I believe my husband is emotionally abusive, or am I just being too sensitive?
Editor's Note: This question is a lengthy one! We felt to include it in its entirety to help our readers understand the sad plight of many marriages. Please continue to pray for healing and restoration for couples, such as the one described in this question, whose relationships are abusive and/or unhealthy.
Question:There are so many things I could mention here I don't even know where to begin. My husband and I have been together almost 7 years and married for 4. When we met I was 22 and he was 29, so I don't know if his behavior has changed that much or if I'm just not as naive as I once was. Looking back, there have always been problems within our relationship.
For instance, my husband's sex drive has always been minimal and the only time we are intimate is when he initiates it. If I try to initiate, or even hint at, being physical, I'm always turned down. I gave up trying a couple of years ago. As it turns out, he only wants to have sex about once every 2 months or so and when we do, it is always very quick (hope that isn't TMI) and I normally get nothing out of it. I have tried talking to him about this many, many times, but it does no good as he doesn't think there is a problem.
Aside from that, most of our arguing revolves around our children. I have a 7 year old son from a previous relationship; he was only 13 months old when my husband and I began dating. He knows he has another father somewhere, but my husband is "Dad". Then, together we have a son who is almost 2.
As far as taking care of the kids goes, I do almost everything. I bathe them, wash all their clothes, feed them, make sure the older one is signed up for activities, make sure he gets his homework done, volunteer at his school, dress both kids everyday, change the large majority of diapers, make all their doctor's appointments and take them to the Dr., attend teacher conferences and PTA meetings, ... I could go on and on, but all of the "parent" things I do mostly alone.
I also go to school full time and work part time. My husband takes the older one to school everyday, but I do have to make sure everything is ready to go and have his clothes set out for him. And the only reason he takes him to school is because he can come home and go back to sleep, whereas if I took him, the little one would likely wake up since he's in my bedroom, therefore my husband wouldn't be able to go back to sleep (because he can't sleep when he's awake b/c of the noise). He also does all of the dishes, and picks up around the house a fair amount. However, he also doesn't currently work and takes only 2 classes at school.
Most of his time not in class is spent playing games on the phone, wii, or computer. He also does all the grocery shopping, but again, it's because he'd rather go shop alone than be left home with the kids and also he has control over what is being bought. We only have one car, which happens to be mine, but he drives it 90% of the time. Anywhere I go, I take the kids with me. We have also recently taken 2 vacations without my husband and have another coming up because he prefers not to be in the car with the little guy. My husband also has activities that he does, depending on the time of year, from 1 to 3 nights per week for several hours. He is usally gone at least 2 nights a week and one of those nights he is always out until at least 2 am.
I am actually fine that I have to shoulder the majority of the responsibility with the kids, I truly enjoy everything I do with them. My problem is that my husband doesn't appreciate anything I do, and actually says all the time that I do NOTHING. He complains that I don't clean enough, he complains if our son fusses for a second and I don't tend to him immediately. We have a deal that if I cook, he cleans up. Well, last night we ordered pizza and our little one was getting into something and my husband was still eating, so the thought never ocurred to me to put the pizza away. When he got finished eating, he started complaining about putting the pizza away and said he does EVERYTHING and I do NOTHING.
He calls me lazy and stupid/ignorant/idiot for different reasons on almost a daily basis. After 2 kids, I have put on some weight, but am still a size 2, however, most of my clothes are size 0. He will comment on how tight something looks on me and tell me if I would "lose some pounds" I wouldn't have that problem. He says it like he's joking, but he's not joking. He says all the time that we've both gotten fat. If I eat any sweets he calls me "biggun".
Almost everything I say or do is scrutinized by him. If I don't do something the way he would do it than it's the wrong way and I'm an idiot. If I do it the way he would it's almost always not fast enough or good enough. I got good grades last semester (a 3.0), which was my first back in 10 years, and instead of saying he was proud of me he said I should've gotten all A's, and that a monkey could've done well in my classes. This may have been fueled by the fact that he didn't do well. This semester he took many of the same classes I had last semester and is not doing well, which he credits to the fact that I took them at the community college and he is at the state university, otherwise he would do better than I did.
On multiple occasions, I have caught him talking to other women on the computer, at one point 3 years ago, I found webcam conversations of a sexual nature between he and several women and the girls were always nude. I threw the webcam out, and he told me that he didn't think it was a big deal, but would stop if it bothered me. As far as I know the webcam chats have stopped, but I have found converstions that he initiated between himself and girls with screennames like "tasty jen" and "luscious cherry". Though I can't see the entire conversation, I can tell he is the one who initiated it. I also found out he'd called some girl he met on spring break several years ago to see how she is doing. When I asked him about these things he gets very angry and says he is entitled to talk to anyone he wants to, that there is nothing wrong with saying hello to freinds and if I have a problem with it, it is becuase of my own insecurities. I honestly wouldn't care if it was harmless conversations between he and "old friends", but I think women with those kinds of names that I've never heard of don't classify as old friends, though he says they do.
Also, anytime I try to have a conversation with him about my day he tells me to hurry up or he says things like "blah, blah, blah, I don't care." For instance, I recently scheduled my classes for next semester and was getting ready to tell him what I was taking and he said "I don't need to know."
I could go on all day with examples, but I have found myself considering the possibility that he is emotionally abusive and possibly even narcissistic. There was a situation a couple of months ago that prompted me to finally say I'd had enough. I was asking my son if he thought his teacher was pretty...that is literally it. And my husband started going off on me about how disgusting and crazy I was to ask him a question like that and that it wasn't normal or a Christian thing to do. When I tried to speak to defend myself he wouldn't let me say anything. I was in complete shock and didn't even raise my voice to him, but calmly tried to inquire why he was going off the deep end and he told me if I didn't shut up he was leaving. So I told him maybe he should go for awhile and he left for several hours. When he got back I told him how unhappy I was and that I wanted to see a counselor, which he agreed to do. I contacted our church immediately, but after several messages, no one has gotten back with me and he has now changed his mind. Either way, I'm not sure it would work because he told me that I'm in for a shock when we go to therapy and they tell me all of our problems are my fault.
I just wonder if I really am as bad as he makes me out to be and clueless, or if he is truly abusive. It has gotten so bad, that when he compliments me or is affectionate with me, it almost disgusts me because I know seconds later he will be insulting me in some way. What should I do?
We are so sorry to hear about your husband's failings as a father and husband. You are in an abusive relationship that has no future without a radical transformation by your husband, which seems highly unlikely at the moment. The only hope for positive change, in our opinion, is to do the following:
- Get help! Don't try to go alone through this; find a counselor, or a great church offering these services.
- Set boundaries. Though, by the sound of your correspondence, it may be too late. Your husband needs to be shocked into reality to realize what he is jeopardizing by acting the way he is. He must never be allowed to act the way he does without repercussions! Swearing, insulting, being disrespectful are totally unacceptable. Put your foot down! Demand he move out if need be--and again, find someone to help you.
- Prepare for separation. Can you get financial assistance for a time from someone--relatives or friends? If your husband doesn't have to change, he likely won't. If you separate, he may just come to his senses.
- Ramp up your own relationship with the Lord. Honestly, you need the Lord Jesus and the strength and support He wants to give you through this difficult time. Prayer works! Again, finding a great church will go a long way in getting the help you need.
You will be in our prayers, Krista.
Jim and Carrie