Husband Yells, Threatens to Leave and Resents Me

Visitor's Question from a 51-60 year old Female
I have been married for almost 19 years. We have one son almost 18. My husband was abused growing up. He has verbal outbursts about me. I have worked for 18 years. He is turning 59. We are in deep debt. He thinks I did not earn enough money over the years, used him and he resents me for wearing his health down. Not the fact that he over spent, is an attorney, hates his job.

I love him. He will not commit to the marriage, becomes withdrawn. I feel so insecure all the time. It is one sided. I cannot express my opinions without him threatening to leave. I feel scared all the time beyond belief about abandonment. Do you feel this is a control measure so he does not have to change??? He's never had much free time to himself and says he may want to live alone. Help Advice
It definitely seems that he is using your insecurities to keep you in your place. A marriage is about commitment, it isn't about threatening to run off in order to avoid arguments. It's also not about yelling at each other. Many partners don't work at all while raising the kid (either the guy OR the girl) so the fact that he had a good paying job *and* you had a job too should have been quite reasonable. Obviously he knew what your job was and his job, and what they brought in. Being an attorney, he made more than most. So it should have been reasonable to survive on those salaries. If he spent more than you both earned, than he did. That was a choice he made. I'm sure most people would like more money, regardless of what they make. But to blame you for his overspending makes no sense. If anything, it demonstrates his lack of fiscal control if he knowingly put you into debt despite knowing what your salaries were.

A marriage should be about two people helping each other face the world, about trusting in and relying on each other. In your case, you're spending your time defending yourself *against* your husband, and not knowing if he'll be there the next day.

It does sound like he's just unhappy with his work, unhappy with what he's done to his homelife, and now that your son is almost out of the house, he's thinking that a fresh start will fix everything - thinking that the problem is with the situation and not with himself. But if he's in essence chosen to be unhappy with everything that life has given to him (which is quite a lot, from your description), he'll likely be unhappy with anything else he encounters in it, too. We all choose to be happy or unhappy in our circumstances. Most people would be thrilled with a good paying job, a nice house, a wife and healthy son. He chooses to be very unhappy with these things.

In any case, this isn't a good life for you to be leading. You need to sit down and think about the different ways in which you can be happy in life. It could be with a husband who is much happier, if you can get that to happen, or it could be on your own, if he just gets more unhappy. I know it may be a scary thought after being with him for so long, but many, many women do it, and most of them are much happier once they are on their own and in control of their own lives, and not being verbally abused any more. It's amazing how much of a weight that is on your life, and you don't realize it until it's gone and you don't have it pounding you down every day.

But you'd probably rather "fix" what you have now, if you can. So start out by having a talk with him -

Agree with him that you two are where you are, however you got there, and you need to find a solution that works. That together you know you can work things out, but you both need to work together. Explain that it needs you two both to commit to this, that you can't be trying to opt-out every time there's an issue. And then find real steps that will make you both happy. Maybe he'd like to go fishing once a week. Maybe you'd like to have a night a week where you go out for pizza together. Whatever those things are that would add bright spots of happiness to your lives for little cash, share them. The more spots of happiness you have, the better things will seem, and the more you'll be drawn together.

If he won't agree to this, it might be time for a therapist. He can't just keep threatening to leave. He has to make a commitment to the relationship, or he has to agree that he is not a functional part of the relationship any more. If his intention is to leave, and this harassment is his way of 'making it easy' on himself by setting the groundwork, that's not fair to you. In the meantime, just as an exercise, I would look into how things would be for you if you had to live on your own. Millions of women do - check to see where you could get an apartment and what expenses would be like. If you're more secure in what your options are, even if you don't have to take them, it makes working through the issues much easier.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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