For fifteen years I have been married to a man who is respectful, responsible, cultured, a hard worker, faithful, and for the past five years a good father. However, in spite of the fact that he says he loves me, he hasn’t shown support when I’ve need it the most. He has never been very expressive…. But what bothers me the most is that, when he gets really angry, he begins to break things. He has never hit me, but I now fear for my children. I’ve asked him to see a psychologist. For a week now we have not spoken to each other because of one of his attacks of rage. I don’t know what to do.

Dear Friend,

You are correct that a professional counselor would help, but we believe that you should go together as a couple. You need to be a part of the therapy so that you can better understand how your husband feels. You say that he is not expressive, so it is very likely that he usually doesn’t share his feelings with you. He may hide his frustrations on a day-to-day basis, letting them grow in intensity until he finally blows up in a rage. If you could learn to give him a safe space to express his minor anger and frustration, it might not build up to the level of an explosion.

In the meantime, we are going to assume that your husband, after breaking things, regrets his actions. Since he doesn’t share many of his feelings, he may or may not have expressed his regret to you, but he likely does want to change his destructive behavior.

Keeping a written record might help your husband express his feelings in a more acceptable way. Start a journal together, and ask your husband to write down, or you write for him, a list of the things that make him feel angry each day. It should be short and simple, unless he wants it to be more detailed. For example, one day he might write, “traffic jam, late to work, rude co-worker, dinner cold, kids too loud.” In addition, you or he should add to the list the name and value of anything that he has broken that day.

It is important that the journal writing be done in a calm and positive atmosphere. As a coach, and not a judge, you should congratulate your husband for being able to identify and list triggers for his anger. This is something for the two of you to accomplish together.

Remember that anger itself is not a sin. According to the Scriptures, anger is an emotion that all of us feel at one time or another. We should acknowledge that there are legitimate reasons to get angry. But the Apostle Paul taught that if we become angry, we should not let our anger lead us into sin. (1) Paul was clarifying that it is possible for anger to be felt without letting it lead to destructive actions. This is what your husband needs to learn to do.

We wish you well,

1 Eph 4:26 (GNT)