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Asking Eric: Husband’s road rage is ruining our marriage

6 days ago 49

Welcome to “Asking Eric,” a new daily advice column by R. Eric Thomas, which replaces Amy Dickinson’s “Ask Amy.” You can read her last column here.

Dear Eric: My husband came from a highly dysfunctional family, which has contributed to his anger issues. I, also, came from a dysfunctional family, but I try to be the peacemaker.

My biggest issue is that, when we leave the house, he turns into a road-raging fool. He is so bad that it forced us to cut a vacation short because a terrible, over-the-top incident led me to tears (as usual). He drove us the three states back home and we haven’t been on vacation since. It ruined a long-awaited vacation. We really can’t ever leave the house without him honking, swerving, threatening people who do annoying or even seemingly minor things. This is, in my opinion, ruining our lives.

I will not support him in public when he does these things; it sends my PTSD through the roof. It only got worse since he got leukemia and it basically took away our whole lives. We had to sell the house, move. He has not been back to work. (The leukemia is gone, but other health problems linger and make it difficult for him to do much of anything). He is in counseling, but it doesn’t appear to be helping.

— Tired of the Rage

Tired: I’m seriously concerned for your safety. From a practical standpoint, you should not be getting in the car with him as the driver and you should have a frank, honest conversation with him about how his behavior is affecting you. Say, “It really hurt me when our vacation got cut short because of the road-rage incident. I feel unsafe with you when you do this. I need us to find solutions to prevent it from happening again. In the short term, if we’re in the car together, I’m driving.”

Are you in counseling? With the triggers in your home life, you would do well to work through your own feelings privately with a counselor. You write that his rage left you in tears, as usual. Friend, this does not have to be your norm. A counselor may also be able to help you navigate larger existential questions about the marriage and guide you to a script that makes it clear to your husband that you won’t put up with more of the same.

It may also be worth asking your husband what his therapeutic goals are. Does he want to get rid of his anger problems? Does he have clear benchmarks that will mark his progress? It’s okay to ask him.

Lastly, he might want to find a leukemia support group through a site like CancerCare.org. While his health has improved, he likely has emotional scars from his journey. You likely do, too. Cancer Care, and organizations like it, can also direct you to support groups for family members. Check them out and see if they’re a good fit.

Dear Eric: My wife and I have a wonderful marriage, but I wish she would just let me do the cooking. Where I am concerned with the flavor of foods and taking those extra steps to make our food taste delicious, my wife is mostly concerned that what we eat is healthy and that it has all the nutrients we need, even though we all take multivitamins.

Having to force down a “healthy” meal can sometimes put my evenings on a real low. I don’t mind cooking for the whole family, but she often insists, or she just takes the initiative. How can I let my wife know that I would like to cook tonight, please?

— Healthy but Unhappy

Healthy: Try a cooking calendar. Divvy up the labor and put in writing who’s running the kitchen on a given night. And if you don’t want to eat what she’s making, have leftovers from one of your nights. That’s my appetizer advice.

Now, the main course. Have a conversation about how each of you is expressing your values through food. You cook and eat for enjoyment, for umami, for gastronomical delight. Your wife cooks for nutritional value, for energy, for longevity. These are both valuable approaches and they're both ways that you're trying to show love to each other and to your family. It would be a shame to let that love go unreceived. Are there ways that you can craft a menu together, one that has nutritional value from her side and all the taste you're after?

“Eating healthy and eating flavorfully are often perceived as mutually exclusive,” Miled Finianos, founder of MiledEats and Habibi Supper Club, told me. “However, gravitating toward fresh ingredients and less processed foods can lead to a delicious and nutritious meal. This way, they can still enjoy the food they cook while cutting down on some unnecessary bad foods, all while showing their love.”

Bon appétit!

(Send questions to R. Eric Thomas at [email protected] or P.O. Box 22474, Philadelphia, PA 19110. Follow him on Instagram and sign up for his weekly newsletter at rericthomas.com.)

2024 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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