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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: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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Anger, marriage problems, difficulty talking openly. That

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Anger, marriage problems, difficulty talking openly. That sums up my story about my husband. His love languages are Physical Touch and Acts of Service, particularly the housekeeping. As a stay-at-home mum with chronic fatigue I have trouble keeping the house perfect 100% of the time. Things as simple as toys in the loungeroom or leaving the dishes for a couple hours before I clean them puts my hubby into a temper. This is his first reaction to the feeling of being unloved. Actually, anger is his first reaction to every feeling, to the extent that he doesn't know what the underlying feelings are. He is verbally abusive and often fidgets when he's trying not to yell. Sometimes he is physically abusive to me. Not the children. At the worst he will smack them without warning when they have done something wrong. But he yells at them and bullies them ("discipline" he calls it), not believing in consistency.
He hates talking about things. He finally came to relationship counselling with me, but the most help he gets is convincing himself that he is NORMAL, and NOT WRONG. This is a big issue to him. I rarely say he is wrong about anything, but he is extremely sensitive to what I say, and always thinks I'm telling him he's wrong. His mum tells me that this is probably from his father who had a temper and yelled at him, probably also bullied him as a kid. My hubby loves and respects his dad and will not accept that he might have behaved WRONGly either.
I'm seeing a clinical psychologist to see if my chronic fatigue, dizziness etc is caused by his unpredictable and explosive anger. My chronic fatigue 'switched on' when my first baby was born. Doctors can't explain it. The psych. says that I have anxiety attacks and they make me dizzy and tired afterwards. She has ruled out any kind of depression. She is not sure about the rest of my tiredness / weakness. In the meantime, hubby thinks this is all in my head.
He wants me to fix up all our problems alone, because he finds it too hard to talk and resolve our past. Ever since we were first married (before my fatigue) he has sweet-talked and gone puppy-eyed at various other women and thinks that it's fine and normal. I feel cheated on. He yells at me to trust him. He thinks that if it's not sex, it's not betrayal, even though some of his physical behaviour with these women have made other people raise their eyebrows. My love languages are Words of Affirmation and Quality Time. That's also why the verbal abuse hurts me soooo much more than the physical.
During our marriage our sex life has depended on my prayerlife. I've been able to summon up enough love and positivity to have sex at least once a fortnight for 8 years. But now I've stopped, because I realise it spoilt him and he never learnt the need to change. Occasionally, when he talked nicely to me for a while, we had sex every night. But he feels that our sex life for our entire marriage has been zero. He seems to need it about 3 or 4 times a week, but his inability to maintain an emotional relationship with me has hindered that severely. I now feel the need to start our new relationship with the right emotions behind our sex life. I need a clearcut break.
I'm sorry this is all over the place! I'm typing as I think of things.... I'm trying to follow advice as I find it about fixing relationships, but hubby hates that. He finished school at Grade 10 and I think it's a struggle for him to understand big words, etc. He fights against the principle of 'theory' and 'professional' help. Intimidated maybe? I believe he has a very low self esteem. He has no close friends and was picked on at school and left with the uglier girls to choose from for girlfriends. Socially, he's a little immature, due to extended isolation in rural communities. But he's goodlooking! And very employable in his trade. On the topic of immaturity, he often retreats to childish behaviour when he can't answer my questions or deal with our issues.
My questions....
1. How can I help him to communicate?
2. How can we free him from his constant anger? His dad is available to help if needed.
3. Do you think that ongoing emotional betrayal and abuse has caused my tiredness?
4. How can I help his self-esteem while we are trying to sort through our issues in which he really has been naive and unwilling to learn?
5. Does our marriage need a short separation to be able to start again, or is that too hard on the kids, aged 6 and 4?

Hello and thanks for visiting JA.

First, he has to accept that there is a problem, and then to accept help for it. Ideally, I would suggest that he should have a course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and anger management to help him to learn to communicate and control his anger, but first all you have to convince him that he needs it. I'll come back to that.

It is very very likely that his emotional abuse and physical abuse has a lot to do with your current condition. I'm not going to beat about the bush here. Your husband is a coward and a bully - that is what we call people who hit children and women - people who are more vulnerable than themselves - and this has got to stop. No half measures.

I think his self esteem issues are secondary - of primary importance ias his immaturity.

He has been getting away with this awful behavior for too long, and it's now time to turn things around.

First off, your husband needs to be confronted with your feelings about his behavior, and made to understand that while you care for him, his behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, at least by you

He also needs to understand that that any continuation of this disruptive and anti social behavior will have consequences. They need to be spelled out to him very clearly, with clear emphasis on the fact that they will apply immediately. You might,advise him that if he ever hits from you again, you will involve the police, and ultimately, if he does not clean his act up, he can leave.

Remember, he is an adult and responsible for his own choices. That said, until he finds out that the world owes him nothing, and accepts that it owes him nothing, not all the drugs in the pharmacy will sort him out. They might help his behaviour a little, but it is grass roots change that is required here.

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. Right now, he has no reason to change - he gets away with whatever he wants, so why should he change? It is time to give him some reasons to alter his behavior!

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. If you don’t he will continue to take treat you and your children the way he is doing just now.

Ask him too, what he is prepared to do to change his behaviour in future – tell him to research what might help him, what professional help he might get, and even consider a ‘contract’ between you. In other words, involve him in his own change, with a prospect of a small reward for success and dire consequences for failure.

However, don’t get angry, stay cool and in control, matter of fact and stick to the facts. Avoid drama.

As for a short separation, that may help him accept that he has problems to deal with, and to get sorted out. I do not think it would be too hard on the kids – or on you. I, would, however, try putting in place the boundaries I have spoken about first.

Best wishes,


Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Hi, Thanks for your answer. It is the kind of direction and encouragement that I haven't found elsewhere.

In light of your opinion that I should take a firm position and follow through with consequences (yes, I'll have to), I should first give you some further info. He has mentioned that sometimes when he's out shooting at birds on the crop, he's thought of taking his own life. (Not threatened). Maybe I should get someone to take the guns away if I'm going to make things harder for him....

Also, he knows my feelings, but feels the same! He thinks that living with a messy house and only getting sex once a fortnight on average is the equivalent of how he's abused me. Seriously! He does have a soft side but it's well hidden. I don't think he can handle the guilt.

Also, can you suggest (bluntly) possible consequences? Sex is already out. What else is there, apart from kicking him out temporarily? I think it would be easier on the kids if we stayed here. But will it really mean as much to him as it would to me anyway? He has already threatened to leave or told me to get out, but it's me that is fighting to make this work. Not so much because of him or me, but I believe in keeping to what I've vowed.

So with that in mind as well, do you stand by your advice? (I'm prepared to pay when I receive your next answer) Thanks heaps.

I DO stand by my advice - completely.

Other sanctions - NO washing, ironing or cooking for him if he is abusive or hits the kids, for example. No visiting friends with him - lots of possib iliities.

When you made that vow, you did so with the best information available - but you did not have all of it. You did not know how he was going to turn out - in other words, you were led to make that vow under false ptretences, in effect. Now I am no moralist, but I have the feeling that if you had known that he was a bully and a wife beater when you made that vow, there would be perhaps some small merit in saying that I have to stick to it. However, that was not the case, was it. Even if it was, is it right to continue to put your children at risk of his temper knowing that they are just learning that anger and violence are acceptable ways to resolve problems? Is it right to continue to offer him the opportunity (if he will not try to change) to transgress against his vows?

Just a couple of things to consider.

Best wishes,
Norman M. and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Well, thanks for your help. Unfortunately, he was on the computer when the email came through, followed the link and is horribly upset at what I wrote. :( Down goes his self-esteem again.

Also, I vowed 'for better or worse', so to me that means I love only him, 'til death do us part'. If we really have to separate, so be it, but I can still love him from a distance. Probably a lot easier :). Cheers!

Good luck and thanks for the acceptance!