My Partner Can’t Control His Anger

I think the man I'm seeing has an extremely bad problem. He gets so mad and will go on and on screaming at me over the most simple things. He says I don't care about anything, and I do care. We are 62. We were going to start a new life with each other, but he gets too mad about everything and is so controlling, verbally abusive, and exaggerates the situations he gets mad about. What in the world is wrong with him? He has been married 3 times. I've known him for 47 yrs but I never knew he was like this. He's president of a company, he runs, and seems like he has to control all things—but I am rather quiet and don't have any issues with anyone. He will not stay off me, he gets so mad at me over such silly things, and he won't be quiet. I have to put my hands on my ears because he's so loud. What is his problem? -Sick of It
Dear Sick of It,

I’m sorry to hear about this very distressing situation. It does sound like the man you’re seeing has a serious problem with anger management. The screaming, verbal abuse, and controlling behavior are familiar problems for those of us who work with men in therapy. Generally speaking, it is also untenable in any close relationship, and it’s often a deal breaker for women in relationships with men who cannot learn to manage their anger effectively. Without knowing more about him, it’s difficult to know what the underlying problems may be. I would be curious about stage of life issues, given his age and the fact that he’s been married three times previously. Most therapists recognize that this kind of anger is generally a type of defense or self protection. In my work with men, I usually identify fears and shame (feeling not good enough as a man) as the underlying emotional struggles that result in excessive anger. Another indication of this is his controlling behavior. Many people, men and women alike, are controlling because they’re afraid. For example, the more a man tries to control other people, the more he tends to be afraid that his needs won’t be met or that the outcome will reflect poorly on him as a person (shame). You indicated in your question that he says you don’t care about anything. Perhaps he believes you don’t care about him. This could be his perception, which he may not even be aware of, and it’s only a perception. He could be unusually needy and too ashamed to even be aware of his needs. He could also have a sense of entitlement—possibly resulting in a “narcissistic injury”—the little boy in him not tolerating his needs being unmet. In any event, you need to take action. Talk to him to see if he is willing to communicate about this. You need to set boundaries so that you don’t get hurt. He’s externalizing an internal emotional struggle and taking it out on you. You have a right to protect yourself—tell him to stop and that you will not accept that kind of behavior. If he won’t stop, you may need to take more definitive action, like separating yourself from him. Counseling or therapy may be helpful; perhaps he will go with you if you tell him it’s for the two of you.

Kind regards,

Richard Loebl, MSW, LCSW, BCD, is a board-certified psychotherapist, consultant, and educator with over 25 years of experience in the fields of mental health and chemical dependency. Although his primary specialties include men's issues, couples counseling, mood issues, and addictions, Richard has special interests in attachment issues, emotionally focused therapy (EFT), and in the use of mindfulness, meditation, and mind-body approaches.
  • Leave a Comment
  • Betty

    June 14th, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Leave that guy he sounds like a total pig and is not treating you fairly at all. You dont deserve to be treated like that it’s not safe.

  • kashae hunt

    June 21st, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Yes me and my husband have a very hard time controlling our angury toward eachother and it is doing anything but destroying our six year old daughter and our nine year marrige please some help us thank you

  • Beth Andrews

    July 9th, 2012 at 4:54 AM

    Leave and leave very quickly. I was in a relationship that lasted 10 years and the abuse escalated continuously. It first started with yelling nad grabbing then it moved to further physical abuse. I failed to recognize the whole situation and thought he simply still loved me and I was doing something wrong. So please leave before you too are put into the hospital.

  • Carmen

    April 7th, 2013 at 12:08 AM

    Same problem. The guy I was with for 20 years (never living together due to his temper) just would not change. He also had three failed marriages in his past. He never was physically aggressive, but I frequently felt humiliated by his very public tantrums over such minor things and sometimes over seemingly nothing. One time I made him cookies and brought them into him while he was watching television three rooms away from where I was making the cookies. I cheerfully brought the cookies into him and was blindsided by the screaming fit that followed. He got so irate over the cookies saying that I was making it so he could not watch Hannity. Another time we were at a gas station and he got mad over the price of gas and started screaming at me as if I was personally responsible for the increase in the price. I left him just over a year ago. He still tries to get in touch with me, but I’ve blocked him out of my life and have moved on. And I bet he still can’t figure out why I left. So my advice to you, if he does not want to change, you can’t make him. So move on. There are all kinds of meet up clubs on the internet that you can join to met new people that have the same interests as you. Check it out and be happy.

  • Paul Koppel

    February 7th, 2014 at 5:04 AM

    Anger and conflicts are part of the relationship. A little bit of anger at sometime is common in any human beings but anger out of control is very dangerous. Counseling and therapy are very helpful to reduce anger.

  • Zoe

    November 1st, 2016 at 4:03 PM

    I have a similar problem. We’ve been together nearly two yrs. things were fine but lately he’s turning me away. He evenmessaged a hooked over the summer and got angry because I read his messages (I’d seen that one so I’d had sleepless nights already). Every little quibble means he shouts in my face and demands an apology. Older than he is and I feel ugly and I’m attractive knowing he’s never had a cross word with any ex. I’m at the end… I don’t know how to cope

  • Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, BCD

    November 2nd, 2016 at 5:56 AM

    Dear Zoe, I’m very sorry to hear about your situation. This type of relationship distress is very painful and unacceptable. I urge you to seek therapy with someone in your geographic area. The support and guidance you receive will be very helpful.

  • Stuck

    November 6th, 2016 at 3:50 AM

    I am involved with a man who has a hard time loving me. He loves me very deeply, in fact I do honestly believe I am the only woman he has loved and therefore, is not sure what to do with that. His past leaves him with abuse on ALL fronts, and finds himself overly protective of me where no man can look at me nevermind talk to me in fear of losing me to that person. He lives in constant fear of never being good enough. He is fine on his own but when together, he has a hard time controlling his feelings and actions. Example: my married neighbor could say hi to me and my partner will get scared, which turns into anger and then will leave in fear of fighting with me over that. I struggle because it is clearly not him but past issues that have stained him and so he is unable to love freely and be in a healthy relationship. I have encouraged counseling as it is clear that massive amounts of healing are needed to move forward. You can clearly see the child within stuck in a state of redemptive time. However, since previous counseling sessions did not work out and did not do anything but make him relive his childhood, he is extremely reluctant to go there once again and relive that horror all over with a new counselor. He remains stuck. Therefore, we remain stuck. I go gently and work with him, but I am not a trained professional, although I have been thru my own counseling and healing journey and therefore, I am able to relate, see, pick up on and empathize. He seems to trust only me and talks to me but I cannot be the one to help him. I am involved with him. His love for me is deep, but because his emotions are more powerful and has a hard time controlling them, he distances himself and remains detached. The slightest thing or thought sets him off. I don’t know where to go from here or what I need to do. We own a successful business together and work well together but our emotions are intense and we had tried numerous times to end the relationship all together due to this outstanding issues. Suggestions? I am stuck between love and reality….

  • Richard Loebl, LCSW, BCD

    November 7th, 2016 at 7:19 AM

    Dear Stuck, This is a story that sounds all too familiar. It’s a painful story for both of you. There is a way out (and not just one). Counseling or therapy does work in these situations, and it’s possible that your partner has not found the right fit. I would also recommend personal growth workshops and/or intensive couples therapy (we offer those programs at our Center in Florida – see I might also suggest reading my series of articles on The LATE Men – Your partner seems to fit this description of adult men as Lost, Angry Teens. Good luck with everything. Richard

  • Pamela H S

    January 30th, 2017 at 8:12 AM

    I have a similar situation going on here. My husband was abused growing up. His mother and siblings back up this abuse. Things from kicking him in the groin til he spit up blood to knocking him out upon seeing him. He is very upset at seeing a pants belt. According to him, he is the only child that came out of that abusive situation without any mental ramifications at all. Two siblings have schizophrenia, and the other two, I’ve not been told. He raised his adopted daughter when his first wife left, and that child displays symptoms of schizophrenia; but he blew up at me when I pointed it out in private to him. He blows at me out of the blue. Its especially hard to deal with since I have FMS, Lupus, peripheral neuropathy…debilitating pain issues I can’t control. I also have a deep voice and sometimes have problems speaking because of what I have. Then I also have worked as a correctional officer and law enforcement all of my life; so I know, I sometimes have that authority tone in my voice. We’re both heavy competitors. He is more of a competitor than I am though as I realized as I grew older to pick my battles. So when he blows at me or I try to talk to him about things that he doesn’t want to address, he’ll change the subject to a new argument when he thinks he’s losing the argument on the topic. When I bring it back around to what it was to start with, he gets irate and pounds the walls, the floors and just throws a temper tantrum like a child. He blows up at me when I’m sick or having a flare up with my illnesses. He makes me feel like he wants me to be a sort of ‘Stepford Wife’, and I just can’t. So when he blows up at me, I try to walk away, I am tired of arguing, don’t want to argue; yet, he follows me and kicks in doors to get to me. If I leave to go for a walk to get away, he follows and cusses and screams at me going down the road where the neighbors can hear. It makes me feel caged and I am fearful that I will strike back and not with words because I have endured this far longer than I would have with anyone else. According to him, he doesn’t have a problem…I have the problem. He turns things around as if using the ‘Gas Light’ method. I love this man; but I’m afraid that one day I’m going to hurt him and in front of his kids. One episode he blew up on me in the car. So at a stoplight, I went to get out. He snatched me back in, ran the light hitting the accelerator so hard it threw me into the windshield. I couldn’t get loose from his grip since my wrist was broken (Fall at work crushed the bones months before this day). He kept driving wrecklessly tossing me about like a rag doll (couldn’t get my seat belt back on). Finally I rolled onto my back in the seat and held his neck with my foot against the door glass; but I didn’t want him to wreck so I let go since we at that moment were in a shopping center parking lot. Months after that in another argument, he tried grabbing me and I threw him across the room. He hasn’t tried hands on since that day. I’m tired of the arguing. I don’t trust him as I should be able to. Having Lupus, one of these days I am going to get worse and need help; and I just don’t think nor trust him to be there at that point.

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