Angry Outbursts: How Do I Respond?

How do I respond to my husband’s angry outbursts? He swears, yells, and becomes destructive.

No one deserves to put up with anger like that from a spouse–be it husband or wife. It’s lethal to your marriage, and toxic to you and your family. A home environment like you’re describing is only going to escalate in intensity and severity unless you’re able to set some boundaries and get help.

Sure, everyone has times when they lose touch with reality, let their emotions get the better of them, and fly off the handle. But when a situation moves from a one-time blow-up into a recurring problem with anger and aggression, you and your kids are in dangerous territory.

In today’s video, we’re discussing what to do if your spouse has destructive anger issues.

If your spouse rages at you and becomes destructive, it’s important that you remove yourself from the home. You’re in danger as long as you’re sharing a space with someone who erupts with uncontrolled anger. If you have the option to simply remove yourself from the same room as your spouse during the outburst, do that; but you may find that you have to leave the house completely until your spouse gets this issue under control.

When you confront your spouse about his/her behavior, don’t be condemning or blaming. Be gently honest; let them know you don’t feel safe, and you need to go until things are different. You can let your spouse know that you’ll come back when you can have a rational conversation, and you don’t intend to disconnect or to leave the marriage. Tell them they have to learn to control their anger and provide you with a safe place to live before you can return.

If you have children in the house, your top priority is to protect them from your spouse’s angry displays. You don’t want this kind of behavior modeled for the kids, so you must take them with you when you exit the home. Continuing to expose the kids to your spouse’s rage ensures the kids will suffer from observing the abuse that’s happening in your home, if they’re not being abused themselves.

In order to set a proper boundary and motivate your spouse to change his/her behavior, you must provide consequences for the destructive behaviors. It’s very difficult to be motivated to change if a person hasn’t been given clear consequences. We hope that your spouse will understand that his/her behavior has been destructive, and will get the necessary help to get healthy and be safe for you again.

For now, focus on getting out, setting those boundaries and consequences for your spouse, and protecting yourself and your kids.

Have you dealt with a spouse who had rage problems, or have you dealt with those issues yourself? How did you address them? Were they resolved? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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18 Comments

  • Jenn says:

    I dealt with a spouse who had anger outbursts, including destructive tendencies. For too long. He was irrational and setting boundaries of leaving the house when he was raging did nothing, except to lengthen the time he punished me afterward with the silent treatment. From the earliest red flags to the last 2-3 week period of him destroying my things when I left during his rage, then his ignoring me and drinking even more heavily, I tried, with God’s help, to make things work for 20 years. By the time I left (and God released me), there were very few pieces of me left.
    Praise God- He kept me safe through the divorce process and then blessed me with a loving, kind husband and a bonus stepson!

  • Jennifer says:

    I’m married to my husband for 19 years together 21. He has angry yelling outbursts from usually something stupid. It can be months until one happens. Our oldest daughter is in her 20’s has her own place. She also has bipolar so when he does this she tells right back and sometimes gets personal. The last one happened last night when my oldest and her boyfriend were here. As he was yelling and daughter yelling back he then yelled at boyfriend who stood up for my daughter. Later last night he stated he knew he overreacted and has now ruined Christmas. It is my oldest daughter birthday to and she wont come over now.
    But even as he says this he starts blaming everyone else on his miscommunication of understanding what was going on. And never apologizes, we think he has PTSD and depression but wont get help.
    Then blames me stating I took their sides when they were growing up. Mind you he does not treat his son this way from previous marriage. Sorry so long just trying to find help

  • Micki says:

    My husband of thirty five years has anger outburst with yelling, screaming, hurling insults, name calling and 95% of the time it is over something that is absolutely nothing. He says I have a certain look on my face, or I’ve said something that I did not say. He has been this way since I met him but in about the last seven years it has gone to violence with physical and emotional abuse towards me. I divorced him 2 years ago, stupid.y took him back and I just got him out of our house again. I cannot go back to it, I’ve always loved him but I had to make a decision to either live with him like that or not. I’ve chosen not. It is clear he will not get help or change. My children are grown now and still very affected by his behavior. I hate it that they went thru it.

    • Katherine says:

      I don’t know what to do… but it seems if they have these angry outbursts they always claim it’s not their fault… in my instance they claim it’s something I did made them angry and then want to talk… I stupidly open my mouth to talk ab it and of course what they do is play word games… and make it seem like they didn’t say what they just admitted about it… gaslighting… and then… when you said they are doing something to hurt the marriage or hurt you they say..: here we go again… so I ask what does that mean.. their respond. I am not going to let you get away with this.. this claiming our marriage is falling apart… I never said that…. I said you were hurting our marriage… I said you are attacking and hurting me::: but not grttinf away with It that is scary :-/

    • Jess says:

      I feel your pain. I truly think I’ve left and took my husband back 150 times over his out of control anger issues. Been with him for 21 years and this is the last time. I made the decision to not want that life no more. The anger was over meaningless things and I never understand to this day why he was that way but never again. He always said he would change but it doesn’t, it just gets worse.

      • RBrown says:

        I am just starting this exact journey right now. I’m trying to get things in order so I can start packing as time is short; he will be served next week and I have to be out before then. I’ve been married to him for 22 years together 25. This nightmare started 5 or 6 years ago and has escalated to the point of blue hot dangerous! It’s not living! I really didn’t know if I would ever be able to go through the process of leaving him as we’ve separated several times before. I do believe I have been trauma bonded but the situation is such that there is no other answer and I’m so looking forward to someday being me again. I have so much to do now because I feel sure when I leave he will not make anything about the separation process easy, it will be like everything else all but impossible. My biggest problem at the moment is he had a Widowmaker heart attack last year and has severe heart failure. His most recent delusion is in it’s eleventh week and it’s so toxic that he can’t stand to hear my voice; he can’t stand being in my presence. He rants and rages and tells me it’s all my fault because I’m crazy. He spent he night at his daughters house Saturday night because “he couldn’t take anymore of my mouth”. When he got home Sunday night he ended up in CCU due to AFib which I’m sure was caused by his state of mind and behavior. While in the hospital he was hateful, sarcastic and demanding and I walked on ostrich eggshells because he believes without a doubt that everytime he is hospitalized and leave for the night, I go home and have sex, sex and more sex! On the 30 minute drive home after he was released he ranted and raged the entire time. I asked him for his own well being to go stay with his daughter for a few days and when he returns I’ll be gone without incident. He of course refused and I really don’t know how I’m going to make this happen without him ending up in the cardiac unit again! Never ending drama! I’m so tired of living on an obstacle course!

    • Frodo says:

      How did you get out?

  • Tired of Trying says:

    I am going through this now…interesting how the patterns are so similar. Not sure what to do.

  • Shelina says:

    I have been with my husband for over 25 years. He was my knight in shining armor as he was a great friend during my 1st marriage difficulties. Never thought we’d end up together, but we did. Everything was great for eight years in, but after we broke up he had another girlfriend and I didn’t want to take him back afterwards, had the warning signals, but he didn’t have anywhere to live. Compassionate me, took him back and his behaviors changed; I ignored but it wasn’t often he would be angry, He developed these out of the blue anger outbursts which became frequent – even during our honeymoon, which was unfortunate. All over the silliest or the most miniscule situation. I wasn’t brought up with this kind of animosity, nitpicking. We have a 7-year old daughter now in the midst of his anger outbursts which are increasing by the day…just last night an explosive outburst because I shouted; yet he yelled so much I’m sure the neighbors heard – he said if I shout near his ear again he will leave. I just walked away, but with each argument or outburst of that nature, the silent treatment ensues and it’s a vicious cycle…he has issues, CLEARLY and I know it’s not me. I’m the happiest when he’s at work, when it’s time for him to come home, I get anxiety.

    • Katherine says:

      I would love to talk w you sounds like similar situation in which I’m in. I’m getting help. He gets angry at stupid things? Like how I fed the dog; or me wanting to feed her instead of him… ??? So,,, it is scary and unpredictable. I just want to be emotionally ok. And this scared me the most not because of my emotional fragility at this point but because It affects my dog…. and he wants to have kids so bad… I don’t think I can handle this in front of kids – with how they are going to see and witness the same crap…. I need advice and don’t know what to do.

      • Katherine says:

        Oh and he always says he is not yelling he just “raises his voice” and gets angry but to him “it’s mot the same as yelling.” So anytime I point it out he yells THIS IS ME YELLING and then calmly says that was mot yelling… but I think it’s emotional and psychological abuse. And not fair to anyone in this scenario

    • Bev says:

      When he does his outburst screaming over nothing I would scream back and then it was an all out fight. Today we were about to leave to go to breakfast and he did it over nothing. I said I’m not tolerating it anymore and pulled out of the driveway to go to breakfast along. As leaving I said why did you do this when we were walking out the door to go to breakfast. Then left. Quite breakfast

  • Midori says:

    Thank God I no longer have to deal with an explosive husband! It was a rescue mission on the Lord’s part in getting me out of the extremely toxic and highly deadly and volatile marriage. Through the sins of the ex, by him divorcing me, God rescued me from a lifelong of abuse or most likely have been murdered. It got pretty bad, but now I’ve been free and safe from that evil for over 16 years! Hallelujah! GOD IS GOOD!!! And some day very soon the Lord will fulfill His promise to me that I will be married to the one He has for me. God told me about this promise over 13 years ago. Time is drawing nearer to fulfilling it. I don’t know when or even who my promised husband is as I’ve not met him yet, but God made this promise so it WILL happen! Being in God’s waiting room has been the hardest part, not knowing when this will happen or how much longer I have to wait, but I know when the time comes it will be like nothing I could ever imagine. God has astronomical plans for me and my beautiful husband. The Lord wouldn’t make us wait for each other unless His plans were out of this world. I can’t wait!!!

  • Sarah says:

    I have been with my alcoholic husband for 17 years. In the beginning he was kind, thoughtful, loving and present in the marriage—and make no mistake, I loved him for dearly who he was. As time progressed, he became extremely angry, threatening and verbally and mentally abusive (screaming, shouting, tantrums, breaking my things or shared household items. His anger appeared out of nowhere and it was and is always over absolutely nothing—the way I put away groceries in the fridge, how I may have folded towels, that I hadn’t noticed he had performed some chore and I did not compliment him on it, that I hadn’t called and checked in with him while only having been gone from the house for a couple of hours (running errands or visiting family), or a perceived “look” I gave him that he didn’t like. The list goes on and on and on. I am a college educated woman. 10 years ago I took a family leave and then ultimately quit a high paying job to care for my mother who had been diagnosed with cancer (my husband is a very wealthy man and had told me that family was first and agreed that leaving my job was the right thing to do.) My mother eventually recovered [Thank GOD] and I did not return to work, as we decided as a couple that family was important and we did not need the money my job provided. Flash forward 10 years and now I am in an incredibly controlling relationship with a narcissist who cannot control his drinking, emotions or much else regarding his personal life. I am tired of being abused by this man (quite honestly I am EXHAUSTED), but I do not know how to leave, as I have nothing saved, no pension (I left work too early), and no true support system. I do not want to go to a women’s shelter. For years I have been looking for face to face counseling in my area just to talk about my situation, as I feel talking my help alleviate the sadness and anxiety I feel in this relationship and provide me with some coping strategies. Unfortunately, the mental health care professionals in my area are never taking new patients or I would have to drive over 2 hours one way to meet with someone (which I’m sure my husband would be questioning my whereabouts). I need a better skill set to deal with this man. I have read a lot of books and a lot online to try to find ways to best manage the situation, but the end recommendation is alway to “leave”. Sometimes leaving is not that easy. God bless all women (and men) who have to live with abusive spouses day in and day out.

    • Theresa says:

      Hi Sarah
      I have the same situation and really empathize with you. I can’t afford to leave either and so I am stuck. My husband recently retired and so is home all the time now. I was a hospital nurse my whole life but he has better retirement benefits and income than me. He flies into a rage and frequently I don’t know why. He also sometimes gives me the silent treatment for days at a time. It is harder to deal with during COVID since I can’t go to the indoor pool nearby to swim or just get out to a store or fast food place to escape Also two of my good friends died recently and I lost a very loved pet in November. It’s hard to get out to make new friends during COVID and I really miss my cat who was my best friend. The only way I know to cope is to stay away from him in another room and ignore his behavior. Hope things have improved with you. It seems like many women have this problem. Will be praying for all of us
      Theresa

  • Lanie says:

    Wow – such common patterns, and the outbursts over nothing. I’ve been married for 25 years. Four children. His anger is not all the time, but always over insignificant things. Like getting caught in the rain Swearing, yelling, child like tantrums about clothes being wet. He’s a very successful business man, and rumour has it he also has office tantrums towards colleagues. People either love him or hate him. I have had a life of single parenting because he works so much, a blessing in disguise. He isn’t around a lot & My children and I discuss this behaviour as unacceptable, and they are aware. They have learned to leave the room and ignore his behaviour because it has nothing to do with anyone, but him. He will never change. He’s 50. I’m just glad he works a lot. I’m just sad their Dad is so insecure, but it’s a lesson for them to recognize and learn how “not to be”. They sadly are aware of projection as a defence because he will often blame others for the very behaviour he displays. I think if he was home more, we would not be together. I can only hope he retires very very late in life and has lots of hobbies outside the home.

  • Shori says:

    I have angry outburst with my gf over nothing and then try to blame her like the look she has on her face or something on my mind that she didn’t ask me about even though I told her if I look like I’m in my head just leave me alone… I don’t know how to get help and I’m not religiously aligned

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