Unhappy in this marriage

All Woman


Dear Counsellor,

My husband and I have been married for two years. He seems to be jealous of me. Every time I share something with him he tries to compete with me or implies that he, too, has had the same experience or better. He is also controlling and has no money management skills. He is annoying, and laughs at every suggestion or decision I make. I am so unhappy. Please help.

Unfortunately, in some relationships, the partners relate to each other more like competitors than partners. So one is always trying to outdo the other. The situation is prevalent when the man earns substantially more than his wife, but it gets even worse if the female partner happens to make more money than he does.

People go into relationships with predetermined gender role expectations which would have been established in their families of origin, and so they seek to carry on what they have learned over the years. Very often there is push-back from one partner, resulting in interpersonal conflicts.

What you are seeing is a partner who has an antiquated view of women as subservient and intellectually deficient. He feels threatened by your smartness and so puts you down every opportunity he gets. This sense of insecurity will only lead to a raft of emotional abuse that you are now experiencing. The idea is to get you to begin doubting your abilities and lower your self-esteem. He is playing a deliberate mind game that is designed to keep you in line so that you do not go beyond your “defined” role as a woman. His controlling behaviour is another way of trying to exert his power and authority in the relationship which he feels he has lost or is losing rapidly.

Try to maintain your sense of personhood and self-confidence. Do not allow your husband to succeed in his efforts at demoralising you. You know what your talents are and what you are capable of, and you should not allow anyone to dim your lights. In fact, your husband should be encouraging and supporting you emotionally.

Two years in a marriage is a relatively short time. Both of you should be bonding instead of building strife. Conflicts will occur, but they must be managed and not be generated unnecessarily.

If this situation is not addressed promptly, the relationship will deteriorate and the marriage will eventually disintegrate. Both of should see a counsellor as soon as possible and get the appropriate intervention.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com; check out his work overseas on www.seekingshalom.org, e-mail powellw@seekingshalom.org.

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