I don't know how to heal

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2014
I don't know how to heal
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 10:43am

My husband and I have been married for 10 years, together for 13.  I am a stay at home mom and I homeschool our kids.  Up until about four years ago, my husband was very verbally and emotionally abusive.  He yelled and screamed at me, destroyed my stuff, called me horrible names, etc.  This really destroyed my desire to have sex with him, which would make him angrier and he'd be even worse, along with a healthy dose of guilt because he only did such things because I "wouldn't give it up".  I wasn't one who took it laying down.  I fought back, originally tried turning the tables on him, which didn't work and only allowed him to feel like he wasn't the only one with a problem.  He also worked a lot, so he was very vocal about not wanting friends or family around because he doesn't want to have to share his family time.  And I was guilted if I expressed a desire for friends or to see my family.  It wasn't always bad.  Major blow outs happened every couple months, but when they did it was absolute hell.  I didn't have anybody to turn to, besides an awesome mommy group here on iVillage.  Retrospectively, I know he was a textbook abuser, and I've become a textbook victim.

After six miserable years of marriage, I finally snapped, packed the kids into the minivan one time when he was out of town and left... for one night.  He was really, really sorry, said he understood why I left, and promised to change.  And for the most part, he did.  He no longer yells and screams at me, doesn't tear stuff up anymore, or cuss or swear at me.  He's big on WANTING to be a better person, and he does try.  But I'm afraid that after four years of trying to get whatever it was that made me marry him back, the I must have actually just checked out permanently when I snapped. The little negative stuff that really just makes you feel like you're crazy continues.  The jabs, the sarcasm, the guilt trips over my lack of affection for him and non-existant desire to be intimate with him, he guilts me to this day over taking the kids and leaving him because I did it ONCE, even tho, at the time, he said he'd deserved it.  While that is actually really jerky, I'm sure he really does love me, but I am completely numb to him.  He has tried, but I don't think he's really rooted out the problem, just learned to control his anger issues better.  I hate sex.  Hate it.  Not because I actually hate sex, but because I can't handle him in my face or touching me.  It makes me angry, or want to just cry when he starts touching me.  I really try to just suck it up, but sometimes I can't.  Then he's mad at me and pretty much ignores me for several days... which, sadly, I don't mind.  He says it's how I get at him because I can control that.  He cannot comprehend how much damage he did by abusing me for almost 10 years.

I've recently bucked the isolation system, found myself and the kids a very nice church (he won't go, but that's ok), and I am really trying to be a better person.  But I am beating my head against a wall with myself emotionally because I really seriously have no emotional connection with him.  He's not a bad person.  He's a very involved, loving dad.  He works really hard to support our family.  Puts the kids' and my needs before his.  He's fun and funny.  And he's really great with people (in spite of the fact that he doesn't want friends).  I feel bad for disliking him so intensely.  As a person, he's fine.  As someone who expects a right to my personal space, I have to force myself to tolerate him.  Tolerance, is, I think, the best description of my whole attitude toward him.  Thinly veiled tolerance.

I honestly don't think he knows any better.  His grandmother was very abusive to his mother, and she raised him and three brothers right next door to them up until he was 8 and his stepdad came along, so he was privy to many ugly fights.  I have reasons to think that his mother was mentally abusive to him and his siblings as well.  Out of five kids, he's the only one who is still married and his mother can't stand me, which has, of course, caused a lot of problems between us.

I'm pretty sure counseling would help, but we can't afford it, and I'm afraid to even suggest it.  As far as he's concerned, my "issues" with him are just because I hold grudges or to get out of sex.  I don't know how to make him understand, but I am so unhappy about the "us" part of life.  I don't know how to heal and move on.

That was really long.  Sorry.  I'm just not sure what to do right now, and I'm anxious.


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 10:54am

If this is really how you feel, then you should just get a divorce.  You said that your DH improved somewhat in that he is not as abusive, but as you said, he doesn't really understand or feel sorry for what he did because he still blames you for leaving, when what he should be doing is feeling sorry for the fact that his behavior led you to leave.  I don't think it would be possible for him to really comprehend what he was & is doing to you unless he has extensive therapy, and even then, who knows?  Do you have health insurance?  I thought that all health insurance now had to have mental health coverage.  Otherwise, I think that you should try to find a center for women who have been abused to see if you could go to counseling there and maybe they have a program for men as well, although I've heard that those programs are not very successful.  You could also try asking your pastor for suggestions.  I just think that if you are so repulsed by your DH that you can't even stand the thought of him touching you, then the marriage is already dead--why do you think you should stay in a marriage where you can barely tolerate your DH?  I think you will heal when you get away from him.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2014
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 11:35am

Thank you for your response.  Honestly, I've stayed because I have no way of taking care of my kids.  My husband doesn't make a whole lot of money, and I don't work.  Even if I could get a job, I never got a degree, so I have no idea how we'd even live because I sure couldn't support us.  I have some family in the area, but no one who is really in the position to help a mom with four young kids.  We don't have insurance.  My husband tried several times while the website was still messed up, and we eventually ended up missing the cutoff.  I really don't know what I'd do.  At this point, I don't know if it's worth it to plunge our family into utter chaos just because I'm unhappy.  I'm going to try asking the pastor at church.  We're fairly new there, but he might know someone I could talk to.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 12:16pm

I've been in your position, and I know exactly how you feel.  I also felt that I had to stay with him because I had no way to support 3 sons, and in my case, I KNEW that he would be so mad at ME that I'd never see a penny from him.  This was before child support was taken out of paychecks automatically, plus he was in construction, and they change employers constantly......so even automatic wouldn't have helped.  In addition to the verbally abusive treatment, he was the same with the boys.  He made good money in construction, but unfortunately most of it was left in bars and with the women who frequented them.  We wanted for nothing, the bills were paid, but there wasn't one penny of savings.  I hadn't worked in 18 years because there were men in businesses, and God Forbid, I might talk to one of them!  During those 18 years, all sorts of changes were made in the business world, and more were coming!  I didn't even know how to use an electric typewriter! 

One night, he came in late and drunk, and I was working on our income tax.  He didn't like that, and he went into a rage, tore up papers, went into the bedroom, put some clothes in a paper bag, and said "I'm leaving"!  I'm just staring at him thru all this.  He had just gone back to work after being off for a month, and his last unemployment check had come in the mail that day.  He grabbed that and headed toward the door.  I said "Whoa.......I need that to go grocery shopping!  There are three boys here that get hungry" and he said "with you running the show, you'll all starve to death".  That was what I needed to hear.  The next morning, i got the kids off to school, I went out to find a job.......I didn't care if it was cleaning toilets, just to earn some money.  I was offered two jobs that day, both minimum wage (at that time $1.75 an hour!) one in a factory, blech, and one at a telephone answering service.  I took the second job, and my sons didn't have luxuries, but they had clothes, and 3 meals a day.  I juggled the utilities, I managed to make the mortgage payment, and we survived.  Meantime, I found out that he and one of his ladyfriends had gone off to Florida.  A few weeks later, he waltzed in, and asked if I was ready to apologize to him!  I told him I had nothing to apologize for, and that he should turn around and go right back out the door he'd just come in!  And i called a lawyer, and began the divorce proceedings.  That was the best move I'd made in 18 years!

You think his mother abused him?  Of course she did.........that's why he's abusive.  In his twisted mind, that's "love".  My ex's mother was also abusive, verbally AND mentally.  She called him stupid because he didn't do well in school.....although he DID graduate from High School.  (It turned out, long after we were divorced that I realized part of his problem was dyslexia, which was unknown in those days....and that came about because I had a son who was a problem in school.  He had two daughters, and they were both found to be dyslexic.  When he went to school for a meeting about them, he realized that HE was too!  That's why he was such a problem as a teenager.  And then the lightbulb went off for me......so was my ex...and it IS inheritied!)  So my ex had a reading problem, AND a cruel mother who loved to tell anyone who would listen what a problem he was, compared to his wonderful brother who never did anything wrong!  There is ALWAYS a reason why people (usually men) are abusive to their partner.  It's a combination of insecurity, of fear of being abandoned, and having learned that "abuse" is a form of love.

The day I walked out of the courtroom was the best day of my life.  I felt like a thousand pound weight had been lifted off me.  My ex was angry with me for years, and he took it out on me and his sons by NOT paying child support.  He married again, she divorced him too.  We got by........in time I'd worked my way up to a good paying position, and I paid all the bills, supported my sons, and lived happily ever after......and you can do the same.  Men like your husband (and mine) will never change.  They were raised cruelly and that's all they know.  Get a good lawyer, and now that support is taken out of paychecks, you'll have some financial help.  One of the things my lawyer said was "he will make the house payments, and when your youngest is 18 you'll sell the house and split the profits.  I KNEW he wouldn't make the payment, so I told the lawyer that I wanted to have the house in my name only, and I would make the payments........and I did for the last 15 years of the mortgage, and now the house is mine!  Not saying it was easy, but but it was worth the struggle for a few years to be rid of the constant nastiness and fear!  You can do it if you put your mind to it.  Good Luck to you!

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 2:24pm

I fail to see how you can say someone who ABUSED YOU for years in front of your children, and continues to do so, with "...jabs, ... sarcasm, (&) guilt trips..."is "not" a bad person, and is an "involved, loving dad". 

You say you have no education or skills, yet state that you are homeschooling 4 children. Do you REALLY think you are giving them a better education than than a licensed teaching specialist?   You and your children are isolated, with only an abuser and a victim as role models. What do you think this teaches your children?

I think you should put your children in a public school, go get yourself a job, and make a better life for your children, if not for yourself.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2014
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 3:50pm

Thank you for your replies.

I wasn't actually asking for opinions on how I choose to educate my children.  I never said that I was uneducated.  I said that I don't have a degree.  There is a HUGE difference.  Rest assured, my kids are excelling in school, and test well above their grades.  So yes, I do believe I am doing just as well as, or even better than, a licensed teaching specialist with a  huge class of kids who cannot possibly know them all well enough to prevent any of them from slipping through the cracks or being brainwashed by herd mentality.  (Though I do not blame the teachers for any of this.  God bless them!  They often have an uphill battle with unsupportive parents and uncontrollable kids.)

As far as what is roll modeled at home, you've got me.  It isn't horrible.  Like I said, most things are subtle enough to make me just feel like I'm crazy because they aren't right out there and they aren't happening all the time. The subtlety is what makes them difficult to confront.  I know, kids aren't stupid, and even if they were VERY young when our marriage was ugly, it's quite likely that they've seen far more than a child should.  Them being in school wouldn't have prevented that, though. 

I took it upon myself to get out of being isolated.  DH and I had to share a vehicle for three years, and as soon as we were able to afford another one, I have been taking full advantage of the freedom, socializing the kids and myself,and getting involved in as many things as possible.

While I do have a pretty negative view of him, my husband HAS really tried to change and has never regressed to the worst of his abusive behaviors.  He told me then, and I DO believe him, that he never realized that what he was doing actually bothered me that much.  I think the "little things" that are still poisoning me are things he just doesn't recognize as a problem.  What I want to know is, is there hope?  If he's willing to work on this?  For him? Most guys won't try at all or make empty promises and he hasn't proven to be one of those.  He has followed through with what he's said he would do.  Will I be able to heal if he can come around?  Does anyone have any encouragement?  (I'm not in denial, but I'm someone who will do what it takes, and by God, if work will fix this, I am someone who will put in the effort.)

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 3:52pm

Well this is a situation that's not going to be solved overnight, but you have to start making changes.  I'm glad that one thing that I taught my DD was that she should always be able to make a living & support herself.  It's not easy to support 4 kids on your own with a low wage job so you have to start looking around for ways to make that happen.  First, I definitely agree that you need to put your kids in school.  You might think that home schooling is the way when they are in the lower grades and you are doing ABCs and simple arithmetic, but they need a lot more than that if they are going to be able to go to college--in order to do that, they are going to have to do the advanced classes in high school and I just don't think that home schooling can prepare kids for that if their parents do not have a college education or a lot of support.  Then you need to figure out what YOU want to do in the future and start making plans on how you are going to get there.  There are programs for women getting back into the work force.  You could start by checking with your local community college.  There are also scholarships.  You can't just give up and have to stay in a bad marriage because you have no job & no money and the only way to get out of it is to learn how to support yourself.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2008
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 5:19pm

I am with Music.. you have to start somewhere .. What would happen if your husband died or left you? You would have to figure out a way to support you and your kids.................I dont know how old you are but you cant just sit there and wait for your husband to change.. just in case he doesnt you need a good solid plan .. I would def. suggest putting your kids in school and yes taking some college courses or some technical school like medical assistant or whatever and getting something under your belt for future employment.. Even if it takes a year or two or whatever its something for you to earn money in future.........I would also start looking for a little extra income somewhere........House cleaning, babysitting, dog sitting, grocery store a few hours a week.. Anything to sock away some money and keep that in a safe place.......I would also look into those programs for women that Music suggested.

In the meantime I would def. attend some sort of free womens counseling or workshops or support groups.. There has to be something for free where you live . There is always something out there but you have to look and ask and search........do this for  yourself and not necessarily waiting for your husband to get better than he is... Maybe that is all he is going to change so you have to be able to change yourself and work on your own stuff and heal up.......Once you heal all will look better and be in better perspective... Get some books on abuse and controlling men and read up on how to deal with this type of man.

I hate to say it also though children learn what they live so you will have to deal with that also ....

I would also get an insurance policy out on your husband or see how much one costs...............Plus if you do get a job and he has to pay child support and maybe get some govt. help or whatever you will be fine just in case that is the way you decide to do this,

You dont have to stay like this but you do need a plan............A plan for now, a plan for tomorrow and a plan later downt the road like if you want to see a lawyer, counselor, etc.etc.......................I doubt you can gain back the trust and love you had for your husband because that is all gone as I went through a similar experience............So this alone is not fair to you or him so you might want to think about that.

Try and surround yourself with other women or people who can support you and uplift you as you have to live this on a daily basis.

Good Luck

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-13-2006
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 5:21pm
He's got some major issues.When you and the kids left that one time..you should have NEVER gone back! WHY keep doing this to yourself AND your kids?! The thing about counseling..THAT only works if 2 people are WILLING and not just one..which I'm sure it's you that is willing.There is such a thing as a sliding scale where they would go based on one's income...BUT I bet he will NOT go to counseling with you...You need to just pack up move with the kids somewhere IF you can to start a better life for you.You sound very hurt and miserable about all of this.You have so much you're dealing with.He's blaming everything on YOU..that's not cool.There is LIFE out there and you're missing a whole lot of it dealing with that sorry excuse for a man.You deserve so much better!!
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-04-2006
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 9:01pm

Unless you're prepared for your sons to be abusers when they're adults, I think it's time to formulate a plan.  First off, a job.  Something part-time to start maybe.  Retail stores hire people based not on experience, but on whether or not they're capable and smart.  The pay isn't much, but if you get the retail experience oftentimes you can work your way up to an office job.   And yes, you'll have to put your kids in regular school.  My son went to public schools and received an excellent education...in face, he received an academic college scholarship!  Sock money away, so you can afford to leave if you need to do so.  And finally, let a family member or trusted friend know about your situation, in case you need help getting away.

Your husband will only change if HE truly believes he did wrong, and if HE truly wants to change.  From what you've written, he blames YOU for leaving instead of realizing he drove you to it.  That doesn't sound like a man who wants to change!  That's why it's vital for you to have a way to support your family.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2010
Fri, 08-08-2014 - 10:03pm

You will start to heal when you remove yourself from this situation.

You said it yourself, you have the victim mentality. You make all kinds of excuses for why your husband acts like he does, says that he's not so bad really, he's better than he used to be.....bottom line is, he is still abusing you emotionally. All those jabs and snide remarks and guilt trips. That's the way emotional abusers work, they attack your self esteem in little ways, they get you to start doubting your own instincts, they isolate you and don't want people coming over to witness the dysfunction. Just because he's not having violent rages doesn't mean he's "doing better", he's just being more subtle.

I get that you don't want to disrupt your kids' lives, and maybe even your life, because there is comfort in the known even when it is hell. And being a single mom is not easy. But its really sad that there are 4 kids growing up with a screwed up image of what roles in marriage look like. The husband is a bully (even if he disguises it) and the wife is a martyr. Marriage is something to be tolerated and endured even when the partners are unhappy together. I'm sure you know that kids learn much more from what they see than from what you say. Hopefully they don't repeat your scenario in their own marriages.

You don't seem to be ready yet to take a major action, you seem to want somebody to tell you that everything will somehow turn out fine. Most people who reply here will not candy-coat it (although some are more painfully blunt than others) and the consensus seems to be that he won't change anytime soon so you should move on with your life, without him. A few of them mentioned that they have BTDT so you are not alone in this dilemma. Sometimes it takes a while to get used to the idea. Or maybe you need to reach the breaking point again like 4 years ago. (thus the advice to get job experience and some money socked away)

I suggest that you contact a local domestic abuse hotline and tell them that you are looking for free/low cost counseling and support groups. Even if y