I don't know how my relationship with my husband got this way. I used to be so confident and independent, but now I feel as if I am not living my own life. Here is an example:
We were on vacation back in his home town, hanging out at the lake. We went to put our boat in the water and he drove the truck and backed the trailer down the ramp. Once the boat was in the water, I sat in the boat with several of our friends, and tried to start the motor. My husband came down to the dock and watched. I became very nervous about doing something wrong --as I’m always anxious when he’s around -- because he puts me down, particularly in front of other people.
I tried to get the boat started, but I couldn't so he got impatient and said, "What are you doing? This is not the first time you've started a boat! You’re not all there, are you?" Then he went to park the trailer.
When the boat was started and I got to the dock he asked, "What are you doing? Didn’t you see me standing here waiting for you?" I tried to explain that it was windy and the boat was hard to control, but he’d already started talking with someone else.
Sometimes I feel like nothing I do will ever be right in his eyes. He always thinks I should have done something better or differently. What worries me, is how much his words hurt me. I want to be strong, but that doesn’t seem to work. I cry more than I ever did.
I have been helping him with his business for the past few years, but recently I got accepted to law school. I hate working with him because it provides him more opportunities to criticize me. At first, he wanted me to put off law school, but I stood my ground. I am going to go to law school with or without his support.
Today he's OK
with my decision, but I’m worried that he’s going to resent it, once he is supporting both of us. He belittles the amount of work that I do for the business and around the house, making comments about how he wishes he had time to do all of the fun things I do – which is not true.
He refuses to change his behavior unless he thinks I might be walking out the door. But, I don't like threatening divorce every time we have an issue. He also likes to point out that I could never be a trial lawyer because I am too timid. I can go on and on, but I think you get the point.
I feel as if I should have stood up for myself long ago, but I didn't know what was happening -- just that something felt wrong. What should I do? Is this my fault for being too weak and letting him control me? I really want to get away from him, but I think I owe it to both of us to try and work things out. Is this codependency?
Your husband belittles you and bullies you and this diminishes your self esteem, however, a codependent person would probably not stand up to him, fearing that he would leave for someone else. You’ve not only confronted him, with your intent to go to law school, but you’ve also threatened divorce on many occasions. This would be a codependent’s biggest fear.
You are living in a verbally abusive relationship and your husband may or may not know that his language and intolerance affects you the way it does.
Since you want to work things out, I suggest that both of you go into couple counseling. You’ll not only develop a better understanding of each other, but you’ll also learn new communication skills which are badly needed.
This is an abusive, controlling relationship, but not a codependent one. I hope you find help to make the marriage work for both of you.
All the best,