Hateful Husband With Bipolar Disorder
My husband and I have been together for 10 years, married for 5 and have an 8 year old. When our relationship started we were young and in school with little to worry about and had fun times together as well as a healthy relationship.
We spent quality time together, had separate sets of friends and started to share a group of friends as well. Fairly typical relationship. 6 months after we got engaged, we found out we were pregnant! What a happy and wonderful surprise.
We were both excited but didn't get married at the time thinking we would conquer our first year as parents and living together before we added combining finances and being married. Well 11 months into that year after several screaming fights and shoving back and forth, he became extremely agitated during an argument and actually punched me several times. Then he shoved me out the front door with our son still in the apartment.
I called his mother and she called the police, she went to the apartment and he left long enough for her and I to pack some of my things and all but our son's crib. We went and lived with his parents. At first we had little to no contact but his mother sent pictures of our son and had conversations with him.
After 3 weeks he went to seek help and was diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder. He went through treatment on his own while I met with an abuse counselor.After 6 months we attended counseling together while continuing in our own treatments. Eventually he came to my abuse counselor and after 18 months we were living together again.
This is a unique situation and I didn't think this would be the outcome but it really did feel like the right thing. We had tools to deal with our anger and disagreements and continued to stay in counseling. We still had disagreements but we didn't argue anymore. We bought a house together and then got married, then he got laid off and we stopped going to counseling because of money.
He continued to go to counseling for Bi-Polar plus during this time the fact that he was sexually abused by a neighbor in his preteen years had been revealed and he was getting help with that. This brings us to the last 2 years.
During this time the screaming fights have come back. He uses intimidating tactics like yelling and cursing (which he knows I don't care for) and sometimes standing up while I am sitting down (but not standing over me, if that makes sense). In the last 3 weeks he has stopped taking his bi-polar medication and hasn't been to counseling in almost a year.
He has started to be--just plain and simply put--hateful. Our friends that used to come over and hang out on the weekends to watch a movie or cookout don't even come over any more, and honestly I try to find every excuse to leave the house.
He is questioning me about money and all of the driving around. He's looking through my purse and accusing me of being angry or disrespectful (which I can be but in these instances am just reacting to his rotten attitude). I have tried doing nothing and hoping this ill mood will pass.
I have tried to talk to him, which just leads him to find things to pick a fight about, I have tried snapping back, recording him so he can see how he sounds. I even tried to go with it when he picked a fight yesterday, knowing it wasn't the solution but being desperate for something to work.
It has not gotten physical since that one time 7 years ago and I am not in fear that it will again. However, I used to think that was the worst thing that could happen, and now I know that him being too hateful and angry for seemingly no reason and every reason is not worse but a very equal feeling.
I am nervous that saying something is going to set him into a fit of anger, but feel like a prisoner in my home. What can I do to help?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Bernice, and thanks for telling your story here. It sounds like you and your husband have really been through a lot. I think the most cause for concern at this point is that he is no longer getting help. It is up to you, but you may decide that you're not safe in a relationship with him unless he is in treatment for his problems.
You also indicate that you have some issues of your own to work on, so I will offer some suggestions for that as well.
You will find a process for healing and understanding anger on this FAQ page. This will be helpful for both you and your husband, if you are willing to do the exercises.
Also, I strongly encourage you to read the following page on relationships. You will find exercises recommended there as well. Learn what to do about your abusive relationship.
If your husband is willing, it would be good for you both to read Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, and do the exercises in that book together.
One way or the other, Bernice, focus on yourself first, and make up your mind to create a safe, healthy quality of life. Your husband may or not participate in that, and that is entirely up to him. Give up trying to change him, and focus on yourself. That will lead to you actually loving and accepting him more, regardless of how things turn out in your relationship.
That's the only formula that works.
You can do this. You are worthy of a good life, and good relationships.
My very best to you,