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Dealing With a Verbally Abusive Wife

I am 42 years old. I've been divorced once. For my own bitterness issues, I dated my current wife for 4 years before we got married and even still I had not healed completely for about 3 years after that. That being said I had been pretty hard to live with up until the time I decided to quit living in a pity party for myself.


We have 3 children (the oldest is hers). She is a "stay at home mom" I think is what she calls it. It is something that I was never in the mix, as far as making that decision, when she decided that after our 1st child was born. She called her employer the day her maternity leave was up and said that she wasn't coming back. What else is upsetting to me is that "every" time we have a disagreement, it's as if she snaps and becomes abusive, hurling unwarranted profanity and insults, dropping the "F-BOMB" like it was common place. I know that I've have been difficult a lot when I was getting over myself, but I don't think that this is something that I have caused her to engage in. I have "never" spoken to her like that. Even more upsetting, she does all this in front of the kids! When I ask her to not talk like that, especially in front of them she starts all the more! Any suggestions?

By kj


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August 21, 20130 found this helpful

Individual or couple's counseling may help you and your wife resolve conflicts more productively. If she won't go with or without you, go on your own.

It's difficult to address your specific circumstances, but here are some general tips:

Does your wife generally snap in response to mundane, routine issues or is she reacting to a deeper sense of hurt or insecurity? Try to identify patterns, and seek her input for constructive solutions. For day-to-day frustrations, sometimes something as simple as writing down objectives on a dry-erase board or family calendar will help restore a sense of control over what takes place in the household.

When dealing with your wife's frustrations, listen first. When you do respond, validate what you can. For example, do you feel as a stay-at-home mom she should be able to accomplish more while you're at work? Perhaps it is time for a medical checkup if she feels too overwhelmed and exhausted to keep up (she may, for example, suffer from a hormonal imbalance). In the meantime, resist the urge to criticize. Even when criticism seems deserved, it is rarely a solid motivator.


Instead, engage in "positive reinforcement", praising any progress or improvement you see no matter how small. If you've been singling out the behavior you don't want to see, model the behavior you'd rather see instead.

Identify supportive steps you can take to address her overall level of stress. For instance, does your wife feel isolated in her stay-at-home role? If so, encourage her in pursuits that she finds personally and socially enriching, and designate a regular date night to restore a positive rapport. Men have their "man caves" and Mom may need one, too.

If all else fails, the last and most controversial but potentially effective tip is to see if she will consent to a "mommy cam". If she can see how she behaves on camera during a verbally abusive argument - providing she views the footage later, after the issue in question is resolved - she might be persuaded to seek professional help. I am aware of this approach helping an individual whose friends felt he had an alcohol abuse problem. He remain unconvinced about his need for help until his friends showed him footage of his abusive behavior while he was drunk.

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August 22, 20130 found this helpful

Like the last person suggested, let her see how she is acting on camera. Try getting her to sit down with you and have a talk, try to find out why this is happening and what you both can do about it. It's got to be give and take on both sides.


If these two suggestions fail, then it's no use both of you being miserable. It will be a difficult time for you if you have to seperate, but it maybe the only way.


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August 22, 20130 found this helpful

When she starts up with this talk, gather the kids and leave the house for awhile. So sorry you and the kids have to hear this.

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August 22, 20130 found this helpful

Clip and have her read accounts of a mate 'snapping'. She should learn that actions sometimes have responses.

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