| | Re: Literally weeks of silence during which he will not talk to me...
This is going to sound pretty unconventional, so ignore it if you choose, but first let me explain why I propose what I'm going to.
First, he is extremely abusive to you emotionally. Second, you're fairly codependent to have put up with it for so long. Third, you said divorce isn't a financial option, but sounded like this is something you'd consider. Fourth, counseling, retreats, etc. rarely work in situations like yours. Last, he says he will "do anything" to make things better, but as you've seen it's merely a ploy to enable him to get back into control once he feels he has lost control.
The next time he agrees to "fix" things, try this: Tell him you will be fining him each day that he goes without speaking at least one nice or neutral thing to you, maybe $5 or $10. Make it an amount that will hurt, but not break his back. Explain to him that each time he "buys" his silence, you'll be better able to accept it because you'll feel like you're providing him a service and that you'll be regarding this as your new job. Instead of feeling hurt and sorry for yourself, you'll be able to appreciate what he's doing FOR you with his silences.
Do NOT back down - he said he would do whatever it takes, right? Don't accept excuses, insults, or threats to let him avoid agreeing to do it, and once he has agreed, MAKE it happen. If you have a joint credit card, you can calmly explain that if he doesn't pay the fine, you will use the credit card for that amount. Make this clear during your initial discussion where you set the groundwork for this arrangement.
Even though this is highly unconventional, I have used this method with two people who routinely lied - a behavior I feel is disrespectful and hurtful - and had EXCELLENT results both times.
For your situation, I think it will be especially effective:
- He will be forced to choose between silence and keeping the bills paid. It sounds like he is probably concerned with how others see him, so I'm thinking he'll opt to pay the bills. (You won't be coming to the rescue with the money you get, by the way. You'll be putting it away to afford a divorce if he doesn't change his ways. You can choose whether to let him know this or not.)
- It tangibly demonstrates to him that his bad choice hurts him, too. The madder he gets, the more he pays. He's a big boy and can figure out how to do something different if he doesn't want to pay.
- You will feel better about it when he elects not to talk. After all, you *are* providing him a service, and getting paid for it. You've made a choice again and again to tolerate this behavior. You will have turned that bad choice into one that has an actual measurable value.
- If the behavior continues, you will be able to put away enough to leave. (By the way, there are resources that can help you get out on your own even if you have no job or savings. Also, what others said about consulting an attorney is good advice, because you can still get spousal support in most states.)
As I said, feel free to chalk this up as a "crazy" idea if you want to. I know it has worked for me when there were ongoing power struggles that could be pinpointed to a single behavior, but it's certainly not for everyone.