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Old 09-07-2011, 07:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

I am trying to decide if my husband is verbally abusive or if I am overreacting due to abuse and severe bullying which occured during my own childhood. I wonder if he is simply the wrong person for me or if I have unreasonable expectations and wrong perceptions. I simply don't know if I should leave or if therapy will help. I am in my late twenties and we don't have any children. I need to know if there is hope or if I should just give up. When is a relationship good enough? Due to my history of childhood abuse and bullying, I feel that I cannot trust my perceptions and feelings.


I am trying to figure out if I have too high expectations when it comes to relationships or if my relationship is actually and objectively bad. My husband thinks I have completely unrealistic expectations, that I criticize him too much, and that I have to stop thinking that there is some perfect soulmate for me out there. I am kind of confused, because I feel misunderstood and sometimes disrespected in the relationship. I just don't know if the things he does or says are completly out of line and inappropriate, or if I'm simply too sensitive. I often feel that he is a total jerk to me,but I don't really know if I'm being unfair....I also don't know if we're simply too different to make things work....

Here is a bit of background: We met 11 years ago in Europe and have been through many ups and downs. We were ďbroken upĒ for two years. I broke it off because I felt disrespected. We got back together two years ago and got engaged and moved in together. I do love him a lot. I feel very attached and close to him. Very dependent actually (emotionally) He is my family and my only rock, especially since I am not close at all to my own family. (family history of constant verbal, emotional and physical abuse and lots of other problems) They live in Europe and I moved out as soon as I could. I try to keep my distance and itís working for me, I think, but it makes me very needy in relationships because my partner is the only family I have. Due to my childhood problems, I might be bringing a lot of issues into our relationship, which might make it hard for me to act functional in any relationship. As a child, I had no friends, but I now have a large social network and a few close friends. I don't feel that my childhood issues are affecting my friendships, but I think that they still do affect my marriage. I feel I could not survive without him, despite the fact that money is not a big problem in my life. I often feel trapped and no longer free. This is the only relationship I've ever had.

First, here are the things I love about him: He makes me feel safe. When he is nice, he can be extremely sweet and compliments me, he often says I love you, he is very reliable (when he says sth he does it), he cares about the environment, animal and human rights, and is generally nice to strangers and the few friends he has (although he seems to be rude to his mother), we have some common interests and can do activities together, I find him attractive, we went though a lot of things together, we also have similar family backgrounds, he doesn't have any problems related to addiction. There is no physical or sexual abuse and he has never cheated on me.

Here are the problems: I find his sense of humor and constant teasing very hurtful. I wonder if it's abuse or bullying or if I'm overreacting. He knows that it hurts me, but he can't help it. He can't stop making fun of the people he's close to. For example, he makes fun of my weight even though I'm definitely not overweight. I gained five pouds recently and since then he makes a stupid joke every time he sees me eating something. He teases me when I blush (even in public) or feel embarrassed. I often feel little respect from him, I feel he treats me like a child, it seems he always wants to be right, I can never have a deep conversation with him, I feel he doesnít ever respect my point of view if it differs from his, I feel in discussions that he is sometimes condescending (he attacks my beliefs, knowledge, intelligence, weight, and most of all ďthe dreamerĒ in me. He criticizes that I am too emotional and not pragmatic/down to earth enough)
He is not very compassionate in general.
He calls me too sensitive, but I donít know how to change that about myself. I would like to learn how to control my feelings though.
I feel little interest, support and compassion from him about my chronic medical condition (nothing life-threatening, but I am often in pain)
He can be a bit sadistic and seems to target my insecurities.
He can be extremely rude. He uses a lot of vulgar language, which embarrasses me.
I feel that he has little ambition, which makes me wonder if I will have to be the only breadwinner one day
I feel infantilized and that he does not really see me like a woman
He often gets extremely annoyed, irritated, and angry with me
He sweats the small stuff, I sweat the big stuff
I feel he is a bit egoistic and cheao. For example, he hates to share food. We split everything 50/50 and he would never give me some food that belongs to him.
Also, he is almost too honest sometimes, which can be a good thing, but unfortunately he keeps telling me when he is attracted to women he sees in magazines. He describes them in rude ways to me, which I find gross. Is he just a pig or do many men do that?
The meaning of marriage seems to be different for us
I feel like we can never do anything spontaneous
I find it sad that he is so anti-social and doesnít seem to enjoy spending time with people. We have no common friends.
He is often extremely rational and does not believe in anything spiritual. I am very different in that way.
We cannot have any intellectual conversations about my passions/art
I feel that he often objectifies women. He seems to be obsessed with pornography.

I am not my best self when I am with him. I feel needy, scared, depressed, dependent, trapped, disillusioned.
I constantly feel upset about some of the things he says.
He doesnít appreciate my sense of humor. In fact he claims, I have none.
I donít really know who he is. He keeps changing his mind about things all the time. He is very hard to follow and is easily influenced by things. There is no core to his identity, I find.
He does do some things for me sometimes, but complains about it and gets very annoyed. I am dependent on him for a lot of things, which is my fault (I often ask him to help me move stuff in the house or install things, plus Iím terrible at handling my finances and taxes)
We have lots of fights about money.
Also, I am absolutely terrified of being alone, especially since I have no family. I have a lot of single friends and they are miserable.

Is there any hope at all and if not how could I ever survive being on my own?
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

Rainbow, it sounds like that's a pretty long list and there are some big ones in the negative column, at least to me. But really, you are the only one that can decide.

It seems like you have asked this same question in three different ways, almost like you are looking for permission to leave? We can't give you permission but your feelings of despair are heard and are certainly valid.

I hope things work out the best for you.
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Old 09-07-2011, 09:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

Some of the things you said describe my boyfriend, like about no caring if your in pain. Its ridiculous if you ask me, also if hes always putting you and everyone else down its probably because he's insecure himself. That's a problem he needs to fix himself, if you bring it up to him and he doesn't change that's just being stubborn. And the pron thing, that can really turn into a problem so if you don't think he'll ever change then you don't have a choice but to leave, even if he cant be a healthy adult you should give yourself the chance to be. Plus even if you don't know anyone I swear people just know when someone is single its like a sixth sense or something....
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Old 09-08-2011, 07:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

Please leave this man, for both of your sakes.

I'll let the women speak for themselves, I'll speak as a man who was an emotional abuser, had three kids with his wife and is now stuck, forever, in a loveless, sexless, miserable marriage.

Cut his list of crimes in half and you have me. That was enough to push my wife away. Although I knew it was going on, I never saw any negitives of what I was doing. Not until I tried to fix my broken marriage that is. That's when my wife told me (in code of course) that she hasn't been in love with me for some time and it is my fault.

It DEVASTATED me. That was enough to change my behavior. On the spot. I am a new man. But you know what? My wife doesn't see it. I can go 2 months with no abuse then one joke or comment is taken out of context and we're back to square 1. I'm an abusive Neanderthal

Two years of trying to fix it and nothing. You see, it is very common for wives to fall out of love with their husbands. And they don't come back. You won't either. I can guarantee it. You deserve to find someone who will be kind and loving and he needs a woman who won't be filled with resentment towards him for the rest of his life. Once you leave him and tell him why, you will cure him. It will be too late for the two of you, but he will find someone else and be kind and loving to her. You will too.

Win-win if you leave, everyone loses if you stay.

If I could have ONE wish it would be to go back to the day before we conceived our first child and have my wife leave me, tell me why, and never return. It would have kiled me at the time, but we would both be happier right now.**

**Disclaimer - I love my kids more that life itself, but I'm trying to make a point here.
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:24 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

IMO I think you need to be by yourself for awhile. I think you need some counseling to help you deal with past issues so you will not get in situations like this, and/or at least for them to help you develop some self esteem so you can walk away from this kind of thing. If you feel he is bullying you and being verbally abusive, then he probably is.
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:54 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

You have a long list of red flags there. Looking at that list it would certainly seem he is verbally abusive.

Also you made the statement "when he is nice" which means you realize he is not really a nice person. There is a big difference between a person who really IS nice and a person who CAN be nice when they make an effort. The person who actually is a nice person it is part of their personality, they don't have to work at it. It comes natural to them and is generally how they are. They may have bad days but overall are nice people. Now the person who CAN BE NICE, is totally different. To them being nice is a means to an end. They turn on the niceness when they want something or when they realize they may have pushed to much and need to do damage control. With these people the 'nice' never lasts.

I would suggest your drop the guy who can be nice, and find a guy who really is nice.
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

I find his sense of humor and constant teasing very hurtful
He can be a bit sadistic and seems to target my insecurities.
He often gets extremely annoyed, irritated, and angry with me
He is not very compassionate in general.
He calls me too sensitive
I am not my best self when I am with him. I feel needy, scared, depressed, dependent, trapped, disillusioned.
I constantly feel upset about some of the things he says.


All classic signs of an abuser/abusive relationship.
It's interesting you say you dumped him beofore because you felt "disrespected." Apparently, you still do. He sounds like an emotional abuser. They usually get worse over time. Has he gotten worse over time?

I'm not suprised you said he's anti-social. Most abusers are.

It sounds like you stay with him because you feel being in a relationship (any relationship) is better than being single.

Also, I am absolutely terrified of being alone, especially since I have no family. I have a lot of single friends and they are miserable.

More miserable than how your own situation sounds?
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

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Originally Posted by MrK View Post
Once you leave him and tell him why, you will cure him. It will be too late for the two of you, but he will find someone else and be kind and loving to her. You will too.
That sucks. Why couldn't the emotional abuser change for the person who loved him? And has to be kind to the next person instead? That seems cheap. I speak as a wman who was married to an emotional abuser. It would suck to know he treats someone way kinder than he ever treated me and I always had his back and tried to get him to go to MC and he didn't want to...
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:28 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

You have listed a few things that seem like red flags about what he does and says to you as far as verbal abuse/bullying, but then you turn around and say one of the things he does you like, is he makes you feel safe. I'm sorry I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around someone who can do and say the things he has/is but yet makes you feel safe too.

I think you know its verbal abuse/bullying and the best thing for you to maybe do is free yourself from this kind of torture. Remind yourself how you felt as a child. Why would you want to relive it?
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:54 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

Insist on counseling to work on these problems or get out now.

This will only get worse. My first XH was more mildly this way - disrespectful of my opinions, thoughts, how I handled finances, told me I was the broken person, that my perceptions were wrong when I told him he was being an a**. It never got better, it got worse because I hated myself and him more every day I was married to him, hated the way I saw me through his eyes and actions. When I asked for a divorce, he just couldn't figure out why, but after a couple of months apologized for all he'd said and how he'd treated me. which would have been nice, except he then kept up a constant list of complaints about my mothering skills the entire time we were raising our kids as divorced people. You know, *sshats won't change their spots.

He must know your background of abuse, and for him to tell you you're being too sensitive - that's really not nice at all. It is playing on your fear of being sensitive. You're not being sensitive at all, he's being abusive and belittling and disrespectful.
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Old 09-08-2011, 02:08 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

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Please leave this man, for both of your sakes.

I'll let the women speak for themselves, I'll speak as a man who was an emotional abuser, had three kids with his wife and is now stuck, forever, in a loveless, sexless, miserable marriage.

Cut his list of crimes in half and you have me. That was enough to push my wife away. Although I knew it was going on, I never saw any negitives of what I was doing. Not until I tried to fix my broken marriage that is. That's when my wife told me (in code of course) that she hasn't been in love with me for some time and it is my fault.

It DEVASTATED me. That was enough to change my behavior. On the spot. I am a new man. But you know what? My wife doesn't see it. I can go 2 months with no abuse then one joke or comment is taken out of context and we're back to square 1. I'm an abusive Neanderthal

Two years of trying to fix it and nothing. You see, it is very common for wives to fall out of love with their husbands. And they don't come back. You won't either. I can guarantee it. You deserve to find someone who will be kind and loving and he needs a woman who won't be filled with resentment towards him for the rest of his life. Once you leave him and tell him why, you will cure him. It will be too late for the two of you, but he will find someone else and be kind and loving to her. You will too.

Win-win if you leave, everyone loses if you stay.

If I could have ONE wish it would be to go back to the day before we conceived our first child and have my wife leave me, tell me why, and never return. It would have kiled me at the time, but we would both be happier right now.**

**Disclaimer - I love my kids more that life itself, but I'm trying to make a point here.
Two things I need to say about your post. The first thing is that it takes a lot to make up for years of verbal and emotional abuse. If it actually can be made up for and I'm not sure that it can. My pastor says that for every one negative comment you make to someone you have to make four positive comments to take away the sting of the negative one. Consider how many hurtful negative comments you made to your wife before you 'saw the light' and multiple it by four. . .at least.

The second point I need to make is it is not that easy to 'cure' a verbal/emotional abuser. Most experts say that less than 2 percent of these people make long term changes for the better. Most abusers never take responsibility for their actions, it is always someone elses fault or they think the other person is over reacting. Most abusers will simply move onto the next victim. And they will use the old relationship as an example of telling the new woman/guy how bad they have been treated and misunderstood. It is a way to draw in the next victim. Most abusers are on their best behavior the first few months of a relationship and the new victim will think the ex wife/girlfriend/etc must have been crazy. They have no idea what they are in store for.

Maybe you are one of the two percent that actually changed and congrats on that. But I know most abusers never change because they don't think they need to.
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Old 09-08-2011, 02:47 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

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That sucks. Why couldn't the emotional abuser change for the person who loved him? And has to be kind to the next person instead?
You misunderstod my point. My wife cured me. Tough love and all. I'm still here and pleasant to her always. My point was that her resentment runs so deep that I will always be that old abuser ready to come out. I lay down next to her every night willing to be her husband again. She doesn't want me.

My wife knew, loud and clear, that I'd understood what I'd done, was willing to fix it (if not already cured), and was ready to start a new life with her. SHE declined. So yeah, it does suck. For ME.

It's not the man that causes it to be the next relationship. It's the woman who has already fallen out of love with him that can't come back. The resentment runs too deep. You've been here long enough Jellybeans. You know wives don't fall back in love after something like that.
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Old 09-08-2011, 02:58 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

Doesn't matter if you can be cured or not. Because even if you are, the wife's already gone. I guess the main pont I want to make to the OP is that she's left the marriage already. She's gone. I think it's the rare relationship that survives that. They broke up. They don't get back.

The FEW that do fall in love again maybe just drifted or got restless. Just kind of fell out of love. I can just about guarantee if you further analyze the number of couples that DO get back together, the ones that were broken due to violence or abuse are vast minority of that total.

Leave him, but do your best to help him as he leaves. Help his next relationship. Help his next "potential victim". But mainly, just leave.
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Old 09-08-2011, 03:02 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

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Originally Posted by rainbowfalls View Post
Due to my history of childhood abuse and bullying, I feel that I cannot trust my perceptions and feelings.

(family history of constant verbal, emotional and physical abuse and lots of other problems)

I find his sense of humor and constant teasing very hurtful.
He can't stop making fun of the people he's close to.
He teases me when I blush (even in public) or feel embarrassed.
I often feel little respect from him,
I feel he treats me like a child,
it seems he always wants to be right,
I can never have a deep conversation with him,
I feel he doesn’t ever respect my point of view if it differs from his,
I feel in discussions that he is sometimes condescending (he attacks my beliefs, knowledge, intelligence, weight, and most of all “the dreamer” in me.
He criticizes that I am too emotional and not pragmatic/down to earth enough)
He is not very compassionate in general.
He calls me too sensitive, but I don’t know how to change that about myself. I would like to learn how to control my feelings though.
I feel little interest, support and compassion from him about my chronic medical condition (nothing life-threatening, but I am often in pain)
He can be a bit sadistic and seems to target my insecurities.
He can be extremely rude. He uses a lot of vulgar language, which embarrasses me.
I feel that he has little ambition, which makes me wonder if I will have to be the only breadwinner one day
I feel infantilized and that he does not really see me like a woman
He often gets extremely annoyed, irritated, and angry with me
He sweats the small stuff, I sweat the big stuff
I feel he is a bit egoistic and cheao.
Also, he is almost too honest sometimes, which can be a good thing, but unfortunately he keeps telling me when he is attracted to women he sees in magazines.
The meaning of marriage seems to be different for us
I feel like we can never do anything spontaneous
I find it sad that he is so anti-social and doesn’t seem to enjoy spending time with people.
We have no common friends.
He is often extremely rational and does not believe in anything spiritual. I am very different in that way.
We cannot have any intellectual conversations about my passions/art
I feel that he often objectifies women. He seems to be obsessed with pornography.

I am not my best self when I am with him. I feel needy, scared, depressed, dependent, trapped, disillusioned.
I constantly feel upset about some of the things he says.
He doesn’t appreciate my sense of humor. In fact he claims, I have none.
I don’t really know who he is. He keeps changing his mind about things all the time. He is very hard to follow and is easily influenced by things. There is no core to his identity, I find.
He does do some things for me sometimes, but complains about it and gets very annoyed. I am dependent on him for a lot of things, which is my fault (I often ask him to help me move stuff in the house or install things, plus I’m terrible at handling my finances and taxes)
We have lots of fights about money.
Rainbow,

It's very rare in any relationship for all the faults and problems to reside in one individual without the other having any part of anything. Believe me, I'm not looking to give your husband a pass but you can't ignore the 600 pound gorilla in the room if you want things to be better. It's not clear that you can change your husband, but you can certainly change yourself.

My wife grew up with a narcissistic mother and a raging alcoholic father. Her maternal grandfather laid down on the sofa and died on Christmas Day after drinking a fifth of whiskey. Verbal/emotional abuse is the currency in her family. Everyone gets or tries to get their way by escalating abuse until everyone else gets scared, gives up or gets abused into submission. My childhood was nothing like that. Living with her for over 10 years, I can claim some authority in observing the adult implications of childhood verbal/emotional abuse. Btw, in adulthood, her family is still disrespectful and abusive.

Growing up in an abusive environment can certainly leave one with overly sensitive feelings in day to day situations. This makes it hard for us to determine if our reaction to any given situation is a proportionate to what has actually happened.

The key point here is that your feelings are just as real and need to be respected regardless of whether or not they are justified. This is your husband's responsibility in being your spouse and he probably doesn't understand this. He goes around thinking "This wouldn't bother me so why would it bother you" as a justification for doing things that you find hurtful. I would doubt that anyone has ever explained this to him along with the concept that "for better or worse" doesn't include "as long as it's not too much trouble" or "except when I don't feel like it". It takes some effort for someone to learn that using themselves and their feelings as the ultimate barometer for what is or is not OK conduct in a long term intimate relationship is not going to cut it.

It is very difficult to construe making a big long list of your spouse's faults as being loving behavior. I would suggest take the list of what you like about him and tell him directly how much you appreciate these things. Then take the list of faults and burn it. When you feel uncomfortable or hurt by something he has done, you need to let him know in a loving manner "I am feeling uncomfortable/hurt with this. Can I ask you to stop please?" The correct response you should expect is "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to/know this would make you uncomfortable/hurt. I apologize and I won't do it again." Practice doing this nicely immediately after something make you feel bad. Don't wait until later, if you can't bring it up immediately, let it go. And don't compile a big list. Wipe the slate clean at the end of each day. Even if your husband doesn't go along, you're still going to have to do this with the next guy so the best time to start is now
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Old 09-08-2011, 03:03 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I in a verbally abusive relationship? Do I need to get out?

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My pastor says that for every one negative comment you make to someone you have to make four positive comments to take away the sting of the negative one. Consider how many hurtful negative comments you made to your wife before you 'saw the light' and multiple it by four. . .at least.
And what if, before your Halleluja moment, your wife already checked out. Who's going to hear those positive comments?

And I didn't mean to be sarcastic with the "Halleluja moment" comment. I had one. But it's too late.

Last edited by MrK; 09-08-2011 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Sorry. Got carried away. I'll leave now.
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