7 Ways To Deal With An Angry Spouse

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Anger is a powerful emotion that can hurt the other person’s feelings if not kept under control. And handling an angry spouse can be all the more challenging? Situations at home can get difficult to deal with if one of the partners is angry and starts throwing temper tantrums and getting on the other person’s nerves. The anger might also lead them to lose their patience and say objectionable things to their partner, which can permanently damage the relationship. If you’re in such a situation, read this post to know about effective ways to deal with an angry husband/wife.

Signs That Your Spouse Has Anger Issues

If your partner is always ready to snap, making you feel like you are walking through a minefield, then they could be dealing with anger issues. Here are the signs suggesting that you’re living with one angry spouse.

  1. Only unhealthy anger is expressed: Like the many human emotions, anger cannot be suppressed or eliminated. It must be shown in a healthy way that does not involve hurting the other person physically or emotionally. But people with anger issues tend to let it out in an unhealthy way: they would get irritated over little things, shout, accuse, and sometimes give you the silent treatment.
People with anger issues let it out in an unhealthy way.

Image: iStock

  1. You feel depressed: Constantly facing heat and criticism is not an easy task. You could ignore their anger once or twice, but at some point in time, it will get to you. And when it does, it will leave you depressed and sad. You might be feeling that the love and affection towards your spouse are being replaced with hatred and resentment because of their temper tantrums.
  1. Intimacy fades away: When you are always walking on eggshells to avoid the wrath of your spouse, there is little space for you to be emotionally involved with them. You are so scared all the time that you refrain from sharing your dreams and desires with them. As the feeling of love fades, physical intimacy becomes a chore. If your spouse is the one always talking and making decisions impulsively, and you are always listening and walking away to avoid a fight, then there is an imbalance in your marriage.
  1. It starts to affect your kids: The effects of a partner’s uncontrolled anger can be worse on the children if you have any. Kids usually learn from their parents. When they see a parent shouting and throwing a fit, they start to believe that such behavior is the way to get things done their way. They could also become timid and introverted fearing loud voices and anger. Constantly being exposed to anger and ridicule would also bring about changes in their developmental patterns (1).
Kids could also become timid and introverted.

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  1. They blame it all on you: One of the most apparent signs of an angry spouse is that they use their anger to cover up their mistakes. For example, if you find something suggesting that your spouse was cheating on you and confront them with it, they could react by screaming at you about false accusations, leaving you either feeling guilty or terrified to bring that topic up again.

Dealing with an angry partner is not easy. But learning what triggers their temper could make dealing with them easier.

Why Does A Person Get Angry Over Small Things?

Can you relate to one or all the above signs in your relationship? Then the next step is to figure out why they get angry so often. Keep reading, and you’ll know.

  1. Hormonal changes: Sometimes, even the usually sweet and calm ones get irritated and temperamental suddenly due to hormonal changes. In men, low testosterone can cause heightened anger, whereas in women, low estrogen is the cause of mood swings (2) (3). Lifestyle factors, such as diet and sleep, can influence the levels of these hormonal.
  1. Increased stress levels: Stress because of work, or financial troubles or anything else, can make one frustrated and eventually angry. If your partner is almost always under pressure for whatever reason, then they could get irritated at small things.
  1. Unaddressed childhood issues: Aggression can also be the result of childhood trauma. If your spouse grew up in a harsh environment where they were not appreciated and valued, then they could become aggressive individuals trying to suppress those emotional wounds.
Aggression can be the result of childhood trauma.

Image: iStock

  1. Failures in life: Certain incidents in life such as infidelity, loss of a job, or infertility can make the partners angry and depressed. The fact that they were not able to succeed in life could also make them feel depressed and lonely. And all these negative emotions could be brought out in the form of anger.

Your spouse could be angry due to any of these reasons or others, and may not even know how their anger is affecting the people around them. So, before judging your partner and labeling them as moody or temperamental, try to understand what is making them angry and figure out ways to deal with them.

Ways To Deal With An Angry Spouse

  1. Never face anger with anger: Getting angry with an already angry spouse will only fuel their temperament and make things worse. As the saying goes, ‘An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.’ So, instead of ‘giving it back to your husband’, try to stay calm and give them time to calm down.

We know it is easier said than done. Your spouse’s angry words could be provoking, but try not to lose it. Count to ten or take deep breaths to calm yourself. If you can practice this for a month, you will be amazed by the changes it can bring in your spouse’s behavior.

  1. Set clear boundaries: To stay calm when your spouse is angry doesn’t mean you tolerate anything and everything. Set clear boundaries as to what you can tolerate, and let them know calmly whenever they are crossing boundaries. For example, when your spouse resorts to name-calling, then tell them in a calm voice that this is not acceptable. Setting boundaries is an effective way to keep your spouse’s anger in check. When they realize their mistake, chances are they will not repeat it.
Let them know calmly whenever they are crossing boundaries.

Image: iStock

  1. Choose on what to fight: An aggressive spouse will always look for an opportunity to get angry with you. The smart thing to do is not give them that chance. This doesn’t mean you agree to whatever they say, but pick your battles wisely. There are a few things where you can easily compromise, and a few you cannot. Discuss those non-negotiable issues and don’t dwell on every silly thing.
  1. Never tolerate disrespect: No matter how much you endure your spouse’s aggressive behavior, never tolerate disrespect. If you start tolerating this, then you are indirectly telling your spouse that they can get away with anything. Always take a stand if you feel that your partner is disrespecting you and let them know it is not okay. Use words like ‘this is not acceptable,’ or ’we can resume our discussion after you calm down’ and leave the room.
  1. Find out the real reason: If you feel that your spouse’s anger is due to pressure at work or some other reason, then try to get them to talk about it. Listening to their issues without judging them lets them know that you are there for them and they can trust you. If necessary, you can try and convince them to seek professional help on how to manage their anger better.
Try to get them to talk about it.

Image: iStock

  1. Focus on the good things: Your partner might get angry often, but they may also be loving and caring. Invest in those positive emotions, and try to nurture them. Pretty soon, you will start seeing them from a place of love and not hatred. Your spouse might have uncontrollable anger, but once they cool down if they apologize, then forgive them.
  1. Know when to leave: Unfortunately, you cannot always work things out with someone who is always angry. No matter how hard you try, their aggression may not seem to subside; it could even turn into physical abuse. If your spouse doesn’t see their aggression as an issue and refuses to seek help, then it is not on you to suffer. Walk away from things you cannot change.

When you have reached a saturation point, take a call, and do what is right for you and your kids.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What mental illness is associated with anger?

Borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder are some mental illnesses where extreme or recurrent anger may be seen (4).

2. What does the Bible say about dealing with an angry spouse?

“Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19-27), instructs Apostle James. God instructs one should learn how to express anger instead of lashing it out. Experiencing anger is not wrong, but having wrong thoughts, behavior, or reactions in response to your anger is condemned. The Bible teaches people that anger should be short-lived and should be dealt with in a Christ-like and Biblical manner. One should not sleep with their differences unresolved (5).

Occasional disagreements and disputes amongst married couples are normal. However, if it becomes chronic, frequent, and unmanageable, it can harm the family equation as well as have a negative impact on the kids. Accepting the problem is the first step toward becoming the best version of yourself. Learning tips and techniques for anger management is essential if one wants to manage their outbursts without hurting their spouse. Therapy or anger management sessions are some options for getting mental health support.

Infographic: How To Set Boundaries With An Angry Spouse?

Living with a person with anger issues can be challenging. An angry spouse can use anger to instill fear, gain control, and set authority in the relationship. It’s essential to set healthy boundaries in the relationship to ensure their behavior does not negatively affect you. Our infographic brings you steps that will help build boundaries with an angry spouse and safeguard your emotional health.

setting healthy boundaries with an angry spouse [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Marriages can be challenging when your spouse gets angry.
  • Sometimes, it’s difficult to make them move on from something that triggered their anger, so try different ways to deal with it.
  • Don not respond with anger as it may only make it worse for you.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Nastassia J.Hajal, et al.; Angry responses to infant challenges: parent, marital, and child genetic factors associated with harsh parenting; US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
2. Menelos L. Batrinos; Testosterone and aggressive behavior in man; US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
3. Esperanza Navardo-Pardo; Carol A.Holland; Antonio Cano; Sex hormones and healthy psychological aging in women; US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
4. Ephrem Fernandez and Sheri L Johnson; Anger in psychological disorders: Prevalence, presentation, etiology and prognostic implications; National Library Of Medicine
5. Dealing With Anger in Marriage; Cornerstone Marriage & Family Ministries
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