It's Not Just Husbands Who Struggle to Control Anger
- Friday, May 19, 2006
Dear Dr. David,
You have written about controlling men. But, what about angry, controlling women? I never hear much about women who hold grudges, are moody and get angry at the drop of a hat. I am married to a mean-spirited woman that I love when she is nice, and really dislike when she changes. She is quick to blame me for her problems. What can a man do who is married to a woman who destroys his personal things when mad, throws things and is threatening? She is insecure, jealous and accuses me of having affairs, and it isn’t true. Christian women are always portrayed as submissive and even-tempered, the "Proverbs 31" kind of woman. What do you have to say to so many of us men who are married to women who want to control us, have temper tantrums, and seem to have two or three different personalities.
I am glad you have written about angry wives, because you share about a serious problem in marriages today, a problem that is growing in awareness. The problems in your marriage can be explained in several possible ways—you will need to discern which most accurately describes your situation.
The first possible explanation is simply your wife has never learned how to "be angry and sin not," or to manage control of her tongue, as is emphasized in the book of James 3. As Christians, we are expected to mature, and that means learning how to "speak the truth in love." I so appreciate Ephesians 4: 29 which counsels us to "not let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs." No unwholesome word! None! Your wife may be very immature emotionally and spiritually, and needs counsel and accountability to do so.
The second possible explanation is that she is desperately trying to get your attention. While this in no way excuses her immature actions, she may be screaming for attention and consideration. Are you really listening to her? Does she feel like you "get it" in regards to her feelings and concerns in your marriage? If you’re unsure about the answer to that question, ask her if you’re tuned in to her needs. She’ll tell you. Pent-up anger, over time, must come out, like steam trapped in a teakettle. Give her a healthy outlet for her "steam" and join her in ridding your marriage of reasons for either of you to get so angry.
The third possibility, and most worrisome, is that your wife suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). While I certainly cannot make that diagnosis from your information, I can describe the symptoms for consideration. Some symptoms of BPD include:
1 Volatile moods and emotions
2 Easily triggered anger/ rage issues
3 Love or hate people, often vacillating back and forth between the two
4 Intense and stormy relationships
5 Poor sense of identity
6 Low self-esteem
The challenge now is to determine the exact nature of the problem. With each of the three possibilities, intervention is the key. You should not simply endure the struggle and hope the situation will improve. It won’t. Hoping and waiting only enables your wife to remain stuck with her problem. Firm, loving support and confrontation is the key.
In my book, When Trying To Change Him is Hurting You, I affirm the importance of taking complete measures to change troublesome circumstances. A little change is not enough. Let your wife know that she must receive professional help, perhaps with you. Review your circumstances, and take decisive action. Insist that she learn anger management skills; practice Ephesians 4: 29 living and talking; support her in receiving counseling to learn skills to manage her mood; encourage strategies for not overreacting to slights. Firmly inform her that violence, in any form, will not be tolerated.
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