Question: I am a male seeking help to stop abusing my wife. I can't imagine the pain I'm putting her thru all I want to do is find the source of this anger that comes out from comments or gestures that can be easily ignored. I'd also like to know if I can be helped. I see everything telling women to get out, it wont get any better, what about a man who wants to get help. I'm willing to do whatever it takes, but I need help. I apologize for coming to you all but just think of it as someone
asking for a hand.

Thank you,

P.S. I do not drink or abuse drugs just thought I'd let you know!

A:
Dear Friend,
You wrote: "I am a male seeking help to stop abusing my wife. I can't imagine the pain I'm putting her thru all I want to do is find the source of this anger that comes out from comments or gestures that can be easily ignored. ...What about a man who wants to get help. I'm willing to do whatever it takes, but I need help."

Answer: I work with people who want to get help with controlling their anger and have seen those people-- many who are men -- change. You seem to understand already that when certain behaviors, situations occur -- you could ignore these comments or gestures but, have difficulty doing so but, instead, those behaviors trigger your anger.
Take this online survey to measure your anger: http://www.whatsgoodaboutanger.com/survey.asp .
You already admit that your anger is disrupting your life. You say that you don't understand what causes you to over-react to situations and triggers.
There are many underlying issues which trigger an over-reaction to events/situations/people such as:
 - Patterns which you may have had role-modeled in your family, stress, physiological problems.
 - Hot self-talk or biased appraisals of events, low self-esteem or a tendency to personalize issues, ets. There are many cognitive distortions people struggle with which cause them to perceive events incorrectly.
We write about these triggers, perceptions and more in our book What's Good About Anger?
I encourage you to consider ordering the book and/or the anger management course to help you learn coping skills to manage your anger and change your self-talk below. Read more about the book and authors here:  What's Good About Anger?

How do you normally help yourself calm down when you feel angry?
(check all that apply):
- deep breathing and relaxation techniques.
- prayer.
- counting to ten.
- taking a time-out
- exercising.
- reading the Bible.
- telling myself:“This is not worth getting angry over.”
- thinking about the negative consequences that could result from getting angry and losing control.
- thinking about what the real issue is.
I tell myself:
- “This person is not making sense now.He/she may have had a bad day.”
- “I ‘m going to try to work through this problem reasonably.”
- “I should try to cooperate--he ‘s/she ’s making sense.”
- “Maybe I should take a time-out until I cool down.”
- “I should try to understand what this person is upset about by listening
and paraphrasing.”
Other things you say or do to control yourself or the situation:
_______________________________.
_______________________________.
_______________________________.

Have any of the above coping skills worked for you? Look at a recent situation and rewrite it.  See if any of the above self-talk ideas would have helped you.
Taking a Time-out: Since anger rears it's ugly head within 1-3 seconds, a key element to cooling down is to take a time-out.  We write about this in the book and cover the necessary steps to take.  During the time-out, you can think over the issue, pray and plan to make a request or negotiate some concern.
Anger can be controlled especially when you take time to discover what is underneath the anger: feeling disrespected, invalidated, etc.
But, you decide to get angry. Since anger is a decision, you can make a decision not to get so angry. Some instances require an angry response, but, the response should be healthy coming out in assertiveness and problem-solving. We write about how to turn your anger into healthy ways of responding in the book.
Yes, I believe you can change. I do believe it will take work to change. Working on your thoughts, self-talk, new coping, and better communication and conflict management skills and asking God for strength will help promote change. Consider ordering the book or course below. Also, consider going to individual counseling and marriage counseling. Contact a professional counselor at the American Association of Christian Counselors directory. Find an anger management workshop or classes in your area which you can attend.
Compassion/Power: A new program by Dr. Steven Stosny has had great success in treating men with anger and battering issues. See Compassion/Power for his resources! And these articles: Can Batterers Just Stop? and When Men Blow Their Tops - Step by Step, angry people learn how to control themselves.

I hope you find this helpful. Let me know how you are doing. God bless you!  Lynette Hoy, NCC, LCPC --