand down on the sofa, not so much a punch, but a physical expression of his frustration. I pulled him up on it and he said I was being high and mighty and it was like being at school. I ended up telling him that the way he deals with situations is unacceptable and he needed to go to anger manager meant counselling to deal with it. He said definitely no. he said discussion closed. I said that I wouldn't be silenced in my own home and that just because he had given his explanation, doesn't mean that an argument is sorted or a discussion is over. I told him that a refusal to go to anger management said a lot about his commitment and that I wouldn't have the children brought up seeing this kind of thing. He said Or what? I said that I would do anything to keep the family together but that I couldn't have this forever as when the kids are a bit older, he would be doing the same to them that he does with me. He said that I am right that his reactions to things is unacceptable. But that it is my fault that he is frustrated all the time, he said that the way I am scruffy around the house and he does everything to keep the house tidy and to help me, when I do nothing is what makes him this way. (Background in this is that he is a lot tidier than I am naturally and he does do an awful lot round the house. I have 3 kids to look after and sometimes they take my priority over tidying so the house isn't as tidy as he would like) to a small extent this is true as I can be a bit lazy, but honestly and truly, he would be like this even if we had a cleaner in every day.
I said to him that frustrations always exist, if i was more tidy, there would be something else to frustrate him, he has always had this in his personality and is known for it and that he had to take reponibility for this and to change it. He said he would. I said that this hasn't worked in the past, he bought a book and tried to change but he didn't. He then said he didn't really try. I said, well either way, either you tried and it didn't work, or you didn't try, either way wee have a problem and you need to start to see that you need help. Then he left for work. I feel more upset today because I'm starting to see that you were all right yesterday, that I do have a husband who is verbally abusive and aggressive and I have a real problem.

Galvanised Fri 02-May-14 14:17:28

Flofloflo,

I think you are coming round to accepting that his behaviour is his responsibility.
And you are right, if the house was tidier, there would be something else to get frustrated about.
It's ok to get angry, or to get frustrated. It's not ok to scare others, or to behave in a way that is upsetting like sulking.

Anger is often a response to feeling deeply unhappy about something else. Counselling or therapy would help him work out what that other thing is. You can't do that for him.

I hope you are ok, do you have anyone that you could talk to irl? Someone who would not minimise his behaviour and the effects on you?

Quitelikely Fri 02-May-14 14:25:59

Honestly. Burping is classed as abuse by some people on here.

Handywoman Fri 02-May-14 14:52:48

OP I think you are handling this brilliantly. It's all ringing bells from my own marriage (which ended last summer). Sounds like your H like mine, took 'disagreement' to mean the same as 'being unsupportive'. This shows where one boundary is being crossed. This is oppressive/bullying/abusive. Call it what you will. Another boundary he is crossing is the aggressive verbal and non verbal behaviour. You have told him this is a boundary. Well done. Stick to it. Detach and observe. Garner RL support, get counselling, read 'why does he do that' Ignore quitelikely and keep posting.

Jan45 Fri 02-May-14 15:03:14

On the cheek, is your fault he gets angry, no way it is! As I thought, he's got no intentions of actually accepting his behaviour is not on, I;m glad you stood your ground and told him you're not accepting his shit anymore, he sounds an ogre.

Hopefully you've given him plenty to think about and how he can start to make positive changes to how he is reacting to stuff, bloody ridiculous the way he reacted to what you said.

Flofloflo Fri 02-May-14 15:10:03

I have sent him an email asking him to consider the following questions, see what you think. Thanks for your continuing advice by the way, it helps.

Do you think the way you deal with frustration is normal or acceptable?
Do you accept that there will always be frustrations is life?
Do you accept that the way you deal with things is your own issue and only in your control rather than anyone else's?
Do you think the children should see you react like you do, or be on the brunt of it?
Do you accept that being like this around the children is damaging for them?
Do you accept that it is damaging for our marriage?
Do you think that you have or can manage to control this?

Flofloflo Fri 02-May-14 15:11:17

I am hoping that if he can answer these questions honestly, then he will see that he does need to get anger management help. Fingers crossed.

Flofloflo Fri 02-May-14 15:14:10

Galvanised, I try not to talk abou this anymore with real life friends. I don't always find it helpful for a few reasons, but I am finding it helpful to canvas opinions from a range of different people on here, thank you.

Jan45 Fri 02-May-14 15:15:50

Will be interesting to see his replies.

Jan45 Fri 02-May-14 15:17:35

My dad had anger issues when we were growing up and it makes the kids nervous wrecks for no reason. In fact my dad who is now late 70s barked at me three times the other day so I walked out, I know you can't do this but I was letting him know it isn't acceptable, he doesn't speak to my brothers that way but me and my sister get it so he's choosing, just like your OH is.

Miggsie Fri 02-May-14 15:24:45

I don't think him buying a book will help here - he obviously is not very tolerant and dislikes being challenged. He would need intensive therapy/CBT on his OWN, not with you to help him to change his behaviour responses.
Just agreeing something is wrong is his way of fobbing you off and not dealing with it; if he was serious about it, he would have done something - it is hard and it is very likely he will need help to change his behaviours/attitudes.

"Why does he do that?" by Lundy Bancroft describes the behaviours of angry men and the possible causes. He also stresses that the receivers of the anger cannot help the person - the person themselves need to want to change. He also says joint therapy is useless when one person is angry.
Reading the book may help you cope with the situation better.

Ultimately the anger is likely to get worse, especially when the children are older and really start fighting back.

Handywoman Fri 02-May-14 15:29:45

That's a brave email you sent. Gosh. It will be very interesting to see how he reacts to it.

Flofloflo Fri 02-May-14 16:35:21

He replied saying he didn't think I needed a response to each question, he said that he agrees he needs to sort out his anger problems and will look into it.
We'll see what he says when he gets home later I suppose. He does often say the right things after a situation has blown over though, what will be really telling is if he actually does something about it and books some counselling.

sykadelic Fri 02-May-14 17:27:01

Someone posted above that burping is considered abuse by some people... and of course that's true! It's not the specific act itself, it's about respect for someone and their boundaries.

If I've told you I don't like something, and you do it anyway, that's abusive. You're deliberately doing something to upset me. A quick Google of the definition will prove that.

~~~

OP - I'm sorry you're going through this but you're doing really well. You're perfectly entitled to live in peace in your home and not in fear of his mood swings.

Your most recent update says to me that he's acting defensive and trying to deflect it. He still doesn't (in my opinion) see this as something serious he needs to deal with (like you telling him he hasn't folded the laundry). He is probably hoping you forget about it and he can continue just living his life.

I truly believe until he has consequences, until he hits bottom, he won't realise this is a big deal. Even if you did LTB I believe he'll just think it's you over-reacting (just as one particular poster implied above). You're NOT over-reacting. You do not HAVE to live like that. The kids don't have to either. It's your responsibility to protect yourself and the kids. He's an adult and can look after himself.

Handywoman Fri 02-May-14 19:14:38

He will 'look into it' doesn't sound hugely encouraging. Please remain vigilent and keep posting. Good luck thanks

Flofloflo Sat 03-May-14 10:39:13

We had a long talk last night. He came home and said that he had agreed that he needed to sort his anger issues before he had read my email. He had looked up some counsel lord online and said that he will contact one next week. He said that he will find it hard to talk to someone about it, which I understand. Men aren't the best at this kind of thing sometimes and DH is a good example of this. However he said that he thinks a lot of it comes from being so shy as a child and feeling walked over or completely unassertive. He admitted that he can't stand to be corrected or to be told what to do and says he even hates this at work, can't stand it when his boss tells him what to do!! This to me is crazy because that's what bosses are for, but DH doesn't like it. Having said that, He always gets on well in jobs and has no real issues apart from people thinking he is a bit bolshy. He said he knows that he is hard to be around and doesn't want to set this example to the DC. He said that he knows my tidiness or lack thereof is a completely separate issue and accepts that the problem is the way he reacts to things.
Fairly positive really, just have to see if he delivers on it. One thing that did concern me is that he doesn't seem to realise how difficult this counselling might be, I think he thinks it will be easy, but we will see from here on.
Thanks again for your support, it was only through this thread that I had the courage to really address it.

Flofloflo Sat 03-May-14 10:39:50

Ps sorry for dreadful typos, just got an iPad and this autocorrect thing is driving me crazy.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now