You’ve seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it’s your turn to sit in her chair…
Dear Dr. Sherry,
I have been married for two and a half years, and with my husband for a total of five. We recently moved halfway across the country (away from my family and close to his) and things in our relationship began to unravel. I experienced sadness because I moved away from my family and friends for the first time in my life. Instead of being supportive and kind, my husband began to call me crazy and a “b—-” if I ever expressed loneliness, sadness, fear or anger over anything. When he’s really frustrated with me (which is often) he just throws around the word “divorce.”
I didn’t have a job at first. He has had a steady, well-paying job, which is part of the reason we moved. I got a part time job making a small amount of money each month. He told me that was my allowance and gave me no other money for groceries, gas, or emergencies. (With his job, he’s out of town 3-4 days a week.) We have not consolidated our bank accounts, and he says he’s fine with that. The most recent thing he has begun doing is criticizing my looks. I’ve lost some weight, which I’m really proud of and gotten lots of compliments on. He doesn’t like that and he is constantly telling me that I’m pretty, but I need to gain weight and that my weight is no longer attractive to him. He tells me this once or twice a day, and has even go as far as to make comments about this to our friends and family. (He said to my sister-in-law that I have no breasts.) He monitors my meals and hovers over me as I eat, telling me to clean my plate, even if I’m uncomfortably full. I’ve talked to him about all of these issues, and he either makes jokes about them or treats me as if I’m acting unreasonable. I feel so lost and heartbroken and utterly alone. It feels as though the one man that was supposed to be on my side has turned against me. Please help me. Where do I go from here?
You said that your husband keeps throwing the word “divorce” around. I think it is long past due that you catch it and run. Your husband is currently emotionally and verbally abusive. If you are not careful, it is highly likely that he will become physically abusive as well. He’s moving and isolating you from your family and friends, calling you names and belittling you, making fun of you, putting you down in front of family and friends, controlling money and other resources and exhibiting controlling and demanding behaviors. These are all major flaming red flags and tell tale signs of abuse. His telling and insisting that you eat all the food off your plate is an example of his rude authoritative behavior. He sounds as if he is an abusive parent and you are the child in the marriage. Given that your husband is abusive, do not expect him to take any responsibility for his behavior.
Anything and everything that happens negatively is going to be “your fault.” He has a need to destroy your self-esteem and make you become psychologically, emotionally and financially dependent on him. Once that happens, he has total control of you and the abuse will become harsher and more frequent. Talking with him will not necessarily change anything. Change is not about him; it is about you! You must take a deep breath and get ready to take control of your life. Be honest with yourself and make a short term plan for you life. I would suggest that you seek individual therapy to work through issues and develop a plan. You deserve much more than you are receiving. It is time that you decide if you are going to catch the “divorce” word, run and not look back. – Dr. Sherry
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