It’s no secret that many people are under a lot of stress lately. When we’re feeling stressed out by external factors, many of us have a tendency to take it out on people who are close to us. If you’ve noticed that your husband seems more irritable lately, angered by seemingly small things, you’re undoubtedly frustrated and maybe even hurt.
So, how can you work with your partner to find a solution? And at what point does this behavior become a red flag for something more serious? In this article, we hope to provide some helpful information, whether this behavior is a sign that you need to get away, or that your partner simply needs support.
His Attitude Is Not Your Fault
When people feel frustrated and unhappy with their circumstances, they are more likely to have a short temper. That’s not anything to do with you. It’s more to do with your husband’s outlook on himself and his life.
Living with another person and committing to spending your life with them means navigating the moods and habits of someone. Some people do have shorter fuses than others, and some things that don’t bother you will bother them. That’s natural.
When It Goes Beyond Harmless Irritation
Your partner cussing out someone who cuts them off in traffic, or coming home with a list of grievances from work each day is one thing. Frequent irritability that never turns violent or personally hurtful is one thing. If that describes your situation, you may want to skip ahead to this section. However, your partner making you feel afraid for your personal safety or the safety of any children in the household is quite another thing.
Domestic abuse is sadly common (estimated to happen in up to 20% of all marriages) and can be subtle at first. Abusers often gradually increase their mistreatment of their partners, sometimes starting out as attentive and loving spouses who keep pushing boundaries until suddenly, you’re trapped in a dangerous situation. By grooming you to accept negative behavior, your baseline for what is acceptable treatment gets lower and you start to see low-level abuse as normal.
Here are a few signs that your relationship could be toxic.
You Constantly Feel Anxious
If your partner’s unpredictable moods have you in a permanent state of anxiety, that’s a bad sign. You shouldn’t need to live your life worried that any careless word might set off your husband’s anger. When a feeling of dread or fear fills you when you see your partner or come home at the end of the day, that’s a sign that something unhealthy is happening in your relationship.
You Can’t Set Boundaries
Being able to tell your partner when you need some alone time is important. It’s also important to feel free to tell them if something they do makes you uncomfortable.
You should be able to express yourself if you don’t like the way they touch you or speak to you. You also shouldn’t feel unable to ask them to do simple tasks, for example, “pick up your socks, don’t just drop them next to the basket,” shouldn’t trigger a huge argument or end with you feeling guilty.
Their Anger Can Be Violent
Violence doesn’t necessarily mean that they physically hit you. If they do use physical violence against you, you should get help immediately and remove yourself from the situation. Sometimes violent anger can also manifest in your partner breaking or hitting objects or throwing things. It can also be in the way they speak to you.
They Speak to You in a Hurtful Way
Language can be violent too. If your partner uses hurtful and derogatory language that shames and belittles you, that is unacceptable. Language that has the intention of hurting you and makes you feel worthless is extremely damaging and is a common tool of abusers. The goal is to make you feel like you’re not good enough. They can put the responsibility for their anger and emotional problems on you, making you feel guilty. They may also make you feel like your flaws make you unloveable by anyone but them.
They Isolate You
A big sign of toxicity in a relationship is that your partner isolates you. Of course, your husband may not become best friends with all of your friends or family. That’s fine. But if they start insisting that you give up your friends and family, that is a red flag. By making themselves your only close social connection, they limit your ability to find help and support. This makes you entirely dependent on them and makes it much harder for you to ever leave them.
This can extend to them getting jealous if you spend time away from them, perhaps accusing you of infidelity, or growing angry if you mention male friends or co-workers. They might also violate your privacy by insisting on having constant access to your phone or computer.
They Make You Financially Dependent on Them
Most couples will have joint accounts and share finances to some degree out of convenience. Pooling your money to pay for family expenses like rent, utilities, and childcare expenses is normal. However, if your partner insists on having full access to any money you earn that can be a problem. If you aren’t working, perhaps staying home due to employment issues or to care for children, your partner might restrict your access to family money.
Some women have shared stories of partners who insisted they pay for all their medical expenses during pregnancy, or split all finances 50/50, despite earning less money due to various issues like needing to take time off late in their pregnancy and afterward, to care for their child and heal. Either way, they are ensuring you don’t have access to money and must depend on them for even your most basic needs.
If the situations above are all too familiar to you, you should get help. Because abusive situations typically encompass so much more than hitting someone, getting out of the relationship can be extremely difficult. If your partner has eroded your relationships with friends and family and prevented you from having any money of your own, you may feel like you have nowhere to go.
If you can save some money or make contact with sympathetic friends, that’s a good place to start. But even if those avenues aren’t open to you, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They offer confidential help and can provide you with resources to help you and any children in your family get out of this dangerous situation.
NDVH is full of expert advice to help you recognize signs of abuse and make a plan to keep yourself safe. They can refer you to womens’ shelters and get you legal help as well.
Your partner having a negative attitude and being constantly irritated by small inconveniences isn’t always a sign of an abuser. If the above information doesn’t reflect your experiences in your relationship, you may be looking for some practical ways to help your husband improve his outlook and improve your relationship.
Being able to communicate openly and honestly with your partner is essential to having a successful marriage. If you feel afraid of expressing yourself to your husband, that’s a bad sign. If you haven’t let him know how his anger makes you feel, perhaps it’s time.
Timing is important. If your husband is irritated already, it may be better to wait until the moment has passed before speaking to him. Later, when he’s calm, you can bring up the subject, letting him know that you’ve noticed that he seems angry a lot lately.
Approaching the topic from the perspective of trying to help, not accuse, will make him feel more able to open up. Unfortunately, men are often discouraged from talking about their feelings, and getting angry may be one of the only emotions a man feels he is able to express. Sometimes they feel safer releasing anger than admitting it stems from fear, depression, and even grief.
Even after you let your husband know that his behavior bothers you, he might have a hard time opening up and developing the awareness to correct this behavior. If you want to encourage him to feel safe and become more emotionally expressive, you need to gradually build that trust over time.
Try to avoid getting angry with him if his progress doesn’t happen as quickly as you hoped. Getting angry and yelling at someone who is also upset, will only escalate things and can result in a shouting match and some hurt feelings.
You’re only human, so it’s natural that you may get angry too. Instead of trying to hash things out when emotions are running high, walk away. Giving each other space to cool down and reflect on feelings and what triggered your negative emotions will help you be better prepared to analyze the underlying issues and make progress.
If the reasons behind your husband’s anger and negativity are due to depression, anxiety, or past trauma, therapy can be a valuable resource. Some people have a mental block when it comes to therapy, thinking it might be a sign of weakness or that they have failed in some way. But really, it just means that they are dedicated to improving their lives.
Getting help is a sign that you love yourself and the people around you. The brain is an organ just like any other and sometimes it gets sick. You can’t just ignore or will-away a broken leg, you need the help of a trained doctor. It’s the same with mental and emotional imbalances.
Of course, mental health resources can be expensive, making them cost-prohibitive to many people who need them. Fortunately, there are resources available. It may be worthwhile to look into your insurance plan. Some mental health treatments may actually be covered, at least in part.
There are also organizations like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that help people get the help they need even if they can’t afford therapy through traditional means. Apps like Better Help and Talk Space provide inexpensive access to mental health professionals on your own time, without having to go into an office. These services have monthly subscription plans and accept some forms of insurance to reduce the cost.
Everyone Deserves Healthy Relationships
We all carry emotional baggage with us, but that doesn’t mean you should accept behavior that is frightening or abusive. If your partner’s anger crosses the line over to toxic behavior, it’s likely time to get out of that relationship and protect yourself. Ultimately, it’s not your responsibility to fix them and their mental health issues are not your fault.
In an otherwise healthy relationship, there are ways you can give your partner support and get them the help they need to cope with the underlying issues that cause them to feel angry too often. In the end, though, it’s still up to them to do the work and make the changes to live a happier healthier life. Make sure that you don’t neglect yourself by spending all your energy on them. You deserve to be happy too.