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Repetition of Childhood Behavior

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My husband was abused as a child. When things got bad he would runaway. He continues that same behavior as a grown adult. When there is any conflict, he leaves and will not come back until I apologize, regardless of any fault. He claims he will always do this. How do work through this?

Repetition of Childhood Behavior

Answered by on -


Thank you for your email. Your husband’s emotional reaction would indicate he is stuck emotionally with the only coping skill he has. While I can appreciate the fact his early abuse caused this reaction, he is letting the abusers still influence him with his inappropriate reaction to conflicts. Because he is using it as his primary method for coping, it puts you in a very precarious position. If you don’t apologized he continues — if you do he has manipulated you in to taking blame for something you didn’t do. This is something a trained counselor can help you look at.

I recommend couples counseling, but, if your husband won’t go, I recommend individual counseling to learn how to cope. The “Find Help” tab at the top of the page can help, and another great resource for finding a couple’s therapist is here.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Repetition of Childhood Behavior

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Repetition of Childhood Behavior. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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