Verbal Abuse Has Wife Fed Up
By Amy Dickinson
October 17, 2017
Dear Amy: My husband has cancer, so I’m trying to give him some leeway when he calls me “stupid” and tells me to “shut up.” He didn’t start doing this until after my dad died, about 12 years ago.
I guess it’s my fault for letting him get away with it for all these years.
Our children are now parroting his comments. I’m ashamed of myself for allowing this to happen.
When I ask my husband not to call me stupid, especially in front of our kids, he says he only does it when I act stupid.
I have a very good job where I am given a lot of responsibility and respect. I can’t believe my husband thinks this is OK. He makes me feel so inadequate.
— Had It
Dear Had It: I’m trying to see the connection between your father’s death and your husband’s verbal abuse. Perhaps the removal of a symbolic (or actual) authority figure from your life triggered this domineering and disrespectful behavior from your husband.
Now, you need to be your own authority.
Unless your husband’s illness has affected his behavior or cognition, I don’t see why you should continue to give him “leeway” when he tells you to shut up or calls you “stupid.”
It is a sad fact that over a decade of this treatment has left you feeling inadequate, when in reality this is revealing your husband’s inadequacy and insecurity.
You should start demonstrating that this behavior is unacceptable. When your husband does this, do not engage him or attempt to argue the topic. Stay calm and say something like, “This language is demeaning; it is unacceptable. You need to find a better way to talk to me.” And then remove yourself from his presence. Do not tolerate this from your children. Verbally abusing you harms you and them.