The Hidden Reason Men Get Angry in the One We Love the Most

Among the questions I hear over and over again is “Why is my husband so mean to me?”  I have also written about this in a post “Why Are Men So Angry?”   Of course, all of us get angry occasionally and women’s anger can be as hurtful as men’s. But there’s a universal cause for male anger which most people seldom recognize.

I will illustrate with a fast story in my own life.  When my first wife and I got married soon after college we spent {} a honeymoon in Monterrey. We’d purchased a small Honda 50 motorcycle to get back and forth from married-student home to the U.C. Berkeley campus and spoke a Honda dealership into transport it to Monterrey so we can ride it around town.

We took a bus to Monterrey and picked up our bicycle. We guessed it would be easy to find an inexpensive living room, but discovered, to our surprise, the Monterrey pop festival was happening that weekend and there was not an area to be rented anywhere in town. Fortunately, we discovered the last room available, but it was in Carmel, over the mountain from Monterrey.

We jumped on the bike, tied our luggage into the trunk, put my wife on behind me, but we were too back thick to get over the mountain. “Ok, here is what we’ll do,” I said, in my take-charge, masterfulvoice. I will ride the bag to our area in Carmel and return for you. But do not move. I will be right back.” My wife smiled sweetly, and away I went.

I looked right and left, but she was nowhere to be seen. Where the hell didn’t wander off to, I wondered. I got increasingly angry, but beneath the anger was a terror that something had occurred to her. Maybe she was kidnapped. It was her. I rode the 3 cubes, barely controlling my anger.

“Where the hell are you?” I cried. “I have not moved from the place where you left me,” she said, her anger start to rise. I felt relieved and ridiculous but still insisted that she’d walked off and was not in the ideal location. I eventually cooled down and we could get tickets to the festival. We heard a number of the greatest music of an era during the next 3 days and nights in 1967. Lou Rawls, Simon and Garfunkle, Country Joe and the Fish, the Birds, Jefferson Airplane, the Who, Jimmy Hendrix, the Mamas & the Papas, along with a young girl who soon became a celebrity, Janis Joplin.

Our marriage lasted ten years and we had two lovely kids, but it was undermined by my anger and my inability to comprehend or tell the truth about the root cause of my anger–my complete terror of being abandoned.

The origin of Male Panic and Grief

I’ve spent lots of my life becoming angry at women. I feel it is one of the important reasons that relationships go from good to poor. I explained some of the variables in my novel: Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from The Irritable Male Syndrome.  But there is another element that took me years to understand and address. When my relationship with my spouse feels threatened, I feel abandoned and I fear. I wish to cry out in anguish, but I pay my pain by becoming mad. My anger would normally cause more space between me and my spouse, so I’d become even more panicked which could lead to despair and the feeling that I would lose, which would ultimately go into feeling hopeless and miserable.

So as to comprehend this procedure –Abandonment, fear, anguish, anger, despair, and depression–we need to comprehend that the Panic System that’s present in most mammals. In their publication, The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions, Jaak Panksepp and Lucy Biven say,”A simple fact of life, with deep neural consequences and psychological health consequences, is that we become connected to–we love–people who nurture and befriend us.”

The issue is that a vast majority of us did not have a secure, secure, attuned home environment growing up. In my case, my dad left when I was five years old and my mom had to work full time. I was frequently left alone or in the care of people I did not know well. I grew up feeling afraid of being left handed, but I covered my anxieties with an attitude that said,”I could look after myself. I don’t need anybody. I am strong.”

All of us know the anguish of children that are separated, even for a brief time from their mothers, fathers, or other health professionals. “Contrary to the demanding protest of a kid that has been denied a treat, or even the vigorous distress of one who has been hurt,” state Panksepp and Biven,”the cries of missing kids have the unmistakable ring of urgency and fear.”

Adults never outgrow the need for support and love or the fear that results when we believe the danger of disconnection from a loved one. However, what happens when we’re taught that”boys do not cry” or”men will need to be powerful?” We hide our pain and it expresses itself as irritability. Anger is often the only acceptable emotion a lot people have learned to express. Trauma specialist Bessel van der Kolk, MD, author of The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, states, “If we do not speak about our trauma, we’re bound to repeat it.”

It has taken me years to admit my panic when my spouse is later than expected or once we’ve had a fight and she withdraws or even if another man shows her focus. Do not leave me, he says.  Hold me. Love me.  I must tune into my feelings of fear of abandonment, and place a lid on my rage. Initially, I felt so unmanly I felt embarrassed to reveal how panicked I was and could not talk about it. My thoughts reverberated with taunts from my youth and adolescence,”Cry baby, cry baby.” I was afraid my feelings could lead to my wife to love me and leave me. However, I’ve discovered that being actual, including being real about my fear and panic, really brought us closer together. Becoming vulnerable when we are panicked is the toughest thing we could do, but also the most crucial when we want real familiarity.

But, both my wife and I needed to conquer our old attitudes about men and be ready to accept that most of us become panicked when we are afraid our partner is not emotionally attached to us. We needed to conquer our fear of speaking about our past injury and the things that still provoke us today. I look forward to your remarks. Please share your personal experiences. Check out our community of women and men coming together to learn how to heal our wounds and turn anger to actual lasting love.

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