My husband I have been married for three years and up until about three months ago, things have been great. There have been a number of stressful events for him lately: I had a minor health crisis and a car accident (unrelated), he experienced medication-induced weight gain (a BIG no-no for him). Also, he was adopted as a baby and recently found his biological family. That’s been very positive, but very emotional too. Lately, he’s been lashing out at me on a regular — almost nightly basis. The slightest thing can set him off. He gets angry if I don’t help enough. But many times, I’ll ask “What can I do for you after work?” He’ll say “nothing.” Then he gets mad at me for not helping. Or he’ll say he had ABCDXYZ to do and I didn’t do any of it. If I point out that I had no idea he had all that and he should have asked for my help, he snaps that I should have just known it. I try to stay calm but it’s hard not to feel hurt when he hurls accusations at me, like saying I don’t care about him and that I just married him for his money. That’s not true. He’s also angry that I’m close to my family (he’s never gotten along with his adoptive parents) and he keeps insisting that I must have been molested as a child and then brainwashed because that’s the only reason I’d be so loyal to them. I’m hoping finding and bonding with his biological family — which is already happening — will help with the family stuff but I’m still afraid. I love my family. I know they’re not perfect but I also know they’d NEVER hurt me. Or him. It’s becoming an almost nightly occurrence that we’ll have several hours of him lashing out at me and me basically taking it and feeling worse and worse about myself or more and more resentful of him. He always apologizes and says he knows he was wrong. Yet it happens again. He won’t do counseling. He’s tried it before and insists it doesn’t work for him. He does see a psychiatrist and takes mood stabilizing meds. What other options do I have? I want him to be happy and to be more like he was.
There is no doubt that what he is doing is abusive. You’ve been married for three years and say that things had been “great.” There have been situations lately that seem to have increased his stress level and thus his abusiveness. However, it would be unusual for someone to change their personality and or behavior so drastically. Generally speaking, people don’t become abusers overnight. There may have been concerning aspects about his personality and behavior that you had overlooked or were not willing to acknowledge.
Unfortunately, you don’t have many options. Continue to encourage him to seek help and hopefully he will. Beyond that, there’s little else you can do except protect yourself against his abuse. At some point, your only choice may be to live elsewhere and giving him an ultimatum about seeking help. It may send a clear message that you’re serious about him getting help and that you’re unwilling to tolerate his abuse.
In the meantime, you should seek counseling. He may not be willing to attend treatment but that shouldn’t stop you from doing so. It may be the necessary for your complex situation. The therapist will help you to navigate the relationship and determine your next move. Both of you must acknowledge his abuse and jointly work to end it. Good luck and please stay safe.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Husband’s Lashing Out
Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW
Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.
APA Reference Randle, K. (2018). Husband’s Lashing Out. Psych Central.
Retrieved on November 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/11/28/husbands-lashing-out/
Last updated: 26 Nov 2018 (Originally: 28 Nov 2018) Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 26 Nov 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.