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Should I Marry Him?

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I have been with my fiancée for almost 4 years now and we are planning to marry this summer. I love him with all my heart and he does too. We have a great relationship but there is one problem. My main concern is anger issue. i know that he had a very tough childhood and his parents were divorced when he was very young and his father didnt have any part in his life. whenever we get to a fight he starts screaming ( even though im trying to be calm) and acting all crazy. If i keep arguing with him he brakes his own things ( like his cell phone …) then later when he cools off he apologizes and then tells me if i would have stopped arguing with him he wouldn’t have got to this point . i told this to him mom and she told me that i have to let go when he argues like this. i talked with him many times and he has told me that he is working on his problem and he needs more time to do it. ( he said to me i cant change it suddenly and this needs time). and i agreed but it seems after 4 years even though he is better then before but the same anger is still there and over nothing he gets mad and looses it. i told him he should talk with some one about this and he told me that he is under alot of pressure and he will get better. i dont know what to do? how should i act with him? i feel like when ever we have an argument even very small i have to shut my mouth and be quite if not he will get mad and will break stuff. is that fair? Should I marry him?

His anger is a major concern. He seems to believe he can manage the anger on his own and that he will eventually be able to eliminate it but in the four years you have been together there has only been a marginal improvement. It is still a major problem.

Not only does he have an anger problem but he blames you for it. It may be that you play some part in the escalation of the anger incidents by “adding fuel to the fire” but I do not have enough information to know what role if any you play. Even if you do help co-create or intensify anger situations by arguing, it seems clear he has anger problems that he has yet to effectively deal with. In other words, the anger problem seems to derive mainly from him.

I cannot answer the question of whether or not you should marry him because that is a personal decision that only you can make. I would recommend that you be honest with him about your concerns and let him know that you are seriously considering not marrying him because you feel that his anger is out of control. He may not be aware that his anger is much of a problem but he might become so, if he knew the extent to which it was interfering with your relationship.

You should also consider postponing the wedding and stipulating that he attend therapy for his anger for at least six months. I would advise that you do not accept his previous excuse and promise of “I am under a lot of pressure and I will get better.” He has had four years to “get better” and he hasn’t; his methods have not worked. He needs to show you through his actions that he is working on decreasing his anger and those actions should include seeking outside therapeutic assistance.

You might also want to consider therapy for yourself as a way to gain an objective opinion as to whether you have a role in escalating anger situations and also as a way to learn how to deal or interact with him. If you did decide to attend therapy, either on your own or with him in couple’s counseling, your willingness to attend therapy might make him more open to go. It also might make him feel that you are not blaming the entire situation on him and that the two of you have a shared responsibility to improve the relationship.

It is very wise to question whether you should marry him and to want the anger issue resolved before you get married. Many people would ignore such an issue and mistakenly believe that “things will change after we are married” or “it is no big deal.” It is a big deal.

The truth is that people are the same before they get married and after. An individual who has problems before they get married will usually bring those problems into the marriage. His anger will not magically disappear once you are married. I applaud your willingness to be realistic and to critically analyze your decision to legally bind yourself to someone theoretically for the rest of your life. Good luck and thanks for writing.

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