When Yelling is a PatternOctober 6, 2008 • By Jim Hutt, Ph.D., MFT
Yelling is a topic that has meaning for everyone. All of us have raised our voices, probably more than once. No, I did not come from a home of screaming parents or siblings. However, I do see many families and couples who yell a lot at each other often, and the short and long-term consequences of regular yelling/screaming are not pretty. Those of you who experience yelling on a regular basis know what I’m talking about.
Yelling at Children
Let’s start with the impact of yelling at children:
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- Yelling at children teaches them how to yell, when to yell, and that yelling is an effective response to emotionally charged situations. By extension, it teaches them an ineffective way to process anger, as anger is usually associated with yelling.
- Yelling scares most children—the younger the child, often the more fear they feel. In a state of fear it is next to impossible for a child to think about their mistake or misbehavior. If a child cannot think about their mistake, a child cannot learn from their mistake. Children are far less likely to learn the lesson you want them to learn when they are afraid. Instead of the lesson they might otherwise learn from natural, appropriate consequences associated with their mistake, they learn to be afraid. Fearful children often grow up to be fearful adults and parents. Sometimes they grow up to be yellers. No surprise.
- Regularly yelling at a child before the age of three or four, or before they have an expansive developmental use of language, teaches them to replace useful language with yelling. In other words, a child will not learn useful, effective expression when yelling is their model. The short version is, “if mom and/or dad yell, then so can I.” They are too young to know better.
Not only is yelling learned from our own parents in some cases, it also means a parent probably feels helpless. It is a sign that a parent does not know a more effective alternative at that moment. Helplessness is a very powerful feeling, and when the brain reads the ‘helpless signal,’ so to speak, it will do almost anything to reduce it. The antidote to helplessness begins with a four step process, which will aide in reducing/stopping yelling at the kids:
- Make a conscious, verbal decision to stop yelling.
- Make the commitment to learn the skills necessary for replacing yelling with effective responses. Go to The Love and Logic Institute, and invest in their parenting CD’s, books & DVD’s. From that material you can learn those skills (no, I do not get residuals for recommending their remarkable material, but I’d appreciate it if you would tell them I sent you!). All you need to know about replacing yelling, and learning how to really enjoy parenting is there. OK, now that’s your skills toolbox. But, now you have to reduce the reactivity that precedes your yelling–that’s the hard part. Parents who effectively manage their emotional reactivity do not tend to yell.
- If reactivity (which I will say more about below) and anger are problems for you, which frequently is the case with chronic yellers, professional counseling may be your best investment.
- Try this new thought as a guide to changing your thinking about yelling as you consider making your decision to stop: “There is nothing a child can do that calls for yelling at them—unless it will literally save their life.”
By the way, in 29 years of practicing therapy, I’ve never met a parent who remarked: “Boy, do I regret not yelling at my kid, what a mistake that was.”
Yelling at Your Spouse / Partner
Yelling at your spouse/partner induces fear, just as it does in a child. Brain research has shown that it is very difficult to think while in a state of fear. If you want your partner to think about what you say, the odds for that increase when you speak in a way that does not produce fear. When your partner hears yelling, the brain reads it as DANGER, and your partner experiences fear. It (the brain) immediately goes in to some degree of fight or flight mode—how much depends on the amount of perceived threat. The behavior from your partner at that point will probably range from yelling back/defensiveness (fight mode) to silence/withdrawal (flight mode). Neither will produce a satisfactory outcome.
Fight mode is sometimes referred to as “reactive.” In fight or reactive mode we tend to say things we regret or wish we could take back, which, of course calls for repair. Part of this pattern often includes your partner reacting defensively and/or critically when yelled at. That defensiveness triggers more frustration, anger and lashing out. Without knowing what to do, or how to respond differently, the cycle is repeated, and both partners suffer and struggle with a broken or unsatisfactory conflict management process. The next time an issue surfaces it will be anticipated with dread.
Flight mode is also referred to as silence/withdrawal. In flight mode, two common options arise: One, you either do not know what to say due shutting down with fear; or, two, you may know exactly what you want to say, but, you say nothing because a part of you believes that what you think and/feel is unimportant, so why bother. Either way you have no voice. In the end, both you and your partner are probably angry, hurt, disappointed and frustrated, and blaming the other for the “breakdown in communication.”
More accurately, there was no “breakdown in communication,” per se. In fact, there was plenty of communication, too much of it ineffective. More significant was the breakdown in reactivity management. All the good communication skills in the tool bag will be of little use in the face of unchecked or poorly managed reactivity. Why might professional counseling helpful at this point? Because chronic ineffectively managed reactivity almost always has some roots in our early history. A competent marital therapist can help connect early roots to current events, finish some old business, and help you develop reactivity management alternatives.
I am aware that many of you prefer counseling as a last resort. If that’s the case, on your own, try the following:
- Before you begin your discussion, each of you verbally acknowledge your willingness to break the pattern that is not working. It might sound like this: “The last time we discussed this, I did not react effectively. I am going to try some new behaviors.”
- Next, each of you openly acknowledge to your partner how you aspire to be during the discussion. If you tend to be the yeller, acknowledge that you aspire to be calm, and what new behavior you plan to employ if you begin to feel activated. You might say, for example, “I’m starting to feel like I want to yell, my frustration is building, I would like to stop for a few minutes so that I can get calm again.” THAT WOULD BE NEW BEHAVIOR. If you begin to feel activated, take responsibility for it—do not blame your partner. What ever new behavior you decide to try, let it be known in advance of the discussion. No surprises, unless they’re pleasant ones.
- Hold yourself to the healthy code of conduct to which you aspire; let your partner do the same for him/herself. How you aspire to be is all you have control over.
- In advance, put a time limit on the length of the discussion. If you each feel comfortable continuing on, agree to another time limit. Repeat as necessary.
- When either of you call for a time out, especially to lower your reactivity, decide on a time to resume. This reduces the chances of avoiding your way out of the discussion entirely.
- After the discussion, and only if you both agree to, analyze YOUR own respective roles in how the discussion went. Talk about yourself, unless complimenting your partner. Determine where you might become more effective, and tell your partner. Focus on your behavior, not your partner’s.
Good luck in your attempts to break this difficult pattern. It’s not easy. The fact that you are making an attempt builds trust and self-confidence.
Wishing you a satisfying relationship,
© Copyright 2008 by Jim Hutt, PhD, therapist in Menlo Park, CA. All Rights Reserved.
Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org. The preceding article was solely written by the author name above. The view and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.
KieraOctober 7th, 2008 at 12:27 AM
Ok this is totally me!!! I yell at everyone. I am married and have a son who is now 4 yrs old. I started yelling and getting so worked up with everything and everyone right from the time he was one. I now realise that my son probably obeys me more out of the fear of my anger rather than realising what he did was wrong. I feel so small today but I am intending to make a conscious effort to change myself starting from today. Great advice this one and I am going to try and keep it!!
NicoleOctober 13th, 2008 at 3:40 AM
My family is not a family of yellers, but boy there are some days when I could really just let it all out! I used to have a much worse temper but having a family has somehow had the opposite effect on me and has made me a much more mellow person. Sure this was probably a conscious decision on my part but I definitely like myself better today than I did when the only way I knew how to express myself was through anger and yelling at others. Kiera, I feel for you and am thinking about you today because I know from personal experience how hard it can be to break those patterns of behavior and as much as I know you want to do this for your son, change the behavior for you too. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel about life in general and your relationships with others when you develop different ways to communicate what is going on in your life. Best of luck to you!
StarlaOctober 14th, 2008 at 3:06 AM
It is when I get stressed about things that I really notice yelling more and more. I have been going through a divorce and I know I have not been the best to my kids lately just due to the amount of pressure I now feel and the anxiety and worries over ending my marriage. This article has given me some real insight into what I am doing to not only my children but also to myslef with this type of behavior. I am ready to try the tools for NOT yelling and dealing with my anger in a way that is more beneficila for everyone.
William SOctober 15th, 2008 at 3:03 AM
Yelling for me is something that always just makes me feel even worse than I did before I started! You always feel like it is going to be such a release but than you just feel guilty over the way you have behaved- I do anyway. This is a great motivation for me to try to stop.
Dru DOctober 18th, 2008 at 9:09 AM
itmakes me so mad when I see adults yell at their helpless children!!! don’t they realize they are being such poor role models for their kids and that they are teaching them that this is the only way to let off steam and deal with others when they are angry or frustrated.. children deserve better than that!
Dr. Arthur Becker-WeidmanOctober 19th, 2008 at 8:47 AM
Dru D, you are correct. How children learn to act; what it means to be and how to be a woman, mother, wife, man, father, husband are all learned by observing and internalizing what we grow up with. Of course, parents who yell at their children often/usually were yelled at by their own parent(s) and so are acting on the only internal models they have. It takes real work and committment to change such behavior. The results, however, are well worth it.
JakeOctober 22nd, 2008 at 1:13 PM
I find it so sad when the only forms of communication I see between partners is that of yelling. Don’t they realize that things are meant to be so much better than this?
Dr. Arthur Becker-WeidmanOctober 23rd, 2008 at 9:41 AM
Sometimes people’s history has “taught” them this manner of relating. It may not be that they purposefully choose to yell, but that this is what they learned in their family of origin. It can also be that they are overwhelmed with emotion and are not thinking
KieraOctober 27th, 2008 at 11:23 PM
My son is nearly 4 now. We used to have squabbles and I had a bad habit of using offensive language which I consciously changed over the last 6 months. I see the damage done already. When I try calmly correcting him he says, “Shut up!!” I used to yell at him the same way before. Today I hear my own voice in his and it hurts more than anything in this world.
Sarah Chana RadcliffeNovember 3rd, 2008 at 6:22 PM
Just in case anyone is interested, I wrote a book called “Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice.” It provides practical alternatives to yelling that are easy to apply. The techniques work well in marital relationships also. I believe, like Dr. Hutt, that yelling is extremely harmful in family life. However, it’s not enough to want to stop. We need to know what to do instead that really works. I offer solutions in my book and on my parenting web site. You are welcome to post parenting questions on that site as well and I’ll be happy to answer them.
AmyLeeNovember 7th, 2008 at 2:58 AM
This is oh so familiar to me. I grew up fearing my dad, but loving him, because if we didn’t do something right or we got into trouble, we could bet that we would get more than a yelling. I think that is why I grew up scared asking for anything. I am married and I have a son and I can’t remember ever yelling at him when he was younger. I’m sure I probably did but I know that we usually yell to get things our way or to get something accomplished. I would hate to think my son has to fear either one of his parents.
Lori BellNovember 7th, 2008 at 3:00 AM
I can see where this would be hurtful to the kids as well as adults. I still see parents yelling and screaming at their kids in the grocery store and wonder why they want to do that in front of other people. Sometime I see kids, just rebel when being yelled at, as if they are challenging their parents. So sad.
KylieNovember 7th, 2008 at 3:47 AM
No one wants there children to be scared of them. It may seem at the time this is the only way to get children to listen to you, but in the long run, this can really take a toll on the children. I think this is why so many children, when they grow up and get married, they think they can yell at their spouses or children because that is what they learned.
Dr. Arthur Becker-WeidmanNovember 8th, 2008 at 7:01 AM
You make a good point. We learn about what it means to be a man, husband, father, woman, wife, mother from those who raise us and that is the model in our psyche. So, our future close relationships are often rooted in, based on, and mimic, those earlier ones. The good news is that while negative behavior may be learned, it can also be “unlearned,” or new, more productive and positive ways of interacting can be learned….often therapy helps in this process.
DelNovember 15th, 2008 at 10:56 AM
My wife yells at our daughter SOOOO often that I can almost say she always yells. I can be sitting on our couch 25 feet away and she hurts my ears, meanwhile she is in the restroom with our daughter trying to get her to wash her hands. I have tried and tried and tried to have a unified front in front of our daughter, but it is getting pretty bad. I usually do not have a problem with our daughter minding me because I am consistent with corrections, whereas my wife will all but beg her to do something for her. She will say, “Isabelle! Get over here….get over here right now…do you want a time-out….get over here now or were aren’t going to the so-n-so’s birthday party…Isabelle, I’m counting to three….” I’m not joking…it really is that bad. When I mention that she yells, she tells me that I’m being to critical. I don’t know what to do. If I were to look for professional help, what kind of professional should I look for?
Dr. Arthur Becker-WeidmanNovember 15th, 2008 at 3:06 PM
You are facing a very difficult problem. If your wife sees that there is a problem (that yelling is out of hand and not productive and that she’d like your daughter to “listen” without having to yell), then you can all see a mental health professional (social worker, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, etc). It may be that your wife will need to see someone individually to help her understand what drives her yelling and help her then move that insight into behavioral change. However, if your wife does not see any problem, does not want to change, or says, “she has to change first,” then you have a much more difficult situation on your hands. It may be, unfortunately, like having to choose your daughter’s emotional and psychological health or your marriage…in which case, you may want to consult with a professional to examine how best to proceed.
DelNovember 16th, 2008 at 7:37 PM
Well, as luck would have it, my wife and I had a long, sometimes heated, discussion regarding her yelling. She was extremely defensive. She named many reasons why she yelled…all my fault. Then it was the bills, then it was work, then it was…you get the picture. After an hour of stopping her every time she tried to transfer blame for her yelling, she took a break from it all and got the mail. What came in the mail, you ask? The latest issue of Parents magazine, and on the cover was the title to an article called “Discipline Without Yelling”. She said it was God speaking to her and she took it to heart. No disrespect intended, but I don’t care if she thinks it was Elvis and Hoffa both speaking to her from Santa’s sleigh as long as she stops yelling at our daughter. After reading the article, she has improved dramatically. Her volume raises then goes back down before she finishes her sentence. I am very proud of her; it couldn’t have been easy. We have barely started our journey to a more quiet house, but I have high hopes.
Dr. Arthur Becker-WeidmanNovember 17th, 2008 at 5:44 AM
Great to hear your good news.
Often change occurs when a person is in the right frame and then it just takes a serendipitous event/moment to make it happen. As Einstein (?) said, genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration….it may be that all your previous discussions set the stage so that the magazine was that final push.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.February 9th, 2009 at 2:54 PM
People feel helpless for a lot of reasons. Rather than trying to go in to all of them right now,
I want to give you some alternative ways of responding when you feel helpless, like you want to yell at your daughter:
1. Tell her you will talk about the situation when you know what you want to say that will be helpful.
2. Go to: loveandlogic.com and order “The Lifesaver Kit.” Just do it.
You will find alternatives to being helpless that will change your life.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.
Chareen NZFebruary 9th, 2009 at 1:24 PM
i am sitting here feeling very helpless and feeling awful for yelling at my daughter this morning before school. She just started yesterday at a new school, intermediate now, and yesterday she went to the skate park with friends and lost her school shoes. aaarrgghh!
i always yell at her say awful things that i know are definetly not encouraging or going to help her, but it seems i just cant hold my tounge.
but i realise i do have to find a way through my yelling as there are more worse situations than this, thaat would be more fitting to yell, but i feel weak.
i cant wait till she comes home and i can hug her and work through her area of weakness positively..and my weakness too.
DougNovember 16th, 2010 at 9:39 AM
Wow! Help! I am witnessing things in my wife that I’m not sure how to stop. We have twins and I have never witnessed anyone so unhearted as my wife. She constantly yells and screams at them and berates them, slams doors, never plays with them, and if one falls and hurts themselves will sit on the couch and not even react. They are only 2 1/2 and I seriously am worried at the road we are going down. I don’t ever remember growing up in a household like this and my wife will throw every excuse in the book that the way she reacts is justified. She will respond with things like if you think you can do better, than you stay home. I would LOVE to stay home if someone didn’t have to go work and pay her credit card bill that she won’t stop spending. We both have careers but since the twins her energy to find a job has dwindled to nothing. It makes me so mad that when I talk to her about this it sets her off into a yelling, slamming rage usually in front of the kids. She is being seen for severe depression and I have tried to talk to the doctor about what is REALLY happening at home but the doctor will not discuss her patient due to the medical laws. I hate her parents very much because my wife has admitted many times that this was the household she was raised in.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.November 16th, 2010 at 2:53 PM
Doug, your cry for help is unmistakable. Here’s a short answer because I think you will get more out taking action and reading less: find a couples therapist, and see someone as a couple–soon!
If your wife will not agree to that, find an individual therapist, see that person, sign a release to have your therapist talk to your wife’s therapist.
You might also ask your wife if you can come in with her to see her therapist.
DougNovember 16th, 2010 at 8:55 PM
Thanks for the reply and we are seeing a couples therapist and she has admitted all these things in counseling. After a therapy appointment her waking up moment will last maybe for 2-3 days and she has the motivation to be a good mother but it then just starts coming back to rock bottom. Sometimes she walks away from the therapist furious with her and every time wonders why the therapist always seems to come down on her. Her doctor has recommended a personal therapist many times and I try to get my wife to a therapist but she lacks the motivation to go. Any attempt on my part fails and hence the cycle of yelling and slamming repeats itself.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.November 17th, 2010 at 9:00 AM
You might want to ask your couples therapist to teach both of you specific methods of reducing reactivity. If the therapist does not know how to do that, then consider finding one who does. Reducing reactivity can be a complicated task, but by your description, that needs to be the main focus, it seems to me. And reactivity will not lessen by being told to calm down. Specific measures must be taken, which I cannot teach you in this blog.
Mrs.February 10th, 2011 at 11:39 AM
I find myself yelling because talking with my husband hasn’t helped.
We talk about our issues, and one of them is his avoidance of responsibility. He admits he withdraws and lets me handle the kids, mine and his from his first marriage that he has custody with. On top of this, I deal with his rude, angry, mentally ill ex wife who is constantly causing chaos in our lives.
I catch myself yelling and I stop sooner. Sometimes though, when I begin to yell during an argument, I’ve already asked my husband to let me collect myself but he won’t. He will keep talking and being sarcastic or basically forcing me to keep talking when what I really need is to calm down.
He’s gotten a LITTLE better at letting me go away into another room to recollect but usually takes it as an insult and gets angry! I feel we are never going to get it together.
I’ve resorted to staying in one part of the house most of the time and I’m very depressed. Will probably end up divorcing.
timJanuary 30th, 2012 at 9:58 AM
Dear “Mrs”. Your post is riddled with blame towards others for causing you to yell. That is classic. If this was OK to do we would ALL go around yelling all the time.
comment: Of course he does I’ll bet you make him feel as if he is a screw up so why should he try?
No doubt you will get divorced but I bet your husband loves you dearly he just doesn’t like your yelling and treating him disrespectfully. I say all this out of personal experience. I’m almost sure its YOU, not them. Please consider this. If not, be alone. That’s probably what you secretly want anyway —– or you wouldn’t act this way.
just another momApril 11th, 2012 at 6:25 PM
My tears pour when I saw my son yell at his 3 years old girl….how did this happened? I was not a yeller or a spanker…
I sent the link to your page and had great results…I just needed to thank you for such a wonderful article…we cry, we hug and we are learning…
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.April 11th, 2012 at 8:30 PM
just another mom, you are an awesome mom! If you have a minute, go to my web site, and look for other articles and videos that your son may appreciate.
I wish you all well.
Mark RasmusenApril 18th, 2012 at 3:43 AM
Women love to yell. My grandmother yelled. My mother yelled. My sisters yell. All of my ex-girlfriends yelled. My wife is yelling too. Women yell and never admit to have a problem with it.
I wish there would be solutions for this.
PhilMay 30th, 2012 at 12:48 PM
God help us. My wife yells at the kids and puts them down. She does the same thing to me. Nobody ever lives up to her expectations, and every problem is caused by either me or the children. It is hurting our whole family. She comes from a family of yelling and contentious women. I see why Saint Paul said “I wish every man were as I am (not married. If you marry you will have problems and will have to please your wife.”
MaiJune 1st, 2012 at 11:23 AM
Wow, the article and comments were very explanatory and interesting. I am in a relationship where my partner is the yeller. We have been together 4 years – We have come to a point where he can’t go a day without feeling the need or urge to shout! He will shout because of anything. Literally, if anything small irritates him he will start to shout – but its mainly aimed at me. He has a really deep voice as it is and hes quite a big guy compared to me and my size. so when he shouts its quite intimidating. Its really getting to me. Im usually a relaxed and easy going person but now i feel so angry and cry, most of the time i dont know what to do, if i shout back the situation gets worse, if i give him the silent treatment it will irritate him also, if i cry – He doesnt understand why i cry – he thinks i like to cry or i need to cry because im a soppy person, but i hate crying! i feel so low when i cry it sometimes is the only way i know how to deal with my frustration or hurt without arguing. Anyway, I dont really know how to cope with it. sometimes if we are in a public place and i tell him to keep his voice down, he has the most annoying moany tone, its so annoying like a spoilt bratty child! is there something wrong with him mentally? is it immaturity? i dont know – but how do i make it stop!? :S
Martini58June 7th, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Mai, I feel for you, but the only behavior you can control is your own. It must embarrass you to be in public with “a yeller” yet your husband already knows this. He is using yelling to control you and keep you where he wants you, therefore you have this pattern of behavior with each other. It is that of an “enabler” and the “abuser”. Seek therapy for yourself so you can learn how to react to his “yelling”…it can make a difference for you and give you peace of mind. If your husband will acknowledge that his behavior is abnormal…then perhaps you both could seek counseling together. I wish you the best.
MarissaJune 16th, 2012 at 4:24 PM
Can anyone recommend a good book or articles/websites that focus on yelling at your partner. We don’t fight but when I speak to her about something I’m sad, angry, frustrated, happy or excited I raise my tone. I grew up in a house with yelling and I’m very ready to nip it in the bud before the children come into play. She asks me very nicely to stop yelling and I just yell back I’m not yelling! When she tries to walk away I get even more upset. Any advice please!
NaomiJuly 9th, 2012 at 8:24 AM
I’m in my 50’s. I’ve got a college degree, but have never been able to hold onto a job long. I have problems with depression and anxiety. My siblings also have problems. They too have college degrees and are unemployed. I grew up in a time, and in a household, where yelling (on a daily basis) and spanking were the norm. You tell me if it was harmful.
jSeptember 24th, 2012 at 12:20 PM
One thing missing here. As a yeller myself, one of the reasons I yell is because my husband doesn’t lift a finger around the house unless I have nagged him to death for weeks on end. My children don’t listen on the first or second request, instead they are becoming more and more like their father, waiting until I explode and can’t ask nicely anymore. Nothing gets done in our house unless I do it. I’m tired and I’m exhausted. We homeschool, too, so I am rarely without a child. My husband travels yet we never go on family vacations. There isn’t a whole lot of fun in our home, and I refuse to take the full blame for that. It takes two. After reading the article and these comments, I urge you, if you live with someone who yells, to ask them what can YOU do to help make their life a little easier. Maybe you are dumping on the yeller without even realizing it. Maybe the yeller feels very taken advantage of and is at the end of their rope. This is how I feel everyday, and everyday I yell about something, even when I wake up in the morning and vow that I won’t raise my voice today. It doesn’t last because I come downstairs to find a mountain of things that need to be taken care of, and three males sitting on the couch looking at their phones and i-pads and watching TV. Just because a wife/mom is a yeller doesn’t mean she’s a terrible person who must have better self-control. Sometimes it’s because she’s drowning in a sea of to-do lists and no one she lives with cares about lending a hand.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DSeptember 24th, 2012 at 4:12 PM
Wow, J, things sound absolutely awful for you at home! First of all, I hope nothing my post led you believe that you are a bad person because you yell. Quite the contrary, you sound like a very good person who is in a lot of pain.
Obviously I do not know your situation details. By what you wrote, it appears you and your husband would benefit from counseling for the marriage. Second, it also seems that the kids are not required to do much around the house, and instead feel entitled to ignore your requests.
In order to change that, and you can change it, go the following web site:
loveandlogic. com. Once there, buy The Life Saver Kit. I do not get paid to refer folks to use this stuff. Quite simply, I used it to help my wife and i raise our own (now adult) children. All I can say is that it changes our lives for the better.
Love and Logic will give you all the alternatives to yelling. Let me know how it progresses. I want to know.
HusbandOctober 5th, 2012 at 2:37 PM
I’ve been married with my wife for about 17 years, and it’s the 1st marriage for both of us. Before the marriage, we had known each other for about 3 years then dated for another 3 years, so the total amount of time we’ve been together is about 23 years so far. As you can guess, I loved and still love her very much. Now we have 1 boy (10 year old) and 1 girl (3 year old). Normally, my wife didn’t yell or criticize my son and me. Of course, she yelled me sometimes, but it’s not a big deal because it happened rarely (when I did something wrong).
Since couple year ago, thoght, I’ve noticed that my wife’s yelling, shouting, and criticizing my son very often, especially this year. Frequently it happened to me too when asking to stop yelling at him or ignoring her criticizm about me. Often she yells at and criticizes me in front of my kids. Of course, I felt so bad, but most of times I try to ignore whatever my wife says, but once in awhile I couldn’t stop myself and start arguing with her. Then, the conversation’s getting worse over time, and we begin to criticize eadh other with the family histories, personal behaviors, our parents, family members, etc. When the topic moves from other topics (our kids, friends, or family members) to me, my wife often yells that she’s mad at me because I was telling her a lie or ignoring her when asking to me. I confested her that I was trying to ignore her because I didn’t want to argue with her, which always led to the conversation getting worse.
The latest case (my wife claimed I told her a lie) happened when my son and I were talking. While my son was laying down on a couch and reading a book in a family room, I was asking him to go to his room and read the book. At that time, my wife was in the next room and misunderstood what I was saying. Then, she shouted, “Turn the TV off! Why you turned on the TV!” At that moment, my son and I were little confused with her response, and I went to the room she’s in and told her that he didn’t turn on the TV but read the book. I was smiling but she felt that I smiled bitterly. Then, the argument was getting worse and worse during the night, we criticized each other, and she started to blame me. So, I asked her who started this argument. Her answer was that’s me. She said I started first. Silly… I know… But, I was very frustrated and said to her that she started yelling at my son then transitioning to me when I told her what I asked to my son. Guess what? Then, she said that she asked “Who turned on the TV minutes ago!” So, I said “What are you talking about? As you know I was there with the kids watching TV at that time. Later I was out of the room with (my daughter), and he (my son) turned off the TV and read the book. Still I don’t understand why you are mad at me because there’s no relationship with what you were asking.”
In addition, recently my wife frequently complains about the friends, family members, kids, and me. But, she changes her mind whenever the person does good to her. Up and down, and… up and down… One day, complaining against her friend, but the next day she changed her mind and said that her friend’s really good. Since I’m not that kind of person who’s easy to change his/her mind, I often found myself frustrated with such actions.
It’s kind of a crucial moment to our relationship (and marriage) because I’m fine at work but I’m not happy when coming home due to my wife’s attitude/behavior. When coming to home after work, sometimes she told me that I should take care of the kids at home because I was enjoying my personal time at work. One time I asked her, “Don’t even play me with that. Working at the company is hard, and I’m little tired with such a joke.” Then, she sometimes changes her face and starts complaining against me about everything, like my daily exercise pattern, eating habit (I’ve tried to cut junk food but run (and exercise) more frequently as she’s always recommended to me since we met), etc. Even she sometimes but really complained why I’m doing the workout harder and getting slim. Also, she then includes this comments, “Do you like a man? You sometimes act like that way.” What a crap!
Anyway, I feel so bad about this situation and now consider about the worst case… seperation… But, the kids… We both are christians, so I often payed to God “Help!” I want to overcome this kind of situation cleverly and wisely if I can instead of going to the bad situation. If you have any valueable comments/ideas to fix our marriage, please do so. I will appreciate it.
CherieOctober 24th, 2012 at 6:48 AM
I’m glad found this site. I have known my husband for 7yrs and married for 5. From the time we were dating, he was already yelling. First time I took him to meet my family, we stayed for 3 weeks and in that time he would yell at me in front of them. After this holiday I sought of pulled away from him but we did get back together and he proposed end of that year and we got married. There is no single holiday we’ve been to without him tainting it with his yelling. He yells at me in front of our kids, house help, guests… now we have children and he is yelling at my sons, even my 13 month old baby. It breaks my heart. My friends have observed it and some even saw him hold me forcefully in public. Friends are concerned, my family won’t say anything because I chose him. Everytime he yells, I shut down and withdraw to a point where I don’t feel any love for him anymore. I feel that I actually resent him. What has made it really bad is my children. I recently asked him which of his parents used to yell at him and he told me it was his mother. I hate his parents so much because they raised him like that. I do not want any child of mine to turn out like him. I’m here because I’m on the verge of asking for a divorce. I just don’t feel like I can remain in this marriage. He’s just hurt me so much. The last straw was when he shouted at me in front of the kids and a visiting relative. I tried to answer and he shouted at me to shut up. My 3 1/2 son was shouting at him to stop yelling at me. My son always takes my side each time my husband screams. When I try to tell him that yelling is wrong, he says it’s my fault or he tries to shift blame. I take care of my children from their food, health and clothing. When I ask my husband even for simple present on my birthday he yells at me that I sound materialistic. Well I can buy whatever I want so now I stopped. I never expect anything from him. I don’t care what he earns despite the fact that I helped him set up his Consultancy Firm. Recently we were in the mall together, he picked things for himself and I went to pick things for the kids and for myself. He went and paid about $500 for his stuff and let me pay the bill for myself and the boys. For me this was the ultimate selfishness. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to fall into the materialistic topic again. Please advice because I have no idea what to do. I have a good job and can take care of myself and my kids but I did not sign up for marriage only to divorce 5 years later. But I also will not remain in a marriage that is killing me internally and risks destroying my children. Thank you,
Jim Hutt, Ph.DOctober 24th, 2012 at 2:57 PM
I’m glad you reached out, and while I am tempted to leave you a long response, I think it’s more appropriate to leave you a short one, to the point. First, no, you do not have live with what sounds like derisive yelling. Second, the antidote in not necessarily divorce. Third, find a seasoned marital counselor and go. DO NOT beg or try to force your husband to go with you. Instead, set up the appointment, and invite him. If he says no. fine, go without him. Continue to go and have the counselor help you make non-codependent alterations to your behavior. At some point, it will become clear to you whether or not you can stay in the marriage in a healthy way.
Good luck, and i wish you well.
CherieOctober 25th, 2012 at 3:33 AM
Thank you, Jim I’ll look up someone in our area and will be back to here to share how it turns out.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DOctober 25th, 2012 at 6:50 AM
Great! I’ll be waiting to hear from you.
Bill DubbuDecember 21st, 2012 at 2:16 PM
WHY DOES EVERYONE ALWAYS SAY I’M YELLING? I’m simply raising my voice to ensure my point is made.
m2aJanuary 5th, 2013 at 7:05 AM
Husbands are so quick to put their wives down without realizing how difficult it is to raise children 24/7, 365 and care for the home alone with no help given or offered at all. Like the above poster I sometimes yell at my child because I am at my wits end on how to cope anymore. My husband does nothing to help around the house or with our child. Just because he’s the only breadwinner it gives him the right not to lift a finger at all. He says it’s my duty not his. I’ve tried talking, asking him to go for marital counselling but nothing works. I really don’t understand why he chose to get married and have a family if hE didn’t want any part in the ‘hard stuff’ ie: caring for the home and child. I feel like a servant in my own home not a wife. None of my views matter and I am constantly blamed for being upset or too tired to get intimate.. And the cycle repeats itself the next day. I hate that I yell at my child and would always walk away to cool down before exploding but sometimes it’s just so hard when you’re in it alone with no one, friends or family to turn to for help. I’m sure only another SAHM or dad in a similar situation like mine can truly understand the frustration.
In case anyone’s wondering, I’m a foreigner thus no family here. Husband won’t let me socialise at all and abuses me physically, mentally and emotionally. Why am I still here? He holds our child as ‘hostage’ and threatens to take our child away should I leave or report to authorities. I wish this on no one, no even my worst enemy. I am still planning an escape plan for me and my child. God help us. Sorry for venting.. Have no one to talk to. Thanks for listening.
EmilyJanuary 20th, 2013 at 4:09 PM
This is my mom to a T. I mean, this definitely has given me some insight as to why she might be acting the way that she sometimes does. Still, though, it could be a number of things. I’ll try out these new techniques and see what comes of them. Thanks for the help!
shrutiJanuary 22nd, 2013 at 8:15 PM
i am so tired of husband geting anger fits where he throws things around wen he gets angry for a really stupid reason. He would scream his lungs out and start abusing his life also threaten me that if i don’t live the way he wants me to he would divorce me. This threat is so that i get scared and do what he likes. But i cant deal with it anymore at all. we had a love marriage two years ago and now my feelings have started to fade. what should i do feel its better not to talk to him and stay away because if i talk to him about this then his screaming episode begins again.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DJanuary 23rd, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Good luck with what you try. Dealing with yelling is not easy. Let me know how it goes.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D/, MFT
Jim Hutt, Ph.DJanuary 23rd, 2013 at 7:05 AM
You really have your hands full in your situation. I think the next step for you is to find a counselor who understands relationship dynamics, invite (do not ask) your husband to go with you. If he refuses, go by yourself.
Let me know the progress you make, with or without him.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D., MFT
AndreaFebruary 25th, 2013 at 5:51 AM
its not always about sitting down to talk about something that starts the yelling, on my part. we don’t have a problem discussing things calmly. we know what starts the yelling and we know that he sits there with his head down or he stares blankly at me and says things like ‘I’m listening’. we also know that I cry and apologize after the yelling with lots of self loathing. he knows that many times, yes it is his fault.
the main think is yes I know the yelling is getting me no where fast. we also know that he is trying to do better on his part, by actually listening.
its me that is the problem and I don’t seem to have an off button.
We love each other very much and have only been together two years…so you see my problem. I hope.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DFebruary 25th, 2013 at 9:44 AM
I THINK I see the problem…it sounds as though you are telling me that of the two of you, that you tend to yell more than he does. Try this: Ask him to take on the role of a curious, dispassionate observer who wants to understand you.
Have him ask you questions that further his and your understanding of what triggers your yelling. He only asks questions–he does NOT provide commentary, editorial or judgement!
He can center his inquiry around three basic lines: What you think, what you feel, and what you do. Then he recaps what he heard, and asks another question.
Try this, and see how it goes. If you still have trouble, perhaps we can Skype and maybe I can help you break the pattern.
Stay in touch!
Mrs. GainesMarch 25th, 2013 at 2:32 PM
I’m in need of steps to take before my reactions get the best of me. My husband tells me it’s either a divorce or the yelling goes. I’m come from a vocal family and sometimes I do not mean any harm when I’m at the top of my voice. Everything I had in me was released out of pain and I cried for hours. My husband is like a waffle and I’m like a noodle, weak and emotional. I never thought in a lifetime my husband would mention a divorce and it literally broke my heart. Screaming to him is a sign of disrespect. I will have to admit that it has gotten physical a couple of times and I believe he is at his breaking point. I’m walking on egg shells and terribly horrified of losing my soul mate on something that can be fixed but HOW??? PLEASE HELP.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DMarch 25th, 2013 at 2:58 PM
Clearly, the need for counseling is long overdue. Your reactions have already gotten the best of you in the form of your husband telling you either the yelling goes, or, he goes.
If you want to stop walking on eggs, and you wish to preserve your marriage, go to counseling–NOW! But more than anything, counseling will help you discover other ways of managing that which is propelling you in to the reactivity that leads to the yelling.
If I can be of any help with regard to the counseling, let me know.
MarkJune 29th, 2013 at 10:56 PM
I am 54 and a yeller. I learned it from my parents and other adults as I was growing up. My brother and sister exhibit the same behavior. It is a learned behavior, which means it can be unlearned and replaced with appropriate behavior. But I am on the verge of losing my wife, the most wonderful person in the world, because of my yelling. I don’t do it all that often, but when I do, it’s bad. The inspiration to get myself back under control is losing my wife, and the realization of how pathetic yellers are. I am just worried I won’t be able to convince her that I understand the problem and am capable of correcting it.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DJuly 3rd, 2013 at 7:54 AM
Mark, don’t even TRY to convince her. Instead, get in to counseling, begin to find alternative ways to behave that build trust, and stop yelling. Understand how to effectively replace the yelling. Yelling (and hitting, too) are what we do when we feel helpless, and feel like we have no other alternative. You have lost her trust, and building trust back in to the relationship is what will “convince” her, so to speak. Hopefully, it is not too late. If she leaves it will be because she no longer can trust that you are safe.
Stay in touch.
A PsychoAugust 6th, 2013 at 11:24 AM
I am reading this article, comments and crying my eyes out. I am 31, I have two kids (6 and 4) an very loving and amazing husband with a patience that could hold the world and I am a crazy psycho yeller. Last night I yelled at him because he asked me to repeat something that I said. I flew off the handle, because I feel like he never hears what I said, and always asks me to repeat stuff. I have a foreign accent and take it very personal when people do not understand me. The reason I take it so personal, is because I think people who don’t understand – pretend, and want to give me hard time. I have lived in the US for 15 years and have an accomplished career, and not once at my work, or anywhere professionally I have been told to repeat something, or explain myself due to an accent… So yesterday I took it personal, yet again, and yelled. This is not the first time ofcourse. I feel like it’s getting worse. We have been married for 8 years now and together for 13, i feel like his patience will wear thin soon and he will kick me out. I yell at the kids too. But I realized that, and honest to God trying my best not to yell, and I think I am succeeding. But with my husband… He told me that something is wrong with me and I need to fix it. I just don’t think that any pills will help. I am normal otherwise, or so I think. And I have a girlfriend who is a yelled like me, and we talk about it sometimes. And we consider ourselves lucky to have men like we do. But I just wish I could put an end to this psycho yelling. My grandma was a psycho yeller like me. I grew up being yelled at, and she yelled at everyone in the house. And she hit us too. I wonder if that environment made an irreparable damage to me. I don’t want my daughters to be psychos like that. I don’t know why I am writing this here.
ChristineAugust 7th, 2013 at 1:07 AM
I never realized how big of an impact my dad’s yelling had on me until tonight.
When my brother and I were kids, he would get mad at us an yell at us in that no-fury-barred kind of way. He would never get physical and really rarely use names like lazy, but he would get so incredibly mad over little stuff… I know this was an issue for my mom as well because he would yell at her too. It has always made her unhappy, but she was a legal alien and stay at home mom, so I know she probably stayed with him in the end for immigration and financial reasons.
Now at 22, I am staying at home for a few months and he yelled at me tonight basically unprovoked over how my brother and I fought when we were young teenagers. I have to wonder if he even realizes that it upsets me, or if he was trying to joke and got accidentally lit up by remembering how mad it used to make him.
I reverted back into feeling like a helpless child and tried ignore it and have a conversation with my amazing boyfriend, while really I was upset and silently cried on and off for the hour plus phone convo. It is really unreasonable for me to get that upset over something so meaningless, which is hard for me because I consider myself very logical. This is why I think that being yelled at so frequently as a teenager had more of an effect on me than I realized-I can’t control my reaction.
When I was a kid if I tried to argue back logically, it just made things worse, so I would go cry in my room and think about all the apt things I should/could have said while imagining both his likely response to them, and a response where he would realize that he was being unreasonable. I wish that at my age and state of maturity, he didn’t have the power to send me back there by just opening his mouth.
And I can imagine that suggesting he see a therapist would make him very angry and personally offended. But it might save my parents relationship at this point, though it’s not their only issue. I have forgiven him or being, as I have sometimes phrased it ‘kind of a dick’, because he is still a good man and supports and loves us, though he is not the most outwardly affectionate person. However, if the yelling starts up again, it might make it hard to move on with him in post-college new leaf relationship we have going. I mostly just don’t want to do this to my future kids, but am afraid I might revert to it naturally…
Jim Hutt, Ph.DAugust 7th, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Psycho, this response is for you:
Find a counselor, and learn how to understand how the brain works. That will help you devise strategies for managing your reactivity more effectively.
Next, take some time to explore with a therapist some of the familial roots that might connect with your yelling. More importantly, invite your husband in to some couple counseling with you. After all, when either partner is trying to make difficult changes, it can be easier if you work as a team, and there are specific ways you can each operate to help build that team approach.
Feel free to email me if you have any questions about that.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DAugust 7th, 2013 at 2:58 PM
Your story is a very familiar one, and my heart goes out to you. The reason your logic doesn’t help you feel better when you hear yelling is because emotional states don’t usually respond to logical interventions.
In the short and long term, you would benefit from therapy regardless of what your father does. With counseling, you can develop a way to not let him trigger you, which will benefit you in more ways than I can describe here.
Your father may always possess the power to trigger you, but you possess the power to find effective ways to manage your reactions and responses to his yelling that will leave you feeling balanced and much happier, where you won’t dissolve to tears and sadness.
If you have any questions about that, feel free to email me, and I will be happy to respond to you.
Still youngOctober 17th, 2013 at 12:26 AM
I’m 22 years old and this article just helped me understand some of my inappropriate communication methods and I’m hoping that it is not too late for me to change.
I realized at a fairly young age that my father was an alcoholic. He was frequently very verbally and emotionally abusive, although rarely physical. My mother yelled very often as well. I remember dreading every soccer game I went to in 5th grade, because the entire car ride home would consists of my parents yelling at me the whole way home.
As I got older my dads verbal abusive got much worse. The language was sometimes very strong and he would call me things along the lines of “a miserable f***ing piece of…” You get the idea. When he would yell at my mother, I’d yell back and try to tell him not to say those things to her, and was usually told to shut up. Later my mother would tell me that I push his buttons and stress him out, so I was often confused where the fault layed.
My parents are great people, they really are. I am quite close to them. My dad is a great person when he’s not drinking, and my mother is wonderful when she’s not stressed. Being away from home really makes the relationship easier.
The problem now is that I’m dating a really great guy and I am seeing irrational behavior surface in myself. In the past I never quite understood why my relationships consisted of so much fighting when, usually, the guy I’m with is a fairly nonconfrontational, sweet guy. My boyfriend of about two years now is about 4 years older than me which brings a bit more maturity. His parents are also very kind and have always tried their best to speak to him in a careful, rational way, or so it would seem from witnessing their interaction and listening to the way he speaks about them and to me. He is caring and thoughtful and knows about some of my past events. He has told me that as long as I’m always working hard to be a good person and trying, we can work through our communication issues. Tonight he made a joke that in the past has bothered me on a few different occasions and I snapped a little, saying that surely by now he knows that it’s not funny and why does he keep jabbing at me? When he kindly apologized, I stayed pent up and angry, saying I appreciate his apology but we’ve been through this and he’s just going to do it again. He asked if something comes up that bothers me, could I just ask that we not talk about it instead of getting upset.
It hurt me so much to see him feel the same way I felt as a kid. Hurt and trying to rationalize when I didn’t deserve harsh words, only to be continually shut down. Lately I’m starting to see a lot of the issues may have come from my learned behavior. Is there any text or advice out there for a younger generation? I don’t want to wait until I’m yelling at children or a husband irrationally, or until he possibly resents me for my poor behavior. I want to treat him in the same kind way he treats me.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DOctober 17th, 2013 at 12:48 PM
Dear Still Young,
Wow, the pain, frustration and fear really come through loud and clear in your post, and I thank you for taking the risk to be so revealing, honest and authentic in describing your struggle.
I think you accurately have determined where you need to put your effort: That is, how to not let your past have a negative impact on your future intimate relationships.
I wish I could wave a wand and change the tide of your past, but we both know that will not occur. So, I suggest that you and your partner find a seasoned relationship therapist and begin addressing this as a couple. That might seem counter-intuitive, but actually it will be more helpful in the long term.
When there might be times the therapist wants to see either of you individually, then that should be permissible as well. You have done well to be so insightful ant such a young age, and now you can further your growth by getting in to therapy.
If you wish to tell me in which community you live, feel free to send me an email, and I just might be able to refer you to a therapist. In the mean time, I wish you well, and support your efforts to achieve the happiness you so much deserve.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.
DaddaddaddaddadNovember 5th, 2013 at 1:32 AM
My wife and I have 2 kids under 2, she’s always been a shouter (and worse) but recently after returning the work the shouting has increased.
Every morning she gets up (generally late) and then as soon as she sees me starts shouting about some perceived problem. Ranging from that she can’t find her shoes, the alledged untidiness of the house or if I drive her to the station a general bombastic criticism if my driving (and life in general). The shouting is all peppered with swearing and threats. As well as observations on my life “you f**k everything up, you little ****” or that I am unsuitable to look after our kids (I stay at home with them) Often events are made up or exaggerated for effect.
When she gets on the train or in the car she will then message until she gets the required apology from me. She will then deny any shouting or swearing took place and that I have made it up.
As you may anticipate this pattern of behaviour repeats for an hour when she returns from work.
My main concern is that the kids see this behaviour day in day out and it must be creating a perception of us both
JNovember 13th, 2013 at 7:31 PM
One thing I wonder is where screaming “around” your partner falls on the abuse spectrum. My live-in partner of 7 years can’t seem to stop yelling and screaming. Generally it is at inanimate objects or pets rather than at me, but there are certainly times where it’s pretty clearly about me but at other things (and I’m also pretty sure it’s also meant for me to hear).
Generally speaking, I retreat into Flight mode when the screaming starts. When I have asked for the yelling or screaming to stop, I am generally told either that the behavior is acceptable because it’s not “AT” people, or that it is justified because of tiredness or “everything being terrible.” At this point, Flight mode is the default setting for when yelling begins, because nothing I’ve tried to say about it seems to make a difference. I also worry because I really don’t know if this screaming pattern is a sign of other things to come, or if he is right, and the screaming is “okay” if it’s not directly at me. I also worry about what kind of noise a child would be subjected to in such an environment.
I have to wonder if the problem is me, because most articles are about yelling and screaming AT people, not AROUND them, with hints of it still being their fault.
ENovember 17th, 2013 at 5:47 AM
Thank you so much for the article. I am 35 and working freelance and have been with my partner for 14 years. I come from a family where we never yell at each other, and where my parents and sibling are logical, compassionate and have great respect for each other. However, my partner is from a totally different household, in which everyone always yelled and shouted at each other. His father was the sole breadwinner, and was verbally very abusive, intimidating, arrogant, physically powerful, and exerted punishments which were quite humiliating and demeaning when his kids misbehaved.
Now that my partner is a grown man I felt he had become similar to his father. He didn’t feel the way his family behaved was unhealthy, rather he slated how my family seemed ‘fake’ because we were polite and tried our best to be respectful and appreciative towards each other. He has learnt to deal with frustration by yelling at and humiliating those he felt let him down, or challenges him, or disrespected him, etc. He is now the main breadwinner at his family as his dad had lost his business and was declared bankrupt quite some time ago. My partner is quite a capable person professionally, but he felt stressed and bitter because he felt everyone around him is a let down and not capable. He yelled at his dad, his mum, his sister, and me. I can’t recall how many times he felt our conversation or my tone of voice got on his nerve or my showing doubt or being unhappy about his decisions ‘disrespected him’, where he would yell at me, be it in private or at full blast in full public view. On crowded streets, in front of mutual friends, in front of his family, etc. He sometimes start swearing at me, and sometimes threw things around. He reasoned that it was not because he had lost control. To the contrary, it was because he purposely wanted to punish me and let me feel humiliated. In short, I deserve it because I misbehaved. If I cry, yelling will get worse because he felt I don’t feel remorse and is showing sign of challenge. If I attempt to calm him down, I get yelled at more. And seldom would he apologise afterwards because he felt he behaved correctly.
We have been long term partners and apart from this yelling / anger management issue he has, he is generally a very decent and loyal fellow and can be very loving, generous and kind. We are going to be married soon and, although I love this person deeply and I acknowledge his love for me, I have doubts about this relationship because I felt he cannot see why the way he handled his frustration is damaging to us. I had no idea how to deal with a yeller as it’s never a part of my own family, but I have been finding ways to better understand and help him deal with his problem. We have spoken many times at length about this but he mostly felt that it’s my fault because he felt I am not competent enough that is putting pressure on him in life (which I don’t really agree with as I earn my own living working freelance while taking care of our household…but he said I should have been much more in life), or that I have a ‘sharp mouth’ which ‘does not know when to shut up’. He said that his yelling episodes were all triggered by me, so they most certainly would be my fault and were definitely preventable had I not been a nuisance. I agree I am not always perfect and blameless, but I felt that he has some serious issues which he doesn’t acknowledge at all. I don’t know how to get through to him if he doesn’t feel he needed to change… I wanted him to read this article too but he felt all these are just emotional mumbo jumbo. I am feeling so incredibly frustrated and tired.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DNovember 18th, 2013 at 12:58 PM
All I can tell you is that a marriage to a person who is as you describe your future husband will be a long and painful marriage. However, rather than telling him he has to stop yelling or you won’t marry him, instead invite him to go to premarital counseling with you, and begin to discuss the topic there, in a safe, facilitated environment. Let me know how it goes.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.
SaraNovember 22nd, 2013 at 6:02 AM
There is nothing wrong with feeling afraid even if your partner is not directing his anger at you. This form of aggression is known as implied violence and is designed to make you fearful. In others words, his behavior is saying, “look what I am capable of, I can do this to you and you should be afraid”. It’s still abusive.
HildaNovember 22nd, 2013 at 9:26 AM
You have a sharp mouth and don’t know when to shut up? and you’re not competent enough? If that’s not abusive, I don’t know what is. This is not okay. I realize these are difficult and trying moments for him, but that’s no excuse to treat those around him like this. I would be honest about the way this makes you feel. Offer to go to couples counseling BEFORE you get married. If things don’t improve or if he refuses to go, then you have to really question what you are willing to live with because this is only going to get worse. Think about what YOU need out of the relationship and your household together. Is this going to meet your needs in the long run?
PomegranateNovember 27th, 2013 at 10:47 AM
I am waiting gor an answer to this because I’m in a similar situation. My partnrr grew up in an abusive household, and shows many characteristics of both of her parents. My family were yellers, too, but not nearly to thiz extreme.
My partner yells at and berates me in front of our two-year-old. She has yelled at him on occasion, as well. She acknowledges that she has anger issues, but does nothing to change her behavior. I am not prepared to leave, at least not yet, but I am scared to watch my children grow up seeing this behavior.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DNovember 27th, 2013 at 3:09 PM
There are no easy answers, nor quick fixes, when it comes to chronic yelling. If there were, we would not be paying so much attention to yelling. But, because it is typically a pattern, breaking patterns of any type is usually something that takes persistence, a methodical approach, and often the help of other people, such as counselors who are trained to help break or change patterns. Try getting the help of a therapist, with or without your partner address the issue in a focused manner.
BrendaDecember 5th, 2013 at 5:27 AM
I have such sadness after having read your story. My heart goes out to you & your children. I wish I could do more to help you. You & your kids are in my prayers. I wish you the best.
CalenMarch 28th, 2014 at 3:26 AM
I can’t stop yelling at nearly everyone except my children. I have yelled at my kids in the past, too much so. When I realized what I had done, that I had broken a promise to myself not to do to mine what had been done to me, I loathed myself enough to stop yelling at them. But, I can’t seem to hold back when I’m dealing with just about anyone else, especially the cable company, the phone company, incompetent people, etc.
It’s a sad, bitter irony that no one in the Behavioral Health Care field can deal with anyone with emotional problems. The psychiatrist who just dropped me for being too angry, agrees about that. So, no more meds for me. I’m too broken to be helped.
I’ve been looking for well over a year for a therapist, but no one helps with the leftovers of violent childhood. No one helps with C-PTSD. (Complex and/or Chronic PTSD) I was violently abused, both physically and emotionally, both at home and at school, most of my childhood, until I ran away from home.
What’s a person to do? I can’t give up or else I die, but I can’t find any help, either. So, I’m left to just flail around trying to figure out how to help myself. But, I’m too broken and worthless to be helped. I feel I’ve reached the limit of self-help, but I’m still way beyond where Behavioral Health Care starts. How does one bridge that gap?
What left except for hopelessness?
Jim Hutt, Ph.DMarch 28th, 2014 at 10:13 AM
Your pain sounds unimaginable, and it’s truly unfortunate you have not been able to find the help you are looking for.
If you tell me the community you are in, perhaps I can help you find someone who is not afraid to help you mange your pain and anger.
Last resorterMarch 30th, 2014 at 5:20 AM
My mother(43) is a yeller. From when I was 6 my sister(15) and I(18) have listened to my mother yell and dig at my dad(40), about various perceived problems in his behaviour and her life, daily. On rarer occasions (probably once every two months) there would be an argument so loud and aggressive that mum and dad would scream and swear at each other while me and my sister would be upstairs trying to blur it out with headphones and hide under the duvet covers until dad would walk out. There have been 3 occasions when this has become so bad that they have spilt for 6 months at a time. Mum never drops an argument. Ever.
I think this behaviour has now rubbed off on my sister as she seems to have no respect for anyone in the family and her default is to shout and answer back which has caused EXTREME amounts of tension in the family over the past 5years. Now that there are two yellers in our house it has become a constant war zone whereby no one can now seem to hold a normal conversation without feeling personally attacked by a comment or action. I’m now scared this behaviours is rubbing off on me too as I used to stay out of the arguments but recently I have been “interfering” which I see this a being helpful and trying stop the argument before it starts but now everyone bites at me too.
My mother is saying that she cannot cope with having two disrespectful, unappreciative children and doesn’t want to be close to us. My dad wants out and my sister is becoming increasingly disruptive which is having an effect on her schooling.
It is Mother’s Day today and it has been the usual routine, now no one is talking. The situation is making everyone depressed angry and to an extent resentful of their lives with each other and I need to know how to deal with this because my family is being torn apart by friction. Please help! I’ve tried reasoning, ignoring, suggesting counselling. Everything!
Carey MApril 2nd, 2014 at 7:01 PM
I feel helpless,, my now wife is a yeller and name caller, and she was before we were married and it drove me crazy, but I saw the nice person who I fell in love with, that’s why I married her.
We have two young boys, 3 and 1 and it makes me sick to my stomach bc she gets so angry over so little and yells at me and says some really nasty things, while holding our youngest and in front of both of them. I try to tell her that this time is not appropriate and she yells more, still with children right there. I try to show her websites of the damage that can be done to our children from her behaviors, then she keeps yelling, even right now,, our children are both sleeping, and she name calling and ‘yelling’ messages to me on facebook.
When she was younger, her father, who I only know as a nice guy was abusive, she has scars from being pushed around,, I don’t know much bc she doesn’t talk about things, but I know all of this stems from her childhood. I barely remember my parents argue,, only a few occasions, but when I was 13, they got a divorce.
I called for counseling, but she stresses that I need the help, I am the loser, I have the problems, I start the fights, it’s all me, I have never done anything right…. and so on. She tries to get me very angry, says things that are just nasty, and I don’t get it?
She can call me every name in the book, I don’t care, but when she yells, and name calls, and behaves inappropriately in front of our children, and while holding our youngest, that’s not cool!!
This isn’t the first time, she freaked out while holding our first child, I called the police, I called counselors, in need for help, but she played the victim and me the villain,,, it’s not cool!!
Jim Hutt, Ph.DApril 3rd, 2014 at 10:18 AM
If you can, find a counselor in your vicinity who can help you manage your situation, even if your wife does not want to go with you to counseling. Schedule a session with a therapist who understands couples, and make an appointment. Tell your wife the time and date, and let her know she is invited, and that it’s her decision. Do not try to talk her in to going; do not argue with her about whether or not she decides to go; do not let her talk you out of going. Simply leave it up to her as to whether or not she attends the meeting. Go and get some support and coping strategies for yourself. Let me know how it develops.
Sherry Ray-VonApril 6th, 2014 at 9:43 AM
That will not change.I would get out while you can. Before you have become a robotic person. My step father had become a non existent person. He had no opinions and if he says anything he begins the sentence with “your mother knows” I looked up yelling just now because my mother has yelled my whole life and im 52 and I am sick and tired of it. Its like I’m a punching bag. She yells at me for things my adult sisters do. And when she does I calmly say, please you need to tell them how you feel. And when she tells at me it’s usually for a mistake she has made. I’m not saying I don’t make mistakes but at het house when I’m with her . I’m not allowed to have an opinion or a knowledgeable comment. If I do , no matter what even if it’s about my taste. I am cut down chewed out and told I do not know what I’m taking about. She is narcissistic and 80 . I’m not you . But this doesn’t change unless they want it to. My mother has never apologised for yelling at me and absolutely never re organizes my knowledge. She will say that she knew it first . Not true. She less almost everything she speaks.
DeniseApril 23rd, 2014 at 4:46 PM
Well, come to find out my boyfriend was severely abused and appears to have ptsd and bpd traits and I am the only person he has told about his past and when it came out it was in a yelling episode. In the short time we have been together I have been yelled at way too much and now I am trying to get him help. After the recent and last episode when I was still unable to really feel well (24 hours later)he just could not understand why I could not get over it because “that happened 24 hours ago.” He does admit he needs counseling and I have talked with him about triggers as well as the ptsd. I did not know he has suicidal thoughts until I went to a business meeting which involved another male. Since then I have been told I will be on the top of the suicide note list. He then cries and cries and just reminds me of a small boy and I really want him to get help. He has mentioned more than once that he will get counseling and so on. I fell sort of in shock. He was not only raped as a child but he was yelled and verbally abused by his step father and mother for years. Those of you who are parents and are getting help and/or trying to change, bless your hearts. I grew up in a yelling/abusive household and worked much on my own life and peace of mind after working through anger and so on. Now before me is a beautiful, sad and damaged man who loves so strongly and has so much potential but he has been homeless and almost breaks down everyday. I hope he can work through it and I am so sorry our society is filled with such abuse. Lastly, hang in there…I’m trying to.
Paul HApril 29th, 2014 at 11:17 AM
I’ve read many of these comments described here and although i feel each is skewed in favour of the poster, it has given me an introspective view of my behaviour….
but how do you control an emotional response? I do yell at my boy (2) and i have guilt about it afterwards as i know in in the wrong. But when i yell at my partner its usually because when she gets a bee in her bonnet she becomes very passive/aggressive and don’t let things drop. And when it comes to her son (7) i I generally only yell after being ignored for the twentieth time…. I know its not the correct solution but aside from a bit of yelling i am a good man and try hard as a father and partner. I’m not justifying yelling but I feel it can be unavoidable when frustration builds up.
However I know my behaviour will never escalate to physical abuse, I watched my mum get beat by my stepdad as a child. I wouldn’t ever consider so much as raising a hand to either my kids or my partner… But the question is how do you override emotional response?
me2May 1st, 2014 at 8:08 PM
My wife is a constant yeller. She mainly yells at our two boys ages 6 & 4. Her expectations of them are unreasonable and she screams at the smallest sign of non compliance. An example of this would be something like they got up from the table before finishing all their food or leaving their shoes out in the hallway. I literally carry a pair of earplugs with me in the house or if we go out. There is no way to stop it and I’m saddened that I feel like leaving an abandoning the kids to face her alone.
DocMay 7th, 2014 at 8:33 AM
I need help.
I just can’t control myself, my emotions. When I’m skyping with my dad and he asks questions, I answer him in a yelling way. I hate doing it and I want to change, but when I’m in the situation it turns out that I always lose my control. Please help me. I hate myself for doing those things… :(
Jim Hutt, Ph.DMay 19th, 2014 at 10:58 AM
For me2 & Doc,
Both of you are sealing with the the problem of yelling from opposite side of the same coin. There is no solution I can offer in a blog to respective difficulties, both of which are very painful. However, I strongly encourage both of you seek professionally counseling, and do it now. The problem you both face is complex, and specific to your personal situation.
AmberMay 24th, 2014 at 7:54 AM
I am a twenty nine year old stay at hone mom. I was born and raises in Ny. Came to Alabama on vacation and loved it. My cousin and i decided we wanted to kove here, so we did. After the first yr she went home. I had already started a relationship so i stayed. Two years later i was pregnant. After i got pregnant my boyfriend changed started talking to other women. He left me in the hospital alone he two days i was there after having my daughter. The night she was born he went out to the club. At eight weeks old he was screaming at her for crying telling her to ahut the fu@# up. Ata month old he asked if we can just give her away, to which i told him where she goes i go. She is now three and he barley spends any time with her the time he does spend with her he is constantly yelling at her or spanking her or threatenig to spank her. She wants nothing to do with him. Ive tries talking to him about it. Yelling at him. Nothing works. He is ocd and is constantly on me about something. Im nervous as sooas he comes home because i know he will find something to get on me about. I am ao unhappy. I feel stuck i am almost 1000 miles from my family and have noone here to help me. Anytime i need so ehing i have to ask him for money abd give him a recipet. When he gets mad he will tell me for example im jot gonna buy you another pack of pity cigarettes. He woke me up one morning and told me he wanted me out told me to go to NY and live with my mother but also said your not taking our daughter. He has never helped me with and has only spent at most four hours alone with her since she was born. I recently had an issue with the birth control mirena. My stomach is really bad it hurts me to have intercourse, he gets so angry about it he yells at me. He trys to pressure me into having sex. Then when i say jo he tells me i dont love him, or that i make hi. Feel like less of a man. I am so tired of crying and so tired of veing unhappy. I just dont known what to do. His family has moneynmine doesnt and im scared if i leave he will get a good lawyer while i cant afford one and will get custody of my angel. I cant let that happen. I was going to ve admitted to the hospital for my stomach and refused because i didnt want her to be left alone with her he hasnt beat her.. he is very hard on her butbi dont know what would happen if i wasnt here. I feel so alone with noi e to talk to noobe to help. Hes never made bottles or gotten up in the middle of the night. Never given her a bath or washed her clothes. Never taken her to daycare or the dr. The obly thing he does is buy things she needs and most of the time his mother is the one buying what she needs. I feel trapped i dont have a babysitter ao i cant work. I need some advice on what i should do.
GT SupportMay 24th, 2014 at 10:20 AM
Thank you for your comment, Amber. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about domestic violence at http://www.goodtherapy.org/therapy-for-domestic-violence.html and additional information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html
The GoodTherapy.org Team
RAAJune 5th, 2014 at 7:51 PM
My partner (26) yells at me constantly, over what I think are quite minor issues – certainly not worth getting that angry over.
Last night we had a huge fight and she yelled so much I thought her lungs would explode. She punched the dashboard of my car really hard, pulled the hand-break twice while I was driving. I parked the car and got out and said, “I’m not going to get back into the car until you stop yelling at me” and it made no difference, she continued to yell. She then got into the driver’s seat and tried to drive away from me with the door still open – she almost drove over my feet. She had no understanding of why what she was doing was wrong. After about 50 minutes of yelling and me asking her to lower her voice, I said, “I shouldn’t have to ask my partner to stop yelling at me. You should respect me enough not to do it in the first place,” and she called me a “princess” and suggested I was being completely unreasonable and that it was my fault for making her angry.
All this over a minor miscommunication – I came home from work to find her resting in bed. I got in with her and said I wanted to nap for 20 minutes before we had to go out and she accused me of not wanting to spend time with her and then suggested I didn’t communicate properly that I wanted to rest.
I’m at my wit’s end and feel like my self-esteem is at an all-time low.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DJune 6th, 2014 at 10:01 AM
I suspect your self esteem is low not only because of how she treats you, but more importantly as a result of not doing for yourself what you need to do take care of yourself in response to your partner’s angry and explosive outbursts. While I cannot tell you what to do, I will say that as long as you stay in any type of unhealthy environment, the worse you are going to feel. I suggest that you and your partner get in to counseling asap. If she does not want to go with you, go by yourself. Try to remember: you may share some responsibility in triggering her anger, but you share absolutely no responsibility in the way she exhibits and expresses her anger. That’s on her.
Start the process of taking care of yourself.
D WJune 29th, 2014 at 5:37 AM
So sorry you are experiencing this. You handled it so well….staying calm instead of engaging an obviously counter productive situation. Your partner sounds like she is unwilling to take any responsibility for her actions and inactions. I think a break is in order. Treasure yourself. The energy of her anger is draining you. As you distance yourself surround yourself with positive support. Best wishes to you. ♡
Lady khalJune 30th, 2014 at 10:25 PM
My father is a fault finding, nothing-was-ever-good-enough emotional abuser. I used to walk in his house & he’d find something wrong with me. I was sick as a teenager and he blamed my brother’s abandonment issues &poor life choices on me. His exact words, “if you hadn’t been so needy, maybe your mother could have spent time with your brother.” I was a scared teen fighting a brain tumor. When i graduated college he told me it took me too long and a simple B.A. degree was worthless without a Masters degree. I put myself thousands of dollars in debt just in the hopes of hearing” IM PROUD OF YOU!” As a result of his emotional abuse, i have avoided relationships with men. I refuse to have kids cause i worried this pattern of abuse would continue. I have trouble with hearing constructive criticism. When a former boss used to find fault with my work i would respond by telling her whatever she wanted to hear even it was a lie.
My dad is elderly now & a day doesn’t go by where i react to some criticism he makes with yelling. When he opens his mouth i want to yell at him until I’m hoarse. My mother hates his guts. He lies and makes false promises. Screwed the family finances by not paying taxes. I walk in that house and i go on automatic “I’m sorry” mode. I hate my life and never feel good or worthy of the things i want in life. There are times i dream of the peace death will bring. I tried several times to tell him to stop treating me this way. I give it back to him now and it only makes me feel worse. If it wasnt for my mom i would kill myself and leave him to rot in the mess he made of his family. The man has no friends, his wife hates his guts, his son doesnt come around without incentives and he has broken my spirit.
Is it horrible to give your emotional abuser a taste of the s*** he has given to you? And do it by screaming at him?
The GoodTherapy.org TeamJuly 1st, 2014 at 8:56 AM
Thank you for your comment, Lady Khal. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html
The GoodTherapy.org Team
arkJuly 9th, 2014 at 9:59 PM
I am working on two levels one is controlling yelling on my son n dealing with yelling of my spouse. Is there any way this could be connected? Btw I did find ur article on yelling pretty helpful thank you.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DJuly 10th, 2014 at 8:42 AM
They probably are connected–for sure, no one likes to be yelled at, including you and your son. When your spouse yells at you, you probably feel the same way your son feels when you yell at him. You also might be yelling at your son when you’re actually mad at your spouse for yelling at you.
Without knowing more details of your situation, those are all the guesses I am willing to make at the moment. Just keep up the good work of not yelling at anyone–especially your son.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.
helplessnessAugust 13th, 2014 at 5:21 PM
I’m the yeller and I take full blame that I’m the screw up. I’m the reason things are chaotic because I’m very spontaneous,due to having so many let downs from “plans”. My husband tell me stop yelling so I try and I usually end up crying instead to release my frustrations. But when I start crying he tells me “he doesn’t understand why it’s such big deal that now you’re crying” and “I just need to get over it”. I try to explain I feel helpless, unaccomplished,unproductive,and simply frustrated. Then he ask why, and I tell him because all I do is work and no fun,no hobbies, nothing. I work,clean,cook,take care of our daughter and animals. But I haven’t enjoyed life with the family. My daughter goes and play with her friends, my husband works out and does school and video games, and my FreeTime is tv or kindle for an hour or two. Then he says well what’s wrong with that? In my eyes everything! I don’t enjoy those activities,it just passes time. And that’s when the yelling starts. He tries to be helpful by naming things can do, but it’s usually housework or things we can’t afford or talent he KNOWS I don’t have. Before you know it the day is over and I’m left crying to myself with my kindle. Now only do I feel helpless and un-accomplished and unproductive, but miserable and alone to boot. Please any suggestions. I’m so tired of crying and yelling.
helplessAugust 21st, 2014 at 7:46 PM
My wife will tell me about her stressful day but with all her emotion and frustration coming out in her voice, facial expressions, and body language. She says she’s not yelling at me. But I feel like she is. There actually is no difference to me. I feel her anger and frankly since she is communicating to me I get all the normal physiological responses as when someone yells at me in anger. I ask her to just talk to me like she does with her sister or friends. Then she gets angry at me for real, although I can’t tell the difference. She doesn’t think she needs to change. There have been times when I have endured this for days at a time. Is she right? She’s not yelling at me because the source of her anger is someone else?
winevqaAugust 25th, 2014 at 7:58 AM
My boyfriend yells at the TV constantly. We watch a lot of news. Every commentator is an a******, f***up or a fool. He yells and curses and yet does nothing to improve his small part of the world. I am very tired of listening to his angry and his choice to be angry about things beyond his control. It destroys my harmony totally, makes me lose respect for him and it makes me sad. Any thoughts?
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.August 27th, 2014 at 5:21 PM
First of all, you are not helpless. Second, I think she is yelling TO you, not AT you. My guess is that she knows she’s not mad at you. But, when you try to get her to stop yelling, you’re probably right–THEN she gets mad AT you. Try offering her a little empathy or compassion. You might find that helps you stay in the moment without getting so emotionally activated, and it just might help her shorten the yelling spree she’s on.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.August 27th, 2014 at 5:25 PM
Your boyfriend may have a problem with his negativity and his less than adequate manner of dealing with his disgust with the news stations. (Try NASCAR?) You, on the other hand, always have the option of not being with him, or, of you want to be with him, suggest counseling.
AAugust 28th, 2014 at 7:30 AM
I’m preparing to leave my boyfriend next week because he has yelled or raised his voice at me nearly every single day since May 1. We had a long distance relationship for 1 year. We wanted to see if what we had was real, so we decided to move in together. I moved from VA to NYC to be with him, and boy, did I find out. The “real” him revealed itself in the first week.
He yells at me when I do annoying things, but I always feel like it’s an overreaction. He also yells at me when I’m just trying to help him: yesterday I was trying to write a resume for him, and he appeared to get upset when I asked him about the dates pertaining to his education. He throws fits and storms away from anything that is “difficult.”
I say he “appeared to get upset” because, after the arguments, he claims he never yelled nor raised his voice. Or, he’ll say he doesn’t remember the conversation altogether.
He’s impossible to please. For example, while driving, he’ll snap at me for merging into the left lane to pass a slow driver. Then, during that SAME TRIP, he’ll snap at me when I pump the breaks to slow down. He once SCREAMED at me when I asked him if I was taking the North exit or the South exit on the highway.
The way he reacts to me over simple things is the way I would react to someone if they did something violent towards me, or if someone tried to steal from me.
This is the third time I’ve “threatened” to leave him in 4 months, but it really is happening this time. Each time, when he realizes he’s losing me, he begins to act so nice.
The yelling is the only thing that’s wrong with our relationship, so he makes me feel like I’m weak because I can’t handle it. Well, I can’t handle it. His yelling reminds me of my father, which puts me in PTSD mode, and I freak out. My father, a yeller, has always terrified me.
My boyfriend always says things that imply that he believes I am stupid and lazy. Yeah, sure, I tend to be A LITTLE lazy sometimes, but I’m a hard worker. It’s just difficult to motivate myself to do things like jogging when I’m so depressed. I just want to lay in bed all day and cry.
This is the third time I’ve tried to live with a partner, with miserable failures and painful break ups each time. Why do I keep finding myself in this situation? I feel so dumb.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.August 28th, 2014 at 9:28 AM
You asked the perfect question: “Why do I keep finding myself in this situation?” I encourage you to get in to counseling and get the answer to that question. You are in a pattern that needs to be altered, and it probably has to do with your emotional reactivity that has it’s roots in the emotional reactivity that started with your father’s yelling.
Begin breaking the pattern now–get in to counseling now, preferably with a therapist who understands the Bader-Pearson model, and I believe you will break the pattern, and learn how to not repeat this painful dynamic.
mjAugust 30th, 2014 at 12:31 PM
I feel like I’m on the same boat as you. Any suggestions or advice. I wanna seek counseling but I’m Lil scared.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.August 31st, 2014 at 9:06 PM
Of what are you afraid about getting in to counseling?
helplessnessSeptember 11th, 2014 at 10:03 AM
I think I can answer that. Can it be afforded, is there enough time in the week. It may not be fear of going to counseling, but more a fear as of how am I going to do it and where do you start looking.
Jim Hutt, Ph.D.September 11th, 2014 at 12:03 PM
There is a therapist search engine right here on GoodTherapy. Start there, find therapists in your community, begin making calls, and have phone interviews with therapists. That will help you narrow down your search. And you can also ask your friends–usually at least one of them has a recommendation.
NSeptember 14th, 2014 at 1:31 PM
I yell at my girlfriend every day about something. The way she drives, the way she says we’re gonna eat somewhere then goes about about this place? She takes forever to get ready, I am this close to getting a job, but in the meantime all I want to do is get out for a few hours; have a drink somewhere cool and quiet and instead I find myself going on trips to walmart and trader joes I HATE TRADER JOES, then we start arguing and I end up demanding she take me back to the house because “this is not what I wanted to do”. I love her, I really do, but My anger get’s the best of me.. But after I yell I can act so nice, until I get tripped up again. I don’t know what’s making me so accuising, abrasive, hostile towards a generally nice person. I really have no reason to. because at the end of the day I love her, I need her, and thankfully, every day is a new day.
BuffyMSeptember 18th, 2014 at 10:56 AM
Hi Dr. Jim,
I found this thread after searching for articles for when “my husband yells at my parents and disrespects them” after a very horrible evening. My husband is a yeller and he comes from a family that yells to solve problems. They yell at each other and swear and air all their grievances, then come back to each other and admit what they’ve done wrong and move on, but feel better that they “got the issue out in the open” and dealt with it. This is the opposite of how I grew up. We never raised our voices at each other and treated each other with respect and talked out differences. My husband feels we pushed problems aside and never dealt with them, instead would just wait a day and then move on without resolve underlying problems. He has a point – because there are things my mom would do that would really upset me , but I never confronted her for fear of her getting mad at me. I’m a people pleaser and never want to dissapoint my parents.
So, the current issue is that my husband thinks my mom doesn’t respect him because she makes comments or gets upset when he doesn’t act with manners she expects or acts the ways she wants him to. Like not saying good night or retreating to his room and not telling anyone.. or making an insinuation in a negative tone that he is leaving me alone on a holiday because he has to work and can’t come on a vacation. He feels these comments add up over time and he then says” if she doesn’t treat me with respect, I won’t respect her”. This attitude led to a blow out fight where he began yelling at my mom for the comment about the vacation which then skyrocketd to an hour of yelling, pacing and bringing in every example of how she disrespects him. It was horrible in every way and I knew that my parents were going to be in total shock that this is the man I married.
My mom was completely hurt, felt blindsided, yet my husband still won’t apologize because he feels like they need to also agree to not disrespect him. Everyone else in my family is the brunt of these types of criticisms and comments, but holds it in.. yet somehow my husband can’t just grin and bear it, and instead has to unleash serious yelling.
I don’t know if it is worth it to stay if we can’t have family visits without my husband screaming and yelling at my parents. My parents are good people, and even though my mom rubs people the wrong way with her nit-picky-ness and rude comments, she doesn’t deserve yelling. He does a good amount of yelling about all sorts of other things to, including when we argue together. He said he gets excited, express alot of emotion and he voice gets raised.. but that he is not yelling. I disagree.
We have gone off and on to counselors, and I think we are still FAR from resolving this. I believe he has serious anger control issues, but I don’t know if more counseling will ever be able to change him? Do I have hope or no?
JerrySeptember 23rd, 2014 at 7:35 PM
Del, I am in the same position. Also, when I try to tell my wife that she is yelling too much, she will turn it on me and say that I am not supporting her and that I am taking the kids side. Our kids should not be crying every time she helps them with their homework. If you find a way that helps you out please pass it along.
cherryOctober 1st, 2014 at 2:21 PM
I’m the same way with my husband. I feel so bad afterwards but pride won’t allow me to show it. I can’t began to discribe whats in me that is evoked that gets the best of me. I don’t know what to do… how to feel anymore or what to say? I know it must be confusing like hell for him. Were expecting his first child… i have a 9 year old daughter from a previous relationship. But I’m beginning to think maybe this is me secretly telling myself I’m undeserving of this relationship and so I’m finding every little reason to push him away…. I’m also so confused…
Jim Hutt, Ph.DOctober 1st, 2014 at 4:31 PM
I applaud you for considering that maybe some part of you might believe you are undeserving of a relationship in which you are loved and cherished. Take that thought, and your confusion, to therapy, and start to sort all that stuff out. The patterns you experience can be changed. Take a risk, bite the bullet, and go for it. Now.
dwayneOctober 5th, 2014 at 3:56 AM
I personally dont understand all the yelling that comes from spouses or anyone friends or family. People just have to many issues, your or their issues should not be someonelses problems. People don’t slow down enough and take time out before they over react, their overreacting and display of lack of self control is disgusting and annoying. People like that should be required to have some form of counseling. Don’t marry or be friends to people like that.
Matthew p.October 8th, 2014 at 2:39 PM
I used to do that to my dad sometimes he is gone now and I think about it a lot sometimes parents ask questions that seem nosy but really they are just interested in what you are doing. Be open with your parents they are the two people you can trust and won’t be around forever
KristiOctober 27th, 2014 at 9:13 AM
I have been married for 14 years. It has been good for 5. The other 9 has been episode after episode of something small triggering an avalanche of yelling, cursing and telling me everything he’s been angry at me about over the last 14 years. Then I defend myself and am told that I am such a victim. We have been to 5 counselors and he will do better for a short time and then the volcano erupts again. The reason that I am not divorced yet is that we have a son. I dont know which would be worse for him, to stay or go. There is a big part of me that believes more damage is being done to him by watching the events unfold than him being protected.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DOctober 27th, 2014 at 12:16 PM
Have you considered individual counseling? It may be that this is no longer about your husband’s yelling. It may be about your ambivalence about staying in the marriage, and therapy may help you with that. I also think that you are now beyond defending yourself when your husband yells at you and criticizes you. Your intuition is clearly in the right direction–your son needs more protection from the chronic yelling than he does from divorce.
manziNovember 20th, 2014 at 9:42 PM
My partner and I have been together for 3 years. We both left our partners at the time to be with each other (he has kids). And boy, is he a yeller when we fight. .other than that it’s the best relationship I have had.
His yelling, swearing and throwing things around really gets to me. And as a response, I get defensive or walk away which he reads as arrogance. However, sometimes I “fake” yelling at him and he seems to calm a wee bit. We are soon to be engaged, but I am not sure if I wanna go down that path unless I am 100%?
I am assuming counselling is the answer? I am happy to do so, he won’t be game!
Tai GNovember 30th, 2014 at 11:21 PM
So Im 14 and My Mom and I live with my Grandma. I never start fights or get mad at them. Ever since I can remember My Mom and Grandma have been yelling at each other about bills but mostly small things like how the detergent is gone or a little piece of paper on the floor. Recently for the last 3 years My Grandma has been yelling at me a lot. Basically whenever I see her since she works a lot for her age. She likes to argue and start stuff with people. she generous but she’s a very negative and sometimes hurtful and taunting person. She constantly yells a My Mom and I. She almost never thinks about how other people feel or how they think. And she thinks what she says is always right and is what goes. She never stops yelling at Me even if what she’s saying makes no sense and I’m making a valid point and My Mom sides with her even though she doesn’t agree most of the time. It’s getting worse and she’s ruining my life by putting me down and never listening to what I have so say or what I think. I will show this article to them hopefully it helps.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DDecember 1st, 2014 at 8:40 PM
I really appreciate hearing from you–(I would have responded sooner but I have just returned from out of town tonight.)
I appears from your description of the way things go in your home, that perhaps your mother is caught in what I think may be a loyalty conflict. What that means is that she is pulled in two directions–one part of her wants to side with you, but that might make her mother mad. Another side of her feels pulled to side with her mother, but that leaves you feeling sad, hurt, and angry. I don’t know for sure, but it sounds like your mother simply does not know how to handle the conflict she faces, and the problem is that it leaves you feeling unsupported and terrible. Show your mother this post, and ask her if she is willing to go with you to counseling. I think that might help you both. Let me know how this develops going forward.
ManuDecember 16th, 2014 at 8:59 AM
I have been married for 7 years. One of the most frustrating problems is that my husband screams and shouts for every little thing that irritates him. If he is not screaming then he reacts in such an irritated voice with raised voice. I have been telling him to change this for the last 7 years. He has changed but only 20%. This is creating really big issues as it I am unable to stop myself now and I also yell back. It creates further huge fights where both of us are fighting and our daughter is scared and listening and learning the same.
My husband is not interested in visiting a counsellor. He thinks I am at fault and I can visit alone.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DDecember 16th, 2014 at 10:03 AM
I encourage you to visit a therapist alone, (because he won’t go with you) and get some counseling on how to isolate your role in the pattern, and also to get some support. PLEASE do not interpret what I said about your role to mean that you are responsible for his yelling-YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS YELLING–he is. However, there is a pattern you two are stuck in, and in order to have a chance at creating a new more healthy pattern, you have to first become aware or your role in the current pattern.
Stay in touch and let me know how things progress.
ManuDecember 19th, 2014 at 7:25 AM
Thanks for the response. I shall indeed do it and let you know the outcome.
donna bDecember 23rd, 2014 at 9:29 PM
Just want to say that my father always yelled at me. I could never do anything right. He treated me like I was stupid and like I was an idiot. He has apologized at the age of 80, but it’s too late, even though we still spend time together and are nice to each other. Now I yell at my husband. I often think he does things just to make me mad. I can’t seem to overcome not looking at him as a human being with real feelings. I seem to think that if I yell louder and yell more he will get what I’m saying. But it never works. We are 62 and 57, so if we don’t figure it out soon, we are going to be in big trouble.
Jim Hutt, Ph.DDecember 29th, 2014 at 1:16 PM
Well, maybe you are punishing your husband for your father’s sins, so to speak, (no religious connotation intended.) Regardless, you both have a lot of years ahead of you, so go get some counseling together and find a way to make this years happy ones.
donna bDecember 29th, 2014 at 5:30 PM
I’m sorry, but I don’t get the connection between my father yelling at me and me yelling at my husband as payback. Can you explain?
Jim Hutt, Ph.DDecember 30th, 2014 at 9:45 AM
My apologies for confusing you. My comment was meant to give you something to think about that you may not have considered. Some people, sometimes, are still angry at their parent for the chronic yelling they grew up with. Some people may or may not be aware of that leftover anger, and might take that anger out on their spouse. I do not know if you might be doing that or not, and that is what my comment meant. On the other hand, parents who chronically yelled at their kids teach their kids that yelling is acceptable, even though it seldom provides the yeller with what he or she wants. In any event, I encourage you seek counseling with your husband so that you can each discover how you both have created the pattern that isn’t working well for either of you, and find out how to create a pattern that is satisfying. The pattern that you and your husband frequently repeat is not one sided–it’s not only about your yelling. Your husband also plays a role, too. Counseling can help you both find a solution for creating a new, loving pattern.
xyz xyzzzzFebruary 20th, 2015 at 7:11 AM
I am 48 years old. Married since I was 27. My wife is a yeller and now I see my 15 year old daughter becoming a yeller. My 3 sisters and my mom are yellers. My mother-in-law is a yeller. My dad was not a yeller but he passed away when I was 20. I live in the northeastern U.S.. Regarding my daughter, my wife has been yelling at her since she was little (even though my daughter has generally been a well behaved child). My mother-in-law even said a couple of times – in sort of an abstract way regarding a somewhat unrelated issue – “just give her/he what they want, just shut them up.” I even had a friend refer to my family as the “Bickerings” instead of our real name. I think I need to mention my sex life with my wife. It has never been good. Even before we were married. Not because she was a virgin when we were married but because it never improved. I generally respected that (although I don’t think people need to be virgins until marriage). I didn’t rush my wife, although it was hard for me. It only got worse. I had 3 girl friends prior to my marriage (those relationships ended amicably) and my sex life with them was much more satisfying than my sex life ever was/is with my wife. It seems sex is used by my wife (and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law) as a tool to manipulate. Although I can’t be sure about that with my mother-in-law & sister-in-law. When we were married my wife and I had sex around 3 times a year and it was quick and not satisfying for me. Over the last several years we have sex maybe once a year. She never seems at all motivated to improve the situation. I don’t want to play the victim but I think this all has effected me. There is a certain lose of confidence and general satisfaction in my life. I feel I am constantly searching for some way to be happy, motivated and productive. I feel I’ve made a mistake with my life. I adore my daughter but my marriage could have been a mistake for me. I was fairly young when I got married but I thought everything would generally work out. I am very worried that I was wrong. I am not one to seek out help (it feels uncomfortable to do so).
jim Hutt, Ph.D.February 20th, 2015 at 10:39 AM
Well, after all you said, and mentioning that you aren’t one to ask for help,
I will interpret your post as asking for help, and I’m glad you did. I imagine all of you are in some sort of pain, and would benefit from sitting down as a family with a good family therapist. If other’s aren’t willing to go, then I encourage you to find someone to talk to.
What you describe sounds like a life of quiet desperation for you, and not-so-quiet desperation for the others. The patterns that have led to difficulties you experience can be broken. Bite the bullet, find a therapist, and begin to learn how to create healthy patterns.
mwfFebruary 28th, 2015 at 7:31 PM
My wife and I have been married 14 years. We used to get along SO well. Now we don’t. Yelling to me and the 2 beautiful daughters (7 and 5) we have seem a milti day occurrence. I work for home and hear the yelling and crying every day and evening. When I am home with the girls we enjoy our time so much…I paint their nails, play puzzles, legos, hide and seek even dollies. When ever there are all 4 of us in the house it seems SO complicated and I just can’t stand it! My wife will then yell at me about something instead of discussing and then the kids hear it and that makes me go into a completely disresceptful state by tell her not to yell in front of kids…we never have time to talk…im not yelling or shouting…you try it then, you seem to know how to be the perfect parent. No I am not and who is but what I do know it the effect of the whole family and not one of us enjoy much longer then 1 hour before thing erupt. How do I handle this? I work 60 – 70 hours a week and my weekends and not something I look forward to a lot – even tho I need the break. I hear yelling, screaming, the house is a mess a lot…all I want is the calmness and fun back not the loud, mess. I’m not asking for the place to be perfectly clean but basic dishes done and clothes away and food dropped on floor pick up. It is effecting all of us I honestly don’t see any light unless something changes… I think she feels helpless and not worthy but when we were both working it was the same and she was a stressed out wife all the time. I don’t know what to do…
Dr. Jim HuttMarch 1st, 2015 at 10:04 AM
The situation you describe sounds horrible for everyone in the family. You and your wife are stuck in a pattern that is highly self-reinforcing, and difficult to break without professional intervention.
I suggest you ask your wife if she is willing to go to marital counseling with you. I realize you are very busy people professionally, but you will not regret making time for counseling.
If your wife refuses to go, do not argue with her about it. Simply set up a time, and go by yourself. There is a chance she will go eventually. BTW, going by yourself does not mean that you admitting you are “the problem.” It simply means you are making every attempt to combat your feelings of helplessness to break a powerfully painful and potentially destructive pattern.
Feel free to let me know how things proceed.
donna bMarch 1st, 2015 at 2:15 PM
Because I consider myself a yeller, saying that your wife does not feel worthy and she may feel like nothing will ever change sounds right. Do you ever tell her to stop, that she has no right to be yelling at you and the kids? My husband is more passive than me. If he would put his foot down and make it clear to your wife you are not going to tolerate this behavior and not engage in a heated ongoing argument, your wife might get the point.
ABMMarch 2nd, 2015 at 9:27 AM
I had to end a five year relationship with my fiancée. My father was a yeller, and i had a job where my superior was a yeller. I detest yelling. But yet, over the last year of our relationship, i became the yeller in this sense: Her: “you need to get this thing done.” Me: “i will when i can” Her: “but, it needs to be done.” Me: “I know, i know. But i can’t get to it if you don’t leave me alone.” Her: “This needs to get done.” Me: “LEAVE ME ALONE!” Her: “Don’t yell at me!” Me: “Then LEAVE ME ALONE!” (and the cycle continues — and gets escalated). This began to occur almost everyday. She had recently said that if i yell at her again, then she is done with the relationship (she had said that multiple times). Then, she complained about something that was not done yet — then i yelled, she then called off our family’s plans for christmas, and seemed to have ended the relationship. I was devastated until she called to see how i was doing after about two weeks, and we were back together (so to speak). She told me that she really did not intend to end the relationship but rather teach me a lesson about yelling. A couple of weeks later, she complained about how i cared for our dogs — by not being home sooner, which since i was not home there was nothing i could do about it at that moment – she yelled at me about being more responsible, i yelled back at her to say that i cannot take this anymore — and that i wanted to end the relationship. I have not spoken to her since. I am so very sad — i cannot concentrate, grief and all. I cannot be in a relationship where there is consistent fighting and yelling, even if i am the yeller. I am so disappointed that this relationship failed. I am 40 years old she is 35 — we are both professionals, and neither one of us could figure out how to simply discuss whatever was driving these nonsensical but very damaging fights.
Amanda DApril 16th, 2015 at 11:07 PM
She may need to go on an antidepressant. My situation is the same. I am the wife. She needs time out of the house and alone. She needs you to pitch in and help. It’s hard taking care of two little humans and a house full of people who I’m guessing rarely clean up after themselves. You need to make time for each other. She has lost herself she doesn’t feel like a woman anymore but a wife and mom.
Rachel KMay 22nd, 2015 at 9:02 AM
Hi, I’m a full time working mom. I have an 8 yr old and a 9mo old. My boyfriend stays home with the baby. For a while now I find myself getting very angry and then finally losing it and I just scream. I scream so loud that my throat hurts. It’s sadly not just my boyfriend that I’ve done this to. During my pregnancy with my son I was under a lot of stress and went thru a lot with my boyfriend. And I found myself expressing my anger towards my daughter. I would get instantly angry at her for not listening and I would just lose it. And start screaming that I couldn’t handle it. I feel incredibly terrible when I do this. Yesterday I got very angry with my boyfriend for choosing to stay home and play video games instead of going with me to the Dr’s for our son. I had even made arrangements for my daughter to get picked up after school so he could come with. I went to the appt and when I got home we fought some more. At one point he started to laugh at me and then I freaked out screaming to him to stop laughing at me. It was horrible that I yelled like that. I don’t like feeling this way. I feel like something is wrong with me.
thepinchMay 22nd, 2015 at 11:02 AM
There is very little stability in your life. Still, life is making a lot of demands of you. What demands are you making of life?
From what I gather, you are a mother to three people. You need to mother yourself. If you are at the point where you are screaming hoarse, then someone is not listening. Possibly even you.
People – your bf and your son – have to be given responsibilities and held to them.
You need to listen to your impulses – I want to walk, I want to go to a concert (and scream), I want to sleep today while you clean and make dinner.
Not everyone can afford councelling,but my guess is that your bf has problems, and Al Anon might help.
Good luck and God Bless.
KellyJune 19th, 2015 at 11:53 AM
I have a question slightly off topic. My son is 21 months old. He is advanced for his age. walked, talked, etc early. My husband and I are having an issue with him fighting diaper changes. Last night for example he starting kicking my husband and he told him No, etc. then he started ‘air kicking’…testing my husband. So when he was done changing him he made him sit on the couch until I returned to the room and he proceeded to pick up all his toys. When I returned it was time for bed. So i picked him up and told him to say good night to daddy like I do every night. But last night my husbands response was ‘No, Im good’. I asked why he would’t say goodnight and said it was ‘punishment’. Long story short I put my son to bed then had a conversation with my husband about it. His side of it is that by not saying goodnight that is taking away something our son likes therefore it is a punishment. And he is likely laying in his crib thinking about it, etc. Basically our son is smart so he thinks its teaching him a lesson. He doesn’t think that timeouts work for him, etc. I told him that is not a punishment and I think it is sending the wrong message. I told him I feel it comes across as ‘conditional love’ instead of ‘unconditional love’. We ended up agreeing to disagree. But this really bothers me. I feel it will create long term issues between the two of them and or teach him the incorrect way to deal with someone that is misbehaving etc.
I guess my question is, is my husbands ways right or wrong? Could it damage our son long term?
Donna BisbyJune 21st, 2015 at 2:32 PM
Your husband needs to understand that a 21 month-old child does not associate his misbehaving with his father’s punishment. Too much time has passed between the two events. I would think your son only feels like he is a bad boy and that his father doesn’t love him. Period. Maybe when your son starts to kick, your husband could just turn away and not give your son the attention he realizes he can get by kicking his legs. Or he could tell him “No-No!” and give him a stern look. I’m sure there are many ways to address his behavior without making your son feel unloved.
June 22nd, 2015 at
Great question! First of all, I encourage you and your husband to check out Love and Logic parenting, if you haven’t done it already. Great practical parenting stuff I used that helped my wife and me raise our two kids. (No, I do not get residuals for passing along their material.)
Let me put your mind and heart at ease. Your husband’s decision to not say “good night” did not damage your son, as long as he did it in a manner that was not outwardly angry or hostile. Your husband’s behavior was a consequence, not a punishment, and it helped not reinforce your son’s behavior.
Consequences and punishment differ in the following way: consequences are for the purposes of teaching, and punishment is for the purposes of inflicting pain. My view is that what your husband did was a consequence. It’s possible your son was bummed out about not having your husband say “good night,” but he will learn from it.
Twenty-one months is still very young, and I imagine your son doesn’t yet have much language. Regardless, another way you and your husband might deal with this if (when) this happens again is to say: “Daddy/mommy doesn’t (say good night, play with, hold, etc.) little boys who kick,” and then put down and walk away. He might not like that, but he will not be damaged by it, and he will learn from the experience. And, it’s much more effective than simply saying “no.”
As for unconditional love—loving a child unconditionally doesn’t mean you can’t show them your disapproval in a way that is consistent with your feelings, and is appropriately delivered. That, too, is love.
At the end of the day, do your best not to reinforce the behavior you want your son to stop. Love and Logic can help you with all of this. Start using it now, and you will really enjoy parenting more, and parenting conflict between you and your husband will be seriously reduced.
Hope this helps. You both sound like great parents!
KellyJune 25th, 2015 at 1:01 PM
Thank you both for your response. I just placed an order for ‘Love And Logic’. Hoping this will help us out.
Jim HuttJune 25th, 2015 at 4:07 PM
Great! Let me know if you have any questions, or want any guidance about L & L, and I will be happy to answer them for you.
Evan TJuly 2nd, 2015 at 5:21 PM
I have a problem with yelling, it happens only once every six months or so and I try not to do it but every once in a while I lose my temper, I yell, and I immediately regret it. At this point I don’t know if I have a problem but my girlfriend thinks I do and I need to know what to do? Do I see a counslor or what? And how do I find the right one? Thanks
The GoodTherapy.org TeamJuly 2nd, 2015 at 7:45 PM
Hi, Evan. The best way to look for a therapist on GoodTherapy.org is to go on our advanced search (http://www.goodtherapy.org/advanced-search.html) and use it to find exactly what you’re looking for. You may also call our toll-free Find-A-Therapist line at 888-563-2112 ext. 1. We hope that helps!
A.F.July 3rd, 2015 at 12:20 PM
…watching and listening to my grandchildren being yelled at leaves me with thoughts of ending my life, knowing that I am the reason that they were born.
GoodTherapy AdminJuly 3rd, 2015 at 12:29 PM
Thank you for your comment, A.F.. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html
The GoodTherapy.org Team
JIM HUTTJuly 3rd, 2015 at 8:07 PM
You also can be the reason for intervening in the yelling, but you are NOT the one responsible for the yelling.
get in to therapy now.
Brian MJuly 26th, 2015 at 10:45 AM
Before and after every argument I admonish my self not to yell- and I keep returning.
My wife will never apologize (at least not during an argument), she doesn’t ever admit that she could have done something differently, and she isn’t at all empathetic in the midst of conflict. Any suggestion that she either understand my point of view or that she could have handled something differently only leads to additional attacks. When I am clearly right it only seems to make her more angry- logic is not an effective tool for me- so whenever I feel like I’m right or I stand up for myself or my position our arguments go bad- eventually – with all else failing- I yell –
Sometimes I think my yelling gets her out of being wrong- so there’s some strategy to get me there- because how can I be right after screaming or yelling.
Btw- she’s lacks enough behaviors for narcissism.
SaraJuly 29th, 2015 at 6:41 PM
I have a bad attitude towards my husband at times. He gets upset easily and then I get defensive but my defense is yelling and lashing out. Then he gets upset and lashes out to me then I shut down and don’t talk. I don’t apologize while we are fighting and when I do he says he doesn’t believe me because I will just do it again. I need to change my attitude towards him but I don’t know how. He loves me unconditionally and I know this. I love him too but I just keep lashing out.
how can I change my attitude for the better and stop lashing out over stupid stuff.
CodyJuly 31st, 2015 at 9:40 PM
I try to remind myself my daughter doesnt need to hear me yelling. Also i’ve been very fortunate my wife has stuck it out with me. I should have lost my family a couple of times, but i didnt. So i
Havent forgotten that if i act a fool i can and will lose my wife and daughter. Im slowly getting better at biting my tongue and keeping my cool. I know whats at stake, and id never forgive myself for ruining my daughters chance at a better childhood then mine. Hope that helps.
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