I am married to a wonderful man, flawed as any human being is, but with a very noble heart. We have been married for eight years, though separated for one month because of major problems in our relationship stemming from the fact that I am very aggressive. We got back together, and I changed for the better because of faithfully spending time in prayer, but I have a lot of relapses. I can last up to two months without lashing out physically as well as verbally, but then, in the middle of an argument, I fall back into old habits and I attack him. ¡I am very desperate! I don’t want to lose my marriage.

Dear Friend,

There is something very unusual about your case. It is that you do not blame anyone else for your problem. You accept total responsibility and understand that you need to change. That is an excellent first step!

You have tried to control yourself and you have invested time in prayer, asking God to help you. Those are both great additional steps.

We agree that your husband is likely to leave you if you do not conquer your tendency toward violent behavior. But, as you have experienced, you need more help to be able to control yourself. You asked God for His help, and He has led you to ask for our advice. When we pray, God’s answer often includes leading us to someone who can give us practical help.

The most effective way for you to learn to control yourself would be to join an anger management group. Therapists, clinics, social services, or even churches might offer these groups. You can find one by searching online. There are thousands of people who have a similar problem as yours, and meeting together with them in a structured therapy group would help you.

In the meantime, have a calm discussion with your husband. Remind him that you know that you have an anger problem, and tell him that you want to develop strategies to control yourself. The strategy that you are going to try first is to leave the room whenever you first feel yourself getting angry. He needs to understand that you are not avoiding whatever issue was being discussed, but that you are removing yourself from the discussion until you have calmed down.

Think about what physical reactions you feel when you begin getting angry. Do you feel your heart racing? Does your voice get louder? What sensations are signals that you are about to lose control? Take mental note of these feelings so that you can be ready to leave the room before you say things that you will later regret.

Once you have left the room, concentrate on breathing deeply and on slowing down your breathing. Close your eyes and think of a peaceful place. Once you get your physical reactions under control, you will be able to think more clearly. Then force yourself to write down everything that triggered your anger. When you feel the tension building up, stop and do more deep breathing and relaxing. If you are determined and persistent, this strategy will help you learn to control yourself. It will take some time and hard work, but you can do it.

We wish you the best,