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Anger Management Ultimatum

  • anonymous Asks ...

    My partner has a difficult and very stressful job. He has a great deal of responsibility and he often has no way to vent his frustrations at the people who are the real cause of his stress. So when he gets home to me he takes it out on me. I can see it in his face when he has had a bad day and I know its best just to leave him alone as much as I can until he can settle down for a while. Sometimes this doesn’t work and he lashes out at me. Not physically but with a lot of anger and sarcasm and passive aggression. His dad was a very angry and abusive person to his mom and I think a lot of this is very ingrained.

    Later in the evening he always feels bad and apologizes. I understand why he acts like this but I am getting very tired of living in this way. I feel like I don’t to be his metaphorical punching bag. I have talked to him about this and he says he will try to change but he never does in the end. I want to give him an ultimatum to change and I need to see him actually do something, not just make a promise. The question is, what can he do to change? What should I ask him to do for me to prove that he is serious?

  • Delisted Expert Says ...

    Good for you for not being willing to be a "metaphorical punching bag."  It is nice that you understand the sources of his frustrations, but that you also understand that it is not healthy for you to be the object of his anger.  Great that you recognize the pattern your relationship may be in seems very unhealthy - and life is short!  What can he do to change? Plenty! What should you ask for as proof? Well, there are also options in that arena.

    First, I always recommend a physical checkup from a primary care physician/family physician.  Despite whatever patterns may exist in a person's life and psyche, there are a lot of physical issues that can contribute to anger, aggression, unhappiness.  Addressing any physical ailments may not cure the relationship issues, but it can provide more physical resources and energy to tackle whatever changes need to be made.

    Second, there are many ways to address past abuse and anger issues.  Counseling, self-help books, and support groups are some methods.  Individual counseling paired with couples counseling can be especially effective to help address the roots, make basic behavioral changes and to engage in creating healthier relationships!  The challenge may be finding the best method for a particular person and situation - some people are able to change thoughts, behaviors and feelings on their own, some need group encouragement, some need life coaching, some need the support of a one-on-one counselor.  

    Third, it is difficult to advise you on an "ultimatum".  Do you want to negotiate a "contract" of sorts that will state he will seek a certain type of help in a certain time frame?  Do you want to negotiate concrete behavioral steps, such as he will contact three self-help groups, attend four meetings, and not raise his voice in anger for one week?  I really don't have enough information to suggest anything concrete, but I can suggest that you seek counseling on your own - a counselor can help you discuss options and what it is that you may want to ask for in your ultimatum.  Or, with more education about past abuse and anger issues, you may decide on a different path in what you ask for from your mate.  

    Finally, I just want to encourage you in your quest for a healthier relationship.  It is possible for people and couples to change - and life is too short to spend being miserable in an unhealthy relationship.  Your partner may have many issues contributing to his stress and might benefit from addressing healthy ways to deal with stress, past abuse, and anger issues.  Likewise, gaining some information, options, and general education may help you find a better way for the two of you to address the health of your relationship.  Best wishes to you!


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