Dear Dr. Romance: She is verbally abusive to me
Dear Dr. Romance:
I am a retired police officer who found his wife sneaking around with another man 3 years ago. We have 3 kids. I cook and clean and up all night doing laundry 3 to 4 nights a week. I work two jobs to support my kids and family. I love my wife and forgave her with what happened 3 years ago, but she never forgave me for tracking her down to that guys house that very dark day when she was supposed to be working.
She was physically abusive to me for many years and I am wrong for letting it start and I had to put a stop to that saying that if she ever punched me in the head again, I would punch her back as I never put my hands on her and never would, I would never ever hit a women. I would do or give this women anything.
To this day, she is verbally abusive to me saying I am not a man, and that I am not going anywhere when I tell her she is pushing me. I don't want to let my 3 kids down who are under the age of 13. She takes things out on my 9 year old and when yelling at her, says you are just like your father, meaning me. She is a mean person and blames me for her actions and the way she is.
I wish I had the nerve to pick up and leave but don't want my kids to look at me later in life as a dead beat dad that walked out. I know many men going through the same thing. She was the love of my life and sometimes think she will change, but she don't. I am just so confused. My kids see the tension and think it's taking a toll on them. What do you think. I need direction or a real women to come into my life and wake me up.
You don't have to leave. You just need enough backbone to get yourself to a counselor. You need to learn to stand up to her without returning the abuse. You did a good job of limiting her behavior with the physical abuse, but you need to go the rest of the distance. She's getting her way by throwing temper tantrums, and it's not healthy for her, for you and especially not your kids.
Find a way to stay calm (this is where the counselor can help you) and stand up to her. Tell her you won't put up with any more tantrums or bad, abusive behavior toward yourself or your kids. Tell her she needs help with anger management, and if she doesn't get it, then you will leave and take the kids with you. You need to mean this, so she believes it. Do not ever give in to threats, complaints or criticism. Don't give her what she wants unless she asks nicely. She's not really a mean person, she's an out-of-control three year old in a grownup body, which is dangerous. "Anger: Cleansing Squall or Hurricane?" will help you understand how to deal with your wife's behavior. It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction will help your whole family learn how to be more emotionally healthy. The following guidelines will also help:
Dr. Romance's guide to effective expression of anger:
Anger is the emotional energy within each of us that rises up when something needs to change. Anger needs to be talked about, but not acted out. Acting out your anger (tantrums, yelling, violence) unless it is done in a carefully controlled therapeutic enviornment, simply reinforces the idea that anger is the same as acting out. Those therapeutic sessions that urge people to express their anger with yelling are really intended for people who have trouble getting angry. Anger management and abatement requires learning about your anger, what it means, what triggers it, and how to use it in a healthy way.
I teach my clients that "He who loses it, loses." Expressing anger in an out-of-control way will ruin your relationships, cost you your job, and land you in the hospital or in jail. Instead, you need to understand how to recognize the growth of your anger before it's too far gone to control, and learn to channel it in healthy ways.
To express your anger effectively, follow these steps:
*First, you must stay calm -- if you raise your voice, you won't be heard, because the other person will become defensive.
* If you aren't calm, calm down before expressing your anger: count to 10, take deep breaths, talk to someone with whom you are not angry.
* Figure out what you're angry about. It's common to be upset or angry but not know exactly what it's all about. What are you feeling? Who are you angry at? What did he or she do? Taking the time to get clear about your anger will make it easier for you to be clear with your partner, and easier for your partner to figure out what to do. If your partner did something wrong, just blaming still doesn't make it clear exactly how you were hurt, or what the other person can do to make it right.
* Know what will appease your anger. It is your responsibility to know what the other person can do to be forgiven.
* Understand if you'll be doing any damage, to yourself or others, by expressing your anger. It's usually not smart to tell your boss, a policeman, your mother-in-law or other people with power that you're angry. It's better to offer a solution in those cases. Also, when someone is deep in grief, or recovering from an illness or big problem like being fired, it is not a good time to talk about your anger. Doing so makes you look uncaring and narcissistic.
* Only after these steps should you directly tell the person that you are angry (I'm angry, and I need to talk with you about it) and explain what you need to fix the problem, (I need you to never hurt me like that again; I need you to pick up your mess; I am not willing to be friends with you if you gossip about me)
* If you've followed the steps, you will almost always get a positive response to your anger: an apology and a promise to change behavior.
If you can't calm down enough to do this, you may have an anger problem and need therapy or anger management classes.
For low-cost counseling, find me at LoveForever.com
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.