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Can You Fix An Emotionally Abusive Marriage?

by Anonymous

My husband and I have been together for almost 17 years and married for 11 years. We have two children aged 5 and 7 and I am a stay at home mum.

My husband has been emotionally abusive toward me almost from the beginning, although I didn't really realize until a couple of years ago that it would be defined as such.

He has always been very jealous, accusing me of having affairs with pretty much every man I've ever dealt with, ranging from colleagues to fellow parents, clients and even just random people. He accused me of having sex with his own best man the first time I met him (the two of them went fishing one afternoon and I tagged along). In his mind, supposedly we seized an opportunity to go behind some bushes or something.

Most recently it has been my best friend's husband that he’s worried about.

As well as the accusations, he has always been very critical of my appearance, especially my weight and my clothes. He's really nasty about it too; there's no way it could be construed as "trying to help," which is how he justifies it.

There is also a lot of name calling and profanity, and he has no problem speaking to me this way in front of my children.

If I call him out on any of his behavior, he makes it my fault because he's not getting enough sex. In a nutshell, he says that if I was putting out more, he would be nice to me.

I have come to the realization that he is never going to change, and I am really scared for the impact his behavior and our arguments will have on our children. So far he has not been physically violent towards me but has started to be physical belligerent at a low level.

I would like to leave but we live in an expensive neighborhood, and my kids love their school. We have a high level of debt, and he has control of all the finances.

He makes a lot of money but uses that as another way to demand his own way, and he considers everything from money to property to be his. I haven't worked for one year because of the kids, and even if I did go back to work, I am frightened that I won't be able to support the three of us because I know he will not provide any assistance.

For the kids’ sake, I would like to be able to fix this instead of leaving, but I don't think he has any appetite to change, and for me, 17 years has done its damage and I don't think I could ever trust him again.

I don't know who to turn to for help, but I don't think I can get out of this myself. We are in New Zealand.

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Jun 07, 2016
No Easy Answers
by: Dr. DeFoore

Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. I totally understand your dilemma. Of course you want to save your marriage if you can, and yet the abuse you describe is really unacceptable.

I think a strong argument could be made for leaving the marriage because of your husband's treatment of you. Happiness would be very hard to attain for anyone in your position, and that means you cannot provide the type of positive emotional environment that your children need.

You have to weigh the damage of keeping the family together and having your children in the effects of this abuse, vs. breaking up the family with divorce, and all that would entail. Again, no easy answers.

I encourage you to consult with trusted counselors and loved ones, and try to come to a decision that you can feel good about...the one that has the greatest promise of love and happiness for you and your children.

I wish you all the best as you seek to find the right path...

Dr. DeFoore

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