Question: Dear Luise: My husband is a control freak. He constantly accuses me of having affairs. I have recently left him. I was never “allowed” to have a private email address. He would do things to try and drive me from my family, like tell me one of my sisters was hitting on him. He would check my phone daily and when the bill came in he would scrutinize every number and question those he did not recognize. He told me he would kill me if he found I fooled around on him and then kill himself. He claims to be a Christian, so I asked him if he was a Christian then how could he do that and his response was good people snap. Since I’ve left, he says he has been reborn in Christ. He is seeking counseling now. I’m just afraid if I go back that things will gradually become the way they were before. I honestly don’t think I can go back to him. My self worth has been destroyed. I find my self still walking in pubic looking at the ground as if he is next to me so I don’t get accused of looking at another man. I met with someone he knows and this person told me that my husband seems to have lost touch with reality…I’ve spoken to his ex-wife and she said he was controlling with her. His second wife’s sisters called his first wife with concerns as they seen this controlling behavior. Do you think he can really change and not be controlling? L.
Answer: Dear L.: You may decide not to get a divorce at this time. “Wait and see” is often a good way to go. However, when the jury is out like this…it may also be wise to keep your distance.
People can change overnight; we have documentation of that in the Bible, however it is more often a desire not to be who they are and a fear of losing the familiar that makes them try to be different. It usually can’t be maintained because old habits, reactions, insecurities and beliefs are deeply engrained. They haven’t been permanently replaced by new behaviors, so they eventually re-surface and then it’s business as usual.
When I was very young, I married a boy-man I had known since I was three years old. Being friends was easy but being married wasn’t. He evidenced all of the behaviors you outlined above. If I smiled at someone at church, he didn’t speak to me for weeks and he followed me to my sewing class, sure that I was really on my way to meet up with some fictitious man. I was too young and naive to know that the word “allowed” spelled disaster or that it was evidence that he had made me his “possession.” I stayed for 18 years and tried to grow into the relationship. All I accomplished was growing up…but he didn’t.
Abuse has many faces. When another person has a distorted concept of who you are and constantly berates you and tears you down, that’s abuse. You are a precious child of God and your husband has been systematically trying to destroy you. He can’t do that if you won’t let him. To protect yourself, you have backed off. I don’t see that as desertion, it looks like survival to me.
Your husband is trying. He’s sought help but/and it can be a long, long road to full recovery with a lot a bumps along the way. Some make it and some don’t. It’s his process and your job may be to be sure you do not suffer further damage along the way. Blessings, Luise