I'm a wife beater

All Woman

Dear Counsellor

I think I need some help. I am fast becoming an abusive husband, mostly verbal. I did slap my wife about two weeks ago. This abuse between us has been going for a while but I want to change or at least learn to control myself. We are going have a baby soon and I would love my new child to have a peaceful home. I don't know if my wife loves me anymore. I want to try to allow her to love me again but if not, I want to have the strength and control to continue life after a possible break-up. If you can help, please point me in the right direction where a man can get some help.

You must be highly commended for acknowledging your weakness and wanting to get help. You have indicated how your abusive behaviour has caused your marital relationship to deteriorate and now you are concerned that as you lose your temper you may even lose your wife. Such is the likely outcome of abusive relationships.

Men who are abusive usually display the behaviours below. How many of these behaviour patterns do you display?

1. Controlling: "Go to the kitchen and make dinner, you don't look sick."

2. Jealous: "You and the boss have an affair, that's why he gave you a secretary's day gift."

3. Manipulative: "Make sure you come straight home after work."

4. Suspicious: "Why are you wearing that red dress today?"

5. Disrespectful: "Shut up and make me talk."

6. Blaming: "It's because of your silly behaviour why I slapped you."

7. Mood swing: "Yeah I know I always shout at you but I promise it won't happen again, you know I love you, right?"

8. Self-centred: "I am the reason you are successful."

9. Superiority: "You are so stupid, listen to me and learn."

10. Possessive: "You belong to me and you make no move unless I give you permission."

Men and women who subject their partners to emotional abuse will, with the passage of time, resort to physical abuse. Emotional abuse can cause severe psychological damage to the abused and the healing process can even be longer than recovering from a physical injury.

If you love and care about your spouse as you seem to do, putting her through this emotional pain and agony cannot be good. It is even more disturbing if she is in fact presently carrying a child.

Now that you are aware of the harm you are causing to your wife, your marriage and to yourself it's time to do something about it.

Local Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Wendel Abel proposes the BRAVE anger management technique.

B: Beware of your feelings. Learn to properly articulate your feelings by using feeling words, example say "I feel unhappy about the action you took, let's talk about it".

R: Relax. Practice deep breathing -- in through your nostrils and out through your mouth. Sometimes you may need a break from the environment, take a walk/drive and listen some music.

A: Affirm your right to your feelings. The idea is not to conceal your feelings but to control the destructive behaviour that may emanate.

V: Validate others' feelings. Accept and appreciate that the other person also has a right to express his/her feelings as well.

E: Express your emotions using 'I messages'. Indicate to the person who might have offended you how their action/behaviour makes you feel. Example say "I was offended when you walked away while I was talking to you". Do not say, "You have no manners; you must listen when I speak."

Remember, counting to 20 (or 100) before you respond is still a good technique. The key then is to maintain control over your emotions. Sit with your spouse, admit your weakness and ask her to help you manage the anger by gently alerting you when you are entering the anger zone. Identify the source of your anger episodes and try to adjust the variables that might trigger such action.

Good communication in a marriage reduces the incidences of discord and will in fact foster a healthy relationship. Do your best to maintain respect for your wife, the institution of marriage and yourself.

Should you require more help, get in touch with a professional counsellor who will arrange anger management sessions for you.

Send questions to crisscounselloronline@gmail.com.

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