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Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Husband is Being Mean to me Again

A.B.,

I 'm feeling very confused.

After a series of outbursts, for the last couple of weeks my husband has not lost his temper. He's been very friendly, helpful and pleasant. I regularly thank him, praise him and let him know how I appreciate his good qualities and efforts. But, even when he is not being so endearing & pleasant I try to do that! Over the last 2 weeks I've sincerely had ample reasons to do so. It's been nice to have a pleasant environment, to not be walking on eggs & to feel like my "best friend" is back.

I work hard to run the household & want to help his life run smoothly. I'm happy to do so. I feel blessed & grateful to be able to stay at home & tell my husband that. I try to be supportive & pleasant. I make a real effort not to burden him or complain about much, save for my aches & pains on certain days! Frankly, I don't feel I have much to complain about.

Last night, my husband's disposition changed again. He was being critical, erupting in outbursts, all over the tiniest things. I pushed the wrong button on the air-conditioner & you'd have thought I had hit it with a hammer! I couldn't do or say anything right in his eyes, & he said the usual comments about "I was fine until you..." "I wouldn't have to yell if you..." I ignored him as always, gave him space. When he came in to sleep, I just couldn't remain silent. I usually just go to sleep, turn the other cheek & never bring his words back up to him. I just move on. He never offers me an apology. It would have meant the world if he could have said, " Yes, I was annoyed, but yelling doesn't solve anything. I'm sorry I over-reacted."

But last night I felt I had to say something (big mistake!) I said calmly & nicely, " I don't care if the air-conditioner is broken,. I just would like to be treated with kindness. I wish you could tell me there's a problem without screaming at me." That just set him off again. He got very defensive, said it was all my fault, made things up, starting yelling again.

At that point, I picked up the phone & said , "Should I dial 911?" He said , "I'll just leave." I said, "That sounds like a good idea." Thing is, I had already hit "911" on the phone. I've never done this, ever, in 23 yrs. of hostile, rages! I don't know what came over me.

Anyway, I hung up before someone could answer. The dispatcher called me back though. I apologized profusely, thanked her, & said no help was needed. 10 minutes later a policeman was at the door. I told him all was fine, & my husband was walking out the door. He spoke to the officer & told him he was "being kicked out" of his home. The officer said, "That's fine, everything else is okay?" We both said it was. The officer left & my husband left.

Questions like, "Should we cut those flowers shorter?" or pushing the wrong button, or asking if he likes his dinner too many times, might annoy any husband. I understand that. I am a very average, flawed person. I am bound to put my foot in my mouth, & make mistakes. I just feel like I really, really, try to be a pleasant, supportive & appreciative wife. To be on the receiving end of so much wrath, so frequently, for so little, doesn't make sense.

This has been going on for most of our marriage, with a respite of three years after I filed for (then dropped) divorce. Two yrs. ago it started up again. I think he thinks I'll never leave because we live in a nice house, I love our yard, & I don't have job skills. Cost of living is higher here & I just don't think he thinks I'd ever go anywhere, so he feels free to treat me like a doormat when he's so inclined.

The last several incidents have left me feeling not as scared or panicked as in the past, but with a sense of sadness that our home has to so often be a hostile, anger-filled environment. It seems he doesn't have any motivation to change. I try to be understanding, but I can't seem to "love" him out of this.

The reality is, even though he seems impossible to please, I'm so happy to see him when he comes home. I'm like a puppy! I enjoy our simple life & don't feel I need anything more. I read that Dr. Laura Schlessinger advised that all one can do around a man like this is "ignore him." I guess you can't "make" someone feel compassion or remorse. Aren't some people incapable of feeling compassion or remorse? He seems to feel utterly entitled to go crazy with anger if the smallest thing isn't to his liking!

I know I've written about this about a thousand times. I don't want to drive you crazy, A.B. I just don't know what to do. I want to get off of this roller coaster. Now that this 911 call was placed, he probably feels even more disdain for me. I'm sure he went to his office & didn't get any sleep. I am sorry for that.

G__________

Dear G________

I suggested this to you before. It might help to get out a camera and record his rages if you can. I don't think he really sees himself. The only thing he sees is that you still respond to his anger, and he can still control you with his anger, and that makes him feel safe. Calling 911 was probably not a great idea since it was done as an act to manipulate your husband into behaving better rather than to get help because you felt in danger.

The cliche in the counseling industry is to meet a behavior with a behavior. This does not necessarily mean yelling at someone that is yelling at you. But it does mean that in any situation an adult should be taking care of themselves independently and directly, rather than getting the other person to alter their behavior so that they are taken care of indirectly.

You still do not see this subtle point. You are still indirectly taking care of yourself by getting your husband to change his behavior, instead of directly taking care of yourself, and behaving in a way in which you are completely taken care of by yourself, and the consequences of your being able to take care of yourself removes the ability of the other person to control you by their anger.

Calling the policeman illustrates the point. You called them to manipulate your husband, to get him to alter his behavior so you would be taken care of. This is not the same as calling the police so that they can take care of you, which is their job, and which would mean that in the situation with your husband you are taking care of yourself directly by calling the police and are not calling the police to get your husband to take care of you. It is still a matter of being able to be self-sufficient in an adverse situation.

When my situation was similar to yours I would actually say to myself during my husband's rages, "What can I do in this adverse situation to take care of myself?" Sometimes I would simply get up and leave the house and go somewhere to collect my wits and handle my own emotions. But at this point I was able to start to make some judgments about the fact that my "hurt feelings" were simply caused by my emotional dependence on my husband, and "hurt feelings" indicated my needing to do some more work on repressed fear. That "hurt" is just fear.

And I had some glimmer that I was extremely weak and my husband did not come to this planet to do what I wanted. He came here to take care of himself in the best way he could. It is one of my core principles that everybody always displays the best behavior that they are capable of at the time they are displaying it.

Another problem with us women is that we use the "cover story" that we are "right" and our husband is "wrong" in some situations to cloud that fact that we cannot abrogate our responsibility to take care of ourselves just because we are "right" and put that responsibility on our husbands just because he is "wrong" by common sense standards. Again, there are no specific right and wrong actions that can be listed down and memorized that you can do to take care of yourself. You know you are on the right track when your husband's anger becomes is HIS problem and not YOUR problem.

If your behavior comes from love (of some core principle) instead of fear, it will be appropriate in some way to your life. Being appropriate to your life, however, does not automatically make you a "winner" as opposed to a "loser" in the short term scheme of things. In the long term, however, being true to your core principles will mean that you win yourself.

Hope this helps. A. B. Curtiss

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh god this sounded like it was me talking through this whole story. I thought noone else but me felt unloved, depressed because my husband yells at me and I never know when it's going to happen. I want my husband to change and start thinking of my needs instead of only his. Feels like I am looking in a mirror and I see what I have been looking at all along; myself. I need to just do what I can do. Just leaving doesn't address my issues. Thanks for your story.

Linda said...

The original writer is living my life except I work outside the home. I do not agree with the responder that hurt is just fear. It is not. We all have emotions and our feelings do get hurt. There is a huge difference between fear and hurt.

Anonymous said...

I had the same. 4 of our 4.5 years of marriage. Every situation is different, and you have to feel yours out. What I have learned is this. Try 100% to do everything right. One person has to give more than the other in the relationship. It's often the woman, oddly enough. If the man does not try at all, then address what you observe without pointing fingers or using comments that would cause ill feelings. If that doesn't work, suggest counseling. If that doesn't work, express what measures you will have to take if the situation does not improve. If that doesn't work, then go. Just go and don't ride the fence. Life is short, and there are always doors that will open. No person should have to live each day uneasy because of another person's petty feelings. I had that and it was hell. I felt stupid and wrong all of the time. I did the above, and then I left. I didn't have a job, a place to go, money, etc. I made it happen, though. Now I own my own home, am raising our dear little girl on my own, have a dog, have a great job, and LOVE life. I can buy groceries without getting yelled at. I can turn the vent on in the kitchen without getting in trouble over the noise. Glory! To summarize, try your very best at your marriage and try understanding the pressure your man goes through. If trying does not help, live your life on your own. Each of us can do it.

Anonymous said...

I hope the writer did not listen to AB, but rather to the more supportive people who commented. AB demeaned the women's feelings of hurt and anger over being treated with complete disrespect and being the frequent target of anger from someone who supposedly cares about you. Taking care of yourself means respecting your own feelings and setting limits on how you are treated at home. Also, if you have children, the hostile environment and the awful example they see of verbal abuse is toxic for them. Some individuals. Can change and some can't because of deep rooted emotional problems. The fear of being destitute without a job is a real one of course. There are legal ways that a spouse will have to pay for child support, etc. a wife can even be entitled to the home in a separation or divorce. Even if one hopes to keep their marriage intact, it is good to know the law to realize that you can make it in the case of divorce. That way one feels empowered to set limits and to say, I'm no longer willing to take the anger and verbal abuse anymore.

TheBully'sWife said...

Get a divorce. Period. There is something wrong with him, NOT you. is this the life YOU wanted? Not hardly. Get a lawyer.

Anonymous said...

I read your story and it was like reading my own. My husband throws temper tantrums when he is angry about anything going on in his life, but kindly waits to share them only with me. The "I wouldn't have to yell if..." and " you know it annoys me when you..." are all too familiar. I have threatened to call the police before when he attempts to do something after he tells me he would rather be dead than spend time with me. The thought of spending 72 hours in lock up usually calms him some. I have recorded his rants and rages and, I assure you, it only adds fuel to the fire. He then tells me that I am causing him to be angry and it's my fault so why would I document that. Either way, I feel your frustration. It is hard to live a life where, not only do you not feel appreciated, you feel downright unloved. Knowing that waking up means another day of everything being wrong doesn't make for a super happy life. Stay strong!

Shavasana said...

It's so wonderful that finally someone who really knows relationships has discussed how to behave in this situation, how to think about it, and turn the tide. It is frustrating that there are so many of these articles with no answer being offered, but the classic "run away! Get a divorce!" Always with an exclamation point, always with such authority. This is why divorce is so common, as today no one is interested in solving problems. My grandparents were married over 55 years and they had a great love, but I heard tell of some huge arguments in that house. Long-term marriages have some hard times that need to be dealt with. This is my issue also and it's a toughie, because I left a previous husband over it, and missed out on my only child's growing up (part of it) because of it. Kindness and being loving are what my whole life is about, and it is very hard to have a husband that is constantly cruel, shouting, and inflammatory. He is also the sole breadwinner, but hasn't always been. He's starting to have trouble in the bedroom now sometimes, but he also has a very stressful work life and is in his 60s. He has started to mention divorce. It really does hurt because I am a good wife, beautiful with a nice body, have brought money into this marriage, am a good cook, good in bed, and I keep the house tidy, entertaining guests successfully, and doing things to make my husband happy or to laugh after a long day. I don't deserve this treatment. He perpetuates this charade just because he wants someone to vent on! I'm not sure recording him would help, but changing my behavior and taking care of me certainly might do it. He'll be in his 70s, and he will go down a grumpy old man, and I'll have to be the angel that was with him through it all. Bless you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I am in this situation right nnow and have tried everything and am done. It s time for me ti let this marriage go and be done with this roller coaster ride, ny husband s issues are his. Im not owing them any longer

Anonymous said...

For me, getting him to listen to a recording of him yelling would make things so much worse. That's not respectful, I wouldn't do that to anyone, it'd be like being the Behaviour Police. I know I wouldn't appreciate it, it just seems a very cruel and radical way of getting the message across. I'm a fan of tact and words hold so much meaning, it's not easy to master the art (I'm not verbal myself, but it's a life long task!)
In any case, I'm sure that there are better means.

Anonymous said...

Men seem to act like children and it seems we have to treat them like a child when they throw temper tantrums. No wonder Women are more dominantly the smarter sex. We do not act immature and childish and pitch fits when we don't get our way. I am getting so sick of my husband's negativity and put downs and being rude and demeaning. It creates such contempt that is hard for me to push aside. My husband needs mental help and counseling but of course he does not think so... He was raised by a very abusive mother who was also drug addicted and very verbally abusive as well. His father had mental issues too. Jeez, anyone raised in that type of environment would need counseling.