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Doc@DrIrene.com

What Am I Missing?

 Interactive Board:  Your ALT-Text here What Am I Missing?

April 29, 2004

I am now four months pregnant, and my daughter is 16 months old. Last weekend, my husband took me to a work conference out of town, and I felt uneasy around him the whole time. He would criticize, complain and order me around, totally ignore me, or be in a generally bad mood. I was confused, but whenever I would ask him if anything was wrong, he would say: "I don't get it, what's wrong with you? There is nothing wrong with me. I haven’t done anything to you. I am very nice to you." He was acting very distant, and sometimes contemptuous. What exactly was going on, or could I be insecure and imagining things? Highly unlikely that you were imagining anything. Your husband's (probably inadvertant) tactic is very common: an attempt to dump his anger and frustration on you. Instead of yelling and screaming, which is evident to anyone, he misbehaved in a more subtle, passive-aggressive manner. He looked upset. In being distant, etc., he entices you to ask what's wrong with him. When you do ask, he tells you that he's fine and you are the one who is out of sorts. Maybe he even believes this... Regardless, while his behavior will certainly make it likely that you will end up in a bad mood too, he provoked the episode.

On the way back, he wanted to see some real estate, although I had told him early I wasn’t feeling well and had some spotting. After I told him I wanted to go home, he got very angry, and accused me of “never letting me do what I want to do” (his newest set of complaints against me). Wow! Very abusive! No empathy for your physical state. Even worse, you are carrying his baby! He said: “you always do this! I can’t do anything because of you! You never stop nagging!” It's damned if you do and damned if you don't. You simply cannot win. When he is in this kind of mood, no matter what you do, you will "lose." Even if you ignore his awful behavior, he will simply escalate until you can no longer ignore it. He is actively looking for and provoking for something to pin on you.

I started sobbing, uncontrollably. Of course. He treated you horribly! The only consolation I have for you is that his horrible behavior says volumes about him. DO NOT let him trick you into thinking you are somehow "not good enough." He was so angry and distant. It felt like a complete lack of love There was no love., and I felt so needy and vulnerable. This one is yours. If this individual can treat you so harshly, perhaps you need to ask yourSelf why you are trying to get blood out of a rock... 

I cried all the way home. I told him this felt like a one-way relationship, At times like this, certainly it is; my guess is that most of the time - unless he is "on" for some reason - it is a one-sided relationship. The only side is his side. that I felt desperate and miserable, that I felt this marriage was a very bad situation for me. If your marriage is  like this, it is a very bad situation, and will eventually make you sick. I said it seemed to me that he was especially cold and unavailable when I needed him most. Exactly. He told me we’ll talk about it at home.

When at home, he continued to ignore me while I sobbed in the kitchen making dinner for our daughter. Right. At the most reasonable time in the world for a man to console his wife, he continues withholding.

Can you think of any good reason why someone might do what he was doing? I can't think of one good reason. I can think of several reasons why he may behave this way, and they are all consistent with the way a sick or evil person behaves. To me, it seemed inhuman. I agree. I went into the living room to talk to him. I said I needed for him to be there for me, because it really felt like he doesn’t care about me, and that I found that incredibly hurtful.

He coldly said: “I have thought about this, and it seems this will always be a problem for you. He is correct. You will never get warm blood out of an unfeeling rock. What I really want is some space from you, maybe a week or two. I am tired and need my space.” What you  really need is some space from him!

I then told him to take our daughter upstairs, so she wouldn’t see me sob. He did so. In the kitchen, I felt so desperate and hurt, I felt I needed to hit a pillow, to get out some of my negative emotions that had been building. Of course... Please pay attention to your negative emotions. Hear their message. They are probably telling you that you do not deserve this. They are probably telling you that he does not love you. How could anybody treat somebody they love this way? Listen to the message! But do discard the myriad of things you may think are wrong with you. I'll get to that later.

I knew if I made noise in the kitchen, he could come down and possibly get violent, as he does when I am at my most vulnerable.  So, I started hitting my own head, hard, with both fists, because there was nothing else there to hit that wouldn’t make noise and attract his attention. I am so sorry... I was that desperate and miserable.

He came down with our daughter, looked at me with utter disgust, and said: “Shut up!! Cut it out! You lunatic! I’m sick of you!” Hear me now: Aren't you sick of him?

I was afraid he would hit me or throw me out, and I didn’t want my daughter to see me, so I ran upstairs, and sobbed for another hour. I have never done this before. I have never felt this awful before. Am I going crazy? NO! The way you are feeling is entirely and completely normal! Are you supposed to feel good that your husband treats you with such disdain and contempt? Anybody treated the way you were would feel horrible!

What was devastating to me was that I felt I was in undeniable contact with this man’s bestiality, his depravity, and I was frightened. Trust your feelings... But, according to him, I am the lunatic, I am the crazy one. He is trying to make you think you are the crazy one, but you are not.  He is the one who is upset and overwhelmed. But instead of dealing with his very human feelings, he acts them out to create a scene where you are seen as the problem. Please, please, please, if you believe nothing else I've written, believe that you are not nuts; you are totally sane and behaving normally under the circumstances. Your husband has a serious emotional defect that he has to act his frustration out and victimize you. He shows no empathy. That in itself is suggestive of a serious underlying disorder. 

Your problem is that you don't accept that he is a sick man who does not know how to love or feel for another person. He can only think of himself and his needs. I think you need to ask yourself why you remain in a marriage that is hurting you so much.

He was so calm and collected. I am a functioning professional, I have a good reputation in the community, my friends think of me as wise and dependable, I do not regularly or intermittently lose control of myself. But how can it be? I surprised myself. I think dealing with this man is dangerous to my health. I fully agree.  He is like poison, one with a horrible, sickening aftertaste before it completely dismantles you. Yes. What else could it be? I feel I’ve embarrassed myself and belittled myself be acting the way I did. What would a healthy person do in his shoes and in my shoes? Leave him and don't look back. What am I missing here?

You are missing that:

bulletYour husband's lack of empathy and cruelty suggest a serious problem and a poor prognosis.
bulletHis behavior is likely to worsen over time.
bulletHis cruelty and lack of empathy truly are poison for you and your children.
bulletYou deserve a partner who returns the love and consideration you give.
bulletHe is incapable of being a partner, though he may at times try to be.
bulletHe does not know how to love, though he thinks he does.
bulletIf you are afraid of him, please trust your feelings!
bulletHis being wonderful in-between episodes is not enough.
bulletYou can't fix him, no matter how much love and understanding you show him.
bulletWhat he promises today will change tomorrow, according to his ever-changing mood.
bulletHe will never agree that he is the problem.
bulletIt is OK if he does not agree with you or understand your point.
bulletHe is the problem.
bulletYour problem is your denial of how bad things are.
bulletYour wishful thinking that things will get better is your own worst enemy.
bulletYou are likely to need support to leave, to make sense of this marriage, and to regain your confidence in yourSelf.

I am so sorry to say these things to you. But given what you've written, I can reach no other conclusions... Please post your comments. I will be by next week to reply to you.

Also, please read The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing by Beverly Engle.

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