Why do I feel sorry for my husband?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: From an American mom: My boys are 6, 10, and 16. My 16 year old is from a previous relationship. I have been with the same man for 13 years now. I met him when my oldest boy was 3 years old. In the beginning things were great. I was in love. We both were. But, for the past 8 years or so things have just gotten worse. He has had numerous affairs. He even went as low as to bring 2 of the women into my home while I was working and the kids were at school. He of course denied it. These women told me. I found out about one in an email. I feel like I have given more than my fair share in this relationship. I am a wonderful mother. I do everything around the house. He hardly ever helps me. I’m physically and mentally tired.
He is just fine with the way things are as far as our home. He could care less about doing better.

He has put my oldest son down his entire life. Brainwashing me about him. Telling me “he’s ok”, ‘he’ll be fine”. He has called my son names like fat, moron, good for nothing. etc. It really hurts. My son has chosen not to come out of his room much. He never sits in the family room with us. I hate this for him.

My husband yells and cusses often. It hurts our stomachs. I recently started going to a counselor. She doesn’t even know why I’m still with him. I don’t either, that’s why I went to her.
I finally had enough the other day when my husband asked my 10 year old “when is that mother f***** leaving”? He was really ugly and loud. He was talking about my 16 year old. That did it for me. I want out but he just won’t leave. How do I confront him without a big LOUD fight? I couldn’t believe he’d use that language to his son.

He finds the negative in a lot of situations.

Then when I get the strength to do something about the situation, I start feeling sorry for him. Why???????

A: I’m so glad you are seeing a counselor. You need more support than I can give you in a letter. Your question is a distraction. It doesn’t matter why you feel sorry for your husband. It doesn’t matter that he’s a sorry excuse for a man. What matters is that you are keeping your sons in a situation where they are being psychologically abused every day. What matters is that your sons’ role model for a relationship between a man and a woman is one that is abusive. By staying, you are telling the boys that your pity for the man is more important than their welfare and that mothers are powerless to protect their children.

I’m sure you don’t mean to be giving those messages. I’m sure you love your boys very much. But after 8 years of this it’s long past time to stop thinking and start doing. You don’t need to be loud to be clear. You don’t need to argue. Even if your husband invites you to fight, you can decline the invitation.

Talk to a lawyer. You need to know what your rights are in your state and what you can do to either insist that he leave or to protect yourself and your children by leaving. Work with your counselor to strengthen your backbone and to get your children the help they need to recover from years of mistreatment. Additional help can be had by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Counselors are available 24/7 to support you. Please take care of yourself and the boys. You all deserve so much better.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Jun 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Why do I feel sorry for my husband?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/06/16/why-do-i-feel-sorry-for-my-husband/

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