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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

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1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

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7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

Doc@DrIrene.com

My Punitive Husband

My Punitive Husband


From: Jane
To: <deardrirene@drirene.com>
Sent: Monday, August 23, 1999 9:41 PM
Subject: E-Mail Advice

I've been married to an emotionally distant, controlling and verbally abusive man for eight months. I knew this going into the relationship , but was to insecure and afraid to call things off. Have you had enough yet? He regularly calls me "retard, shit stain, stupid little face" etc. If I am not home, he pages me until I call back. He often gives me the silent treatment when I have disappointed him. He gets disappointed easily. For example, if he told me to go to  the post office and I didn't, then I will be punished by his look of disappointment and no conversation for an hour. Why are you putting up with this? If he does speak, it is to tell me what a disappointment I am. Have you told him what a disappointment he is?

It seems so easy to see that he is abusive when I write the things he says, Then write them down all the time! but when it is actually happening, I feel like I am an idiot for not doing the little things he asked me to do. Pay attention. The more you pay attention to how you automatically react to his prompts, the better you will get at noticing when it is going on in the present. Your self-awareness will give you the opportunity to change your behavior - and tell him to knock it off!

What causes someone to be verbally abusive? I think you need to spend  your time worrying about yourself right now...not him.

To complicate matters, I have a very good friend (male) who I am able to talk to about what is going on. Our relationship is totally physically platonic, but emotionally I feel something that I do not share with my husband. He has expressed to me that he cares for me and that I don't deserve this. You don't deserve this. He has also expressed that if I were not married, things would be different between us. But you are married. However, he too is involved with someone, although he is not married. From his description of his girlfriend, she sounds to be very physically and emotionally abusive. So what. You are back to focusing on other people...

I have been "friends" with this guy for two years and have always felt a physical and emotional attraction, but because he was living with his girlfriend, and I was engaged, I never acted on it or told him about it. He says the nicest and sweetest things to me. I feel like I can not trust my own judgment. How can you when you didn't trust yourself enough not to marry your husband? How can you when you didn't trust yourself enough to let your "friend" know that you were interested in him?

I am very unhappily married, and would be even without the knowledge of my friends existence. Of course! Your husband is horrible towards you! But seeing how I  can actually talk and laugh with a guy makes my marriage seem even more miserable. I really need some objective advice. I know I shouldn't leave my marriage for this guy, and I am afraid that even if I did, he would not leave his relationship. Leaving an unhappy marriage for another love interest happens all too often. It is not a good idea because instead of having one set of difficult feelings to process, now you have more. It would be a bad idea for you in particular since you are too focused on other people and not on yourself.

I feel like I should be trying to improve things with my husband, but he will not talk about anything. I have expressed to him that I am unhappy and that I thought it might help to go to counseling. He  absolutely refuses. You cannot make him go. Accept that and do what you must for your own welfare.

Just to give you more insight into him, he is very good looking and very athletic. When he comes home from the gym or from a run, he'll ask "Why were so many women looking at me?" I have told him that this does not make me feel good, yet he persists on doing it. He persists because you fall for it and get upset. Why do you want to be with a man who wants you to feel jealous and insecure? 

He is an only child. His mother seems to be a hypochondriac, always telling me of some illness she has. Does this have any bearing on him as an adult? Who cares. Spend your time and energy on yourself... Why do YOU want to be with a man who wants you to feel jealous and insecure?

Thanks for your time.

Dear Jane,

You want objective advice? Here goes: If you are unhappy and have asked your husband to go into counseling with you and he will not, then go alone. If you continue to be unhappy because he will not stop his put downs, leave. But don't leave to fall into somebody else's arms. Spend some time hugging
yourself. When the smoke clears, you may have a better sense of who you are and who you want to be with.

Regards, Dr. Irene