Abusive Behavior – Part 2 of 2 – Men Who Rage, Women Who Love Them

Abusive Behavior(Read Part 1, here.)

Are you the husband who rages at his wife?  

Do you yell and fly off the handle when you are stressed?  

Do you curse at your family and call them names?

If you are, I’m worried about you, because I can see the future.  

Years of working with women like your wife have shown me the cycle of what happens almost every single time.  

It usually ends with you being served divorce papers, or your wife shutting down and leaving the marriage physically or emotionally.  

What worries me is that you are most likely justifying your abusive behavior.  

Either because you know your wife can ‘give as good as she gets,’ or because you aren’t nearly as loud or angry or mean as one of your parents, so you tell yourself you are doing ok.  

I really hope you are listening to me now because it is NOT ok.  

I’m writing this because I’m so tired of seeing the damage this kind of anger is doing to families.  I promise you this isn’t going to end well for you.  I can only hope you are really listening to me.  

And here’s the thing: if you are like most of the men I see, you really aren’t a bad guy.  You probably really have turned down all the anger from what you grew up experiencing, and so it seems more acceptable to you.  

But deep down, I know you feel something isn’t right.  

You may feel guilty about the last fight for a day, but then you begin to minimize the damage.  

After all, today everyone seems to have gotten over it, so it must not be too bad.  Your hurtful words and intimidation are leaving deep emotional scars that unfortunately for you aren’t visible.

One woman recently told me she wished her husband actually physically hit her instead of raging because then there would be proof of his abusive behavior.  

There would be no way to spin his way out of it either.  

And she could see the marks and know without a doubt that she was experiencing abuse and it wasn’t all in her head.

You may believe you are doing ok, but if your spouse is intimidated, you are in trouble. 

Your marriage is in trouble.  

Marriages can survive anything except the loss of safety and security.  

If your spouse feels intimidated, she feels unsafe. Period.

Abusive Behavior: it doesn’t have to look like raging.  

It can be intense conversations where you demand your spouse give you something she is unwilling or unable to provide, or there is a threat.  

Most of the times, I eventually get to meet and work with guys like you.  

Here is what I’ve discovered.  Without exception, you are very charming and witty.  

You often appear to be very easy going but in fact, have a very short fuse.  You are often not trying to be mean or controlling, but you have a lot of fear or anxiety, and you want your spouse to relieve the pressure you feel.  

So you make demands, lose your cool, or threaten divorce if you don’t get what you need.

Your wife is worried about your relationship.

She wants so much to feel close to you, but she cannot allow herself to let her guard down. 

You may not have even noticed she is guarded.  

That’s not entirely your lack of sensitivity.  Your wife is used to keeping the peace.  

She doesn’t want you to know how unhappy she really is because she doesn’t want to hurt you.  But trust me on this…she is unhappy.  And she will struggle with these feelings for years.  

Your kids see your angry outbursts, but they may never let you know.  

They are afraid of you too.

Your anger keeps everyone that experiences it at a safe distance.  

Your home should be the safest place in the world for your wife and kids.  

If it isn’t, you aren’t doing your job well enough.  

Raging at your family can feel powerful and good.  Even if you feel like a jerk afterward, there is something very indulgent about letting loose.  

I’m trying to help you see that your behavior has a price tag, and it is probably way more than you are willing to pay.  

If you knew what was coming.  

If you could see what I see.  

So wake up!  Your family is not your emotional punching bag.  

Learn how to control your anger.  Learn what triggers you to fly off the handle and do whatever it takes to stop.  

Invest in counseling for yourself and for your marriage.  You owe that to your family.  If you don’t do this work, your kids will be doing it for years.  You are creating a legacy that will carry on for generations.  

At The Marriage Place, we can help both of you understand just how toxic this dynamic is to both of you and we can help you stop.  

We can show you how to feel safe and cherished with each other again.  

Call us at 972-441-4432 or contact us here.  

PS. Stay tuned for a future post about abusive women and the husbands who love them. We know it works both ways.

Men: The Rules of Marriage Have Changed

Woman reading a marriage almanac, saving her marriageYou’ve suddenly found yourself being told by your wife that your marriage is over. She doesn’t love you anymore. You are stunned. You still love her very much and you thought things were fine.  Yes, you have had your arguments but you had no idea she would consider it so bad she would want to end the marriage.  How did this happen?  Why so suddenly?

You have most likely been cruising along in a companion marriage.  You and your wife do things together, raising kids and enjoying some of the same activities.  You also have some great history together and your sex life is satisfactory too – at least from your perspective.  Your marriage, as it is, meets your needs just fine.  You could go on like this for the next 50 years! The problem is your wife cannot.  It is not what your wife wants or needs out of the relationship.

When your wife married you she believed that she had found the one man with whom she could share her heart, her dreams, and her feelings.  She expected to open her heart and have you listen, accept and protect her feelings.  She believed she could be vulnerable to you and feel safe and cherished. She was expecting marital intimacy; a much deeper form of relationship than a companionship marriage.  We learn from Terrence Real in his new book, The New Rules of Marriage that there are five areas of intimacy:

Intellectual: The mutual sharing of ideas in respectful, nonjudgmental ways.

Emotional: The expression of one’s fears, joys, sadness, anger, etc. and the receiving of each other’s feelings with respect and compassion-without disqualifying, attacking or withdrawing.

Physical: The active participation in mutual activities.  Support in each other’s physical care, physical nurture and affection.

Sexual: Honoring the mutuality of sex. Being open to your partner’s desires without doing something you don’t want to do.  Being open to your own desires and expressing them.

Spiritual: The sharing of a spiritual life, however defined.

These are the foundation of a much deeper relationship experience.  Let’s be honest. Very few of us had marital intimacy modeled for us in our parents’ marriage. Those were usually traditional patriarchal marriages. A husband was doing all he needed to do if he was a good provider, kind to his wife and children, engaged in raising his children and not prone to excessive drink or a violent temper.  This was the model that shaped our image of a “good marriage” and therefore most of us rock along blissfully ignorant of the volcanic eruption that awaits us.  But times have changed now and our wives need and expect something different than our moms and grandmoms did.

Our wives need something more but they aren’t always successful in communicating those needs.  They may try unsuccessfully or they may assume we already know.  There are several myths regarding marriage to which many wives subscribe:

– If you truly loved me, you’d know what I need.  I shouldn’t have to tell you.

– If I have to explain it to you and ask for it, it cheapens the act.

– My body language and moods should have made my needs clear to you.

When our wives believe these myths they become very frustrated with our bone-headed inability to get the message, resulting in an escalation in their attempts to communicate with us.  They stop hoping we will figure it out and they move on to trying to control us with demands.  They are angry and fearful they are trapped in a marriage in which they cannot be happy.  To us husbands, this often comes across as an illogical, exaggerated, unfair attack.  We become defensive, feel unappreciated, and usually respond by dismissing or minimizing our wife’s statements as untrue, irrational, and purely emotional.

Some of us are so uncomfortable with talking about our feelings we simply shut down and refuse to participate. We go into our emotional man cave and become even more emotionally unavailable.  We may say we agree and comply with orders for change, but our motive is simply to end the uncomfortable argument.  Others of us respond with our logical arguments as to why our wife’s “attack” is without merit.  We find ourselves trapped in circular arguments over “who is right” and our marriage becomes distant and strained.

At some point many wives simply give up the struggle to communicate. They become resigned and stop trying to get their needs met in the relationship. In our parent’s generation, wives just accepted this as the nature of marriage and instead would look to meet their needs through their children and friendships with other women.  However in today’s world, women are no longer willing to settle for a companionship marriage!  They demand their needs be met and they are empowered by our culture to leave the marriage if it’s not satisfying those needs.  Divorce is no longer looked down upon and “If you are unhappy, then leave!” is the norm.  Some wives will try to endure the unhappy relationship for a time, perhaps until the children are older.  Others will take part in emotional or physical affairs to get their intimacy needs met.  All of them will plod on until the day when their building volcano of resentment explodes and you hear these words: “I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore”, “I’ve never loved you” or “My love for you has died and I know I can never get it back”.  And your world shatters.

What do you do now?  We do not believe that marriages have to end at this point and we’ve helped many couples in this exact situation save their relationship.  We would like to join you in an attempt to “Divorce your Marriage, Not your Spouse”, a blog by Kim Bowen that I recommend you read next.