“I need a break for a couple days,” my wife told me. We had been fighting, and she said she was going to spend a few days at her mother’s house.
“Well, all you ever do is run from your problems!” I said angrily, which really wasn’t a helpful response, because it just made her angrier.
“And I’m taking the kids with me!” she shouted back.
We continued to fight, which led my wife to say that she’d be gone for a whole week, not just a couple days. In other words, I wouldn’t be able to see my kids for a week. That sent me into a fit of rage, and I did something I’m not proud of: I punched a hole straight though the bathroom door (making us lose our $500 deposit on the house in the process).
I have dealt with anger problems my whole life. I am slowly learning to control it and I’m still not perfect. But early in our marriage they were pretty bad. I have called my wife many names that I am not proud of. I am aware of my anger problems and I don’t know what it is, but when I start to get mad it becomes more difficult to think straight, and all the things I know I shouldn’t say just come out.
No woman deserves to be called names, and I have apologized to her many times when I’ve called her names. I apologize because I know that responding with anger, while it might feel good in the moment, only further drives us away from each other. Even after a while of apologizing, I think the apologies can begin to sound hollow to the person you are apologizing to, even though you really do mean it. It’s just one reason why I can’t let anger control me in my marriage.
All that being said, no matter how many times we have fought, and no matter how bad some of our fights have been, I have never put a hand on her. Because that is never okay, no matter what. And no matter how mad I get, I know that. No woman deserves to be called names, and no woman deserves to be hit. Period.
There are a couple ways I’ve learned to help control my anger. When you feel like the fight or argument has gone too far, or you feel like you’re about to lose your temper–just walk away. Many times I’ve just said, “I’m done,” and walked away so it didn’t escalate even more.
Another thing I’ve found helpful is that I bite my cheek when I start to get mad. In a way, it kind of reminds me to keep my mouth shut.
I’ve also learned that there is a difference between fighting and arguing. When you are fighting you lose track of what the conflict is and you’re just aiming to hurt the other person. You might insult their intelligence or say something to them with the intent of hurting their feelings, or even say something hurtful about their family.
By contrast, when you argue you stick to what the conflict is and you just state your point. Instead of insulting the person, you stick to the issues. And when you do state your points, I’ve found that it’s never a good idea to raise your voice, because that will just provoke a fight. Calmly making your points can be hard, but it’s always the better way.
It’s normal and healthy for a couple to argue. In fact, I’d say every couple on earth argues, and if there are any couples who say they don’t, they’re either lying or one of them has gotten used to being miserable in order to please the other person. Because all people are different in some way; we all have different point of views. And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s just a matter of working through those differences in a healthy way.
My wife did leave to spend some time at her mom’s house, and after being alone for a week and having that time to think, I realized how much of an ass I was for putting a hole in a perfectly good door and how much of a jerk I was for the mean things I said to the one person in this world that I’m supposed to care the most for (besides my kids of course–they’re the most important). So, when my wife returned home, I told her that I was sorry for the things I said. For her part, she realized what she did to me by taking the kids for a week, and after awhile of talking she apologized to me. I think we both learned from that fight.
So take it from a fellow person who struggles with anger: think before you speak or act. Because nothing is worth putting true love at risk.
Flickr/ Jan Balaz