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Lori Gephart
Lori Gephart, Licensed Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 259
Experience:  Licensed Psychologist and Hypnotherapist 20 years of experience helping clients of all ages.
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I met my husband 9 years ago, we got married 18 months

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I met my husband 9 years ago, we got married 18 months later. Once I moved in just before we got married, our relationship changed. He became more obsessed with work, we stopped doing anything together. 8 years into marriage I am suffering with low self esteem, depression and confusion. He says he loves me and yet hurts me, fights are always my fault even though he might have started it or I was reacting to his selfish quality. Life is always about his needs and he can never do anything for someone else's pleasure, he can only do something if it brings him pleasure. He is the apple of his parents and two sisters eyes and the favourite of the family. He is extremely charming in public even passive and modest. At home he is emotionally distant and I feel as though our married life has been on the surface only. He has trouble making eye contact with me and the only thing we do together is watch tv. Most of the time his busy talking about him self. Is he a narcissitic. I have co-dependent symptoms and his mother is passive while his father is critical and controlling. Please let me know what you think.

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I am sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing in your marriage. Remember that actions speak louder than words. Love is a verb and requires actions rather than simply words. It does not sound as if your husband has been showing you love for quite some time. It sounds as if it is time for you to "renegotiate your contract" with your husband. A first step is to let him know how you feel about him, along with a frank talk with him explaining that this arrangement is no longer acceptable and outlining what you need from him. It may be that he is suffering from depression, or that he has been enabled by his parents and perhaps you, to not have to pull his fair share of a relationship. Either way, this relationship does not sound healthy at all. What you have described may or may not fit the definition of emotional abuse depending on what type of criticism he engages in; either way it is certainly disrespectful. You may find the following website helpful to clarify about abuse:

One thing I would add is that it seems that you have been doing quite a bit of emotional work about this relationship. In order for this to be a healthy relationship, we would expect your partner to do a relatively equal amount of emotional work (if you balance it out over time). This may be one way to evaluate if someone is committed to a relationship and to changing in order to make the relationship work. You deserve someone who will put the work into the relationship as well, since it takes two people to make it work. Also, I definitely believe in trusting your gut. It is often a very good indicator of red flags that should not be ignored. Feelings of love tend to be very irrational, while the gut is a good barometer of danger, both physical and emotional.

While you can't change his behavior, you can begin to be clear with him that you will no longer accept these behaviors. You can set boundaries where you can in not listening and walking away when he becomes critical of you. It can be a difficult balance to judge whether it is better to stay in an unhealthy marriage or to end the marriage. This is a decision only you can make. In the meantime, you may want to work on issues in your therapy in order to get some support for yourself, build up your self esteem, help you to set boundaries, and take good care of yourself. In the meantime, be sure to take care of yourself through healthy eating, exercise, rest and reaching out to supportive people in your life. I hope this is helpful.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
He is critical as in I can never do anything to his high standards or the way he likes it. He has prevented me from exploring different experiences in my life by saying he fears for my safety as in my driving. I have only had a license for 5 years so he says that he worries that I am not aggresive enough so I should not drive to visit my family, I must either rely on him or take a train. he convinced me to give my career so I can help him with his business, but when I did he took all credit for my role in the business and he still controlled our finances. I need to ask him for spending money for the house. Agyer our business failed he is now accusing me of taking advantage of him with my unemployment, I am having trouble finding employment, He also says that his family is upset with which is why they treat me disrespectfully ***** ***** am taking advantage of him He has forgotten that he asked me to leave my career aside to help him. In the begining I did it because I really believed that we were creating an US, a he and I unit. But I sometimes find he is in competion with me and its him vs me and not us which hurts me very much. His loyalty is to his family of origin and he prioritizes their needs over me. He talks to them several times a week and sees them every couple weeks. If I tell him we need to spend more quality time together he feels pressured. Is this abuse?

Thank you for clarifying. The behaviors that you are describing certainly sound like emotional abuse. Abusers will generally attempt to control and isolate their victim in order to have more power in the relationship. The more isolated and vulnerable you become, the more this gives him power over you (think of the school yard bully). You do not deserve this type of treatment. You have the right to take steps to take care of yourself and to be treated with respect and caring. Please discuss this with your therapist in order to get help in setting limits and forming a plan to move forward either with or without your husband. Please let me know if I can help further.

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