I love him but sometimes I’m scared of being around him when he loses it.

YourLifeChoices’ relationship expert Jo Lamble helps Maria manage her angry husband.

scared wife

Jo Lamble is a Clinical Psychologist who has been in private practice for over 25 years. She sees individuals, couples and groups, and specialises in parenting and relationship issues. Jo has been a regular contributor on Channel 7’s Sunrise and is the resident psychologist for the online magazine The Carousel.

In general, Maria has a happy marriage, but every now and then, her husband can be a little scary. Today, YourLifeChoices’ relationship expert and clinical psychologist, Jo Lamble, offers Maria advice on how to handle her situation.

Q. Maria
My husband is great when things are going well, but when things get tough, he can turn quite angry. I love him but sometimes I’m scared of being around him when he loses it. And worse still, he can get mad without notice. What can I do about it?

A. It's hard to confront someone about their anger because they can get even angrier! Is there a family history of anger on your husband’s side? He may have grown up with a mother or father with a short fuse. Understanding his own family background can decrease the tendency to take his outbursts personally, but they must still feel unpleasant and scary at times.

If you feel in danger in any way, it’s essential that you remove yourself from the situation – just walk away. Your safety is the most important thing. But if you don’t feel in any danger, there is something you could try. What I’m going to suggest may sound bizarre. I would encourage you to empathise with him. As soon as you see the first sign of anger, give him some empathy. I know that you said that he can get angry without notice, so the first sign may be the explosion itself. When you see that first sign, say what you see. For example: “I can see that you’re angry” or “I can see that you’re upset”. Then try to identify what may have made him angry: “I know you find it so annoying when you’ve tried to make that work and it doesn’t”, or “It’s so frustrating when so and so does that, isn’t it”?

When we feel understood, we often feel calmer and more able to control our emotions. You don’t have to say that it’s all right for him to lose his temper, but you can show him that you are trying to understand what’s going on for him. Hopefully, he will then be able to hear you when you say how frightening and unpleasant it is to be around him when he loses it. When we start a conversation with empathy, what we say next is usually better received.

If this new approach doesn’t work and he doesn't calm down, then you may have to give him an ultimatum – either he gets help for his anger or your relationship is in serious trouble.

If you have a question for Jo Lamble, email newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au



    To make a comment, please register or login
    27th Oct 2017
    If your husband has a degree of autism and this is a meltdown then he needs space and you are well served by staying well clear. Do not attempt to settle or calm him.
    Say the words in a calm voice, " You are hurting my feelings when you behave this way." then get right away for as long as it takes.
    There is no one size fits all with anger however diet can alter the temperament especially alcohol but so can sugar lows, some medications, intolerance to some foods etc etc.
    You need to know your husband. Is it a clinical psychiatric condition, is it stress, is it you? If it is the later - pack your bags and GO.
    27th Oct 2017
    Adults are supposed to have control over their feelings. No-one hurts another's feelings: those feeling hurt let themselves feel hurt.
    27th Oct 2017
    This is a hard one. If he directs the anger towards you then you may need to consider leaving the relationship, whether you love him or not. Even if he never assaults you, he is certainly making you very uncomfortable and this in your home, where you should always feel safe and secure. The suggestion of anger management is a good one, but will only be of use if he perceives that he does have a problem. Often angry people will project the blame for the anger onto someone else, taking no responsibility for it themselves. I certainly wish you well, and hope your life will be better. I know all too well where you are coming from.
    27th Oct 2017
    "... he is certainly making you very uncomfortable ..."

    No - you're allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable.

    And why the "he"? Spare us your sexist assumptions.
    27th Oct 2017
    Agreed Jenny.
    28th Oct 2017
    Dr Polymath, I refer to "he" as it is clearly her husband that she is talking about. My comments would be the same if it was a man talking about his female partner. For that matter, it would still be the same in a same-sex relationship. Where is the sexism?

    27th Oct 2017
    Clinical psychology is an expensive scam.

    Maybe the person's fear is unreasonable. And maybe the angry person's anger is justified. It does not mean necessarily that they will be violent.
    Knight Templar
    27th Oct 2017
    So predictable. Female victim - male aggressor. Australian Institute of Criminology statistics show that approximately 36 percent of domestic violence victims are men. Women can be equally vicious, psychologically, emotionally and physically. That men are less likely to be victims than women, does not justify ignoring the suffering experienced by a large minority. Let's have some balance in these typically gender biased articles.
    27th Oct 2017
    KT its just a scenario. It can just as well be the other way around and the the message to the victim is exactly the same - move out.
    A man may have the physical attributes to protect himself but a compassionate person can be emotionally scarred for life.

    28th Oct 2017
    Most of the anger issues in a relationship are from the female side
    Borne out of the need to control the relationship

    That anger manifests itself in many forms and slowly but surely eats away at a mans soul until there’s nothing left

    The husband should leave before it’s too late
    29th Oct 2017
    To me it sounds like he has never learned how to control his anger, I would not personally put up with it but each to his own. My tolerance of anger is really low due to dealing with it too much in my life. Maria needs to tell him how she feels when he is happy and ask him how he would feel and what can they do about it, give him back control buy finding out how to control himself.

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