My husband has a bad temper and a habit of cursing. He usually directs his verbal tirades at the TV or other drivers in bad traffic, but he also occasionally targets my two teenage sons and me. As a result, my sons are losing respect for him. My husband doesn't see the damage he's doing to our family. Is there anything I can do to open his eyes?
Long ago I learned people don't change destructive behavior until they experience its negative consequences. Any seasoned counselor will attest to this fact, and there's no reason to believe the same won't hold true for your husband. So, let me suggest a couple practical ways you can help him see the negative consequences of his unchecked anger.
First, your husband needs to receive a clear heartfelt message from the whole family. It's vital he hear from his boys—and not just you—about the impact of his undisciplined anger. I recommend you hold a family meeting not to punish him, but to let him know each of you is losing respect for him because he isn't treating you with respect.
Next, set some consequences in your meeting. Decide, in advance, what the fallout of his next tirade will be. Maybe the next time he curses at one of you, you will immediately leave the room and not respond. Or on a more lighthearted note, maybe he'll agree to give each of you five dollars whenever his temper flares up.
Of course, if your husband resists the whole premise he's angry, this approach won't work. Instead, your husband will only face reality when you take action by sticking firmly to the negative consequences you've warned him about.1