Anger management

How can I get my husband to stop his long tirades about work? I'm worried about their effect on the baby who'll be joining us soon.


Cary Tennis
June 28, 2004 11:15PM (UTC)

Dear Cary,

I am in my early 30s, three months pregnant, and married for three years. I have known my husband since I was 12, he's a great guy and I am the lucky recipient of his undying adoration. More than once, strangers who have seen us together have told me they can tell how much my husband loves me.

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My husband has a stressful job as a trader. He's one of those guys you see on CNBC in the colorful coats that scream all day and make crazy hand signals to each other. His job causes a lot of frustration and aggravation. Often he comes home and goes on hour-long angry tirades telling me about his day at work. These tirades get him all worked up and give him terrible headaches. Then we get in the car to drive somewhere and he screams at everyone on the road. He has a lot of anger. This anger is never at any time directed toward me, but is around me a lot, and can wear me down. Given that we will have a baby in the house soon, I am worried about the negative energy that often fills our house. How can I get across to him that he needs to calm down? Do you think it is possible for him to change?

The Calm Wife

Dear Calm Wife,

Have you got a dog? Dogs are good because if a trader gets angry and starts parading about the house making angry gestures, the dog will get up and start barking at the trader like he's nuts, and that will remind him that he's in his own home and he's acting like a nut and should calm down.

Little babies shouldn't be around angry, demonstrative commodities traders. The baby will get the wrong idea about capitalism and become a Marxist or some kind of cult leader. The baby will also think that all men who wear those colorful smocks are the kind who yell in the house and kiss mommy, and the baby will get confused about who kisses mommy and who trades commodities and who yells and wears colorful smocks. The baby's world will be one big buzzing confusion of colorful smocks, yellers and mommy-kissers.

It's just not good for a trader to be yelling around a baby. Out of resentment, or competition with the father, the baby might start taking trades on the side without a license, which could get the whole family in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the baby might have to testify before Eliot Spitzer, who might frighten the baby. Then you would need psychoanalysts.

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So get some rules there. Point out the boundaries of the indoor establishment you refer to as your house, and point out that on the floor there are no torn chits of any kind, no discarded notes to buy and sell, because this is not the floor of the exchange. This is the floor of the home. See if you can get him to distinguish between the two. After a whole day on the floor, maybe he really does not know precisely where he is anymore.

Consider getting him a global positioning system so he can check and see: If it's these coordinates, this must be home, where the baby and the wife are ... And what was I was supposed to remember about this particular location? Ah, yes, no yelling about Schwartz and O'Connor plotting to cheat me out of my inheritance by shorting my long position on Acme Smelting, even though Joe sits on the board ...

In other words, get him to stop. Use humor. Use money. Use a big, excitable dog. Use whatever you've got, but get him to stop yelling in the house before the baby arrives.

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