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Mental Abuse

Question:

I have been putting up with what I now see is mental abuse for about two years. My husband has so many great qualities that I never really noticed how harmful his behavior was until we got married. He has yelled at me, belittled me, and has become more physical in his outbursts {but not to me} in our first year together. I’m always afraid that one day he’ll do something to hurt me, even though he swears he won’t. He also gets very angry in the car and swerves around the road or slams on the breaks. We hardly ever go on trips anymore because of this. It’s always “my fault” if the direction are not to his satisfaction. Recently he went so crazy that he decided I was right that he needed professional help. It was that or I’d leave. Even though he is starting counseling I find more and more memories of the controlling or hurtful things he did in the past and realize that I was stupid to think I could marry him and he’d change. Instead he got worse. He gets upset when I try to tell him how conflicted I am. He wants answers – do I love him? do I want a divorce? and I have no answers. Some days I’m mad, sometimes depressed. I keep telling him I’m trying one day at a time. Because life moves on as usual he thinks I’ve forgiven and its fine – but I don’t feel fine. I think about leaving, but don’t. what should I do?

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
  • ‘Anne’ bases her responses on her personal experiences and not on professional training or study. She does not represent herself to be a psychologist, therapist, counselor or professional helper of any sort. Her responses are offered from the perspective of a friend or mentor only.
  • Anne intends her responses to provide general information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
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  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Answer:

Why not insist that you and your husband enter marital counseling as soon as is practical. His willingness to work on his rage issues is encouraging. However, his therapy work will not in of itself address the damage done to the trust in your relationship or help you work on your own anger. In marital therapy you both can have the space to figure out if the relationship can survive and what will need to change if this is to occur. If your husband won’t do marital therapy with you then consider going by yourself to see a therapist or counselor. Right now you are allowing him to harm you and this is not good. It is harmful for you to have to live in fear of your tyrant husband’s rages. It is harmful for you to not feel that you can express yourself. These things need to change before you can move on with your life whether with or without your husband. Good Luck!

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