- Dr. Love in the Media
Hanging on by a Prayer
December 4, 2000 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
Dr. Love, this afternoon my spouse called me a dumbass twice in front of our three small children and my teenage son when he became irritated with me during lunch. This isn't the first time that this has happened in our 4+ year old marriage (2nd time around for both of us). I replied back with, well that 's mature calling me names.
We both know that we aren't supposed to name call one another but it still happens between us. I cannot stand my husband when he acts this way and I admit that I do hold a grudge (at least for a time period). During my grudge time period, I do not want him to touch me, come close to me, I lose interest in talking to him (or him period for that matter), I refuse to shower together or have sex in any form with him and do not want to sleep together or near him in bed at night after he calls me names.
As you can see by the current time now it is 3am and I am not in bed with him. I avoid going to bed with him after we have had words between us.
Trust me, he will wake up tomorrow morning and act like nothing is wrong, he will not apologize and he will pretend through his actions and behavior (verbal and physical) that he didn't utter a bad word towards me. He will kiss me as usual, tell me that he loves me and go off to work.
There has to be something wrong with him. This is not a healthy way to love your spouse in my opinion. Is this normal for men because it is normal for my husband. This is at best a bi-weekly occurrence for him to behave this way. I am tired of him acting this way and it does little good sharing with him that I dislike this behavior. He sees no urgency to change his current relationship behaviors. Name calling is just the tip of the iceberg, we(I) waste so much time in our relationship in avoidance of one another(him).
realize I am responsible for whatever hurtful things I do but he rarely ever (and I mean that seriously) acknowledges his part in our disagreements. He is quick to blame me but slow in accepting responsibility for his role in the disagreement. I unfortunately have stopped apologizing as often as I used to when we first married.
Matter-a-fact, I have lost interest in him sexually because we rarely have it and improving our relationship seems to be unrealistic at the time since he won't get counseling. I am faithful to my spouse and not interested in any other men. In most instances, when we are having an engaging conversation that turns into a disagreement based on differences of opinion, he gets angry and walks away. He has yet to finish a disagreement since we married. I know that may sound unbelievable but it is true.
What can we do other than couple counseling because he won't go to that. He claims that he is just fine and he will work out his problems in his own due time. My position is, I don't want his problems worked out at my or the families expense.
I have gone to couple counseling alone and was told to get a divorce. Why is this always the answer? I want to improve my marriage not get a divorce. He has attended two Promise Keeper conventions (God only knows what the true intention there was) and yet he is still mean spirited towards me at least 1-2 times on an average in any given week. We are lucky to go three days without having a disagreement of opinion. When this happens the rest of the week communication barely exist between us.
do not believe he loves me because if he did he wouldn't behave hateful towards me then act in the morning like nothing is wrong and press on with his daily routine. I have on occassion told our children and my two teens that live with us to avoid him and not talk to him or bother him when he is in a mean spirited mood towards me. I think it is in the best interest of the entire family to avoid him when he is in this mind set.
hink at times my spouse is a bad influence for my teen son because I have noticed my husbands bad behaviors being emulated by my teen son.
r three children all his attention and love, I am left on the sidelines watching. Sometimes, I feel like all he gives me is crumbs.
anging on by a prayer.
I hear you saying loud and clear that you don't want to leave this man. You have also said that you want to work your marital problems out. Only one problem. It takes two to tango. Your husband refuses to go into individual or marital therapy. Plus, he refuses to be responsive to your limit setting. You have clearly told him that his behavior is out-of-line, meanwhile he thumbs his nose at you and does what he pleases. He calls the shots in this marriage and you have no power. He knows it very well.
When a husband senses that his wife will never leave him, his unconscious mind processes this fact in the following way: 'Go ahead, dump on her. She'll always take it. 'For this reason, you need to reexamine the position you are taking with him (I won't leave him). Because you aren't willing to contemplate leaving, he sees you much like the boy who cried wolf. There is no 'teeth' to your limits, since he knows you won't go.
Now, don't mistake me. I am not telling you to divorce. What I am saying is that you need to examine why you wouldn't consider leaving him. He is, after all, mistreating you quite badly, and he isn't willing to take responsibility for the impact of his behavior. He is basically telling you, 'Tough. . . I don't care how you feel. 'He is abusing you. And, the question you need to ask yourself is, 'Why do I want to stay with someone who treats me the way he does. And why wouldn't I consider leaving.'
As you ask yourself these questions, think back to your childhood. Think about how you were treated and what you observed as a kid. Were you verbally mistreated by your parent(s) or did you watch one of your parents mistreat the other? I suspect that you were abused or you watched abuse. This would explain why you choose to remain in a relationship in which you are being mistreated.
I know you say that you don't tolerate the mistreatment. But, in fact you do. I say this because in spite of all your cold shouldering, you still stay and put up with his garbage. Why? The most common explanation for your behavior is that you believe, deep-down, that it is normal to be abused. The only reason you would believe this is because you have been trained in early life to think this way.
Your husband has your number and he knows that he can get away with murder. He won't ever change until you grow. You need to experience a monumental internal transformation in which you decide that you don't deserve his treatment and that you are ready, willing and able to leave unless he cuts it out.
When he senses that you mean business, he will change in order to keep you. He won't change until you do. This isn't about threatening divorce, or packing your backs, it's about making an internal shift.
I also have to point out that you present yourself as a victim. I am going to tell you something now that is going to be hard to swallow, so please keep an open mind. Your unconscious mind chose this man (and continues to stay with this man) who victimizes you for a reason.
hese reasons are called 'secondary gains. 'Secondary gains refer to the fact that the unconscious mind gains satisfaction out of holding on to a pattern that the conscious part of the mind may actually hate. Consciously you hate being mistreated, while unconsciously you get something out of it. What? The release of anger. Think about it. Each time you are victimized, you get to point the finger at him and say, 'Look how mean and horrible you are. Look at how you make me suffer.
As the victim points the finger at his/her abuser, a lot of anger is secretly being released. Not only is anger being released at your husband, it is also being symbolically released on all the people who abused you from childhood on up. So, as you can see, being your husband 's victim helps you get a lot of anger out for all the years that you felt mistreated as a child on up to the present.
Only one problem, you become an anger manufacturing plant. Each time you are victimized, you add more anger to your internal pot, so that you never really get to the bottom of the anger barrel. As you can see, this is a complex problem, and one that will never resolve until you understand your role in keeping the pattern alive.
He won't get help, so help yourself. When you grow and change, he will be forced to do the same.
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