I’ve Got an Emotional Hangover

Growthtrac Marriagec Medic

Q

I feel like I suffer for days after my husband has one of his frequent temper tantrums. I’m exhausted, confused, and very discouraged after he yells at me. It’s like I have an emotional hangover. What can I do about this situation?

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A

I can only imagine how emotionally and physically exhausted you must be, since you say these “tantrums” are frequent. Coping, adapting, and accommodating your husband’s behavior all require energy, so it’s no wonder you feel depleted, or that you have an “emotional hangover.”

You don’t mention challenging your husband or attempting to set boundaries on his behavior. Internalizing stress and conflict is another reason for your symptoms. Many women who are victims of emotional abuse experience physical exhaustion and other debilitating symptoms. Our bodies were not intended to endure this kind of hardship.

Step back and consider what is happening. Calling your husband’s actions a “temper tantrum” is like calling a tornado a “windstorm.” My suspicion is that his actions are far more severe and devastating than you have admitted. Is that possible? It is past time for you to stop questioning yourself and place the responsibility for your husband’s behavior squarely on his shoulders.

Consider what happens when someone close to us rages. Do you experience any of the following?

*Being humiliated
*Being called names
*Being threatened
*Being questioned
*Being told you are not making any sense
*Being told you are at fault or the cause of his anger
*Being taunted

These are just a few of the common occurrences that constitute emotional abuse. It’s important for you to understand how abnormal and toxic your environment is and the impact it’s having on you. We were not made to endure “temper tantrums.” In fact, Scripture is clear that there is no place for this type of behavior. The apostle Paul states, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:15-16).

What can be done about your problem? Let’s consider a few ideas:

Get emotional support. If you are like many others I counsel in similar circumstances, you keep this emotional abuse a secret. It is critical that you find support from others. And by doing so, you’ll learn your emotional response to this situation is common.

Externalize your pain. Begin by simply talking about your situation. But also start identifying your feelings and expressing them. It’s time for you to express some healthy righteous indignation by naming the wrong that’s being done to you by your husband.

Set your boundaries. There is truth to the saying, “We teach people how to treat us.” You have enabled your husband’s dysfunctional, immature behavior. It is time your spouse grew up and learned to express his emotions in a healthy, respectful way.

Prepare for the challenges that come with change. There is a fine balance between pushing for change and accepting incremental growth. It’s likely you’ll receive pushback from your husband. Be prepared for this by seeking wise counsel, healthy support, and bold encouragement.

Be patient with yourself. Recovery won’t occur in one fell swoop. Growth occurs incrementally as you set boundaries and insist upon a healthy home. It will likely involve confrontation with your husband, which, yes, will require more energy. This process cannot be rushed so you must be patient with yourself as you push for change.

Determine other ways of caring for yourself. You have internalized a lot of tension and trauma; it will take work on your part of heal—but you can! Find a therapist who specializes in healing from emotional abuse to support you in learning how to establish boundaries. Discover other practical ways of regaining vital energy, such as exercise, travel, friendships, and hobbies. Prayer and Scripture are also critical aspects of growth and maintaining perspective.

In summary, emotional hangovers are a sure sign something within your marriage is wrong. Listen to your symptoms and pray for wisdom about the action you must take to care for the one and only body you will ever have.

I’d like to hear your thoughts and welcome reactions by contacting me at drdavid@marriagerecoverycenter.com and encourage you to read about our programs at www.marriagerecoverycenter.com.

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