Question: Dear Luise: My husband and I have had marital problems for sometime now. He was abused as a child and I think this contributes to our marital problems. We have never been able to sit down and discuss even minor issues such as paying a bill without him getting upset and walking out. He says everything is always my fault. When this happens he usually tells me to leave, or he wants a divorce. I go back to him when he asks and try to be a perfect wife, but sometimes I slip up and say something or do something wrong and he wants to bring up every mistake I have ever made in the past. This is what happened today. We had been planning a day together for a few weeks. Our work schedule has been hectic and I also work nights. So we planned a day together today. He decides to go to the bank and gym and says he will be back by 12:30 for our day out. He does not show up so I call him on his cell phone several times but he never answered any of my calls. He shows up at 1:30. I am hurt that he did not show up at the time he said and that he could not even call me to tell me he was going to be late. He did not even answer his phone. He said he was giving me time to be rested up from working the night before and did not want to disturb me. We keep talking about it and he gets up and says for me to get out and starts bringing up the past again. I told him I am not perfect and may say something I shouldn’t or even do something wrong. He says if you cannot do it right all the time then it cannot work out between us. I need help. Is it totally my fault this happened or is there some other problem going on here? K.
Answer: Dear K.: What’s going on is you are living in an abusive relationship. You are how you are…that’s who your husband loved so dearly that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with you. You are a mixture of traits he likes and doesn’t like but he set aside what wasn’t perfect and fell in love. The only way he can demand perfection is if he offers it and he can’t…he’s human. If we were perfect we’d all be sitting on the edge of a cloud, playing our harps. Sounds boring, doesn’t it?
I’m not saying you can’t stay with him but you are going to need to do a lot of work, both of you, to be able to relate and communicate in a healthy way. Have you noticed that “love, honor and obey” has been changed to “love, honor and cherish?” He’s living in the dark ages and pulling you into the darkness with him by focusing on real and/or imagined past transgressions. When he can’t support his position, he tries to shore it up that way.
You need individual and couples counseling. If he is willing…go for it. And stick with it. If he refuses and is convinced that you are the problem, he is demonstrating that he is…and I would suggest that you move on. He isn’t in charge…you’re in a partnership. You deserve a lot better than what you are getting and his behavior is obviously not bringing him joy, either. Stand up and be counted. Blessings, Luise