Wife's Unfair Anger Makes Life Hard

Q: I've been married to my second wife a very long time. I always knew she was emotional. She cries easily and is very sensitive. When things are good, they're very, very good, but when she's on an emotional bender it can become unbearable. These periods can last for days where she harbors anger towards me or someone else. I talk calmly to her then, and once it passes we're laughing and going about our business. I've suggested she seek help, and she was long ago prescribed Prozac. I keep thinking if she got the right kind of therapy she could maybe head off some of these episodes. I feel badly for her, but being the punching bag is difficult too. Any tips on how to handle her so she will listen? —Malcolm, 66

Dr. Susan: The right therapist and the right medication are often helpful in smoothing out wild emotional episodes. Both of you could use professional help in dealing with her inappropriate anger. Take notes on when these outbursts occur, to determine if there is any pattern. If you can detect when an emotional bender is about to begin, perhaps you can help head it off. Take those notes with you to a therapist. If she won't go, go on your own. There is now a wide choice of meds, if a psychiatrist or doctor thinks she would benefit. Keep in mind that it's not a matter of you getting her to "listen." When someone's emotions are out of control, it's very hard to pull him or her back. A small dose of an anti-anxiety drug may be useful for her when she feels ready to explode. Good luck!

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