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Why would a man treat a good woman badly?
Sex & Intimacy / 10:46 PM - Sunday December 16, 2007

Why would a man treat a good woman badly?

Tonight I had some office work to tend to so I settled in at the kitchen table with my laptop and a cup of tea.
I lit a candle, put some potpourri on to simmer, and had xmas music playing.
The kitchen is clean.
Life seemed peaceful and good to me.
But, when my husband saw the teabag I had left at the stove he began to bark at me, "You never clean up after yourself".
He gets this really mean look on his face when he is mad at's sort of scary.
I immediately jumped up and threw away the teabag.
But, his lecture continued.
There have been 3 times in the past year our family ran out of milk.
If this happens it is understood it is my fault...and it is a BIG DEAL!
(although we only live 1 mile from a grocery store).
It is like some huge sin I have committed.
(I admit, I have a tendency to be scattered and forgetful).
The teabag and milk are just 2 examples of many.
I use to believe I was a bad person...that's all I heard and I believed it.
I know better now.
But, here is my question.
Why would a man want to make his wife feel so bad...always picking...always pointing out my honest mistakes?
He does not treat our children this way...and he certainly doesn't treat his friends or colleagues this way.
I've been a good mom, and I've been a good wife.
He likes for me to accompany him to his "events", parties, etc.
In public he seems proud of me.
But, at is different...I'm not special, he treats me badly.
And he makes these critical statements in front of our children.
I just don't get it.

WHY does he act this way?

Update: December 17, 2007.
Thank you to those who responded. 3 stars was not enough for all your insightful responses! Your answers have given me perspecitve...sometimes I second-guess myself and wonder if I am over-reacting. What I've shared this evening was the tip of the iceburg. (yes, we have availed ourselves to about 3 years worth of intense counseling).

- Asked by gettingstronger, A Cool Mom, Female, 46-55, Teaching

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Because he knows if you recognized your own worth, you might leave him. He's not worth it. Any man who would treat his loving wife in that way, isn't worth it. So, he knocks you down to "keep you in your place". It's called verbal abuse.

- Response by mamom04, A Sweet Sarah, Female, 56-65, Phoenix

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He barks and you jump.
Some men love the feeling of total control.
It makes them feel more manly, I suppose.

But, it is also emotional abuse, I can tell you that.
It is also more detrimental and harder to heal from than phsical abuse: bruises go away and bones mend, but your mind & spirit can be broken and lost forever.
And for the kids to see him treating you this way, they soon accept that this behavior is normal and allowed. Kids practice what they learn. Children of abusers often live this way when they become adults themselves.

I wish you would get some advice and counseling on what to do.
You deserve to be treated as a human being, and an equal one at that.

No person should be treated this way, for anything.

Also, think about this: If you feel he is "scary," then what do your children feel for themselves? And what do they feel for you? Worried for their and your safety??

Please do not accept this behaviour for what it is.
Get help please!!

- Response by iowaczechartist, A Thinker, Female, 46-55

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Community Rating: Community Star

awwhhh sweetie, i am so sorry. it sounds like a bad night. why does he do this? it seems he is unhappy and is stealing the peace in your life. he is noticing what appears to be flaws and is attempting to force an immediate reaction to fix them.

is he experiencing problems at work? maybe a situation that is out of his control and it is not going the way he would like it to? perhaps there are unresolved issues from his past?

it sounds like he needs control and structure. he is overly critical of you (perhaps the kids as well) in private in order to keep everything in his environment as he thinks it should be. the public behavior is consistent with this desire. he wants the approval of others. he sees you and his children as a part of that identity. nothing out of place.

i love your screen name. remind yourself of that desire. i do think we're kindred spirits. please write anytime. i enjoy our exhcanges...

- Response by mspragmatic, An Intellectual Guy, Male, 66 or older, Who Cares?

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Dear Getting Stronger;

This type of behavior from your husband isn't acceptable. That's it period. If you feel you are doing your best to create a good home and provide for your family then, what does he have to bark about? Why should he bark at all? If he doesn't like something why not ask you nicely to clean something? Better yet, why doesn't he just do it his darn self????

The thing is, you have been allowing him to talk to you like this for so long that he is still doing it and thinking he can get away with it. I'm not saying you enjoy it or want him to, far from it. I'm saying that when he talks like that you just hop up and do what he wants and that's the end of the story, so, next time, he does it again. You have to be consistent in how you reaact from now on so he knows you don't appreciate it and you won't put up with it.

Next time he says something insulting and hurtful you need to say in a real athauritative voice "I won't allow you to talk to me like that!" Then get out of there! If he's in the kitchen you go to the bedroom. If your at the supermarket go outside! If you are supposed to be watching the kids leave them with him. You have to be 100% consistent or this will not work.

You can try when you are calmer and he isn't aware, to bring up the subject. He can't very well try to change his behavior when he doesn't know or realize he's doing it now can he? I'd try to keep it under 3 sentences because men have a hard time absorbing us talking at them. Three sentences seems to be the limit with us getting info to them without it feeling like a nag.

Try saying " I don't like it when you critize me after I feel I've done a very good job as a wife and mother. I'd appreciate it if you'd stop calling me names or barking at me when you walk in the door. A simple 'HI' will suffice." If he has an argument ready or wants to fight about what you said all you have to say is "These are my true feelings". If he wants to argue about your true feelings then maybe he needs some therapy. But maybe he never realized he was hurting you either. I would just walk away and give him time to cool off after I told him what I felt. SOmetimes men need time to process info rather than have a "big talk". See if it makes a difference.

From now on, just remember if he comes in and says something that doesn't sit right, say, "I won't be spoken to like that" Leave the room. Let it sit with him for a while. If he has to get his own food and clean the kitchen for himself, he'll realize what he did and apologize and maybe even start praising you. Remember to be strong, let him feel like he is lucky to have you because he is, you are not scattered you are unique and a full time mother and a worker, that is a feet and a damn hard job! You are very good to your family or you wouldn't have cared what he thought and written in here right? So you need to think more about yourself and less about him! Go get him girl!

- Response by alloverwoman, A Player, Female, 36-45, Philadelphia, Other Profession

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Because you have allowed it and he doesn't respect you like he should.

He has abusive tendencies

- Response by meowmeowww, A Thinker, Female, 36-45

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Your biggest mistake is jumping through his hoops whenever he barks. Dump his sorry ass and hook up with sweet little ol' me. I know how to treat a good woman. ;)

- Response by dragonblade, A Rebel, Male, Who Cares?, Artist / Musician / Writer

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Babe, you are tortured only by a tea bag and a half gallon of milk.

Your husband is obviously tortured by something so painful that he is so desperate that he betrays the love, loyalty, companionship, and commitment of the one person he will have at his side, unceasingly, eternally, unquestionably and truly unconditionally. You are his most valuable resource, you are the goose that laid the golden egg.

You need to sit him down, look him in the eye, and ask him what pain is causing him to destroy himself and the trust in your relationship.

May G-d give you the strength and support to continue to provide your family with the guidance and nurturing that is the glue that keeps it together. Please make him go with you to speak to someone. They study just these situations, and have the benefit of years of approaches that have been successful.

- Response by sg311, A Father Figure, Male, 46-55, New York

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i do not no the answer however probabley the same reason a woman does the same thing as i new something for all the years i was working now i no nothing and am good for nothing she however loves when i get the retirement check then i am ok or close to it

- Response by dmncowboy, A Father Figure, Male, 66 or older, Retired

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I am so sorry for you honey. I knew you a very nice person the first time you wrote me back. You really weren’t very harsh. So we have a very nice person hitched to a control freak nasty Neanderthal. For many, many years, crap; damage to the children is already done; they have not been able to witness and absorb a healthy marriage instead they got this monstrosity of an example of how little women are worth and how to stomp on their self esteem. What they see growing up is usually how they are later in life. And they will find a partner to marry with the same characteristics male or female. Dysfunction junction, don’t feel bad 99.99% of us are there, I had to sit on my hand and watch as my children grew up with negative attitudes.
I see you are waking up. Bravo!! Don’t you EVER blame yourself (I admit, I have a tendency to be scattered and forgetful) for this creeps crap again. A real man helps; he tosses the tea bag, gets the milk from the corner market, and DOES it with a smile. The tea bag had no meaning it was your peace and comfort he needed to disrupt. Of course he doesn’t know that because he’s a bum, an idiot.
Nit picking bull shit is his way of controlling you, keeping you ‘less then’ him. Yelling at you in front of the kids is almost unforgivable. He’s keeping you off balance and insecure and scared. Could be his ego is in the toilet, which is okay by me. Could be he’s scared and feels he must control you. After all; let’s do a little tally; considering the way the situation looks from here you raised the kid as far a changing diapers to healthy meals to rides to baseball practice. You have worked full time and maintained the house and laundry. Who is this guy? Does he think he’s the frickin’ king or something? Oops starting to loss it, jerks like this piss me off.
Well, it’s a tuff one, you aught to leave him. Maybe give him a chance to clean up his act but he’s kind of old for that and he’ll probably just get really mad. Do you have good friends or relatives you can stay with for a little while if needed? To talk to? To watch your back? Take a nap someday instead of cleaning and tell him you where so tired, would he mind helping? There are a bunch of small things you can do to nudge him, but I’m afraid they will blow up in your face.
Start adding up community property. Do it in front of his face but not until you have frozen any bank, stock etc accounts up. Credit cards in both names? Call and get yours off, try to chop his up. If he sees his castle crumbling in front of his eyes he my repent, keep him on a short lease though.
Listen, you have every right to be happy and with Mr. Ogre it ain’t gonna happen. You are entitled to half his pension, half the existing value of assets. If the kids are still at home you get the house and he pays child support and spousal support and the mortgage. He also pays all attorney fees, including yours.
Okay Feisty; I can imagine how petrified you are. Make sure to have some local people to help you, make sure they understand the situation. Alert the cops that you may need help. But if you are ever going to do something now is the time. Start moving and if the shock doesn’t work then keep moving.

- Response by concorbp, An Intellectual Guy, Male, 56-65, Self-Employed

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Why would a man want to make his wife feel so bad, you ask? First let me say I'm so sorry that you had to go through this crap, when all you did tonight was try to get in a relaxed mood.

I've been racking my brain for about ten minutes trying to remember if I've ever done that to my wife. I'm sure that I have done something stupid things over the years, but I cannot think of anything this trivial. The truth is that a man would not treat his wife this way. On the surface, I would say that he's either controlling because he was raised that way; he's experiencing something that he cannot control outside of the home, like work or he's having an affair.

You have mentioned that this is not the first time that he's done something this demeaning. I would assume that he's been this way for most of your marriage, in little bits and pieces. Men don't automatically become Dr. Jekyl and then Mr. Hyde over night. I would further assume that he saw his father treat his mother this way when he grew up. Was his extreme behavior discussed during your 3 years worth of counseling? Did he recognize that he even appeared bossy?

The second point involved his career life? Do you know if he's experiencing any pressure now from work? Has his industry experienced any sharp declines or advancements? I know that I've been short with my wife in the past when I was stressed beyond my abilities or when my boss would challenge me negatively. I've learned to keep business and home life separated as much as possible.

The last point that I made or suggested was that he might be having an affair. Men who have affairs tend to belittle their spouses in order to justify their cheating. She no longer can perform the way that he envision his new honey might. I've seen this behavior by cheating spouses before.

Let me add on regional relationships to the list of his behavior. I've heard that a lot of southern husbands take this attitude with their wives. In the hierachical order, his wife should be expected to know his every wants, needs and expectations about how things show be. Of course, that could just be a myth.

You have a beautiful heart and want to keep your lives in order. This means sacrificing your own soul in the process. If you visualize a balancing scale of your contributions and his affection and admiration for you, where would those trays be? Would or could you ever belittle him this way in front of the children?

I know how hard that you've been working to become stronger everyday. We've shared a life time worth of stories between us. All that I can offer you is that you continue building yourself up to a point that your husband will resist every acting this way again. Some one in the responses said that you are being emotionally/verbally abused. I believe that this is the poster scene for this type of abuse. Endure all that you, but have an exit plan available for this marriage. God knows, you deserve so much more. So does your children.

In therapy, did you two learn how to properly argue and resolve problems? The first part of any therapy is self-respect. It's knowing that you are worth the love and respect from your family, particularly your husband. After three years, I'd pull all of your notes out and review everything that you learned about what a good relationship should look like. Then I would highlight those goalposts and discuss them with your husband when you're more relaxed and have time. Don't let this fester too long.

- Response by rhunt0210, A Mr. Nice Guy, Male, 46-55, Other Profession

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Hey GS,

You ask why he acts this way. It's merely his way of trying to control you. Control is irrational, and as ou pointed out, your flaws are laving a tea bag out and running out of milk three times this year. That doesn't sound rational does it?

Off the cuff, and knowing some of the other questions you have posted, I would have to say he feels like he's losing control. He knows through experience that if he barks, you jump. It's his last bastion of control.

You mention three years of counseling. You mention that you "know better now". You're changing, he senses this. He's obviously losing ground.

You are turning the tables on him and he doesn't know how to compensate. (Good for you!)

I'm not condoning his behavior at all, just trying to put some explanation, some sense of rational thought behind is irrational behavior.

In my experience, not all men mean bad when they do bad. Social conditioning and peer pressure when we men grow up teach us to suppress our feelings. Therefore, we never really learn to deal with them. The fault here is a fundamental view of "why men shouldn't cry" versus the real meaning of "why men shouldn't cry".

I went through some fairly extensive anger management. I lucked up with my therapist, because I really don't think the majority of therapists and counselors out there are worth $.05.

What I learned is, the trigger to my anger was the equivalent to "static". When I experienced an emotion I didn't know how to handle, the result to my brain was "static" and this static was manifested as intense anger. A short circuit if you will, or a robot saying "does not compute".

Your husband was not barking about the teabag, nor the forgotten milk. He was barking about something much more intense, something deep rooted with which he cannot, or does not know how to, come to terms.

You are taking his actions and reactions at face value and not looking at the deeper problem. The next time he reacts over a tea bag, stand up, and calmly and rationally ask him what is the matter. Explain to him that obviously the teabag isn't that big of a deal and that something much bigger must be bothering him, and it would help the both of you if he would share.

One thing that will diffuse anger is a logical and rational approach. You "jumping" when he barks enforces his use of anger, and if you were to stand up and argue for yourself at these times would only intensify his anger.

Very important to remember - you are responsible for your happiness and he is responsible for his. This is a VERY important boundary to maintain in a relationship.

Sorry for the long response, but the answer to your question goes way beyond the simple words in the question.

Don;t forget you can always write me. :)

- Response by curadvent, A Father Figure, Male, 46-55, Who Cares?

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I wish I could come to where ever it is you live and smack the ever loving crap out of your husband! There is no reason a man should ever treat you that way. After three years of counseling, you need to make a decision whether or not this marriage is worth saving. Was there ever a time when he didn't treat you like this at home? Has he ever seen you as more than a trophy and the mother of his children? My grandfather taught me that whenever there is a man in my life, he needs to treat me just as preciously as my grandfather did. My grandfather taught me that I was his princess, and I should be my husband's queen. If he is not treating you like the queen of the household and the backbone of the family that you are, there is a serious problem with that. The only advice I can give is personal reflection and growth. You cannot change your husband. A serious aspect of a marriage is committment. And you chose to commit yourself to this man. If you can accept that he might be like this for the rest of his life and yours, you might be able to make it work with your personal confidence and growth. If you cannot learn to not take his attacks personally, you should reconsider the situation and decide whether or not it is one you are willing to stay in. Good luck, and I will be praying for you both!

- Response by memphis09, A Sweet Sarah, Female, 29-35, Student

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There are allot of people that try to make themselves feel better and more important by belittling others.

Its so much easier then actually having to do something on your own, and you don't have to take responsibility of actually having to be "right" or even being questioned yourself.

He is empowering himself and asserting his domain over you by belittling and oppressing you.

I cant relate to what my ex would have done if I had said something like that... to the best of my knowledge she doesn't know what the inside of a grocery store looks like.

I can assure you that if my father had ever said something like that...

First of all my mother would have told him that he could have throw the teabag away with less effort and in less time then he had already wasted with an opinion that she hadn't asked for... AND told him to please throw it away "without any additional commentary"... (she REALLY liked that statement... I heard it allot in my life)

Secondly, I can guarantee that she would have bought her last gallon of milk; I can just see her in my minds eye telling him that he was right, that was FAR to important of a task to be entrusted to her... that he should take that responsibility over to insure that we NEVER ran out again...

My mother was a stereotypical redhead... I can assure you... dad would have shut the hell up, thrown away the teabag, and brought home enough milk to fill the frig the very next day. Dad is a big man... but by no stretch of the imagination a stupid man... it aint the size of the dog in the fight but rather the size of the fight in the dog...

- Response by leewiser, A Mr. Nice Guy, Male, 56-65, St.Louis

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His own insecurity is most likely the culprit.

Whatever the case, it is not to be tolerated. Be firm with him about it, and if it continues threaten divorce. And if it continues after that, go through with it. You shouldn't be anyone's doormat.

- Response by vabyss, An Intellectual Guy, Male, 36-45, Who Cares?

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There is something here that none of us are seeing. The red flags I see are that he feels guilty about something. It could be real or it could be imagined and he is not about to let go of it.

He wants the public to see his 'best' side and since he feels you might be a part of the problem he doesn't make the effort to treat you the same way. In fact, he is attempting to control you so that you don't see the same facet of his problem that he sees.

You haven't mentioned if he is escalating, but from your report it seems that he is. If so, it is getting out of his control and you want to be thinking about real danger not far ahead.

Do you have friends and family near by or has he isolated you? Make sure you contact a womens shelter in any case for further advice and the proper protocol to avoid danger to you and the kids and to obtain ways to help him if that is possible.

So sorry this is happening. I wish you only the best of luck.

Thank you for contacting me. I just returned home a few hours ago, or I would have written earlier. This needs immediate attention.

let me know how things go. If I don't hear from you well, then I will think the worst.

rekkonball aka Bob

- Response by rekkonball, A Guy Critical, Male, 66 or older, Retired

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I believe it is just (not that I want to diminish this in any way) a control issue.

I have worked with people like this. They confirm that they are smarter and better than you by picking on things that you do and point them out. And it is usually something small that no one really cares about. I.e. tea bag. But when he says something it show you how much of a slovenly bag that you are, that he has to point it out, and makes you jump up and do something which reinforces who is in control.

And it works. You admit to him just being mean, but you also say in practically the same sentence that you are a bit "scattered and forgetful". So, even though you know it is wrong, you believe that you are not quite good enough.

Of course it is a lie. You are fine. Everyone is a bit forgetful now and again, and it is certainly no sin to not have milk in the house. You know that this is a relatively modern invention. Cows milk everwhere. Only in the last part of the last century.

And my father in law was like this. He treated his wife at home like crap. Nothing was ever good enough. But in public, he wanted her to be beautiful and respected. No man wants the world to know his wife is an idiot. So, almost no one will ever say anything in public. And kids don't really have any public value to him. But at home, he wants the wife to be subordinate, and like a servent. So, he goes out of his way to belittle and verbally threaten her.

He wants you to feel inferior, to do his bidding, to jump when he says anything, and to never feel like you are doing a good job.

The sad thing is it work. But I know you are getting better and stronger. First you just have to understand the enemy.


- Response by welloone, A Mr. Married Guy, Male, 66 or older, Retired

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I am so sorry that you are going through this. My heart goes out to you. You deserve so much better. You mentioned that you used to believe that you were a bad person because that was all that you ever heard. This gives me pause for reflection. Who gave you these messages? Your parents? Your spouse? Your mentors/ teachers? Your employers? If your family-of-origin was one in which there was abuse, there is a lot of work for you to do! I took some psychology classes in University and we were taught that one can never *fully* re-program the "old parental tapes" in our heads. The prof told us - (and backed up with publishings from all kinds of experts) - that we can learn to "turn them down" but that we can never "turn them off." This is most likely true - but it is something that I have never wanted to believe 100%. I want to believe that we CAN re-program ourselves - totally & completely.

My first take on this is that your husband is just a *deeply* unhappy man. (I could not be married to someone like this. I am so sorry to say that but it is true. I don't care what redeeming qualities he has!) He obviously has control issues - that goes without saying. What was his upbringing like? Has he always been this way? What was his relationship with his parents like? His grandparents? How about his relationship with his mother? What about what he witnessed growing up - how did his father relate to his mother? We are all a product of our own experiences. What has this man seen, heard and lived?

It sounds to me like he is scared that he is losing you so he has to put you down to keep you under his thumb. He is probably riddled with feelings of worthlessness and now, he knows that he is going to lose the one true/ good/ lovely thing he had. (Even if you don't physically leave - he can lose you through emotional distance and in your thoughts/ growth....not to mention that you are FREE in your SOUL!) Keep in mind that dysfunctional people push good from their lives because of the deep feelings of unworthiness and inferiority.

It is interesting that you mention the outward appearance that he likes to keep up. He needs you & the kids to be part of that whole package for him. He cares about the public image - but there's nothing behind it. There is no sustenance. He is overly critical of you - (and probably the kids, too) - so that he can keep his environment maintained as he thinks it should be - controlled & structured. Is he under any stress at work? It isn't an excuse but it might help in understanding a few things.

As for the teabag and the milk - please! That is totally irrational! These are not major offenses. When I read that, I just wanted to rush to your house like Supergirl or something - swoop down & get you OUT OF THERE - far away from him! He is ILLOGICAL! Do not let him drag you down! He sounds to me like he is scared of your (growing) power. He is scared of losing you so he wants to undermine you - make you feel dumb, stupid, like a failure that cannot even remember to have milk around for her family. If he convinces you that no one else would want you - and that he's almost doing you a favor by "putting up with" your sorry self - he probably thinks that will keep you scared enough to not make a move - literally or in terms of personal growth & development. You won't believe in your worth. You won't believe that you can have a life without him. I think he senses that you are outgrowing him. You are moving away to a better, stronger, healthier place - and that scares him! You're rocking his boat. You're making waves that he is not comfortable with! What if you leave? What happens to the public image of his "perfect family" / "Yes, I-come-from-good-people ...see my charming wife & kids?" then? Outward appearances are important to this man. Yet, he needs to look inward - at his home life and into himself!

I am angry at this man for doing this to you and for treating you this way....but I also just pity him. Look at all that he lacks. His life is so devoid of beauty, peace, serenity. He has a beautiful, lovely wife and he can't even appreciate her. He doesn't respect what he has.

I get this mental image of you as being in this lovely garden with abundance and beauty everywhere...everything blooming and greenery all around....and I see him in a dry, barren, empty, dusty desert...full of cacti and without a drop of (life-giving) water. You sound like such different people!

As for the critical statements in front of the kids!? That is appalling behavior. That is completely unacceptable. Do you still share a bed with this man? Because I could not!!! That would definitely not be happening! I also worry about your kids. It is not healthy for them to witness this. Kids sense things, too. They don't always have to witness it first-hand. In University, I studied about a personality type that I rememebr vividly. It was called "Critical Parent." It is one *the most damaging* personality types out there. Please limit what the kids see/ hear. Did your husband have a critical parent by chance? Did you?

What are your options? Do you want to salvage this marriage? Do you want to leave? Do you want to wait until the kids have finished school and left home? Will he go back for more counselling? Do you want him to? Do YOU want to? Do you still love him? You have a great deal to ponder.

Life is too short to live in this manner. You deserve to be happy! (A big hug to you!)

- Response by sunshinegal, A Career Woman, Female, 36-45, Executive

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your husband sounds controling, but more so sounds like a jerk. Why dont you tell him " treat me the same way you would treat the others you deal with" I am not a child and dont talk to me as one. It is hard to believe that he never leaves anything out like a tea bag etc. He who is with out sin, may cast the first stone

- Response by frycook, A Career Man, Male, 46-55, Food Service

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