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Who is the abuser?

Sandra wrote:

I have been married to my partner for a year, and we have a beautiful 7-month old baby girl. Unfortunately our marriage started having problems since the 3rd month after our marriage. We started getting on each other's nerves and all that romance has started to fade.

I admit I contributed to the problem, often complaining about this and that.. things which he'd say are trivial. He responded not by words, but by purposely shutting off his emotions, not treating me like someone he loves but more like someone he has to stay with. I broke down on several occasions, as our quarrels never lead anywhere and he never seems really keen on changing himself. He wants me to change. I want him to change.

Eventually nobody changes and our quarrels get to the point of physical. I'm not innocent in this, I remember slapping him on a few occasions like when he calls me a bitch or when he purposely does something to annoy or make me scared and tense.

He slapped me on one or two occasions, most of the time he'd just ignore my presence, other times he gets annoyed out of the most seemingly trivial matters and when he gets angry, he looks crazy and starts mimicking punches at my face to scare me, once or twice he'd manhandle me by my neck and push me down to the ground or the sofa. I often thought he was just kidding, he'd never really hit me hard. Then one day recently, he really showed me one side of him I was afraid to see.

Phone rang in the morning, and he picked up and started sort of negotiating a contract or deal with someone, giving away our family details and his work details. I felt it was very strange as he had never told me he was signing up for any contractual agreement whether for rent, for loans or whatever, because we're really tied up in cash at the moment and can't afford to spend much.

I signalled to him asking him "Who is it?" He signalled me back to "Shut up" and continued talking to the caller. I asked him again, this time whispering, and he was very irritated and said "Insurance". I was like "What insurance?" He pushed me out of the way and walked into our bedroom for more privacy. I followed him into the room and said "I'm going to pull the line." He told me to shut up. And I went outside and pulled the line.

He came out angrily within a few seconds and said "I'm going to kill you" and with his hands grasped around my nech he pushed me hard onto the floor and kicked my back with his foot as he walked out of the living room. I told him I'm going to leave him. He came back and apologised and said he didn't mean to do it, I was annoying him and stuff. My question is, where does the limit end?

I can't bear the thought of actually leaving him. He's possibly the nicest man who has loved me. He often makes sure that we have enough to eat, enough to sleep, basically he makes sure we stay alive and healthy. Emotionally, I can't say the same.

I'm a very emotional person, but he often puts down my feelings and says I should just learn to have more control. He is so afraid of actually getting down to any form of discussion with me to improve our relationship. He just doesn't want to talk about feelings and us. He wants us to be happily married like his parents were. Outward displays of emotions are a weakness. He believes that his own true feelings should only belong to him and nobody else, not even his wife.

I feel like I have never even known the real him, as he surprises me every now and then with a response, a behaviour or reaction that is really uncalled for. The more troubled our relationship becomes, the less he talks, the less I understand him, the less closer we get. And yet all he wants is for me to stay his wife, and maintain this outer facade of a happy family with a cute baby to everyone else. I sometimes wonder if I've fallen into his trap right in the beginning when I met him.

I know I must never slap him again, but I get scared of what he can do to me IF he really flies into a rage one day. Am I being overly paranoid? He's a really great father to my baby, which makes me really reluctant to leave him. In fact I feel he spends more quality time and attention on our daughter compared to the quality time spent with me.

Are we headed for a divorce, or should we undergo marriage counselling, or is there something I can do the salvage the situation on our own? Is there anything effective that I can say or do to him that will help make him be more receptive to me - the person, rather than just me - the wife?

Dear Sandra

You are headed for much worse than divorce. You both have anger issues, and poor self restraint. You both turn to violence rather than try to resolve the issues. Your child is lucky, as she is too young to make the mistake of provoking either of you. Who will protect her when she grows into a "Terrible Two", and demands everything her own way?

If you really want to save your marriage, then you both need to agree to counsellign of some kind, and make it work.

But do you really want it to? You say all the right things, but I suspect you are really scared of being on your own, and will put up with his violence for too long - you obviously do not trust or respect him - nor he you.

What's to save?

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