My partner of five years and I are planning a wedding for next year.
My one problem: Whenever we have a conflict, he goes insane.
He calls me names, revisits the past, belittles me. It lasts days.
He then twists the story, is defensive and blames me for any problems.
I’m worried about the future when there are more responsibilities and kids in the marriage.
Cancel the wedding date.
Then separate for at least a period of months while he attends anger management counselling.
If he doesn’t learn to be able to discuss issues and make compromises, you’d be taking a risk to marry.
His current outbursts and treatment are abusive emotionally, and harmful to your mental health.
He’d be a danger to you and any children, if he remains this volatile and nasty.
I’m trying to understand my recent, extremely cold, angry reaction to my husband's latest temper outburst.
Previously, when he’s had an unpredictable episode, I’ve been upset, depressed, crying.
I’ve never shared this with anyone.
We’ve been married many years, with successful careers, happy offspring, reasonably good health.
We each have fulfilling hobbies. I also have a part-time job I love. It’s given me more confidence.
He’s always had terrible, uncontrolled, unpredictable, angry outbursts.
He becomes unreasonable, sarcastic, rude, cruel. He used to physically throw things or punch the walls.
He’s never hit me but I get very intimidated, upset and fearful. We broke up several times.
But it always seemed easier to focus on the good things.
He also drinks a great deal and becomes very chatty and amiable.
His recent outburst angered me so much I can barely be around him. I've tried twice to have a conversation (not a fight) and twice been blocked. We’re now simply existing under the same roof - polite and aloof.
There’ll have to be a conversation for us to move past this because I’m determined it's never going to happen again.
I don't treat him that way and I always end up just taking it. We tried marriage/family counselling but he’s very resistant to discussing his feelings or temper.
It’s taken a long time for you to stand up for yourself. Most of your lives as individuals have been very satisfying, but there’s been a shadow on your relationship as a couple that’s no longer tolerable.
Your husband needs to recognize just how distant and disturbed you’re feeling and understand it’s potential impact.
Marriage counselling and anger management have many different approaches which potential clients should ask about and also be willing to try a session or two to see if there’s a “fit.”
There are many areas to explore – from his “dark moods” that unleash a torrent of venom and emotional abuse, and his need for alcohol to be socially amiable.
Unfortunately, your accommodation over the years has given him license to explode at will.
Alcohol very likely affects his mood swings. So, too, mental health issues, which only a professional can explore and explain.
Many partners would just continue to bear a more-distanced relationship, while putting more and more time into being on their own, pursuing what they prefer.
Others would walk away, especially if they can afford and manage a life on their own.
Even if your husband refuses any of the therapy modalities, you should go on your own to decide how you want to live – with him or without him.
Tell your husband that’s what you’re exploring.
FEEDBACK Regarding the grandparents who aren’t allowed to see their grandson (Sept. 11):
Reader – “As an advice columnist you only hear one side of the story.
“What you don’t hear is anything about these grandparents taking responsibility for their involvement other than their daughter stating that they were good parents.
“This situation sounds very close to the scenario between my family and my in-laws. They’re controlling and abusive (our psychologist says it’s some of the worst stories of narcissism he’s ever heard).
“They created a toxic environment for my husband’s entire childhood and we refuse to allow them to do the same to our son.
“They, too, refuse to take any responsibility or even look at their part in the breakdown of the relationship. So we have walked away. Sadly, but it’s the best choice we ever made.”
Ellie – Grandparent/parental alienation are among the most contentious (and saddest) family issues that I hear about, from either side.
Tip of the day:
Angry/abusive behaviour is harmful to everyone involved. Get professional help.