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Dilemma: my husband is always angry with me

Katharine Whitehorn / 14 January 2016 ( 06 September 2019 )

A concerned reader writes to Saga about her husband's increasingly angry and aggressive behaviour.

Worried woman
A reader is worried about her husband's recent anger problems

Dilemma: my husband is always angry with me

My husband and I have been married for 44 years and are both retired with five adult children who no longer live at home. We have always got on well and have a healthy sex life.

I have tended to give in on most issues to keep the peace (I loathe confrontation), but over the past year I have been increasingly worried about my husband’s attitude towards me.

If I disagree about anything he will sometimes blow a fuse and shout at me. He has never done this before and it is quite frightening. 

Could it be a late male menopause, or is he regretting our long marriage? In the end, I have to approach him – sex always brings him round. 

Don’t tell me to talk to him, he sulks after these episodes and it is just impossible.

How sex makes you look and feel better

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

If sex always brings your husband round, I would doubt that it is you and the marriage that are troubling him. 

It’s more likely that he is facing the cruel reality we all have to cope with: that most of his life is over, that there won’t be many – or any – more chances for anything he once wanted. 

You are the nearest and safest target for any explosions of discontent; and of course if he feels you’re trying to boss him at all, that would add to his sense of loss of power. 

But there’s another possibility: that he’s suffering from some physical ailment that is worrying him and that he doesn’t want to face. If you tried to suggest this, though, he’d blast you out of the water. 

You tell me you have five children, so perhaps one of them – preferably the most tactful one – could talk to him. Not necessarily ask him point blank if he’s worried about anything, but try to discover how he feels about himself and his life. 

If there is anything physically wrong, you would then be justified, however furious he may be, in getting him to a doctor.

The facts about the male menopause

Saga readers say...

We also asked our Facebook followers for their advice...

'He is bottling something up, probably money or health, good luck, but try and get someone to find out what is troubling him.' Diane, via Facebook

'Health check - if he'll have one - if not mention these changes to his GP. If he's OK he needs new interests, walking outdoors... and at quiet times ask him how we really feels. Life is a compromise for both of you. Look after yourself and don't accept bad behaviour...' Sheila, via Facebook

'Health check or at least discuss it with your GP. Unfortunately, this was an early sign of my husband's dementia. So don't ignore it!' Ann, via Facebook

'Remind him, gently, that you have feelings and tell him that he’s hurting them. Repeat, gently and as often as is required. After a while, continue but add in that you won’t keep putting up with it. Be assertive with this. Mean what you say. You have the right to feel comfortable in your own home, nobody has the right to make you feel upset. In the interim, I agree that you should try to eek out of him anything that he’s worried about, or consider that there may be health issues that he may or may not be aware of. Good luck, hopefully this will be easily sorted for you.' Susan, via Facebook

'Definitely health check. This kind of behaviour can be a symptom of heart problems. A colleague of my husband's years ago started behaving irritably and developed a very short temper; my husband tactfully suggested he get a health check - which he didn't do and a few months later he had a heart attack.' Michele, via Facebook

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.