2/5/2024 | By Amy Dickinson

After more than 40 years of marriage, he is now an overreactive, angry husband. As a result, she is a miserable wife. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson advises.

Dear Amy: 

“Leonard” and I have been married for 47 years. We have raised three kind, independent children with lives of their own. We have both changed from the lusty and adventurous people of our younger days to what we are now.

I lead a life filled with faith, friends, and love of travel. He is an angry, volatile, unpredictable and overreactive man. He has cut dozens of people out of his life when he perceives an offense — often over ridiculous things.

Whenever I have called him on it, he only digs in. He has NEVER apologized to me or anyone else. Never.

I have always said that if he ever cuts any of our children out of his life, I am out of here.

Well, he blew up at my daughter-in-law and said some horrible things. The result: My husband and son have not spoken to each other for over a year. He has not seen the grandchildren. My heart is broken.

I have talked to counselors, friends, and priests about it.

angry husband on the side of a bed

Everyone asks me if I am safe. He has never been violent with me, but his words hurt more than anything.

I know that my angry husband needs help, but I cannot make him get it. I am so sad. I walk on eggshells most because I don’t know what will set him off.

I spend a lot of time with my kids, sisters, and friends. They know I am sad. 

I run our household and handle all the finances, meals, etc. He spends his days outside, alone, working on his projects. He shares very little with me. I feel so sorry for him.

I know I have to make some changes because we are both miserable.

— In a Bad Place

Dear In a Bad Place: 

You told your husband that if he ever cut off one of your children, you would be “out of here.”

Your friends and family members are so concerned about you that they ask if you are safe.

You are miserable.

I think it’s time for you to be out of there. You have good relationships with your children. Your friendships are active and intact. I assume that if you approached almost anyone in your circle and asked if you could stay with them while you work on your own next steps, they would be happy to offer you temporary housing (and possibly be relieved for you).

If you don’t want to divorce your angry husband because of issues related to your faith practice or your combined finances, then stay legally married and treat him with compassion by telling him, “I wish the best for you. I invite you to the table, but I will only live with you if you are willing to make some big changes for the sake of our family.”

Before making any longer-term moves, it is vital that you receive professional legal and financial advice concerning your property, your finances, and future.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from angry spouses, to coping with grief as a people pleaser, and adult daughter dilemmas. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson

Reader responses to the miserable wife of an angry husband

Prescription for change

Dear Amy:

Like the woman who signed her question “In a Bad Place,” my husband was overreacting and angry, and I experienced her stress on a smaller scale.

I insisted that he see his doctor and he was evaluated and prescribed antidepressants.

My husband says it was the best thing that ever happened for him.

It really changed him back to his more positive personality.

– Grateful

Dear Grateful:

I agree that this husband needs a mental health screening, and I hope this wife can somehow persuade him to see a doctor.

Kindred souls

Dear Amy:

The question from “In a Bad Place” could have been written by me. Everything was so familiar: the silences, walking on eggshells, and my husband never apologizing for anything.

However, after 30 years of this, I’d finally had enough.

It was only after we split up that others came forward to tell me of their bad experiences with him. The hardest part was the first step to end it. I’m much happier now.

– Been There

Dear Been There:

I hope that “In a Bad Place” can make a sound and safe choice.

Signs of dementia?

Dear Amy:

“In a Bad Place” said her husband is angry and isolated.

She should take him to get a medical evaluation. His personality changes indicate that he might have the onset of dementia.

– My Two Cents

Dear Two Cents:

It wasn’t clear that the husband’s personality had changed, but I agree that a medical evaluation is a good idea.

Click here to read more Ask Amy columns curated for a baby boomer audience. 

Amy Dickinson