An excerpt from Wayne’s book: Men Don’t Listen.
Here are some possibilities for why men get angry:
It’s very possible that some males feel worthless, guilty and ashamed. Each male’s reason can be different: from childhood occurrences to adulthood occurrences; from real reasons to just subconscious reasons. The sense of failure makes him angry with himself. He takes the rage and anger out on those who are around him–most of the time on those that love him and, believe it or not, those that he loves the most. The behavior borders and sometimes enters a state of depression. When asked why he reacts the way he does, most men do not know. Leo Madow, M.D. in his book, Anger stated,
“There are two major reasons for quick open expressions of anger. The first is that the individual has accumulated so much anger that only a little more is needed to set him off. This is seen in the person who overreacts to a situation by becoming more angry than is warranted. Such a person has had many dissatisfactions in his life and is walking around with a high concentration of stored-up anger. The second reason is that the quick-to-anger person has found that anger works and is conditioned to continue its use. If a youngster finds that by having a temper tantrum he gets what he wants, he is encouraged to have another the next time he is denied something. If the next one is equally successful, he will begin to develop a pattern of behavior.”
I believe some of the stored up anger in men is the frustration of holding in and numbing feelings as he is growing up. The cycle theory, consisting of some form of tension building stage, then the explosion stage, then the honeymoon stage, is just one of many theories around today. It does seem that when anyone holds in all of their emotions and tries to control them, the tension definitely builds. Observing the release of these suppressed emotions seems to verify that the anger release is not in direct proportion to the event that precipitated the explosion.
The honeymoon stage is not difficult to understand. The individual who exploded feels like a complete jerk. So, to make up for this inappropriate behavior, buys flowers, takes her to dinner and swears it will never happen again. (In some cases where it has happened again and again, he now begs her to forgive him.)
I believe a pressure-cooker that has the release valve clogged up will have the same tension building stage and explosion stage to follow. The solution to the pressure cooker problem is the exact same solution for you or your loved one. Release the tension slowly as it builds up. Very simple, but very difficult for a man, who has this belief system that if he shows emotions, he is not strong and therefore is not a man.
Another result of not letting the emotions come out, is that men are struggling with the problem of buried feelings. These feelings are hidden so well and buried so deep that they cannot feel at all. He is almost a robot. Some men have broken out of this trance through some form of trauma. It might have been a heart attack, a life-threatening event (car accident, plane accident, near drowning, work-related accident), or losing something important. This could be his job, a loved one through death or his significant other because he could not open up to allow her in, or he was so abusive that his angry explosions may have driven her away. That big wall he is hiding behind not only allows no one in, but also is his prison cell. He cannot get out. A life sentence! What a price to pay for being afraid of feeling.
I was physically abused as a little boy growing up. Then my father abandoned me when I was nine years old. The lack of a father to help validate me, to love me, and a man I could love, left a void and empty hole inside of me which I will never be able to fill. I have learned to live with it, but to be abandoned emotionally is to struggle the rest of your life to be validated. It also implants a fear that all those you will love in the future will also abandon you.
I believe that those men who get angry and push their significant others away are subconsciously testing them to see if they will leave or if they really do love them and will stay. This is a self-defeating method that erodes the love of the significant other until there is no love left and she does walk away–another self-fulfilling prophecy.
Sharyn Wolf, CSW author of How to Stay Lovers for Life: Discover a Marriage Counselor’s Tricks of the Trade. She stated,
“If you are in a high-conflict stage in your relationship, it may mean that one of you or both of you wants something in the relationship to change. Of course, some people get scared of real change and they spend most of their lives in a Pit–they never break through. Some couples get scared to really join their lives, to experience each other’s reality and each other’s differences, and they live their lives in the Pit too, defining each other as the enemy. They never learn how to join forces in conflict, appreciate conflict and prosper from it. But not you!”
When I was in the Korean War, we often worried about being wounded or killed. Before going into battle, our squad would discuss the objective. The objective could have been to take a dried, barren, desolate waste of a hill. The squad would wonder, “Is this hill worth my life?” In time of war, the troops do not have the military intelligence division reporting the answer to their questions directly. (We did pray that those making the decisions and directing us did.) The United States lost over 53,000 men in the Korean police action.
When you get angry and are going into battle with your loved one (the enemy?), you might ask yourself the same question: “Is this hill worth my life?” or “If I do this will I lose her forever?” Can this be what is meant by the adage “win the battle but lose the war”? I am not advocating holding everything in until you erupt like a volcano or the pressure-cooking pot. Your feelings–and anger is a feeling–are valid. What I am saying is to express your feelings of anger in a constructive way instead of in a destructive way. If you are as brave, tough, and strong as you are trying to make everyone believe, you would have enough courage to express your feelings in a non-threatening way.
Start accepting responsibilities for your negative behavior that causes pathetic unpleasantness for you (guilt afterwards) and your loved ones. They are probably scared to death of you. I witnessed a father yelling at his son who could not have been more than seven years old. As the father was yelling, the little boy actually started shaking with fear. How sad.
Maybe, if you could see inside of those you love as you’re yelling at them, you would see them shaking also. Is that really what a brave, tough, strong man is? Is that who you want to be? What do I mean by brave, tough, or strong?
My description of a brave, tough, and strong man is a man who is comfortable with his manhood. He does not have to prove to anyone that he is a man. His actions speak for him, i.e.; at a party of people who are mostly strangers some men will group together and talk about sports, cars, and sex. These are not the actions I am talking about. I refer to the man who is not in that group but who is sitting on the floor playing with the baby. Or the man who is outside with the kids playing a sport or the guy who is comfortable talking to a group of women about cooking some type of dish–this is the strong man. This man is able to tell a locker room full of professional football players that he washes dishes, cleans floors, and changes diapers. If you have to act tough to prove you’re a man, then maybe you’re trying to prove it to yourself.