Question: Dear Luise: My husband is always trying to undermine my confidence. He criticizes me in front of others and when we are alone he is just plain deadly. Why would he want to keep that up? I don’t do that to him. And he didn’t used to do it. I would never have married such a cruel guy. Thelma
Answer: Dear Thelma: The kind of behavior you are describing may have something to do with your husband’s insecurities or he might have learned it from his family of origin. Maybe both. Unfortunately, it sounds like it’s going to do you serious harm, if you let it continue. From the tone of your question, it already is causing you pain and suffering.
Here’s the answer: he can continue…but not with you. No matter what his hang-ups are, this is abusive behavior and it’s destructive. Talk with him and let him know that it’s going to stop. He can either stop it, or if he can’t stop and wants to stay with you, he can seek professional help in learning how to stop it, or you are no longer going to be there. Those are his options.
What he does about the situation is about him. We are primarily interested, because of your question, about what can be done for you. There are some people who are untouched by this kind of thing, and just let it roll off like water off a duck’s back. In such instances, the husband continuously makes a fool of himself and there’s probably no harm done, except to him. However, in your case, it’s working and you are caving in and falling apart. He is getting what he wants from it, which is to feel “more” in some way. Bigger? Tougher? Smarter? Who knows, it’s his game. Don’t play.
It’s too bad that this was not apparent when you were going with him. That’s not unusual. A lot of false stuff was probably dished out when he was interested in marrying you. That, too, may have been about his ego or lack thereof. Once he bagged the prize, then you might have looked intimidating. A good way to bring you down to size is the rob you of your self-confidence.
Let him know that the pattern he has established is over. Give him the options I have outlined above, and if you don’t get a very positive and consistent response, start packing. Blessings, Luise