His Anger Scares Me

Everyone gets angry once in a while and experiencing anger is a natural part of life. But how do you know when someone's anger goes beyond normal limits? Is he frustrated with his computer and swearing at it, or is he directing his anger at you. Correctly evaluating anger is the first step in knowing how to handle it. If it's mild, you can generally overlook it, but if it isn't, don't. Here are some guidelines to help you:

1. Don't add to it: You may not think you're adding to it but if he's already upset, leave him alone. Most women like to talk when they're upset and most men don't. Trying to engage him when he's already tense will likely increase his pressure and could cause him to lash out at you. If he's angry, choose your timing and don't add fuel to the fire.

2. Ignore it: Many men curse as a way of releasing their frustration. If the computer is freezing up or the car repair isn't working, he may call it nasty names, stomp around, or bang something. If he's venting all by himself, ignore him. If it bothers you, give him the space to work it out on his own and try to get yourself out of earshot. Once he solves whatever the problem is or gives up for the night, he'll be back to his normal self. If he's just venting, allow him to do so. Give him a break and don't worry about it.

3.Remove yourself temporarily: What if his anger is coming at you? Communicating from a reactive place is a bad idea. People say things they may not mean or do things they may regret later. Protect both of you by removing yourself. He can't yell at you if you're not there. Say something like, "It's not ok for you to yell at me. We can talk when you calm down," then remove yourself. Or don't say anything at all, just disappear for a while. Setting this sort of limit with a person who is already upset will likely make them more upset, so be sure that you remove yourself from the situation responsibly. Run an errand, go to the store, call a girlfriend, but move once you've decided you are going. Go. Upset people calm down much faster when they are alone. Come back a little while later and likely he will be over it. With some repetition, he will quickly learn that if he wants you to be available, he'll need to keep his anger in check.

4.Remove yourself longer: If he gets aggressive while he's angry, you may need to remove yourself longer. If he throws things, breaks things, punches things, or does anything else that could be dangerous, don't wait...just go. Follow the same guidelines as outlined above, but don't come back in 20 minutes, give it several hours or overnight. Aggression can turn serious very quickly and it's important to send a clear message that aggression is not acceptable at all. Some people think they can't control their anger, but when there's enough at stake, most people can. It's pretty common to feel angry toward an employer, but most people wouldn't dare speak to their boss the way they speak to their spouse. They know they wouldn't get away with it. Do both of you a favor and hold a firm line. He already knows he shouldn't act that way and he won't leave you for standing up to him. Instead, he'll respect you for it.

5. Protect others: Finally, if you're a parent and you feel your spouse is crossing the line with your kids, do something about it. Don't follow the idea that you shouldn't say something in front of the children. You're the mamma bear. If he's scaring you or them, you have to intervene. Either ask him to speak with you in the other room or simply escort the children away. Kids are not afforded the power to protect themselves from an angry parent. They rely on the adults in their life to keep them safe. Talking to a person about their anger is rarely helpful in the moment, but boundary-setting is. If you're calm and the other person isn't, interrupt the pattern. Your kids, and even your spouse, will be better for it.


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