The Consequences of Anger: Can My Marriage Survive?
Q: For years my wife told me I needed to get help for my anger, but I didn’t listen. I just got angrier. Finally she gave up and moved out, which opened my eyes. Since then I have gone to counseling and taken an anger management course and I have never felt better in my life. The problem is my wife won’t come home. How do I show her the changes I’ve made in myself when she won’t give me the chance? I have thanked her numerous times for opening my eyes and have begged her for a second chance, but she won’t respond. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Dr. E says: Don’t give up! This is a major wake-up call for you, and I commend you for dealing with your issues. Continue to focus on becoming the man of honor God has called you to be.
She is Fearful
If you consistently follow through on your commitment to keep your anger under control, I believe your wife will soften.
Right now she is skeptical because she fears this is too brief of a good thing. In effect she is saying, “Don’t mess with my emotions.” She is watching to see if she can believe the changes in you. See this as rooted in her fears as a result of being hurt over and over in the past. Your actions will speak louder than words right now.
Many women fear their husband’s anger, and as a result, close off emotionally from him. This will take time, so you will need to be patient. Many people give up too soon.
Patience Speaks Volumes
One good rule of thumb is to expect this to take one month of the new behavior for every year of the old. In other words, if you have been an angry husband for 10 years, expect this to take 10 months of consistent new behavior before she believes the change in you is real. That may sound like a long time, but when you look at an entire lifetime, we all know how quickly the months go by.
Is your marriage worth this effort and time?
If you have not apologized to your wife for hurting her, do so in a letter or email. But do not push her. Go quiet and love her unconditionally as best you can from a distance.
Again, your patience will speak volumes to her.
Consistent Unconditional Love
Are there any guarantees that she will come back? No. But if anything will win her back, your consistent, unconditional love will. The most effective way to motivate your wife is by meeting her deepest need for love. You can do this quietly and without fanfare.
In my book, Love & Respect, I have a section entitled COUPLE: How to Spell Love to Your Wife. Here I explain a woman’s deepest need for love and how to communicate love to her in a way that she understands. I believe this will help you to understand her heart, beneath all of her fears.
Don’t Give Up Too Soon
This requires you to be the mature one and put your own needs aside for a while. But I believe you will turn the corner on this, if your wife has good will. She will soften in time, but the key is not to give up too soon.