How I Learned to Stop Fearing Anger and Love My Wife

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About Jeff Billig

Jeff Billig is a fairly well known bicoastal advertising writer and creative director who’s always tried to communicate on an authentic human level. Here he does some writing for his latest pro-bono client, anger.


  1. Jeff, thank you very much for this. I have not expressed true and honest anger since I was a child, and I have only recently been working on that. This article was a huge help! I’m bookmarking it

  2. A fun, easy read, Jeff. Loved it.

    I’ll agree with most of it, but I seriously doubt you give each other license to verbally assault, attack, or belittle each other. (name calling, really?) I don’t know any healthy relationship where those freedoms live without consequence.

    I agree anger can be healthy and helpful. I read a study that showed women MUCH prefer a man who has angry emotions toward disagreements than NO emotion. They don’t prefer feeling threatened, but they appreciate a man engaged enough to stand his ground and share his feelings or opinions.

    While I feel the same about my partner, I personally would not accept a minute of anger from a woman who thought it was okay to verbally disrespect, attack or abuse me in any way. She can have her hissy fit all by herself.

    However, I’m happy to let her vent all over me about her boss, her politics, her drive home, or cleaning up dog puke for the 3rd time. Water off a duck’s back and I’m happy to be her sounding board.

    In all relationships, thoughts can precede anger. While we should welcome anger and let her fly, we can also *think* before inflicting verbal or emotional attacks on innocent bystanders.

    If she/he chooses not to think, I say let ‘em stew in their own pile of negativity until the storm passes.

  3. Steve Billig says:

    Beautifully and courageously done!

  4. As a woman, I am in awe of your wife who was brave enough–grounded enough–in that one moment to see that it wasn’t about her, it was about you & how you deal with anger. For a woman (from my generation? In my own family?) anger is taboo. We are not supposed to get angry, but placate to any situation to keep the peace, just smile & grit your teeth. I haven’t manage to ever do this, as I am my father’s daughter, a hot bed of temper, but also easily wounded by any anger from others, especially men. I imagine a healthy relationship would be one where you can “let it rip” because, I am guessing, you have created a safe place to express that anger, both of you, as if there were a safe word, an emergency “time out” that will not be overlooked. After 22 years, you must understand that very well in each other, but HOW do you get there? How do we safely navigate the mind field of anger, honestly, & safely?

  5. Sorry, but I think you’re describing very immature behaviour. Do you shout at your kids? Why not? They must make you angry sometimes. Do you shout at your neighbours? No?

    Mature people control their emotions. They feel them, listen to them, decide how best to express them. Shouting at people is a form of abuse. If it wasn’t we’d shout at the boss, wouldn’t we? And the police.

    The key issue is that we need to know when we’re angry and act on it. The nature of the action can be mature or immature. A big problem in the world is that too few men and women control it. Your problem is that you controlled it too much in that you never acted on it, and some men have that problem. But your “solution” is an immature response and, frankly, what your wife did on that drive was abusive and manipulative.

    • jeffabillig says:

      That’s OK Martin. It probably is immature. I wish I didn’t get that angry, but evidently I do sometimes. And when I was a boy, being “immature” would have bothered me. But at my age, that’s no longer a factor. In fact, I have to admit that a lot of the things that bring me joy might be considered immature by some. I prefer to call it young at heart.
      As for shouting at my kid, guilty. I have. A few times over the course of his 20 years — and a couple of those time, he’s shouted back. And I have to admit, I far prefer that to him being afraid. Because the world will do that to him and I want him to have that in his quiver.
      And the fact that what I see as a bold act of love from my wife that opened up my life, you see as abusive and manipulative, seems very strange. But you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.

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