Q: (This is an excerpt from a long letter.) Hello: I have been married to my husband for 14 years, and over the last 7 of them his behaviour has become worse and worse. He was a great guy while we were dating, but once we married it was like he changed overnight. He became an individual who became more and more selfish. Almost as if all I were meant to do or be was his caretaker. It was as if I over time have not even been part of his life.When I ask him to please help out, it is ignored, it then gets on to begging him of which he just flat out refuses or says something like I am not any good at that. That becomes very tiring, as I am not some sort of pro at raising a family or looking after a house, who is, we do what we can because it needs to be done, and because we care about the people in our lives, is how I think of things.
His reactions to (ordinary kid messes) or any discussion . . . involves intense screaming at me for bringing this discussion up . . .It then turns into him throwing things around and worse him raging into the kids rooms screaming at them at the top of his lungs swearing etc. how they caused all this for him. The kids are terrified because he is acting like a crazed creature slamming doors and basically shaking the house with his rage. I fear for the kids, and huddle them in my eldest son’s room. He can hurt me all he wants, but not our kids. They are innocent.
What is more a concern is that there is mental illness in his family, with more than one member. Something I did not know until after we were married. Bipolar is the main issue, but there are two with schizophrenia, pardon the spelling. I don’t really know anything about either, should I be concerned with what my husband is doing to himself and others? Or does he just plainly dislike us?

A: I’m so sorry that you find yourself over worked, exhausted, and without a partner. In many ways, it sounds like you have an out of control adolescent in your house instead of a husband. I can’t venture a guess at a diagnosis on the basis of what you told me. I can offer you support for reaching out to get some help. You may be able to manage this but I assure you, your kids can’t . They are living in fear and they have their father’s behavior as a role model for what it is to be a grown man. I can’t believe for a minute that the wonderful man you married would have wanted this. Something is very, very wrong.

I did some research of therapists in your area. See if this address helps: http://www.aamft.org/cgi-shl/twserver.exe?run:SuperCan_1 I’m 3000 miles away so I don’t have any direct knowledge of therapists in your area. AAMFT has high standards for membership so it’s generally a good place to start.

Please — go see an ecxperienced therapist. He or she will be able to take the time to ask you the questions that could shed light on this situation. A therapist will also know the local sources of support for you and the children. You and the kids – and your husband too – deserve far better than this.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie