Ask Dr. Elia: Living with anger

Dear Dr. Elia,

My husband easily gets angry at me or the kids. Our lives are stressful with four active children (16, 14, 12 and 10), but on nights when he is not home, our lives are just fine. On nights when he is home, they usually fall apart! I work part time and teach one night a week, which really stresses me out because I know it will be awful when I get home. I even stepped down from a full time job so I could be home (he works from the home) in the afternoons because every afternoon he would just yell at the kids. I know he loves them but he has some strange sense of respect that I don't understand. He is so big into respect which was what his father was into. If my son yells out or says something in an angry tone, he flies off the handle and rather than giving him time to cool off, he just keeps on him. His anger is explosive, although I don't think he will hurt anyone physically. I try to tell him to relax, and that it is having a significant impact on our kids. He doesn't see it that way as I think this was how he was raised. I try to delicately steer him away but he just says I am interfering, especially when he is mad at the kids. It is constant and I am really tired of it. It is almost as if his way of managing stress is to berate and belittle us. I know he is a good person, but my children worry he will yell when friends are over so they always ask me to "watch dad". My boys ( I have two girls and two boys) self-esteem is in the tubes. I don't know what to do anymore. Any ideas?

Living with anger

Dear Living with anger,

It is quite unfortunate that the situation in your home is also very common in many other homes: you are far from being alone in your predicament. I have seen out-of-control anger annihilate many marriages and families over the years. The hurt caused to spouses and children cannot be erased or forgotten, even if it's forgiven. Your husband is doing himself, you, and your kids a major disservice by not containing his angry feelings. I don't know of a single human being that doesn't experience stress in today's society, but stress management and, more specifically, anger management courses are thriving industries around the country. If your husband was willing to learn different ways of coping, all he would have to do was pick up the phone. Unfortunately, most participants who attend these classes are mandated by court; very few people who have issues with anger sign up for these courses voluntarily.

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