Question: Dear Luise: I recently asked my husband to leave and we are currently separated. Our 11-year relationship was very difficult. In recent months, by working with a therapist I have discovered that many of the problems in my relationship were due to my husband living in a completely different reality. For so long, my husband convinced me that I was the problem and deserved his anger. He was abused as a child by both parents. He has said some really bizarre things to me that are totally not based in reality. For example, after a fight we had as he was storming out of the house, he said, I know that as soon as I am gone and you dont have me to beat up on anymore that you are going to beat our child. He continually accused me of being manipulative and controlling, which I am not. His mother is the master at manipulation and control. I have so many other stories to support the non-reality he was living in. My point is that I believe many times he would project onto me his unresolved abuse issues and mainly his issues with his mother. I am now writing him a “closure” letter in hopes that he will break out of his denial and quit blaming me for all of his pain. I really want him to get help. How can I explain to him that I think he related to me like I was his abusive mother so that he will actually see the truth? Thanks for your advice! S.
Answer: Dear S. We usually can’t interject into the perceptions of another person, the clarity that we may feel we have concerning their issues. Each person carries the impressions, attitudes, values and reactions they have accumulated over a lifetime…especially during childhood. Your husband makes sense to your husband.
We’re at choice, when we pick a partner, to select someone who has similar views to our own and if we do that we can live compatibly with another. That’s easier said than done because the structure of dating can be extremely artificial with one or both persons pretending to be someone they aren’t.
Your husband will address what doesn’t work for him in his own time or not at all depending on his own desire to create a life for himself that contains less stress and more rewards. The one thing that seems to get in the way of doing the obvious, no matter how difficult, is the need to be right. Most of us want to “know that we know” and we are most comfortable when we blame anything that feels like the unknown on another person. With that process goes the need to blame the other for anything that doesn’t work smoothly in the relationship. This “being right” is very hard to let go of for many people and keeps them locked in dysfunction.
Long story short, what your husband thinks and does is about him and is his business. If it includes you…your attitudes and needs, your hopes and dreams, then you are on the same page…but that is up to him, not you.
Your job is your own integration and successful path through the maze of incidents, problems, opportunities and issues that life brings your way. As you know, a partnership can facilitate that or complicate it. In your “closure” letter wish him well. Blessings, Luise