Where to start..

My husband is an admitted control freak, with as he says a "terrible temper". He's normally a very loving tender and considerate man, but he is prone to angry outbursts directed towards me when he's stressed, tired, anxious or worried. In short he takes all his anger out on me whether it's me he's actually mad at or not. (We live alone on 126 acres, and he's retired, so he's home alone all day and when I get home from work there's no one else for him to "vent" to.) Through the past year we've (me) been trying to define what is an acceptable manner in which to "argue". I put that in quotations because we don't argue. HE argues and I just listen until he's done. I can only remember two times in the past year that he did something that I thought was wrong enough to bring it up to him. Both times he was very upset that I was trying to tell him that he was wrong. Made me feel horrible for it afterward, and repeatedly asked me if it was "worth it to start s*** with him".

We've developed a pattern for his arguments, which usually starts with something not going his way (cause he HAS to have his way, about everything, even the order for washing dishes - he's a control freak), so he gets aggravated about it, broods about it, stews about it, and holds it in until he's reached the boiling point; then I come in and unsuspectingly take too long to butter the toast after it's popped out of the toaster and *BOOM* the yelling begins. He hollars about how "y'all god(dang) women are always trying to change things just to show a man you can", etc., I try to diffuse his anger, I sleep on the couch that night, wake up trying to smooth over the situation, he's still being distant and refusing to touch me as punishment for my screw-up (cause he knows I'm a touchy-feely person), I'll write him a letter or note or something while he's getting dressed, then I leave for work without him walking me out, and he'll call halfway through the day saying that he's read my "book" and we'll try and talk about it, I tell him that I don't think he should be talking to me the way he does, he'll say he didn't say what I say he said or that I always get hung up on some stupid (crap), or that he didn't really mean it but just said it cause he was angry, then he'll tell me how he's been beating himself up about it all day and that he doesn't know why he acts that way but that it makes him miserable, then eventually he'll say "I'm not saying that your right, but you might be", or he'll admit that the behavior isn't right and agree to "give it some thought". We make up, and a couple days or however long and it happens again.

To me it seems that with each argument the language gets worse, and the level of hostility gets bigger. The other morning he told me that he was going to 'knock my head off', then he said he'd throw me across the trailer, then he said that he'd knock my teeth out. I told him that he needed to stop and think about what he was saying to me, which made him more mad, so he hollared that the physically abusive relationship that I'd previously had was my fault because of "that damn mouth" and that I'd deserved what I'd gotten and needed it again. I finally lost my temper and told him that I was tired of his threats and that if he was going to do it to get to it because I refuse to be scared in my own home. He stormed out of the house. I did what I usually did and wrote him a three page note saying that I was tired of him taking out all the wrongs of the world on me, that I would no longer be his scapegoat or punching bag, and that he needed to stop treating me the way he does when he's angry including using foul language, criticising me unnecessarily, and calling me names. I told him that I refused to live the rest of my life that way. He called in the late afternoon asking if I'd meant what I said, I said yes, and he said that if that was the way I felt then I didn't need to be around him. I told him that since that was the way I felt that HE needed to be open to finding a better way to deal with things instead of running from a problem that has ruined relationships all his life. He asked me if I was about to start my period. I told him no, that everyone has a limit, and he'd gone way over it that morning with threatening to hurt me.

Since yesterday I've been doing alot of reading, and come to the conclusion that although I want to make excuses for him or deny that that's what it's called, he's being verbally abusive to me. I spent 2 hours yesterday explaining to him that if he didn't check his aggression and learn better ways to deal with his anger that our arguments were going to escalate to the point that he'd eventually become physical and that I wasn't going to allow that to happen to me again. He vehemently denied that would ever happen, and I told him that I didn't believe him because he'd already deteriorated to the point that he would threaten me with physical violence. He still denies that he did that. His good friend says that when he gets that angry that he "blacks out" - I don't believe that for a minute, I think he chooses to block it out rather than live with the guilt of doing such an ugly thing to the one person who loves him.

We've been together for a year, and in that year our disagreements have become more and more unsatisfactory in my opinion. When we first got together he'd watch his language and not curse at me, now he says whatever hurtful thing he can think of to "get me back" for going against him. He's called me stupid and told me that my opinion doesn't count, or that I don't know what I'm talking about because I'm just a woman or that I shouldn't second guess him because he's the man, blah blah blah, that I don't need to think, just do what he says. It's gotten to where I tune him out most of the time, but I spent the last few months taking it all to heart and being very 'down' on myself because of his words (that he never remembers afterwards).

What I am trying to do is break the cycle that we're in right now. I know that it's a grand thing for him to listen to reason when he's calm and try to wrap his mind around the fact that he has an anger problem, we've also discovered a couple of other issues that he has, like why he hates women.

His mother was a tall woman and always towered over him and told him what to do, he had no choice but to do what she said because she'd tell his father if he didn't and the father would beat him. He's very very fixated on not EVER letting a woman tell him what to do ever again. When I try and suggest things he says I'm trying to tell him what to do, or that as a woman I'm just trying to dominate him. This morning he admitted that his problem with women stems from his mother constantly TELLING him what to do and then making him feel like it wasn't good enough. Because of this I watch how I phrase things when we talk. I never say I need to tell him something, or say that he needs to do something. I MENTION things to him and say that he might want to think about _____ whatever it is I'm trying to get through to him.

That mother hang up and him having no control over being beaten is in my opinion the root of his hatred for women, trust issues, and need for control. He also fits 90% of the symptomatic description for General Anxiety Disorder. He admits that he's a compulsive worryer and that he knows now that his behavior had alot to do with his failed relationships and that he made his own life hard.

He tells me he's struggled with this problem his whole life, but no one has ever stuck around long enough to help him work through it. He tells me that he doesn't want to lose me, but that I shouldn't be uncomfortable in my own home, or feel like I can't say what's on my mind.

How do I help him? We're talking about deep-seated behavior here, he's 66 years old and until me no one had the courage to tell him he was wrong.

I'm most interested in how to get him over the mother/woman thing, but any advice will help.

Thanks for your time,

gf