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My Husband Did Not Protect Me

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From a woman in the U.S.: Two years ago we went on a short trip to the mountains with my husband, his older brother and two other friends. My husband and I were not married at that time, but we were together for 10 years at that time and I’ve known his brother too for a long time. He has a hard personality, before I knew him, when I just started to date my husband, husband told me that his brother is bad and I shouldn’t talk much to him because he can upset people.

I was trying to keep the relationship normal with him, not being too close or anything. During the years there was a situation between him and my brother in law, husband’s brother treated him very bad, my brother in law was working for him but had to leave the job as they were not getting along at all, husband’s brother was treating him very bad. This situation upset me very much and we did have a fight because of that with my husband, I felt very angry because he just wouldn’t care how he treats other people and that this situation would upset us too. After that I was more aware of his temperament and tried to keep distant towards him.

So from the first evening I heard some comments from him that I think were meant to upset me, he is the older brother and their father died and he feels somewhat in charge of my husband, like he needs to protect him from me. He was saying that I don’t take care as I should for him, he was saying that his own wife (she did not come with us) treats him so well, and that I am not taking care of my husband so well as she does of him. I’ve heard that he is not treating his wife well. I haven’t responded any way to this, I just walked out of the room and did not want to spend the evening in his company.

Next day I was just trying to avoid him all day, was not talking to him almost at all. That must have been very annoying to him as in the evening he just started to say very hurtful things to me, shouting, when my husband was not around, I was just telling him to stop. He didn’t. Then I refused to go out anywhere with him, so me and my husband stayed in the cabin while he and others went out.

Next morning, we went to have breakfast, at the cabin’s restaurant, and he just started to insult and say bad things when me and my husband sat at another table. This is when my husband saw with his own eyes the aggressiveness he had towards me. It was very bad.

They went to ski for a few hours, but we just stayed in to wait for them so we will return home all together as we came with one car. In the car while driving he had another episode of anger and insult, after that I just cried for the rest of the time. I felt very disappointed of my partner, as I feel he didn’t protect me enough, I felt so alone.

I know my husband loves me very much, we are great together, but I can not forgive him for letting his brother treat me the way he did. My husband tells me that they talked and his brother is feeling bad about what happened, but I don’t believe that because with every occasion he has, the brother shows the same attitude towards me. I don’t know how to behave, every time i know they talked or met, I feel betrayed by my husband, and I show him how upset I am. It’s been two years since then, we barely meet, his brother calls him a lot though, if we meet there is so much tension, and I am always aware that he can again say something mean and I will be only on my own.

My Husband Did Not Protect Me

Answered by on -

A.

Let me offer you another perspective: You say your husband loves you and you are good together. You also say that your husband warned you years ago that his brother is a bad person. It looks to me like your husband has given up trying to change his brother — and probably for good reason. It may be that not “defending” you was the best defense of all.

For you to hold onto a grudge against your husband for two years will doom your marriage. You can’t continue feeling “alone”. He can’t sustain feeling like he is failing some kind of “test”.  It’s a wonder to me that the two of you have been able to live together for two years with this kind of tension between you.

Here’s what is real: Your husband hasn’t found a way to influence his brother to give up his anger or to get treatment for it. You can’t change his brother either — and you can’t change your husband’s relationship with his brother. Your husband doesn’t see a way to manage his brother differently or he would have done it long ago.

From what you shared, I think nothing good would have come from “defending” you on the ski trip. His brother would have only escalated. You had to make the drive home together so it may have been wise for your husband to do what he always does — ignore and placate, this time to make sure you had a ride home.

The problem for you is not that your husband didn’t leap to your defense. The problem is that you and your husband don’t have a clear mutual understanding about why maintaining some kind of relationship with brother is important and how to manage his anger issues and aggression.

I can’t offer a solution here. I just don’t have enough information. You and your husband need the guidance and support of a family therapist to get to the bottom of what goes on and to come up with ways to deal with brother — together. The situation is too painful for you both to carry on as you have done.

Please. Ask your husband to go with you to some sessions with a licensed family therapist. If he won’t go, go yourself. Often one partner has to take the lead before the other person feels comfortable joining in. You need expert help. Otherwise, I see a divorce in the making.

I wish you all well.

Dr. Marie

My Husband Did Not Protect Me

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). My Husband Did Not Protect Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/11/19/my-husband-did-not-protect-me/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 18 Nov 2019 (Originally: 19 Nov 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 18 Nov 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.