My husband of two years (together for five) loves watching sports. Until a year ago, we were living overseas where access to televised North American games was very limited.
Now, in Canada, he watches nearly every game. I like sports, too, but here's the problem: He loses his temper when his team isn't doing well - really loses it.
He'll yell and scream, stomp around, knock things off tables, punch walls, and kick things in our home.
His behaviour creates a toxic, stressful environment in our home during game days.
I’m also losing respect for him. There's nothing appealing about a man in his 30’s throwing a temper tantrum when things don't go his way.
I’m pregnant with our first child and have started leaving home during game time to avoid the stress.
We live in a tiny apartment and I have no other way of escaping it.
But most games are played in the evening, when I'd rather be at home relaxing, not sitting alone in a coffee shop for hours, several times a week.
My husband's attitude is, "no-one is forcing you to leave during the games, that's your choice."
I don't think I have much choice, since chronic stress can be harmful to an unborn baby, and me.
If he’d watch the games without losing his temper there’d be no problem, but he can't or won't.
I’m too ashamed to tell anyone about this situation.
Otherwise, our lives are fairly stress-free - our marriage is good, we have healthy social lives, both have jobs we love, and our pregnancy was planned.
I've asked him if he's happy, he insists he is. He seems to have adjusted well to life in Canada.
He does have a short fuse and little things often make him angry; he’s always been this way.
I didn't know that sports triggered stronger reactions until we moved here. I don't want to ask him to stop watching, it’s one thing he really loves and is passionate about, and I fear he’d resent me for it.
Many sports fans are passionate about their favourite game or one particular team. Their enthusiasm’s often infectious, even humorous.
But your husband appears to use sports as an outlet for inner rage. The very serious worry – with all the new challenges that a baby brings – is that his ready anger will boil over beyond sports.
But of immediate concern, is your stress level. Forget shame. Talk to your doctor about how to handle the effects on you, now.
Also, consider retreating to the bedroom with earphones and a good book, during game time.
Encourage him to watch some games at a sports bar with a friend, where yelling at the screen is a group activity.
And, where he won’t be able to throw things, so may learn some restraint (unless you fear alcohol will exacerbate his anger).
The crucial need is for him to learn anger management, with professional help.
Talk to him – when there’s no game on – about the responsibilities and pressures of becoming a father.
Say, gently, that you’re both aware that he sometimes has a short fuse, but that kind of reaction frightens babies, and can be harmful.
Becoming a parent calls for recognizing where you have strengths and weaknesses, then dealing with the latter for the sake of a healthy family environment.
Urge him to talk to an anger management specialist to understand the deeper source of his frustration and anger, and learn strategies to handle them differently.
FEEDBACK Regarding the depressed boyfriend with bad hygiene (June 15):
Reader – “His girlfriend says, "He's not interested in talking to anyone or taking any meds." What type of help can she offer then, when he’s not willing to put forth some effort?
“Being depressed isn’t an excuse for practicing bad hygiene. I was extremely miserable in a past career, but still managed to keep myself clean - especially if I wanted to have sex with someone!
“You were way too hard on that girl.”
Ellie – I appreciate when a reader’s sentiments causes me to take another look at a situation.
But when this boyfriend said, “I hate my life,” that does indicate a worrisome level of depression.
Stopping normal hygiene is another known signal.
You’re correct that he isn’t making it easy to help him. It calls for challenging his dependency on her, e.g. he either sees his doctor or a counselor, or they take a break.
Tip of the day:
Sports-related fury signals broader anger issues to be managed.