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Arundhati, Counselor & Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 259
Experience:  Licensed psychotherapist, Published Wellness Author
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It is more of a psychological question. I am a councellor myself,

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It is more of a psychological question. I am a councellor myself, struggling with a new marriage after 3 year courtship. I love my husband but more and more he disregards XXXXX XXXXX I am pretty easy going and like to look after my husband. If I bring up a concern it is immediately turned around as a criticism towards him. Example he had promised when we got married that he would get rid of the houseboy (we live in Kenya and the houseboy is 60 years old plus). He doesn't like me and treats me disrespectfully. He steals etc. etc. I cannot trust him. After two promises my husband has renagued and says that it is just one of many things I don't like. This is not true. My husband is not easy - he is a recovering alcoholic with mild autistic tendencies and quite narcissistic. I dont want this marriage to end as I feel there are many things that we do and can enjoy together. Tonight he referred to my "small brain" and my origins from Essex!!! I feel rather out of control of my life. I live in his old home from his previous marriage which is rented. Ideally a new home would be preferable but I haven't pushed this. His 30 yr old daughter lives with us and that makes arguments uncomfortable. I suppose I feel rather unimportant and not special and certainly not a priority in his life. His autistic behaviour causes him to be disrespectful to me in public...again I accept it for what it is. When we are on our own...he can be very loving and I try to focus on that. Today I felt too scared to go home. I didn;t have the energy to cope with his behaviour. I am staying in my treatment centre where I am MD. I feel stuck and struggle not to feel bad....any ideas???

I'm replying to your question not in my professional capacity but more as a fellow human being. You clearly have a plethora of professional experience as an MD and I'd like to ask you, from that perspective do you see your husband changing for the better any time soon?

You mentioned that you've been trying to focus on the good things and that you think that there are things that you can do together and enjoy. Yet you also probably know that his negative behaviors (disrespecting you in public, going back on his promises, dismissing your concerns, and other narcissistic traits) will also be your constant companion going forward. In other words you can't have one and not the other. So if you had to club all the negative and the positive attributes and look at it as a whole, would you say the negative outweighs the positive? And if so, is it worth staying in this marriage?

Also, the very fact that you're left so drained by his behavior and so shaky and scared that you are unable to return home is alarming isn't it? It means that your home is no longer a safe place in your mind and you prefer staying at the treatment center than returning home. I think this is a very salient pointer to the fact that your relationship with your husband fails to meet some of the basic conditions of a relationship such as feeling safe, loved or nurtured. He also seems to be draining you instead of strengthening you as a good healthy relationship should.

My question to you would be is the occasional joy you'd experience out of doing things together, or his being loving towards you, enough to balance out all the glaring negatives in this marriage?

Kind Regards,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I think the short answer to that is I don't know. I don't expect from him what one might expect from a 'normal' relationship. I am quite strong and independent BUT i find the lack of respect in public situations humiliating.....and I do feel that promises should be kept or a very good reason given for not keeping them. He says I am manipulative.....I think I am pretty straight and try to understand him and think carefully about my responses and the timing of them. I have always struggled in his home......but can accept it if I have people around me that I can trust. He is highly anxious and one of the things I was trying to talk to him about was how his anxiety creates drama and affects me negatively sometimes....he likes everyone to like him and tends to be very reactive in what he perceives to be a criticism or confrontation.......I feel that everybody has the ability to change and improve situations but he blames and because of who I am I can very easily feel 'bad'.........

Thank you for the additional information.

It sounds to me like you entered this relationship with certain reasonable expectations and the understanding that this would be different from a "normal" relationship. Once in the relationship you tried to adjust (you've tried to patiently talk out things and explain how his anxiety plays a role in the drama, you've accepted that it's going to be a struggle at home) but so far given where things are it seems you are more drained in this relationship than energized. He does not seem to share the core beliefs that you hold (e.g. promises should be kept) and he seems to lack the self-awareness of how he might be contributing to your discomfort and the general conflict in the relationship. You are right, everyone does have the ability to change, but a crucial factor there is the person's own insight into his behaviors, his ability and willingness to acknowledge his weaknesses and the eagerness to make changes for the positive. In your husband's case, correct me if I'm wrong, the self-awareness of how he is responsible for causing you pain and hurt seems to be missing and so is the eagerness and initiative to make positive changes. If things go at this pace, and you are pushed into doing all the adjustment, accepting and compromising, all the while feeling like you're not really his priority then it would be a rather unfair and painful relationship don't you think?

I'll stop here to get your thoughts.

Kind Regards,

Arundhati and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Well....Yes...but I am aware of my personality...because of my background, sexually abusive Father, myself a recovering alcoholic/co-dependent, I dont feel I can totally believe that I might not have some bearing on the situation, though I have regular therapy and some insight into my personality....I hope and because of what I do I know how to communicate fairly healthily. OK some more of my bugbears........which if I were respected, made to feel special and a priority etc. would not necessarily be too much of an issue for me......we are only allowed to watch what he wants on TV....he constantly berates me for my spending even though I am financially independent......he turns the light off at night when he wants to and I have to too.....he criticises my driving...he doesn't let me buy the food I want at the supermarket if he is there...if he is not then I buy what I want!!!! He watches TV much of the day....he is a sugar addict...drinking at least 4 sodas a day.....and chocolate etc etc. I am not that much into TV so I don't mind it so much. I have a wonderful dog who is my constant companion and my husband says that she gives me what he can't....he hates being touched unless he wants to touch me...(that is the autistic side). His fears prevent him from doing so much..........I feel for him.....but what angers me is that he accepts some of these shortcomings but is totally unwilling to address them....the other day, after an argument I felt so so low that I wondered whether life was worth living.....not that I would take my life as I have children and I couldn't do that to them....(they all live in London - myself in Kenya). My therapist said I should ask him how he felt when I told him how low and worthless I felt.....and his comment was that he thought it was bullshit.............I get the feeling that I am writing this to myself now..........I dont want this marriage to fail...I have been divorced before and I really felt that I (with the help of my therapist) was doing things right this time and making the right decision........its good to get it all out but that part of him that is loving and beguiling is very attractive...I can't answer your question directly......but I would appreciate your comments on what I have written....

Thank you for accepting.

You've certainly had a difficult and traumatic past. A big difference that I see between you and your husband is that you have a high level of self-awareness/insight and a capacity and willingness to sort things out through therapy. Your husband on the other hand seems dismissive about how his behaviors might be affecting you or the relationship. And as you described, he seems rather inconsiderate and un-empathetic even when you tell him how low and worthless he made you feel ( refusing to take responsibility and called it "bullshit"). I see this - his lack of self-awareness, disinterest in changing and inconsiderateness towards you as a dangerous combination that can push you into perpetually being at the receiving end of this relationship. The limits, conditions, rules that he sets also points to a very blatant inconsiderateness on his part, or a feeling that he knows best and a stubbornness to see things any other way other than his. These qualities indicate that this cannot be a equal, loving, mutually giving relationship. You are already adjusting to many many things. I do not see him doing the same. In other words you are working harder than he is in making this relationship work in spite of which many of your basic needs (the need to feel safe, heard, acknowledged, respected) are not met. I understand your need to make this relationship work but I would encourage you to not try to force fit your life into what you want (i.e. you don't want a divorce) but rather to realistically think about whether this is a fair and fulfilling relationship if you can't even feel safe enough to return home.

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