Hubby treats me like dirt

All Woman

Dear Counsellor,

I know my marriage is hopeless. I am 64 years old and can't afford to support myself. My husband is cruel beyond belief and yet, I can't afford to move out. My only problem is money. If only I had money my life would have been much better. He is always telling me to leave if I don't like the way he speaks to me. He treats me like dirt. I cry every day. I don't have anyone to talk to. I am so sad. What can I do?

One can feel your pain and suffering as you endure the emotional abuse meted out by your husband. It is as if you are imprisoned and your husband has the keys. Unfortunately, some relationships mirror a life imprisonment sentence where the woman/man is the prison inmate and the other person is the warden/correctional officer. There is a significant power differential and the communication is vertical rather than horizontal. Instead of having an adult-to-adult relationship they have more a parent-to-child interaction.

It is for this reason that some women educate themselves and secure jobs, just to make sure they will not have to depend financially on men. I'm not sure what happened in your situation. Are you one of those women who is of the belief that your man should look after you while you stay at home and be pampered and catered to? Nothing is wrong with that mindset except that sometimes it comes with a price. There are also some men who insist that their partners must not work outside the house and become very abusive if they decide to utilise their skills and talents beyond the confines of the home.

Question — did you not recognise the controlling tendencies of your husband? Did you ignore the red flags hoping that they would turn green over time? It appears that you may have been enjoying the fruits of his labour and was not trying to build a financial base alongside him. Now you are overwhelmed with the verbal and emotional abuse and seemingly want to exit the relationship. Surely the thought of moving out and staying with a relative could be daunting and something you probably would not consider.

So the question to you is, which is more important to you — your peace of mind or your pride? If it is the former, irrespective of your age, staying with a relative with reduced amenities and seeking or creating employment could be an option. As humbling as it might be, maybe for the first time in a long time you would be able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your self-esteem will be intact. If, however, you choose to grin and bear it, then it would be the choice you made knowing full well that your sense of personhood would be eroded over time.

Sometimes in life we must take tough decisions that will redound to our ultimate good. We can't be too concerned with what people might think; after all it is the individual who is experiencing the distress who can speak with authority — no one else.

You may need to speak with a counsellor who could provide you with coping skills and urge you to take care of your mental health. In your situation you could slip into a state of depression, so please reach out to someone who has your best interest at heart. Take care.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com or powellw@seekingshalom.org. Check out his work on www.seekingshalom.org and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.

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