Husband’s continuing anger & refusal to get help

My husband lost his sister to cancer 4 years ago (having lost his mum at the same age as his sister to cancer previously). His sister was diagnosed with cancer when I was 6 months pregnant with our 2nd child and died shortly after he was born.

My husband always had a temper on him, but since his sisters death he is so angry, rude and aggressive at times, and after 4 years of dealing with it I’m really struggling to hold it together, especially as we now have a 3rd child who is 3 months old and waking every 2 hours throughout the night.

I know my exhaustion doesn’t make me the most patient person at the moment and I’m worried his anger is effecting our children, especially the 2nd one who was born into the eye of the storm and has his own temper issues. My husbands father and other siblings have all gone for counselling to help with their grief, but my husband refuses to accept that he needs help and if I suggest going for counselling he generally blames his anger on me or the children.

We’re sleeping in separate rooms as our baby boy is such a bad sleeper, which is distancing us further and it’s got to a point where it’s a relief to go to bed to avoid his anger. He also works from home so it feels like there is very little escape from it and I also feel myself getting angrier as a consequence, which is so unfair on our children. I’m at my wits end and don’t know what to do next. I realise that going to counselling will only be effective if he makes the decision to have it, but don’t know whether he’ll ever feel the need to talk to somebody about his grief and reaction to it.

Any advice would be very warmly welcomed as I’m feeling incredibly isolated and drained and am not sure I can take much more after 4 years of it (which I realise makes me sound like a horrible wife as he’s grieving for his sister which I can’t imagine going through). Please help.

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What a sad and difficult situation you are in, my heart goes out to you. I honestly don’t know how to help other than to let you know that you have done the right thing by reaching out for help yourself. Please don’t say or think you are in any way a ‘bad’ partner for feeling the way you do, you are doing your best in such sad circumstances. You say other members of the family have been to grief counselling, could you ask them for help in getting your husband to do the same? You really do need to find some support for yourself, someone you could be open and honest with as right now your husband can’t be that person. I hope you can post again, please take care and take time to look after yourself. Post again when you can, let me know how you are doing. X.

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Thank you for your reply, which I’ve only just seen, and for your kind words, it helps me not to feel as alone.

My husband has gone to spend a few days with his family (it was the anniversary of his sisters death a few weeks ago) and since posting my message I did reach out to his brother so I’m hoping that his brother will encourage my husband to get some help. But I also tried to explain how I felt to my husband and it ended in a huge row during which he suggested I might be better off if he just left.

But his family are also quite closed so I’m not sure he will. If nothing else I’m hoping a few days away by the sea will help his mood to improve and give him some perspective.

I feel guilty for even thinking it, but it’s a bit of a relief to have some time apart from him to spend with the children without feeling like I’m treading on egg shells constantly. He says he’s missing us, but I just feel numb. After so many years of being surrounded by his anger I also feel that my temper is much shorter and that’s something I need to work on too.

I’m just so exhausted by it and don’t want it to end our marriage but honestly can’t see how I can continue being bombarded by anger for the rest of our lives together. I’m sure it’s just a phase and things will improve as our baby boys sleep improves (he’s been up every 2 hours for weeks now but isn’t quite 4 months old yet) and I’m feeling more human (my husband sleeps in the spare room so he gets a good night sleep as adding exhausting into the mix for him would be too much, but it also puts more of a distance between us). Anyway, I’d better get some sleep as I’ve been poorly as has my baby boy, and I think our middle son is getting a bug now too. Thank you letting me vent.

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Please don’t feel guilty about the relief you feel with your husband being away, you need this time to think about yourself and your little ones. Your mental and physical health is essential to you and your babies so take the best care of yourself that you can. You said you tried to tell him how you feel and it ended badly but it might be a good idea to write it all down when you are feeling calm. You have been so understanding about the way he is feeling but he really needs to be aware of how it is affecting you. Writing it down gives him the time to ‘hear’ your words without either of you becoming too emotional and ending up in an argument again. Grief is a terrible thing to deal with but you have been there for him and he needs to recognise that. I can’t imagine how difficult all this has been for you, please let me know how things are going for you and vent all you like. I just wish I could give you a hug. XXXb

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I agree, write to him and explain how bad you are feeling.
x x x x

hi Exhausted
very sorry your going through this terrible situation.
im a simple man whose had his heart shattered and ive had to seek help to try relieve the pain im going through.i really think you need to have a real heart to heart with your husband.as what is happening cannot continue.im no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but even I can see things cannot improve without talking about this together.
have you got other relatives maybe your husband as a brother or close friend who can guide him to seek help as your relationship could be at risk if a solution is not found to sort is anger out.sorry for pointing the obvious out ,just hope something get done to make your life and your childrens happier.
regards ian

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My mum died just before Christmas and the anger I have experienced has been unlike anything I have ever experienced. I had been taking this out on my partner and I felt terrible about it because he doesnt deserve it I felt so awful and even scared myself with how angry I had become. I became so wrapped up in it that I didn’t care about how it was affecting him or anyone else. I only started to feel a bit better when I opened up about my true feelings. You are not a bad person for wanting solice from this. One cannot pour from an empty cup and you also have your children to care for. We all need space. I’m going to stay with some friends next week to give my partner some respite from my anger and upset. I wish I had a solution for you but I know that you cant make someone do what is best for them. You can only do what is best for you. So I would suggest you consider counselling for yourself to help you cope and try to spend some time doing things you and the kids enjoy. Involve hubby if you can to get hom out of the house, particularly as he works from home. This isnt being selfish, its self care. Maybe find a good self help book about coping with grief and anger and give it to him as a gift or maybe a member of his family can give it to him, which he might be more receptive to. Then he can read that when he is ready. It’s so hard for you all and you must dearly love your partner for standing by him. He is blessed to have you. Please also make sure you look after yourself x

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