Dealing with Disrespect

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

For beginners sake, I’d like to say what my husband does right: spends all of his time with me and my son. He works hard. When he’s nice, he’s SO nice that it’s impossible not to at least admire his gentle disposition. He tries to get along, but it doesn’t last long.
He often times says many things that are hurtful to me, criticizing my personality, my looks, my intelligence, even my spirituality. He even has the occassional bout of rage where furniture goes flying. Yes, he uses foul language and derides me in front of my son.
I distance myself from him emotionally, and sometimes even physically. My son will ask me questions about how we are and tries to keep us together. I resist. I feel trapped because I’m on a lease for another six months with him.
After the fact, my husband will try to read forums about how to be a good husband and then he shoots for being great that day. I, on the other hand, am still angry about unresolved wrongs from the day before. He tries to act like everything’s fine. I’m wondering how long it will be before the Honeymoon recovery is over, and am cynical, at best, about his attempts.
I know I am kind, beautiful, well-meaning, and sometimes I think I’m even intelligent, but at this point, I just fantasize about being alone of even worse, just being in the company of a man that treats me the way I deserve to be treated.
We were separated 1.5 years in 2008-09 because of a fit of rage on his part.

A: What you are describing is domestic violence. Your husband has very serious anger management problems. You and your son are walking on eggshells, never knowing what will happen next. You don’t deserve it. Your son shouldn’t be seeing it. At some point, you’re going to be able to hold onto the reality that the sweet times don’t balance out the periods of rage and disrespect. They don’t. I hope the day comes soon that you’ve had enough. I worry for your safety and your son’s well-being.

Please contact the Genesis Women’s Shelters Program in your city. You need ongoing support and practical help if you are to break the cycle of violence that you are so accustomed to at this point that you accept it as business as usual. Genesis has a hotline, parenting classes, and counseling. If it becomes necessary, they also can provide a safe shelter. All services are free. The phone number is: 214-946-HELP (4357).

I’m so very glad you wrote. That tells me you are getting ready to take care of yourself. Please take the next step and make that phone call.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Aug 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Dealing with Disrespect. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/08/28/dealing-with-disrespect/

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