Why your husband’s yelling at you

Frequent yelling in a relationship amounts to emotional abuse


Aggression isn’t always physical. Sometimes, words can be used as swords. Simply increasing the volume and changing the tone of your words can cause significant damage to a person. 

Yelling is a form of verbal aggression.1McLaughlin, S., Bonner, G., Mboche, C., & Fairlie, T. (2010). A pilot study to test an intervention for dealing with verbal aggressionBritish journal of nursing19(8), 489-494. Although there aren’t always words involved. The abuser may scream and charge after you like a raging bull. Doesn’t matter. The intention is the same- to harm you.

Both men and women can be verbally abusive in a relationship. Men are more likely to be physically abusive. They solve problems with their hands. Verbal abuse is really a female specialty. So, if your husband is yelling at you, something’s really got to him. It’s a serious thing.

Reasons husbands yell

Of course, there are overlapping reasons why men and women yell. But there are also gender-based differences. I’ll focus more on what specifically drives men to yell at their spouses.

1. Power move

Men naturally desire more power, authority, and status. They’re exposed to dominance hierarchies since childhood. If they feel powerless somehow, they’ll do their best to regain that power.

Yelling is one way to regain power. Its goal is to stun the victim into submission and make them comply. So, if your husband’s yelling at you, an excellent question to ask yourself would be:

“What happened that made him feel so powerless?”

If yelling is habitual for him, then his powerlessness may stem from deep insecurities arising from childhood trauma. If he doesn’t usually yell, then something happened that made him lose power in his eyes.

Maybe you made a valid point in an argument, and he can’t handle defeat. Maybe his boss humiliated him. Maybe his yelling is a response to your criticism and name-calling. Maybe his masculinity was threatened2Munsch, C. L., & Gruys, K. (2018). What threatens, defines: Tracing the symbolic boundaries of contemporary masculinity. Sex Roles79(7), 375-392. when someone pointed out his effeminate voice. The reasons can be endless.

A man doesn’t always have to feel powerless to regain power. He may do it as a preemptive strategy to ensure he stays in a high-power position in the relationship. It protects him from your power moves. If you try to gain power over him, he’ll still have some power left.

2. Habit

Some people think yelling is how you usually deal with conflicts. If your husband always saw his father yelling at his mother, he believes that’s normal. Media also normalizes yelling and verbal abuse in relationships. Examples of resolving conflicts without turning them into yelling contests are few and far between.

3. Anger

Whether by nature or societal conditioning, men tend to be good at regulating their emotions. Not all men, though. Some are short-tempered and quickly start to yell when they get angry. 

4. Pent-up resentment and stress

Because men are taught to suppress their emotions, they find it hard to communicate their negative feelings healthily. As a result, the anger builds up, waiting to be released. Eventually, it gets released via yelling. The same concept applies to stress. He may be overwhelmed by work or stressed about his finances. He releases those emotions by yelling.

5. To get his point across

Sometimes husbands yell at their wives to get their point across. He probably tried to be calm, but you didn’t listen to him. He had to resort to yelling to get his point across.

In the above scene, the husband got angry because he felt invisible and unheard. Instead of yelling at his wife, he took out his frustration on the plate. Had he yelled at his wife, she would’ve gotten an excuse to yell more.

6. To make you see logic and reason

When arguments happen, women tend to get more emotional than men. Men feel powerless in the realm of emotions and only see the logical side of problems. So, while you’re focusing on feelings, he may try to get you out of them and focus on the rational side of things. That might require a good bit of yelling.

Related: Why your wife yells at you

Effects of yelling

When emotions get heated, yelling here and there may not be much of a problem. It becomes verbal and emotional abuse when it occurs frequently. If you get yelled at constantly, you’ll suffer from anxiety and depression. It’ll chip away at your self-esteem. Trust and intimacy will get thrown out of the window.

If you were frequently yelled at in childhood, then your tolerance for it will be lower than the average person’s. While the average person may not get bothered by infrequent yelling episodes, you’re different, and you need to communicate that to your partner.

How to cope

Don’t match his yelling with yours. That’ll make things worse. It puts you both in a continuous, unproductive attack-defend cycle. You don’t know precisely why he’s yelling. Withdraw from the conversation and give yourself space to think about that. When things cool down, you can have a more rational conversation. You can hear his perspective and share yours.

Don’t tolerate yelling. Tell him you won’t talk to him if he yells. Calmly communicate how being subjected to yelling makes you feel. If your husband has deeper issues, counseling may be worthwhile.