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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I deal with husbands anger and nasty behaviour?

    He's often easily upset / angered and often calls me names.

    He holds grudges and doesn't work through past issues and bad experiences.

    I feel I am doing something wrong.

    I want to help him and my marriage, but not sure how.

    This behaviour is making me feel anxious, unwanted, stressed and insecure?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1




    I am a Melbourne Relationship Counsellor and Family Lawyer who is skilful in helping people get out of the pain of relationship distress and create … View Profile

    It sounds like you are in a very difficult position. I suggest getting some support for yourself so that you can deal with the effects of the relationship and set some boundaries. Would he be open to seeing a Relationship Counsellor? Couples counselling could provide a safe space for you to both discuss your feelings and look at the patterns in your relationship. Having a third person there who is neutral and non-judgemental can really assist in moving you from a stuck place and in teaching you both skills and tools to help with the relationship. You cannot change another person. However, counselling can give you lots of new skills to help your marriage. All the best.

  • 2




    With a passion to see people move forward and break free from the barriers holding them back, Grant is a highly experienced counsellor with over … View Profile

    It certainly sounds like you are in a difficult position, on one hand you are struggling with your husbands put downs and blame but you are also wanting to help him and build your marriage. There are a couple of things I would suggest you consider;

    1. listen to your gut and make your safety your number one priority. From my experience working with many men and couples your husband's behaviour is bordering on abusive. Whatever is going on for him, he is dumping it on you and I would certainly classify name calling as a form of abuse. It will mostly likely get worse unless he decides to get help so if you feel unsafe you need to take actions to remain safe. Have a think now about what you can do if you feel unsafe. 
    2. Have a Plan Even if you feel ok now you need to have a plan in case it gets worse quickly. That may involve keeping a bag at a friends or parents, having someone you can text/call in an emergency. You may never need it but if you do you will be grateful. 
    3. Talk to your husband in the good times - when things are going ok try mentioning to your husband your concerns about your relationship, I'd avoid blaming him, talk in the general about the distance becoming between you, how you miss the closeness you had when you first met etc - ask him how he's finding things and if he is feeling similarly suggest . . . . “perhaps we should get some help, see a counsellor so we can get back to how we were?” 
    4. Get Support - often men are slow to get help (I took 3 months to see a doctor about a broken bone in my hand), especially in relationships so don't wait until he is ready, you need to get support for yourself now - have a look and see if there are some women's groups meeting or see a counseloor yourself if you are able. If you have a friend/family member you can trust, open up to them - firstly ask them for permission and check they will hold your confidence eg “Mary there's something going on for me I want to talk about and I'm wondering if I talk with you about it?”  if she says yes then say “It is personal and I need to know that you will treat everything I say as confidential and that you won't mention it to anyone else, can you do that?”  It might sound formal but it is important to get her agreement and commitment to confidentiality.
    5. Difference between Relationship issues and Abuse issues- before you can deal with the relationship issues your husband needs to deal with his anger issues, why? Because if you start dealing with relationship issues he might get more angry which will be worse for you and erode your relationship further. So if you do manage to get him along to a counsellor make sure you see one who is experienced in working with abusive men. This might sound like I'm coming on a bit strong but as a counsellor the last thing I'd want to do is create a space for you to open up and be vulnerable and have you go home and your husband use that to further hurt you when he is angry. I'd be looking at working with you and him but focussing on creating higher levels of trust and safety before we dealt with the core relationship issues.
    6. Seek out positive affirming peope - often when there is abuse in relationships women's confidence erodes. They question and blame themselves for the deteriorating realtionship and their husband's unhappieness - as you state you are already doing. So you need to be hanging around people who like you and affirm you, people who will tell you . . ."don't be silly, of course you're not stupid'. People who bring out the best in you. When you feel down and don't want to go out you need to phone these people up and pop over and see them. You don't need to tell them details, you can let them know you are facing a few struggles at the moment and you appreciate their support. Don't isolate yourself . . . Don't isolate yourself . . . Don't isolate yourself . . . Don't isolate yourself . . . get the point!
    I hope this helps, stay strong, stay positive and believe in yourself.

    All the best


  • 4


    Mariana Trapera

    Counsellor, Psychotherapist

    Drawing on a variety of therapeutic frameworks and experience to best meet your needs, my sessions are warm and interactive. In a safe and confidential … View Profile

    Reaching out to find a way to cope with your husband's anger and name-calling as well as your own reactions, anxiety and insecurities, is the first step.

    Though you do not have control over what he does or say, you can approach your marriage and his behaviour in a different way, with counselling support and guidance. Intimate relationships are often times frustrating and challenging, with each partner bringing to the table their own 'issues' that usually need individual attention and care.

    My suggestion is to find an empathic therapist who you can share your concerns with, learn some anxiety reducing and new coping skills, and in the process, these may have a flow-on effect to your husband.

    All the very best for your efforts to improve your marriage and life.

  • 4


    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    Some excellent suggestions made here by others. I agree with Grant - some of the behaviour you are describing may be bordering on abusive, and it is your husband's responsibility to work on those. However, it may be useful to attend couples counselling together, as long as you feel you can speak freely to your husband about your concerns without fear of how he may retaliate. If you are confident that you can do that, then relationship counselling may be a space where your husband can have an opportunity to talk about what is going on for him, to understand that the way he is coping with that is having a negative impact on you, and to develop tools for dealing with these things in a way that doesn't damage your relationship. If you are not confident that you could speak freely to your husband without worrying that he may be abusive, then - as Grant has pointed out - it is important that you do NOT seek out relationship counselling. Individual counselling may be a space where you can get the support you need to work out what is best for you, and what changes you may need to make in order to have these needs met. All the best.

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