Why Are Men So Angry?

“Last month a man came home from work with my husband’s face but he did not act at all like the man I married,” says Marie, a 42 year-old wife and mother of three. “I’ve known this man for 30 years, married 22 of them and have never met this guy before.  Angry, nasty, and cruel are just a few words to describe him.  He used to be the most upbeat, happy person I knew.  Now it’s like being married to an angry brick.  In spite of how he treats me I still love my husband and want to save our marriage.  Please, can you help me?”

This is typical of the thousands of letters and e-mails I have received from women all over the world since The Irritable Male Syndrome:  Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression was first published by Rodale in 2004.  More and more women are feeling the pain of living with angry men and want help for themselves, their children, and for the man they all love.

Although anger has a negative impact on men, I learned that it is often the women and children who suffer the most.  “Recently, he has begun venting, to anyone who will listen, about how horrible we all are,” 53 year-old Jennifer wrote me.  “If our adult-children aren’t living up to his standards, it is my fault.  If he can’t find his socks, he accuses me of misplacing them, just to piss him off.  I’m not kidding—that’s what he tells me.  What hurts the most is that he has withdrawn all affection.  It’s like someone transformed him from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde.  I want my husband back!”

Anger is an increasingly serious problem in our society today according to Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and former President of the American Psychological Association. “Out-of-hand anger ruins many lives,” he says.  “More, I believe, than schizophrenia, more than alcohol, more than AIDS.  Maybe even more than depression.”  Seligman’s research also shows that when couples fight, it can damage their children, often in lasting ways.

Anger Comes in Different Forms 

Paul Ekman, Ph.D., one of the world’s experts on emotions and author of Emotions Revealed, says that anger is expressed in many ways.  “There is a range of angry feelings, from slight annoyance to rage.  There are not just differences in the strength of angry feelings, but also differences in the kind of anger felt.  Indignation is self-righteous anger, sulking is passive anger; exasperation refers to having one’s patience tried excessively.  Revenge is a type of angry action usually committed after a period of reflection about the offense.”

We often perceive anger as a negative emotion that can damage people and their relationships, yet anger can also lead to emotional and spiritual growth.  The practices readers will learn in the book can deepen and enrich their ability to be more loving to their partner and to others.  In his book Anger:  Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn says, “In the past, we were allied in making each other suffer more, allied in the escalation of anger.  “Now we want to be allied in taking good care of our sorrow, our anger, and our frustration.  We want to negotiate a strategy for peace.”

Healing Ourselves, Healing Our Planet 

Most of us are tired of war and would like human beings to get along with each other.  But it seems that wars go on and on.    The truth is that we can’t stop wars until we learn to stop fighting with our mates.  If we can’t learn to get along with the one we love, how can we expect to get along with people we don’t know and don’t understand?  The good news is that we are learning how to become more peaceful partners.  We are learning the skills of non-violent communication.  We are learning how to listen with a more open heart, to put ourselves in the shoes of the other person.

Here’s a little exercise I describe in my recent book, MenAlive:  Stop Killer Stress with Simple Energy Healing ToolsIt was developed by the folks at the Institute of HeartMath and it’s guaranteed to reduce stress in your life and help you feel more loving:

  1. Put your attention on the area around your heart.  Place your hand there to feel the life pulsing through you.
  2. Imagine that with each breath you breathe in you are taking in healing energy through your heart and with each breath you breathe out you send that loving energy out to someone you’d like to feel more loving towards.
  3. Think of a time when you felt deep gratitude.  It could be a memory of one of your children, or when you first fell in love, or the time you were overwhelmed by the beauty of a sunset.
  4. Continue to breathe while you hold this memory of gratitude.

Think what it would mean if everyone in the world did this exercise three or four times a day.  Are you willing to start?  It’s easy and you have nothing to lose but your anger.

Photo Credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/jelles/2656101758/sizes/z/in/photostream/

If you found this post helpful you may like Jekyll and Hyde and Irritable Males and Why Is My Husband Depressed and How Do I Help Him

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  1. i am that angry guy too. Because i have 4 years of my failing business, living through my wife’s menopause, then not getting laid for the past three years. Trying to pay for my kids college, only to only be appreciated when my daughters wants something. My bitchy wife says she’s not responsible for my happiness. I can’t find anything around my house either ’cause my wife is so OCD she has to clean up and put things away 24/7. Life sucks. We’d be divorced if we had the money and the energy to separate our belongings, but even that seems like just another form of misery. If i had my old 6 figure salary and a wife and kids who loved me, I’d be happy again. But i won’t be because there are no jobs for a 57 year old white guy, so i am dependent on my wife’s income even though i completely supported her for 15+ years and paid for her college, now she rubs my nose in my failure if we even talk about it.

    Your advice is stupid “imagine breathing healing energy”, don’t know how i got your email but take me off your list. Ha

    • Jeff,
      Thanks for your honest response. I know there are times when we feel overwhelmed with the way life can give us the shitty end of the stick, over and over again. When we’re stressed about work, feeling uncared for by our family, our prospects look dim, its understandable that our anger is strong. I hope you can use that anger to make your life better, even though you feel stuck. Clearly you haven’t given up and have the courage to keep looking for options.

  2. Men are feeling more inferior today and are backing out of relationships. Women are also feeling more superior at the same time. All of this has been created by differential treatment from a young age that has hurt Males in the information age while the same differential treatment has helped much, the advancement of women in the information age. The harmful and false teachings of genetics in ability along with granting love, honor, respect to Males only on condition of achievement, status, etc. has created an ever increasing gulf between men and women. Men are feeling angry because “according to the horrible of genetics” they really believe they are somehow inferior and feel angry at women who, given the same myth of genetics are feeling more superior. Since the media and now its followers in stores, employment, post offices, etc, are now giving more patronization and less respect for Males, they are becoming increasingly angry and hurt. I feel for society and the problems that will be created from so many angry men. I feel even if society and its parts were to begin treating Male children more correctly, it will still require 17 years of such more correct treatment to bring the first generation of Males to equality in the information age.

  3. While I was growing up my dad was definitely one of those angry men. He would explode in anger and throw a dramatic tantrum over the smallest dumbest stuff. I would see him blame my mom for everything, nothing was ever his fault. I remember there being an endless number of double standards between him and my mom that favored him. Going out in public with him was embarrassing as he would blow up on waiters, salesmen, customer service, etc. I grew up seeing my mom get the worst of it, he talked to and yelled at her like she was a dumb child. Today, I’m grown with 30 right around the corner and I definitely have to say that growing up with an angry father who geared much of his anger toward my mom has had a huge effect on me. I ended up coming out as a lesbian back in middle school and am happily married to a woman. I honestly don’t think much about the root cause of my same sex attraction and don’t care anyways since I came out so young. But I have to admit I am living a much better life than my mother did, when I come home from a long day of work my wife cooks my dinner, does my laundry, and treats and speaks to me with some respect and appreciation. She has much more to offer me than a man does.

    • You should care because it’s obviously a major cause of your dislike for men (in that you were never properly loved or had a man show/demonstrate Godly love & care for you and your mother). It’s also should matter because your lifestyle choice is not normal (natural design alone clearly demonstrates it in that 2 of the same sex can not procreate & when procreation is not possible…death results. Also, that one must *pretend* to be the same very thing that you claim to avoid is clearly dysfunction. Hint…just because something is legal (i.e. slavery, Rwanda, Holocaust, Native American destruction, partial birth abortions done for reasons other than mothers health or deformities, etc.)…does not make it right. Most importantly, you should care because God loves both of you, sent His only Begotten Son Lord Jesus Christ to die for you (see John 3:16) and has a plan and purpose in His creations that surpasses and overcomes every dysfunction (that includes you and the woman you call your wife & are legally married to but not really in God’s eyes), so as long as you are spiritually lost…you are missing that great plan. May God bless.

  4. TheTruthTellsTheRealAnswer says:

    Well i would really say that most women today are always much more angry than us men since every little thing really bothers them all the time, especially when they have PMS. Most women will really look for an excuse when something goes wrong too.

    • Certainly the stress levels of living in a world going through big changes impacts men and women. Both can get angry. I focus here on men’s anger, but women have their own challenges. Being more compassionate to ourselves and others can help us all heal ourselves, our relationships, and our planet.

  5. Nitza Berrios says:

    Ive been throught angry living all my life. Still i do understand the impact this behavior has on oneself and family. Anger is a needed emotion but cant rule our whole lives. I believe a family can achieve a certain level of normality by assisting one another into achieving more honesty on each other feelings..giving enough space to vent and by being fully independant of each other.