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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5823
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My husband is very authoritative, rigid, and angry. The kids

Customer Question

My husband is very authoritative, rigid, and angry. The kids and I walk around him on eggshells. When we hear his truck pull up in the driveway, we jump up and try to clean everything quickly so when he walks in, he will not have a tantrum and start being angry with everyone. He is not physically abusive, but his type A personality is driving the kids away from him, and he has made many mean comments to them over the past years. At other times he can be warm and friendly (especially with people outside the family). Our youngest son (early teen) has been saying he hates him for the past couple of years now, and there is an overall feeling of dread when he comes home. I bought my husband a good book on men and anger but he did not read it, nor does he want to go to counseling. He does seem to understand he has a problem with anger, but generally tries to rationalize it by blaming others for creating situations where he ends up angry.  He is basically a good person with good intentions, but not at all emotionally perceptive, and very much struggling with impatience and anger.  I don't want to divorce as I still believe it will be easier on our kids for our family unit to be together until they are out of school. Any advice?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like your husband is emotionally abusive or has an anger issue, such as explosive anger or intermittent explosive disorder. The excessive worrying about your husband's temper, cleaning so he doesn't yell, and the feeling of walking on eggshells around him are all signs that you and your children are being emotionally abused or that he has an anger issue.

If your husband was not abusive, you would not feel the need to do any of the things you described. Whether or not the house was clean would not be an issue. The focus of your relationship would be on the two of you. You would feel loved and cared for.

The other sign is your son's feelings about his father. If he is expressing he hates him, then he is feeling angry about how his father is affecting the family and about his relationship with him. He is not feeling cared about or loved but instead feels the animosity from his father. In short, he does not like the way his father makes him feel so he is lashing back from being hurt.

A type A personality tends to be a driven person, but not an abusive person or an angry person. The most likely effect of a type A personality would be that you and your children would be neglected since your husband would be extremely goal driven, and therefore out working all of the time. Or he would be preoccupied with other activities. But you do not describe a man that is goal driven. Just angry and abusive.

Some of the signs of emotional abuse are:

Feeling fearful around the abuser

Being put down or yelled at

Feeling that everything is your fault or being told it is

The feeling that you can't do anything right

Controlling you and/or your life

Signs of anger issues:

The person erupts with anger

The anger outbursts last 10 to 20 minutes or longer

There is property destruction

There may be abuse

Since your husband refuses to get help or even see that he has a problem, then you should focus on educating yourself about emotional abuse and anger issues. That will help you understand what is going on and give you options about how to handle it.

Also, one of the most important things you can do is get help for yourself and your children. Your son is already showing signs of needing help. If he does not get help, he may end up either being like his father or have depression, anxiety or other emotional problems.

You can find a therapist for you by asking your doctor for a referral. Or you can search on line at If you attend church, you can also talk with your pastor. They are often trained in counseling and can help you answer some of the more difficult questions about how to approach your marriage and whether or not to divorce.

For the children, talk to their pediatrician for a referral. Or you may be able to ask their school counselor for recommendations. You do not have to state a reason why you are asking. You can also use the link I gave for you to find a therapist for them.

As always, if you feel your life or your children's lives are in danger, leave immediately. Nothing is worth staying if your husband is putting you and your family in danger. Just in case, have a back up plan with emergency numbers and a place you can go for safety.

Here are some resources to help you:

The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing by Beverly Engel

Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft

The Emotionally Abused Woman : Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself by Beverly Engel

When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse by Lundy Bancroft

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

Let me know if I can help any further,


TherapistMarryAnn and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you! In fairness, my husband would say that the reason our son (Keenan) dislikes him is that whenever those two have an argument, I side more with our kids and "act like you're protecting them, making him look like a bad guy"..... I'm torn in those situations, though, because I DO agree that the parents need to present a unified front. BUT, if my husband yells at the kids unfairly, I can't bring myself to stand by his side like he wants.

A great example is that last night my husband and I tried to have a talk with Keenan about what we all might change in order for him and his dad to be able to get along better. After talking a little bit, Keenan said, "Well, I guess I just don't like him." And so my husband sent him to stand in the corner (humiliating for a 13 year old). When Keenan said how unfair he thought that was, my husband gave him another 15 minutes to stand there. And then my husband told him that, "Mom and I stand together on this. You are trying to drive a wedge between us with your behavior."

So while I'm not sure there is any better answer than the kids and I going to counseling without him, I'm also feeling that we still won't be able to change things (like last night's situation) without some way of getting him to change, too. Maybe there is really no answer here if he's not willing to go to counseling? And is divorce something I should be keeping on the table? I mostly don't want to go that route because of the shared custody thing and the kids being with him without me there. And nothing he has done has been egregious enough for me to get full custody, I don't think. Again, no physical abuse ever.

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

I understand your dilemma. It is hard to know what to do in a case like this. You are right to think about the kids being with him without your protection if you divorce him. He could get out of hand since you are not there to stop him. And that would be worse than it is now.

I would recommend talking to an attorney to see what your options are. Also, talking with a counselor would help you decide as well. While a good counselor should never provide an opinion or tell you what to do, they can help you weigh all the options to see what is best for you. And they can point out the good and bad to each option. This will give you someone to bounce things off of and help you give a voice to your feelings all in a safe environment.

Your son's feelings make a lot of sense. It sounds like he is being honest with how he feels. Your husband does not feel it is his fault your son feels this way nor does he see an issue with his own behavior so he puts your son's comment down as your son misbehaving and he punishes him. It is the wrong way to respond and it is the reason why I am concerned for your son's emotional well being. While it isn't right a child disrespects a parent, if that parent creates an environment of anger, anxiety and discord, a child is going to react to it. Children are smart and see what is going on. And saying he doesn't like his father is the only control he has right now.

I agree that you should not stand by and allow your husband to yell at the children. As the other parent, anytime your husband attempts to hurt the children, you need to intercede. They have no way to protect themselves otherwise. Your husband outranks them in control and in size. You are their only defense. It also helps them see that your husband's behavior is wrong. If you did not protect them, then they may start to see your husband's treatment as their fault, and turn it on themselves. That usually means a lifetime of emotional issues for a child.

Your husband is not going to get better if he does not see he has a problem.

If your husband will not get help, then the only thing you can work on is your response and the children's emotional well being. Any type of abuse is going to take it's toll and it does not have to be physical abuse in order for it to be severely damaging.