We, as men, carry our disappointments with us internally (women seem to talk them out among friends). Not only disappointments, but we also tend to personalize someone’s disrespect of us, the most innocuous slight even, as if it were the difference between our death and our survival. It can feel like that when we feel disrespected at every turn in any given day - wife, boss, kids, and strangers even. We are built to fight back, but love and personal integrity inhibits most of us from lashing out at wife and kids, or at least it should. Social protocol and business sense (self-preservation) do not allow us the satisfaction of figuratively pummeling our boss, and cultural standards repress our anomalous intentions towards strangers. Thus we are left with an internal struggle to maintain calm while being assaulted daily (it seems), by others.
Because striking out at a boss will get us fired, and striking out at strangers will get us arrested, the most opportune alternatives we are left with are to either control our temper, which for many is easier said than done, or to take it out on those who cannot hurt us . . . . . . . . . namely, our families. Of course there are other options available to regulate our anger, like a physical workout, or a hobby we are passionate about, but when it comes to needing to establish, or reclaim, some lost dominance for having been diminished, we generally find our families to be convenient victims. The great majority of us, thankfully, do not strike our wives and children, but we make them the object of our tempers, nevertheless. We do rain our tempers down upon them in various fashions. It is inexcusable, and it should not happen, but men are human, and some are better able to control their emotions than others. I don’t believe it is intentional in most cases. Many very good men berate the ones who are closest to them. And I do not believe it is for lack of love. It is for lack of something, but not necessarily for lack of love.
I know men who are wonderfully sensitive souls, who care deeply about their wives and children, who work with children even. But when the stress in their lives builds to unmanageable proportions they are just as quick to yell at their loved ones as the next guy. They don’t want to, and they don’t plan to, but they do. The tempers of men seem to be tied inexorably to their own need for respect, from their loved ones, and from the world at large. When it does not measure up to their expectation of it it becomes like a fatal mix of chemicals that ignites and suddenly explodes indiscriminately. I have been witness to this more times than I care to recollect. It is not pretty, for the wife, for the child, or for the man himself.
So what can be done to circumvent the dynamic? Well, it is an individual problem that requires an individual solution, one that a man must work out for himself. As with trying to correct any flaw in behavior, it must begin with recognizing the transgression and making an honest effort to understand it, followed by a sincere desire to moderate the action. A plan can be developed from there. I believe that intent of the heart is the most positive, and influential, driving force behind any true accomplishment in a relationship. Any man who wishes to not be yelling at his wife and kids, who wishes to control his temper, and who possesses that intent will, alone, or with the help of others, arrive at his own solution.
I have every confidence that he will.