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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2542
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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I am concerned about my husband. He will be 65 this year,

Customer Question

I am concerned about my husband. He will be 65 this year, looking at retirement. In the last week he has come unglued about a door being left unlocked ("safety issue, anyone could walk in, etc); a meal not being ready when he expected it to be; and a couple of other things. He told me I needed to think about why I had done something to him and if I couldn't be honest and tell him why it happened then we were through. Gave no examples of what he felt I had done, refused to give information when questioned. No, there was no cheating involved on my part which was what I initially thought he was referring to based on his attitude. He told me today that I had disrespected him, to his face and behind his back, by having people "mock" him. Apparently I had gone so far as to physically contact these individuals - one a server at a nearby restaurant and then I had driven 60 miles roundtrip to his work to have his co-workers do the same. I would never do such a despicable thing, and told him so. His response was that we were done, that I couldn't be honest with him. I responded by telling him he was insecure and crazy if he thought I would do that. I mean, who in their right mind would stoop so low as to go to such lengths never mind that fact that they would most likely be shown the door or authorities called in (trip to psych ward?) He is overweight, working at a job he can't stand until he can retire, and probably freaked out a bit by what the financial situation is going to be when he does retire. He has a glass of wine each night after dinner. Any possible suggestions for why he is thinking such bizarre thoughts? I love my husband and don't want to be divorced over something that never happened.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Norman M. replied 2 years ago.

NormanM :

Hello, I'm Norman. Are you ready to chat?

NormanM :

I see that you are still iffline, so I'm going to swithtch this to Q & A mode and leave an answer ready for your return

Expert:  Norman M. replied 2 years ago.
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Expert:  Norman M. replied 2 years ago.

There are several possible explanations for your husband's behavior, the most likely being anxiety over his current (and future) situation. Coming to the end of one's working life can be a very worrying process indeed. However, some of his accusations seem to be quite bizarre, and for that reason I think it advisable that should be evaluated at least by his Doctor, who may also suggest a psychiatric referral.


This is a very difficult situation, and to be honest, there is no simple solution.

Until someone with a problem accepts that there is a problem, they won’t do anything about solving it. That’s the first hurdle.


The second is convincing them that help is available, and that the should accept it.


Sustained gentle persuasion is at least part of the answer. Just being there to listen, and letting the person know that you are there for them may let them build up enough trust inside themselves to begin to deal with it.


You may not to be able to solve their problem, or for that matter understand how they feel, but just listening and letting them talk can be really helpful.


Getting people to open up can be difficult. It has to be done sensitively so that the person does not feel put down or alienated.


A gentle approach like ‘It must be difficult feeling as you do. Perhaps we could talk about it? is often the best start.


Choose your time and place carefully if possible so that the person feels as safe and as comfortable as possible.


Try to make sure that the person feels that you are on their side, and try to use ‘open questions’ – ones that don’t allow a simple “Yes” or “No” answer.


Don’t try to give them solutions, because as they open up and talk, the person begins to find their own solutions.


Good beginnings are:

Where – 'Where did that happen?'

When – 'When did you find out……?'

What – 'What else was happening?'

How – 'How did you feel?'

Can you tell me…….

How are you feeling? This helps to get past the bare facts of a situation, and lets people begin to look at their inner turmoil.

Don’t push hard or try to tell them what they MUST do – give them space and time to talk.


There are some things you can do, and here are some tips:


What you can say that helps:

I’m here for you – you’re not alone.


What causes these thoughts and feelings is a real illness, and it can be treated


You may not believe it now, but someday, this will pass and you’ll feel differently.


I care about you and want to help, even if I don’t really understand what you are going through right now, how you feel, and what you’re thinking


Don’t ever give up – just hang on one more minute or hour – whatever you can.


You are important to me. Your life is important to me, and to everybody who knows you


I’d like you to tell me what I can do now to help you.


We can get through this together


Don’t say:

Cheer up- it could be worse

Quit worrying about it – you’ll be fine

Your just imagining it, it’s all in your head.

Everybody feels like this sometimes

You’ll just have to help yourself

I’d have thought you would be better by now.

Get over it and snap out of it.

Grow up and act like an adult.

What’s the matter with you anyway?


You’ll also find some helpful information here:

http://www.familyaware.org/


If you continue to notice bizarre behavior or accusations, it would be useful for his diagnosis if you could keep a few diary notes as to what happened and when – it is easy to forget essential details.


If he does become aggressive with you, you should remember that we humans only indulge in behaviour that brings reward of some kind. Only when that reward (whatever it might be) disappears, or the consequences of our behaviour promise to be unpleasant do we consider changing what we do

Here is the clue to sorting things out. When you are faced with non-co-operation – give him choices, and make sure he understands the consequences of his choice – and always follow through.

Your husband needs to be confronted with unacceptability of his behavior, and made to understand while you care for him, his behaviour towards you is unacceptable and has to change. Make that very clear to him.

He also needs to understand that any continuation of offensive behavior will have unpleasant consequences. They need to be spelled out to him very clearly, with clear emphasis on the fact that they will apply immediately. These could be, for example, from no more cooking or washing done, or if he does not change his ways, the relationship is over.

Make it crystal clear to him what you expect –, no demeaning remarks, controlling his temper.

This may sound harsh, but unless he is given a reason to change, he will not. By being soft, you are just encouraging his behaviour, and not helping him at all.

Stay calm, remain objective and avoid drama, but stick to your guns. NEVER scream or shout – always keep focussed on what you want out of a discussion and remember if you resort to screaming and shouting, you’ve lost the argument.

Best wishes, NormanM


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. I know that he is concerned about retiring but I believe for him it is due more to the financial aspect than that his job is ending. So it is possible that, he is using me as a scapegoat because I'm the closest source for venting? He told me that the person he should be able to count on the most (me) is the person he can count on the least. His behavior has made me unsure about everything I do or say (as well as the opposite). I can certainly attempt to use your suggestions but he rarely gives me feedback. When he gets like this it reminds me of prosecution vs defense...he has the evidence but he doesn't share it; I have to speculate about what the deed was that offended him, and if I'm incorrect then I'm BS'g him and making him look stupid as well as myself. At the middle of this current situation he texted me that he didn't want a divorce, that he just wanted things to change. Then Friday we started out to lunch, he changed his mind, told me he was never going to take me out to eat again until I could tell him why I had done what I did at the restaurants, dropped me off and it has been crazy since then. Yesterday was the first time he stated what he was upset over and when I denied his accusation he was right back with his "we're done" routine. He couldn't be bipolar? My kids seem to think that if I move out it might make him realize that his life will be empty with just a dog for company and whatever time he chooses to continue working and spending his off-time in front of the computer playing on-line poker. I think that if he wants the divorce then he can file for it; right now I can't seem to find the strength I need to help him, especially when he refuses to listen to whatever I say. I get what your suggestions are, it's just placing them in motion against a brick wall is a bit off-putting.
Expert:  Norman M. replied 2 years ago.
First of all, sorry about the delay in getting back to you.

I know it is hard, but unless you do put things in motion, nothing will change.

I said "Your husband needs to be confronted with unacceptability of his behavior, and made to understand while you care for him, his behaviour towards you is unacceptable and has to change. Make that very clear to him.

He also needs to understand that any continuation of offensive behavior will have unpleasant consequences. They need to be spelled out to him very clearly, with clear emphasis on the fact that they will apply immediately. These could be, for example, from no more cooking or washing done, or if he does not change his ways, the relationship is over.

Make it crystal clear to him what you expect –, no demeaning remarks, controlling his temper.

This may sound harsh, but unless he is given a reason to change, he will not. By being soft, you are just encouraging his behaviour, and not helping him at all."

This really is the essence of starting a change, and indeed, your suggestion of time apart may well work for you. Tell him that if he becomes accusatory and aggressive, you will simply walk away from him and will not listen until be is prepared to be civil, and that if he continues, either he leaves the home or you do.

This does not sound as if he is bipolar, though. He does appear to be delusional to degree, and I am concrned that his symptoms may be those of a late onset psychotic disorder. That needs to be checked out by his Doctor.

If there is anything else you would like to know, please get back to me.

Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2542
Experience: ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
Norman M. and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My husband is a very difficult man to talk to; he likes to intimidate and bully his way out of a conversation. The other day as I was on my out to run errands he asked me if I was going to the bank to "get my money since you didn't do it Tuesday". I replied that I had been sick on Tuesday as he very well knew, that I was not going to get into anything in front of my grandson and that he had no right to speak to me the way he did. Then I left with my son & grandson and stayed out for about 2 hours. Then yesterday he stated that while I was away this week-end visiting my son that I should ask him if he has room for me as I have made no effort to talk to him about what I did.Still being delusional; last night he told me that I am the one who is making things difficult between us. There is no opportunity to speak to him when our grandson is up until 8 and that is also when my husband goes to bed due to his work hours. When I try to talk, he cuts me off when I don't say what he wants to hear (an admission of guilt over that which I ddi not do) and loses his temper. Yesterday when I tried to talk tohim after he made his remark about my son having room for me, his response was "Go away! Can't you see I'm busy here?!" (he was playing on-line poker); however, he was the one who initiated the conversation. How do you deal with a person like that? Since he doesn't try to listen, I have resorted to writing him via email. He has not read the last one I sent in which I told him that I loved him, again stated that I had not done what he accused me of, and needed him to let me know if he truly wanted to try to work this out or not. I also told him that I had been to a marriage counselor who stated that he did in fact need help with his anger management and perhaps to get on some meds or change what he is on (no psych meds at this time), that he has either paranoid or delusional and needed to bee seen by his doctor. At this point I am feeling pretty wiped out; I can't find the key to get him to talk/listen. I reluctantly spoke with his older sister who might have influence with him but then he would be angry with me for speaking to her about our situation, because she knew by my voice that there was something desperately wrong. She checks in with me to see how I am doing and I have a couple of other friends who have offered me places in their homes should I need to leave my home. I am heartbroken and feel like there is no hope. What more can I do?

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  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
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