June 08, 2004
am a male with an anger problem of the extremely short fuse syndrome. I try
not to be abusive (not 100% - anger wins over logic and reasoning many
times), am aware of it after the fact (and most times apologetic), but it
is still a problem. Anger management training can
help you very, very much!
my current wife and 5 weeks after being together and getting the words "I
need my own space" (absolute quote), I immediately became angry because I
thought I was getting dumped. Wow! See how you
jumped to a conclusion? Without even checking it out with her! Anger
management addresses this issue. I very immediately got angry and
told her to "Get the ____ out" and she did. When I saw her a few days
later, she was actually terrified of me (big miscommunication). I finally
got over that one but there have been many since (sometimes because of
simple miscommunication - Don’t worry, I’m not pushing this all off, just
putting it into perspective!). I understand.
now one last anger incident has put us in the following position: She says
that unless I go get counseling, it’s over. I can handle that and am
totally willing to go (in fact I welcome it - it is time).
Excellent! But when I said to her that I
thought she also needs to go because of her own anger (some of it I think
looks like victim anger), she responded "No, YOU need to go to counseling"
because her rationale is that I am the only one who makes her angry.
Well, nobody "makes" anybody else angry, but
that's besides the point. But why the need to not be the only one with "the
When I have brought up incidents of her past (not to use them against her
but to point out that the other incidents have had absolutely nothing to do
with me, that her anger was also there before me), I get nothing but anger.
attempted to talk to her the other day without anger (I succeeded - she
didn’t), and she ended up getting angry, mostly because she now has this
fixation that unless I admit that everything is my fault, that this will
not work. Well, I don't know about "fault," but I
do know that you have to take responsibility for your short fuse. No matter
what she did to engage you, it was your fuse that blew. Her anger is
less "impressive." Her attitude doesn't surprise me given what you're
describing. Keep in mind it is your poor control of your "short fuse" anger
that sparked the issues you guys are having. Her anger is reactive to
yours, and your issue is more immediate.
also tried to point out to her that there are two of us and to immediately
make an all encompassing remark like that isn’t going to solve anything
(the ship sinks and she will still be arguing about who’s fault it was
instead of trying to solve the problem). That's
her problem; I bet she's trying to be "heard." I also tried to
explain to her calmly that if indeed my anger is causing hers, then why is
she angry now when I’m not at all? Just because
you are not exploding now, why wouldn't you expect her to be angry over
your past together? Nobody said it was right, I'd be surprised if she
tried to point out that she has been extremely angry with others (she was
sexually abused as a child and has not spoken to or seen her Mother or
Father and probably will never again - she says because of their anger - 2
former husbands - one eviction after she punched her roommate (a gay guy),
and she vandalized her bosses’ car when she was angry). She defends each of
the actions that I’ve pointed out with arguments that are compelling but
doesn’t ever admit any responsibility. You're
trying to tell me that her rage is as "bad" as yours: After all, you're not
the only one! All her anger is the result of someone else. That
makes it difficult to get anywhere. Because of my own anger, am I now up a
creek without a paddle? Yes, because of your
own anger, you are up a creek without a paddle. But you don't have to
be. Keep reading. Yes, I’m aware that this sounds like the abuser
turning the tables, but it’s not. I’m honestly looking for help.
I know you are. Thanks, Ted
Dear Ted, I'm not suggesting that your wife has no issues, clearly she
does, and the expression of her anger could use some help. But, I am
frankly much more concerned with your tendency to - yes - turn the tables.
Even though I know you're not intentionally doing any of this, and I know
you have good reasons, I promise you, the onus is on you! By
insisting she get help with her anger, you're telling her, "I'm not the
only problem here!" And, of course you're not! But the way you are going
about handling your marital problems by insisting she needs help with her
anger as well is not conducive to dealing with your own issues!
Besides, her issues have not been the explosive ones in this relationship.
Yes, your anger is reminding her of all she's been through, and yes it does
make her feel both angry and frustrated, but fix your problem first. Let's
see where she goes once you're well under way. In helping yourSelf, you not
only help you, you help her.
So, while you are not "wrong" in suggesting she get help, regardless of
what her issues are, you need to care about your own issues more. Much
more. Stop trying to level the playing field. Take care of your anger,
then see where hers goes. My guess is that while she will be less angry,
she will still probably need some help.
So, go for help and simply accept (yes, accept) that this is about you.
Get her out of the equation because putting her in it only distracts you
from what you need to do. Stop avoiding responsibility by saying, "Yes,
I'll get help, but this is your problem too, and here's why..." Taking her
out of the equation and dealing with the emotional fallout you are certain
to experience in doing so is a big part of your own recovery!
So, good for you for agreeing that you need help. Do what you have to do
and don't worry about your wife. Try to find a therapist who understands
"anger management issues." There are specialized techniques that work very
well in problems like yours, that would take much longer to deal with in
ordinary "talk therapy."
Just in case you want to browse some
I'll check in with you next week, so please feel free to post. Go for it!
Gang, Any comments for Ted? Even if this one hits too close to home,
please be constructive. Also, in posting, please press "Submit" just once -
and wait! Or, press
here to read the posts without posting.