The fights between my husband and I are getting worse. He yells, slams doors and throws things. I said I would stay if he made some concessions about finances and my need for more respect. I agreed to be more affectionate, since our intimacy has lessened considerably. This worked, for a while. Then he complained about my closest friend, a man. My husband wants me to give up my friend for three months and focus on fixing what I have done wrong in our marriage. I am tired of his emotional abuse. He insists that I am abusive, too, because I am emotionally aloof. Is that abuse? He also said that if I don’t do what he wants, he will consider it a sign that our marriage is ending and I will be left to wonder if I could have done something different. I do love him. Please help.
Your husband appears to be tossing his net in every direction, hoping to haul in a reason why the marriage isn’t progressing as planned, i.e. happily ever after. Trying to control each other is futile and attempting to control yourself is a temporary fix unless you discover the decision you’ve made about the world that inspires the troubling behavior. For example, if someone always gets what they want after a fight, they learn to incite an argument, rather than a conversation, to ask for what they want.
With that in mind, is being emotionally aloof abusive? John Bradshaw has spawned a whole industry with his belief that emotionally aloof parents are abusive. But I think that sometimes such parents are just being themselves and aren’t capable of anything else. So I tend to agree with psychologist Mary Pipher’s assessment of his work: it’s damaging. What is more important to me is how you feel when affection is withheld from you? If you don’t enjoy it, why perpetuate that behavior in the world?
I suggest that you determine if you have used your friend as a surrogate partner, showering affection and mental intimacy into that relationship, rather than into your marriage. If this is the case, a break from your friend might help you to discern whether you are committed to marriage or not. Invest in professional help: an accountant, an anger management course for your husband, a course in healthy communications for both of you. Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE) may help. Their number is 920-2952.
I have a friend at work who was very dear to me at one time. She has been struggling for over a year. As a result of on-the-job problems, she believes that supervisors are stealing things off her desk, changing her assignments and monitoring her e-mails. She has lost a lot of weight and often is incoherent. Now she says that the DMV is “messing with her,” and she’s reading books about conspiracy theories. She refuses to see a counselor or leave her unhappy marriage because she does not want people to know her business. I mostly avoid her because she wears me out and doesn’t help herself. Co-workers ask me to check on her. Should I be involved?
Yes. You called her a friend, so be one. Her deterioration could be organic or the result of contraindicated medications or post-traumatic stress disorder. She needs medical help, immediately. It’s astonishing that your employer has allowed this to continue for a year. Ask that your human resources department arrange for her to have a complete physical. Be her advocate, as you might have once wished her to be yours.