Am I really wrong for wanting my husband to stay in counseling?
April 29, 2015 12:15 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I have had a terrible past year. He has verbally, emotionally and mentally abused me. We each started into individual counseling last fall. His counselor is extremely perceptive and has keyed in on behaviours that lead to him abusing me, and we've both noticed real improvement at home as a result. After one month without any abuse, now he wants to quit counseling. This led to a nasty fight, where he thinks that I am a bad, manipulative person for wanting him to stick with counseling. Now I feel absolutely awful in every way.

This is going to be disjointed, and I apologize in advance for that. My head is an absolute disaster after this week. Please bear with me.

Incidentally, I am the one who posted this last fall. So all of this is in the recovery from the aftermath of that.

Rundown of basic info: Married for 2 years, been together total for 3. He is 37, I am 36. No kids (just pets). Lost his job one year ago, which prompted a move to a new city for a new job. My 1st marriage, his 2nd. He started verbally, emotionally, and mentally abusing me in July of last year and has continued until this past month.

We each started into individual counseling last fall. Neither of the counselors we started with was working for us, so we went to a new facility and found new therapists, who have been quite good. His in particular is fantastic. The therapist has told him in no uncertain terms that he has been angry, paranoid and irrational. He has also picked up on certain things that my husband says or does that lead to abuse. Recognizing these has been huge, and I am proud of my husband for going to counseling and doing the work to improve himself. We went for an entire month without any blowups or incidents. (I know that sounds awful, but given that he was blowing up at me every 3 to 10 days, this is a major improvement.)

Both hubby and I knew that he was getting much better. We were happier and more productive, energetic, and we were starting to communicate better again. He did a lot of work on himself, and it was, I'm certain, due in no small part to his counselor being so effective.

Now he wants to quit counseling. When he told me this, I filled up with this horrible sense of dread. I'm worried that without the positive influence his counselor has on him, he's just going to slide back into the old ways and the abuse is going to start all over again. Looking back on my post from last November, I have pretty concrete validation for that fear and concern.

When I expressed that concern, he said, "Well, I'm not going to stay in counseling forever!" and "I'm not going to counseling to make YOU happy!" I told him I never expected counseling to last forever, nor did I think that he was doing it for me. He proceeded to throw a toddler-style tantrum in the living room. When I calmly told him he was behaving like a child and to calm down, he got really mad.

That's when he started yelling at me and telling me that I am a really bad person, that I am ALL BAD. It hurts all over again just to write it.

He claims that I am violating his personal space. I understand that his counseling sessions are completely his own, and part of that IS him deciding on his own terms how long he goes. All I expressed was that I was hoping it would continue. To that, he said that I am being manipulative and controlling. I am not, and never have, dictated any terms to him regarding his counseling (i.e., I never said he has to go for X months/sessions, to go indefinitely, etc.).

No one in my entire life has ever described me as being controlling or manipulative before, and I am experiencing what could be described as shock after hearing it from him. In the past few days, I've started second-guessing myself ("What if I really AM being a horrible manipulative, controlling twat?"), and that's when my common sense kicks in and says, "For what? Caring about him and your relationship?"

My hubby discussed this recent fight with his counselor just last night. The counselor said that it is up to my hubby to decide how much longer he wants to go, which is absolutely what I would have expected any counselor to say. However, my hubby painted me as a fearful nag to his counselor, which didn't help anything. (I know all this because the hubby came home and spilled all the details on what happened.)

When he got back home from counseling last night, the hubby started accusing me of being this fear-drenched nag. He started labeling me and defining my reality. He kept saying that I am so full of "fear:" fear this, fear that, why can't I deal with my fear, etc. I said, "Well, I am afraid! So what?" If I am afraid, it's my fear to deal with in my own counseling, not his. I also told him to stop defining my reality for me- it's my reality, not his, and if I'm fearful or happy or sad or concerned, then it's mine to define, not his. (He actually responded very positively to that.) And for heaven's sake, fear is not a bad thing. It's a good thing that's there for a reason. But he kept holding that word over me like I was the "bad guy" for feeling fearful ("Aha! See? I gotcha!"). That seems very cruel to me. I told him it is cruel, and it's unfair to us both.

He says that my wanting him to stay in counseling completely invalidates the work he has done on himself. He says he is the one who has done the work (and true, wonderfully, he has!). He says the counselor has nothing to do with it- that it's him who has done the work and made the improvements and that it's not because of the counselor. I guess I don't see how wanting him to stick with it invalidates/reverses/undoes anything. (By the same token, his hostile reaction would seem to indicate that he hasn't learned a damn thing.)

I have also expressed to him that if I had something good in my life (counseling or something else) that was really positive for me, and that he saw it was good for me and made me a better person, wouldn't he want me to keep that positive force in my life? He goes all quiet and I see the lightbulb go on, but then he gets this cold look on his face and says, "Nope. Not if you didn't want it." Wow. I've tried explaining that being in a marriage means wanting good things for your partner even when they may not want it themselves, and that I feel I'd be remiss in my role as a loving partner if I didn't tell him I wanted something good in his life to continue. He just doesn't see it that way. Whenever I back off and am prepared to let him have his way, he comes at me with another attack on my character and how "bad" I am. I am sick of him telling me what a horrible person I am.

I am also getting some pretty major mixed messages from my husband. He keeps telling me how rational and fair I am; that I have been patient and kind with him this whole past year since we've been figuring this out; that I have never once been controlling or manipulative; that I have been the most loving and supportive person he has ever known. And then I get yelled at, being told that I am being controlling and manipulative, that I am a BAD person, and that I am mindfucking him. He picks apart every single word I use in talking with him. I have to censor myself with the words I use. It is completely disorienting, frustrating, and demoralizing.

I think it should be said as well that I don't want him to just see any counselor; I'd like him to stick with the one he's got now, because he's been a great positive influence and seems to really get what's going on.

At the end of the day, I guess I feel that all I was doing was expressing that I want him to stick with counseling because it's been so positive. If I express to my spouse that I want something good for him, and he twists it into me being a bad guy, that speaks volumes.

I've asked if he just wants it all to be over between us. He is clear and adamant: that is the last thing he wants. He doesn't want a life without me. He says nothing in his life would be good without me. He wants to keep working on his issues and problems and make our life wonderful again, because he truly believes we can be that wonderful and loving couple we once were. As much as I would love that, I am drained dry right now. I am physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted and I don't know what to do.

So, as for my questions:
1. Am I wrong for wanting him to stay in counseling? Does it actually make me controlling and manipulative? Please help me with this; if I'm doing something wrong, I need to work on it with my counselor ASAP.
2. Does my wanting him to stick with counseling undo the work he has done? Does it invalidate his progress?
3. I feel like I'm way past my breaking point here. Should I just go? Or should I stay and give him that chance to make it right? I have already given him so many chances to be better.
4. What else am I missing here? I am so backward, inside-out and upside-down at this point I don't know what's what anymore.

The support I have received from the MeFi community has been tremendous. I appreciate everything you've all done so far and I thank you for your comments in advance.
posted by chatelaine to Human Relations (116 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
That's when he started yelling at me and telling me that I am a really bad person, that I am ALL BAD. It hurts all over again just to write it.

It hurts because it is abusive.

He stopped being abusive for 30 days, said he was all fixed, and when you totally reasonably said that 30 days is a start, not the finish line, he became abusive again. This is what happened. Your saying "this is great! let's keep on this awesome path!" doesn't invalidate his progress. What he did invalidates his progress.
posted by jeather at 12:20 PM on April 29, 2015 [143 favorites]

1. No.
2. No.
2. Yes, you should just go.
4. You're not missing anything, except the perspective to see that he's continuing to be abusive, and won't continue doing the thing that seems to be helping him be less (!) abusive.

You're allowed to leave any time. You should do that sooner rather than later. Good, good luck and well wishes to you.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:22 PM on April 29, 2015 [18 favorites]

Well, it sounds like he can still be a mega-dick to you even when he's in counseling. In a way, he's right, you can't make him stay in counseling, and you've also learned that he doesn't want to treat you better.

I'd split.
posted by destructive cactus at 12:23 PM on April 29, 2015 [12 favorites]

You are not manipulative for wanting your husband to commit to self-care in order for you to feel safe in your own home. It sounds like he has a particularly toxic internal narrative about his life that he's not willing to change even with therapy, and probably won't change it even after you go. If it were me, I would be quietly planning an exit and then take it.
posted by theraflu at 12:24 PM on April 29, 2015 [12 favorites]

You are being totally reasonable. Your perception of yourself is warped from his behavior. I don't tell people to break up all the time, but please, this marriage is toxic and he is going to hurt you more the longer you stay. Please start figuring out your escape plan. You don't seem to realize what a number he is doing on you; you are going to feel so much better when you get free of this unkind man.
posted by feets at 12:24 PM on April 29, 2015 [10 favorites]

So, there hasn't been one month without any abuse, because this was abuse. He is abusing you. His reaction was abusive. You didn't do anything wrong, and you didn't deserve his abuse. He is invalidating his own progress, and in so doing he is actively -- through both word and action -- hurting you. He doesn't want to get better -- when his choices are a) go to counseling occasionally or b) actively and purposefully hurt you, he chooses (b).

You should go. He's had chances, he's chosen not to take them. It's not your job to wait for him to stop treating you like crap, and you don't owe him that. You won't have failed if you decide he's not worth staying around for -- you will have succeeded in treating yourself well.
posted by brainmouse at 12:24 PM on April 29, 2015 [22 favorites]

1. No, that's reasonable. You can't make him see things your way (for example about what a marriage should be) but wanting him to stay in counseling is reasonable.
2. He invalidated his own progress when he had a childish freakout and was abusive towards you.
3. I'd go. Life's too short. Whether that's a wakeup call to him or not. I'd lie to myself and say "We can always get back together if he really gets his shit together" but then not be surprised when he doesn't do that.
4. There's often a bad codependent cycle with abuse that makes it especially hard to extricate yourself from. You seem to be stuck in it. You don't deserve this. You have been patient and are doing the right things.

You deserve a partner who you are not afraid of. Fuck this guy and his entitled nonsense. You tried. He may have also tried but did not succeed. At a certain point it's okay to just say "No more of this" That point is now.
posted by jessamyn at 12:27 PM on April 29, 2015 [62 favorites]

He sounds like a guy with a drug habit who promised to lay off for 30 days, only now realizing on day 31 that you want him to stay clean for the rest of his life??? - It's time to go.
posted by tomboko at 12:28 PM on April 29, 2015 [126 favorites]

Does it invalidate his progress?

He hasn't made any progress. He's learning what you and his therapist want to hear, that's all. When someone's nice except for the times they're an asshole, that means they're actually an asshole in their heart of hearts. They've just learned how to wear a mask most of the time. That last month when he was nice was just the mask.
posted by Etrigan at 12:29 PM on April 29, 2015 [48 favorites]

This sounds like hell and I'll bet if you get out of it now, you'll be so, so glad you did every time you look back on that decision.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:30 PM on April 29, 2015 [10 favorites]

He sounds like a guy with a drug habit who promised to lay off for 30 days, only now realizing on day 31 that you want him to stay clean for the rest of his life??? - It's time to go.

This times a million.

He feels that because he's proven he can treat you well, you should believe he will treat you well. But he won't. He doesn't.

You need to decide if you want to be married to the man he is, right now, today. He's not committed to changing, and he will remain the man that you posted about in November, that you posted about now - a man who thinks "supportive" means "punching bag".

So you either decide you can live like this forever, or you leave.
posted by dotgirl at 12:34 PM on April 29, 2015 [23 favorites]

Cycle of Abuse

You are right in the middle of it. He thinks 30 days "proves" something, but you were only in step 4 and now you are in step 1/2 again - fearful, doubting yourself, him blaming you.
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:36 PM on April 29, 2015 [25 favorites]

This led to a nasty fight, where he thinks that I am a bad, manipulative person for wanting him to stick with counseling. Now I feel absolutely awful in every way.

he's abusing you again.
posted by jayder at 12:43 PM on April 29, 2015 [25 favorites]

He has been seeing an effective counselor for thirty days and he wants to quit? That is not enough time to make lasting, global changes, although it might be enough time to deal with a single, well-defined stress point.

Honestly, that last post that you made was really, really scary. I think this guy is an abuser who isn't going to change and I think that you should leave. But leave safely and in secret when you can take all your pets. He sounds dangerous to me. I'm sorry about this.
posted by Frowner at 12:44 PM on April 29, 2015 [27 favorites]

He has verbally, emotionally and mentally abused me. We each started into individual counseling last fall.
After one month without any abuse, now he wants to quit counseling. This led to a nasty fight, where he thinks that I am a bad, manipulative person for wanting him to stick with counseling.

Well, didn't he blow the one month by telling you you're a bad, manipulative person? Isn't he back to square one?

This person is abusing you, and abuse takes time to recover from. No time like the present to start recovering. This doesn't sound like there is any way to view this as a relationship you should stay in -- it sounds like you should get out carefully and very quickly.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:45 PM on April 29, 2015 [12 favorites]

You leaving may be the thing that most helps him and you. He does not seem to understand that his behaviors have consequences - this is not controlling or manipulation on your part, this is just plain fact. If you're not present, he can't do this horrible projection and externalizing thing he's doing. I'd wager, however, that there are many things happening here where you are enabling his behavior. Step out and away so that these things can become clearer. Get some perspective, give him room to do the work - or not - and then figure out things from there.
posted by vunder at 12:45 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

By the same token, his hostile reaction would seem to indicate that he hasn't learned a damn thing.

Sure looks that way!
posted by merejane at 12:45 PM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]

Also, it doesn't matter if he wants you to stay. He's not willing to stick to a pretty simple thing - medium term therapy with a good therapist.
posted by Frowner at 12:46 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

His reaction should tell him he hasn't made the progress he claims he's made, and he doesn't have the insight to recognize that. You're not the one overreacting or acting inappropriately here. (Also, maybe it's really different with his counselor, but when I was in therapy, it was once a week at the most, so if he's had a grand total of four 50-minute hours, um...)
posted by rtha at 12:46 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I should clarify... he has been with the really good counselor for about 2 months now; the improvement didn't show up in earnest until the past month. So yes, the abuse continued while he was actively in counseling.
posted by chatelaine at 12:46 PM on April 29, 2015

From your previous question...
he threatens suicide a lot.

Get the fuck out of there.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:47 PM on April 29, 2015 [64 favorites]

Also, I think you should try to get an emergency session with your own counselor as soon as possible - like today if you can - and discuss what just happened. Print out your question and bring it with. Tell them you are afraid that your reality is being battered down and you really need help figuring out how to protect your own rights and feelings of safety here.
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:48 PM on April 29, 2015 [16 favorites]

Um, maybe someone else has said this already but I just realized you've been married TWO YEARS and you've ALREADY been through serious abuse and your husband is resisting treatment for his abusive behavior.

This man is dangerous and unwell. I really feel that this is an unsafe situation for you. He's taunting you for your fear? You SHOULD be afraid. Your fear is telling you that you are married to a monster. And the monster is taunting you.

Please get out. Run. This won't get better and you aren't safe.
posted by jayder at 12:49 PM on April 29, 2015 [36 favorites]

Two months might be enough time to completely introduce yourself to a therapist. No real work has happened yet.
posted by theraflu at 12:49 PM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]

Oh my god this guy sounds like he's mindfucking YOU and doing an awesome job of it. Of course he doesn't want you to go. He's got you twisted in mental knots with his total bullshit ridiculousness. You seriously need to get rid of him and get your own brain straight; this is not acceptable AT ALL.
posted by celtalitha at 12:51 PM on April 29, 2015 [10 favorites]

This led to a nasty fight, where he thinks that I am a bad, manipulative person for wanting him to stick with counseling.

Abusers blame their victims for the abuse all the time. Slacking off from abusing you for a mere 30 days doesn't get him off the hook -- like tomboko said, it should be only the start and he seems to think his job is now down.

You have a right to be treated well. Maybe if he committed to treating you decently all the time, and continuing counseling if that's what it takes, then maybe your relationship has hope. As it is, he fell right back into the pattern of abusing you, and worse yet gaslighting you by claiming it's your fault.

I'm so sorry for your situation, but you need to do what's best for you, and that looks to me like getting out of there.
posted by Gelatin at 12:51 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: And furthermore...and I'll shut up after this...look at how much text you have to write to justify yourself and your feelings. You defend yourself, show that you're credible...that's an erosion of confidence.

You really don't need that much text to justify your position, you pretty much covered it completely in the first paragraph -- do you know what I mean? I don't mean this in the tl/dr sense, I mean it in the 'this is self-evident: he is treating you monstrously' sense.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:52 PM on April 29, 2015 [57 favorites]

Oh and he's saying your FEAR OF HIM is YOUR problem to deal with in your own therapy? What the actual victim-blaming FUCK
posted by celtalitha at 12:52 PM on April 29, 2015 [40 favorites]

He is clearly demonstrating who he is right now. It's time to listen to what he's telling you and be your own advocate. He's not going to do that, nor change. I'm so sorry.
posted by mynameisluka at 12:54 PM on April 29, 2015 [11 favorites]

I have to say, I remember your past question vividly and I often wondered about you two and how you were doing.

I have to say, based on your update I'm worried about you.
It sounds as if you haven't gone more than 10 days without some major blow up in at least the last year.... this is NO WAY to live your life.

It's time to formulate your escape plan. He's not going to change.
posted by JenThePro at 12:54 PM on April 29, 2015 [10 favorites]

What do you want? The answer is NOT that you want to be afraid of your spouse. Leave, get the fuck out. This does not have a happy ending unless you leave. ZERO PERCENT OF HIS SHITTY BEHAVIOR IS YOUR FAULT.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:56 PM on April 29, 2015 [9 favorites]

You most likely haven't done anything wrong, or at least not anything that justifies this level of horrible behavior. Nothing justifies this level of horrible behavior.

I've probably posted this a half dozen times on ask.metafilter, but if the following is a pattern:
1. He does something mean, nasty, or abusive
2. You confront him about it, or want to talk about it
3. He says you are a bad person for making him feel bad

...then get the hell out of there. The suicide threats? They're supposed to be evidence that you're making him feel bad, and he wants you to respond by letting him continue being an asshole so that he doesn't feel scrutinized.

He might be fixable, but he doesn't want to fix anything. He wants you to roll over, or he's addicted to drama and wants to keep things going in this state. Some people, for lack of a better outlet, thrive on relationship drama and he doesn't want to lose you because he'd lose his favorite hobby.
posted by mikeh at 12:57 PM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

I just want to come hug you and bring you to my place and you can hang out with my cat and start your healing process. You have to leave him. There's no other options. Trust me.

I know how hard this is to hear and how hard it is to even think about but I'm on the other side and I can't even tell you how much better it is now that I'm not yoked to an abuser.

Go your local woman's shelter. Talk to them. Start planning to leave. DONT TELL HIM. Just... there's no other way.

I'm so sorry.
posted by sockermom at 12:58 PM on April 29, 2015 [39 favorites]

I'm so sorry. Your husband is abusive and is not demonstrating the will to change. Two months of counseling is nothing for a serious problem like this. And now he's lying to his counselor to win points against you? Please talk to your own counselor ASAP. You need to get out of there.
posted by zennie at 12:58 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

"wanting good things for your partner even when they may not want it themselves,"
I'm not sure that I agree with this, because it sounds sort of parental.
But he needs to sort out his emotional response and control his actions--he needs to dial it way back. Walking the line for a month is great, but he's supposed to take the tools he's learned in counseling and apply them to every day life, every day, not just when the therapist is around. Based on results, he hasn't grasped that yet. My guess is that something in therapy has hit him hard, and he wants to stop now.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:59 PM on April 29, 2015

For what it's worth, if you are still receiving counseling, keep it up. And even if you end up ending the relationship, keep it up. You're going to need it to restore a reasonable world view after being normalized to this toxic environment.
posted by mikeh at 12:59 PM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]

Fucking RUN. I still remember what you said he did to your dog. He is abusive, he does not want to change, and he wants total control over you. He is a BAD PERSON. Run run run run run.
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 12:59 PM on April 29, 2015 [11 favorites]

In the words of Al-Anon: You didn't cause it, you can't cure it, and you can't control it. Get out now.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:01 PM on April 29, 2015 [12 favorites]

I read your background post.

a) I think you should anonymize this post, change passwords, wipe browser history etc. Even if you don't think he will care that you posted this. Your background post is terrifying and I am worried about his reaction if he sees you posting this "behind his back". He is not predictable.

b) I think you should call a women's shelter immediately.
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:01 PM on April 29, 2015 [20 favorites]

I've asked if he just wants it all to be over between us. He is clear and adamant: that is the last thing he wants. He doesn't want a life without me.

Doesn't matter. It's not about him.

He says nothing in his life would be good without me.

That's his problem.

He wants to keep working on his issues and problems

No, he doesn't.

and make our life wonderful again, because he truly believes we can be that wonderful and loving couple we once were.

That's fine. But that wouldn't happen without work. He doesn't want to do the work. It's not clear the work would make a difference.

As much as I would love that, I am drained dry right now. I am physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted

When this is how you feel around a person, that person is a vampire. A partner should add things to your life. They should make it easier, better. You should feel strong. You should feel like yourself.

1. No.
2. As others have said, there's been no progress. He is still abusing you.
3. For the love of all things, leave. For the love of yourself.
4. You can feel strong and like yourself, with your body and mind and sense of reality intact. You have to leave him for that to happen.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:03 PM on April 29, 2015 [14 favorites]

I don't see any point is saying what everyone else has said, so I just want to add:

He gets to decide if he stays in therapy. That's his choice. You get to decide you are not staying married to him unless he is in therapy.

He's abused you for an entire year. He doesn't get to call it quits after two months.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:05 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Not to threadsit, but...

I did contact the local women's shelter two or three months back. They said I needed to go and apply for food stamps before they'd have anything to do with me. :(
posted by chatelaine at 1:06 PM on April 29, 2015

This is heartbreaking, and I can totally understand why it's hurting you this much. It really is time to get out though, you seem like a really good person trying so hard to be kind and thoughtful, and he's totally taking advantage of that. Go, go as soon as you can, go quietly when he isn't around and take anything you care about with you, so he doesn't have a chance to hurt you again. I hope you can find some peace soon and remember we're all behind you here.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:07 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

What about your friend who was in your post last year, Ms A? Would she be willing to let you stay with her for a tiny bit? I'm scared for you. Where are you located?
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 1:08 PM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

I've also gone through some of your prior questions and something struck me.
It looks as though you've given up a lot for this guy, you state you had to give up your dream job for him due to a relocation.

You also describe him like this in a previous post, when you guys were initially dating: "He is very attentive to my needs and feelings, and is overall a kind, gentle soul whom I have found to be compassionate and considerate. "

Can you honestly say that he's the same guy, 2 years into marriage?
He certainly doesn't sound gentle or kind or compassionate to me!
posted by JenThePro at 1:09 PM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

He lasted 30 days, and then when something didn't go his way his immediate response was to become abusive again.

I think it may be time for an ultimatum. He can decide he doesn't want to be in counseling, but one more abusive incident happens and your marriage is done. And if he gets to decide when he's all done with counseling, YOU get to decide an incident is abusive and you're done with him.

Or, he can stay in counseling and you will cut him some slack, as long as he's actually IN counseling and maintaining his improvement to your satisfaction, long term.

To be honest, I think you'd be well within your rights and reasonableness to kick his ass out right now. But maybe you're not ready for that. But I would not let him bully you into backing down and putting up with his shit again because you don't want to seem "fearful". Damn right you're fearful, you're living with someone who is abusive!
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:10 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This reminds me of that time that Chris Brown received his "certificate of completion" for taking a 30-day anger management/overcoming domestic violence class that he was court-ordered to complete, and posted a picture of himself with his certificate on Twitter. It was presented in a very "All fixed!" manner, as if sticking one's tongue out.

While I'm glad that Chris Brown completed the course, the coursework should not end with the achievement of a certificate. In your husband's case, he reached his own version of a certificate by going an entire month without really abusing you in any way.

A certificate (or any other milestone, symbolic or otherwise) "certifies" that one completed something, yes. But why do any of us get certificates? Isn't it because we're hoping to build on that knowledge and continue to advance in our knowledge, our careers, or human relationships?

Or is it just to tell someone, "Yes, I did it. Now what else do you want from me?"

The idea that self-improvement is a finite process with a single end point in easy reach, as opposed to a continuous work in progress that requires thoughtfulness and the willingness to accept that you may still falter and need additional care, is an idea that sets a person up to fail.

There is still a cultural stigma on "being in therapy", and I think the patriarchy makes it especially stigmatic for men. I think this is less the case with more recent generations, but I still hear people speak about men going to therapy as if it's a sign of weakness. Because of this cultural pressure to not appear weak, your husband may feel that he's done all he needs to do, and that attending any more therapy sessions would be a tacit admission of weakness.

I am not using the cultural stigmas as an excuse for his behavior. However, it may serve as a possible explanation for his behavior.

Either way, your husband has a flawed perspective on how self-improvement - and healthy relationships - function.

If he cannot discuss why he wants to end therapy with you in a manner that is respectful, honest and considerate of your own concerns, then he has not truly learned, at his core, what it means to love another person responsibly. If he cannot accept that, and makes the choice to end therapy, then it's time to go.

It's hard, but I have been there. I've left a person just like him and I am better off because of it. The first night I was finally free of him and alone, I spent crying alone in an empty apartment. Because it still hurt. Now, my only regret is that I didn't end it earlier.

Staying with him enables his behavior because it tells him "Even when I treat this person like shit, she will still stay with me." He is codependent on you. While I have no business saying whether or not he loves you, I will point out that love and codependence are two very different things.

You can wait around for the day that this maybe gets better, but what if it doesn't? Based on the signs he is giving, he very likely won't.

If you had a very close friend who you care about deeply in this same situation, would you tell her to stay? No? Then why would you tell yourself to stay? We need to love ourselves the same way that we love our close friends and family. If you wouldn't recommend it for them, don't enforce it on yourself.

You don't have children. The pets are still tough, but if you don't have children who will be embroiled in this, it makes it that much easier to break it off.

I wish you all the best. And I can assure you that being alone will always trump being with an abuser.
posted by nightrecordings at 1:10 PM on April 29, 2015 [21 favorites]

He is not well. He is not interested in changing himself, only in shifting blame onto you. You do not feel safe in your own home, for good reason. When a person threatens suicide, there's no telling what he will actually do. Yes, as difficult as it will be, seriously consider leaving.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 1:10 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here is another person with a couch, in Philly. After these two questions, that's all I can say. Except to the extent you care about this person, he's made it clear he won't help himself if you stick around. Save yourself by leaving and maybe he'll find a way to not be a monster. Because he sure is one.
posted by angrycat at 1:15 PM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]

Skipped all of the previous comments, please forgive me if I'm repeating anyone. In my experience, when someone decides to quit counseling without the input and mutual buy-in from their counselor, it's because the counselor is raising issues that the person really really really does not want to touch (too painful to deal with). Also, in my experience with a situation pretty much exactly like yours, whatever your spouse has "learned" and "improved upon" will be pretty short-lived (i.e., if the blowup this week wasn't enough, look for that previous pattern of abuse to rear its ugly head again, and soon.

Its like being an alcoholic - no one wakes up one day after a month's worth of rehab and goes "oh, awesome, I'm not an alcoholic anymore, I'll just go about my life now with all new perspectives and patterns of behavior. Good for me.".

Your husband is a grown ass adult, you can't make him go to counseling. But now that he's shown you his cards, you can make your decisions on how to proceed with your own happiness accordingly.
posted by vignettist at 1:16 PM on April 29, 2015 [13 favorites]

I'm going to stop hovering, but having read some of your previous questions, I'm going to say this:

Some people are perfectly fine in public, are fine while dating, and turn into complete jerks when they settle into an established relationship. You mentioned his ex-wife seeming insecure, and the existence of female friends his ex-wife didn't like him to be around. Maybe they had a mutually horrible relationship, but guess what? Maybe he treated her like crap but was nice to people, especially other women, in public. If your partner tells you you're "all bad" in private, aren't you going to start to wonder why he's so nice to other women in public?
posted by mikeh at 1:17 PM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

I filled up with this horrible sense of dread.

You never have to feel this again if you leave him. It is glorious, wonderful, joyous, and the single best decision I've ever made.

You can figure out the logistics. Not having kids makes it a lot easier.
posted by desjardins at 1:24 PM on April 29, 2015 [35 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, his ex-wife. Yeah, mine had an ex-wife too. She was a MONSTER.

Except she wasn't, he just turned her into one. Really. Seriously. I also turned into a monster - did things that I am so ashamed of and so sorry for, now, things that one might even label abusive (he certainly did, anyhow). And now, two years out? I am the same loving, caring, sweet partner with my new boyfriend that I was with literally every other man I've ever dated.

Abusers have a way of pulling your demons out. I don't know what it is, but I've never, ever, ever, treated any other human being the way I treated my abuser. Neither has his ex-wife (we are friends, now, and she is a perfectly lovely and normal human being, just like me).

His ex-wife was not the monster. He was. He did this to her, and now he's doing it to you, and guess what? He'll do it to the next one, too. They pick people that they can victimize and they try to crumple them from the inside out. Please don't get lost in this relationship. Walk away. Run away. Really. I don't like when people on Metafilter say RUN because it seems so reductive, so counterproductive, it's just three little letters and when you're in it you can't possibly even understand how to crawl out, let alone walk out, let ALONE run out. But really. You've gotta get out of there. That's the only thing that will fix this. You need to leave.
posted by sockermom at 1:24 PM on April 29, 2015 [75 favorites]

Best answer: Abusers have a way of pulling your demons out. I don't know what it is, but I've never, ever, ever, treated any other human being the way I treated my abuser.

I could favorite this a million times. I deeply regret so many things I said, did, or felt when I was in a dysfunctional relationship but that wasn't me. I am not that person.
posted by mikeh at 1:27 PM on April 29, 2015 [31 favorites]

If you want help from the women's shelter, go and apply for food stamps. You could probably get permission to use their address on the application. Then try talking to them again.
posted by aniola at 1:29 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

I just read your previous question and answers and I think this answer that you favourited is worth re reading.

Please get out.
posted by Snazzy67 at 1:29 PM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

He's got you in his sick system. Please apply for those food stamps and get out. You've given him enough chances and what have you got to show for it? Self-confidence that's in the toilet. Hasn't this relationship wrecked enough of your sense of self already?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:38 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

This situation sounds completely untenable and your safety and mental health are in jeopardy. Do not delude yourself. Nothing has changed since your last post.

Your life can be so much better, but the only thing you can do to fix it is to leave him.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:39 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, sweetie, you're still with this asshole? The only positive thing I can say about this whole situation is that at least he hasn't killed you yet.

Get the hell out. Take the dog.

Apply for food stamps, do whatever you have to do, but leave. There is no fixing this situation. No one deserves this kind of abuse.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:46 PM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]

His behavior could be a major setback or a minor slide in his progress. From what you have written, it's hard to understand why you are with with him, but for the sake of being devil's advocate, just hear me out. People undergoing recovery from addiction are expected to relapse. The old paradigm that the addict must never use again or else is considered a failure has been replaced by an understanding that relapse will happen but it doesn't negate their progress, if indeed real effort has been made. I realize that living with someone with a personality disorder, or whatever he has, is unbearable, but it doesn't sound like your committed to walking away from this given that you have reached out for advise, and i assume you have your reason, such as that you do love him. No one under in their right mind would encourage you to stay unconditionally with him if you don't want to; however, since you aren't sure I would consider that you look at ways to detach from him a bit for a while so that he can get himself together and rethink what he is doing. If he doesn't change for the better, then it's time to go.

I think it's easy for people to say DTMF when looking at someone elses relationship, but it's not easy when you're in it, usually. FWIW, I had a very destructive relationship many years ago with a man who said I was abusive to him because I didn't agree with him, wasn't always available, things like that. We did argue and yell back and forth, so in a way my yelling was abuse, but really, I think him saying I "abused" him was ridiculous in hind site. Abuse is a wide net, so it may be helpful for you to really understand what that word means because if you accept that yes, he is abusing you, you would leave without hesitation, but if you rationalize it then perhaps you are giving him way to much power over you.
posted by waving at 1:47 PM on April 29, 2015

That's when he started yelling at me and telling me that I am a really bad person, that I am ALL BAD. It hurts all over again just to write it.

I saw this, especially in the context of everything else you have written (I immediately remembered your last question)--and my stomach turned. This is classic, black-and-white, demonizing, personality disordered thinking.

Do not even think about having children with this man or you will end up with one ALL BAD ALL THE TIME kid versus his/her wonderful, perfect sibling; or kids who are wonderful until they are periodically also THE WORST MOST BAD MOST LIFE-RUINING EVER.

This is never getting better, minus his willingness to agree to months or possibly years of work with outside help--and it's not safe for you to be around for it right now.

Get out, now. You'll be so grateful you did, looking back, once you've had a chance to recover from the last year or so.
posted by blue suede stockings at 1:48 PM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]

He invalidated his own work in counseling by returning to being abusive as soon as he heard you question whether he was fully cured after only a month of non-appalling behavior. This will escalate and get worse. Please hide traces of your activity here, change your passwords on personal accounts and, if you have family or friends who can help you (and, hopefully, the dog) leave, it's time to call them now.

Go rebuild your life while you still can. Maybe you can even go get your dream job back.
posted by quince at 1:48 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I'm having a physical reaction to this, just reading, and I'm not being triggered by past trauma – I haven't experienced this sort of abuse, yet reading this and the earlier post, I'm actually experiencing a serious flight or fight response right now myself. I'm also not at all drama-prone, but this is bad. Very bad. Go. Go to your friend, Ms. A., or another friend, or family. Take your vital stuff you can carry, and go. It will be kind of shitty for a bit staying with other people until you get back on your feet, but this is like a horror show in slow motion, and you need to exit before the final scene. Reach out to your friends now, and if you are worried about the dog, other pets, etc. (I understand that many victims of abuse stay longer than they would because of pets) please ask for help with that here; folks can offer advice on this and any other questions.

I know you will be wondering now if you overstated things, or didn't represent his good intentions enough, or were maybe too one-sided while reading these very concerned and emphatic responses. You weren't. You aren't. You aren't ruining his life, you aren't bad, you aren't manipulative and controlling. You need to leave. I don't know if I've ever actually said that in 13 years on this site, but I'm saying it now.

Many hugs.
posted by taz at 1:48 PM on April 29, 2015 [41 favorites]

Make a secret plan to leave. Get your documents photocopied and or out of the house.

If he threatens suicide, leave and call 911. He probably doesn't mean it, and if he does, let professionals take care of it.
posted by Gor-ella at 1:49 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

My local humane society has a program where they provide temporary foster homes for pets so people can get out of domestic abuse situations.
posted by desjardins at 1:56 PM on April 29, 2015 [14 favorites]

I also remember your last question and I am so, so sorry it has come to this.

Please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233). You can look for nearby shelters here. Use these tips to clear out your browser history.

If you don't have a place you can stay the night, please MeMail me your PayPal address and I will send you as much money as you need for a pet-friendly hotel (and whatever else -- gas, food, whatever), no strings attached, no questions asked. You will make it through to the other side of this, you will be free from his gaslighting and crazymaking and abuse, and your weirdo internet strangerfriends at MeFi will be waiting for you with champagne and internet hugs when all is said and done. Sending you love, hope, and peace.
posted by divined by radio at 1:57 PM on April 29, 2015 [48 favorites]

I feel like I'm way past my breaking point here. Should I just go? Or should I stay and give him that chance to make it right? I have already given him so many chances to be better.

Trust your feelings. Your very question shows you already know what you should do. Don't believe any of his garbage about you being bad, manipulative, controlling, etc. Start making arrangements for a safe exit.
posted by Area Man at 2:00 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

Go apply for food stamps, then.

Nobody's going to help you without your cooperation. You have to engage in the process. Food in a shelter doesn't magically fall from the sky. Get the food stamps, get into the shelter. Maybe you can share your food with some of the other people there, if that makes you feel better about getting them.

Homeless shelters won't take your pets, but every day you and the animals stay with him is a day closer to him killing them - possibly in front of you - to control you. Find new homes for them - obviously if you know someone who will take them for a while until you get settled or if your city/county/state has a program for the pets of domestic violence victims, that's great, but get them into the city shelter if you have to, before something unspeakable happens.

He did not ever improve. He played nice for as long as he could stand - which was a single, solitary month.

You have to leave. Your relationship is over. There is no coming back from this kind of behavior.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:02 PM on April 29, 2015 [13 favorites]

You know how bad this is. How inexcusable it is. You KNOW.

You KNOW that even if he makes some kind of arguable additional "progress," THIS is who he is. This is what is inside him. His instinct, his active choice whenever he can have it, is to make you feel terrible in every way possible. He will never stop.

You have done and given and sacrificed and endured everything you possibly can, so much more than most people could. I admire and support you so, so much.

Now, it's time: You absolutely need to get out. I know you can. Something inside YOU is clearly telling you this truth. And what is inside you is goodness and heart and joy -- it is abundantly clear.

It's time.

I wish you peace and freedom and everything wonderful that you deserve.
posted by argonauta at 2:14 PM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]

For the people saying "get the food stamps then," if she's still living with her husband, she probably CAN'T get food stamps. The application process involves proving income of all members of the household. It's not so simple.
posted by celtalitha at 2:22 PM on April 29, 2015 [16 favorites]

(Source: single mom on food stamps)
posted by celtalitha at 2:23 PM on April 29, 2015

When people show you who they are, believe them.

There is good advice here: please look after yourself, and take it.
posted by suelac at 2:24 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

For the people saying "get the food stamps then," if she's still living with her husband, she probably CAN'T get food stamps. The application process involves proving income of all members of the household. It's not so simple.

This is one of the reasons why reaching out for services for abused/battered women (and men) can help.
posted by blue suede stockings at 2:27 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

this thread is so filled with good advice - i suggest you read it again and again. i also just want to add one little thing - while i realize that it's mostly said about couples counseling, it pertains here with the way he's using what his therapist says (according to him) to hurt you - counseling can worsen abuse. that doesn't mean that abusers should never get counseling, but rather that it can become another tool they use to abuse their victim with. that is what your husband is doing - he's weaponized his therapy against you. whether he stays with it or stops, he's a long, long way from better.

as to the controlling manipulative stuff he's accusing you of? that's a trick as old as time - he's accusing you of what he's guilty of doing. don't fall for it.
posted by nadawi at 2:39 PM on April 29, 2015 [17 favorites]

Please leave.
posted by Malla at 2:45 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

also - i try to practice restraint in these threads and i don't think i'm often the first to raise the red flags - but...i'm very worried about your safety. the whole threatening suicide/saying he doesn't want a life without you - that can be a big warning sign for a guy who is about to turn physically violent - up to and including murder. i know it sounds crazy and you probably recoiled just reading that - thinking that he'd never, that you know him, that you understand why he threatens suicide - but it's not farfetched. there's a reason that homicide from a romantic partner is a leading cause of death for women under 50.
posted by nadawi at 2:46 PM on April 29, 2015 [22 favorites]

I am so sorry you are still dealing with this situation.

1. Am I wrong for wanting him to stay in counseling? Does it actually make me controlling and manipulative? Please help me with this; if I'm doing something wrong, I need to work on it with my counselor ASAP.


2. Does my wanting him to stick with counseling undo the work he has done? Does it invalidate his progress?


3. I feel like I'm way past my breaking point here. Should I just go? Or should I stay and give him that chance to make it right? I have already given him so many chances to be better.

No, just go. You have done all you can do and that has been much more than enough. He does not want to get better. If he did, he would not continue to be abusive and manipulative towards you in your attempts to help him get better. From what you wrote, you seem to know that if you stay you will just end up in the same cycle.

4. What else am I missing here? I am so backward, inside-out and upside-down at this point I don't know what's what anymore.

That's what abuse is designed to do. You are not a bad person. You are not being manipulative and controlling. He is saying those things in an effort to mess with your mind and cut you down, not because they have any truth to them. Your instinct that counseling hasn't moved him to change his ways is spot-on.

Please reach out to family and friends if you are not able to get into a shelter because of the food stamps issue. It is hard to put yourself out there like that but they care about you and will want to help in whatever way they are able. Be safe and don't let him know that you have plans to leave. You may not think anything would happen if he has never been physically violent towards you, but his behavior is frequently unpredictable and who knows what he would do knowing you are leaving.

It is hard now but you can get through this. You deserve so much more than your husband's abuse.

Wishing you all the best.
posted by sevenofspades at 2:48 PM on April 29, 2015

The LEAST a man who has verbally, emotionally, and mentally abused you is give you the power to decide how long he stays in counselling so that you can feel like you have some shred of support and safety. The least. The bare minimum. The being-a-decent-human-but-not-going-above-and-beyond response. The very barest scrap he could give you would be to give you the power to decide when he is safe for you to be around.

I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry that he lured you into thinking he really was interested in getting better. It doesn't sound like he is. It sounds like is interested in doing whatever he thinks will make you stay but that as soon as he feels he has you back in the net, he will revert to old behavior patterns. That's heartbreaking and you deserve so much better.

Please, please, please be safe. I do not think he is going to cope well when you realize you need to walk away. Make sure you have all the things we discussed last time-- money he can't touch, support from friends he can't manipulate, a safe place to stay. Memail me if you want to talk. Talk to your own therapist as soon as you possibly can; they can help you deal with the emotional fallout of this conversation and decide on next steps.

From your posts you seem like a sweet, kind, intelligent person who has tried harder than anyone could have ever asked to save a shambles of a marriage. I know that may not be how you feel right now, but if you can imagine yourself as a third party-- imagine a sweet kind caring person who has tried so hard-- what would you do to take care of her? Do that.
posted by WidgetAlley at 3:04 PM on April 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


There is no good that will come from staying a single day longer. No good at all. But the possibility of bad gets bigger the longer you stay.

You owe him nothing. Pack up your pet and get out.

I did contact the local women's shelter two or three months back. They said I needed to go and apply for food stamps before they'd have anything to do with me. :(

There are other shelters.

Please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233). There are places that will take you in NOW.
posted by kinetic at 3:15 PM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]

Maybe this was recommended in your prior thread, but if not: please obtain and read Lundy Bancroft's book called Why Does He Do That? It's written for women in relationships with abusive men and gives tremendous insight into those dynamics as well as excellent advice for self care and decision making. Good luck.
posted by Sublimity at 3:21 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

Someone upthread said they often thought about you and how you were faring. Same here. Your account of what happened that night is one of the most harrowing domestic abuse stories I've read - this coming from a survivor of relationship abuse and someone who's mother lived through it for years.

If you're in Southern California, you have a couch and my help with whatever you need.

Reading your story up there, and some of the responses, made me tear up. I empathize with you, because for 4 years I was with someone who drank too much, verbally abused me, took my kindness for weakness, and with unerring accuracy found all the holes in my confidence and ripped them open. Your vacillation, your opinion of yourself, your pain, your hurt, your disbelief, your numbness, your second-guessing - I recognize this. That fear? That's natural. This man has systematically dismantled you psychologically and emotionally, and no matter what, his behavior and attitude will take years to fix.

I want to call your husband a bad person, but sometimes 'bad' people are the result of a pathological condition. Either way, his flaws are not something you need to try to fix. Is there any way you can talk to his ex-wife without endangering yourself? Perhaps her opinion of him could give you some reassurance that your concerns are valid.

I feel like I'm way past my breaking point here

To an outsider looking in, you are past your breaking point. You're 35, my age. Please, please, please, move on. The four years I spent with my ex are four years of my life I wish I could have back. People screamed at me to get the fuck out of that relationship, but I didn't listen because I thought I could be a 'better' person, or that therapy would magically change things. But sometimes, things are just wrong. The first year or so was great for us too, but years later when I looked at bruises on my upper arm where he shoved me out the door because I tried to stop him from drinking and driving, I realized that nothing was going to make us work. It's been four years since we ended things, and my current boyfriend treats me so well and is so kind to me that I look at him and marvel that relationships like this do exist. I'm told that his actions aren't special... they're just what good people do. Would you look at that.

I'm telling you this because I want you to know that there's hope. Don't stay in this relationship when it is one that makes you feel how you feel now. There's no going back to the way things were - it's like that cheesy metaphor of a broken Ming vase that's been glued together. You won't be able to love him the way you used to. Your only duty now is to yourself: to get out of this relationship, rebuild yourself, and let someone love you the way you deserve. It will take time, and it will be hard. But it's the only way you will look back on this horrible period of your life one day and think to yourself that you're a better person because of it. Just... please do it before he truly damages you irreversibly, psychologically or otherwise.
posted by Everydayville at 3:24 PM on April 29, 2015 [17 favorites]

1. Heavens no.

2. Heavens no.

3. Leaving is something you need to consider. The relationship is clearly not healthy. This is probably something to speak to your therapist about. They know how to ask the right questions to get you to the bottom of what you're really feeling. FWIW, I believe that your significant other should not be the significant source of stress in your life.

4. You're in the middle of this right now, but try thinking about it as if it were happening to a good friend instead of you. If she came to you and told you the things you're telling us here, what would you say to her?
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:57 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Like taz, and like I alluded to in my MeMail after your previous post, I have no prior abuse in my history and yet your two posts set off a really visceral fight-or-flight response for me. I'm not one to scream run in relationship threads, but I think you should get out get out get out as soon as you possibly can.

I offered a place for your dog in my previous post, and I stand by that, but I know I'm not geographically near to you. That said: if you need to rehome your dog fast & temporary-like so that you can head elsewhere unencumbered for now, MeFi can help you. Please stay safe.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:10 PM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

¿Can you stay with the friend you mentioned in your previous post? Having witnessed his past blowup (which scared the shit out of me, and I only read it) I'm sure she'd be happy to help, or to help you find another alternative.
posted by clearlydemon at 4:31 PM on April 29, 2015

Also: I know how overwhelming it can feel to even contemplate a next step, and that asking for help can feel like just one more daunting obstacle.

Please know that so, so many people will want to help you, without reservation or pressure or judgment. You will not be a burden by asking for and taking help. We humans often feel like we rarely have the chance to do real, known good -- and you letting people make calls for you, send you $5 via PayPal for gas to drive north, give you (and your rabbits!) a safe place to sleep, help you find a mover/lawyer/CPA, and anything else, is a mitzvah you give to THEM.

Your heart will stir in such a good way when you see how true this is. Let Miss A and friends and family and mefites and coworkers and neighbors and domestic violence advisers and more show this to you. It's especially true for many of us have been where you are, and who are honestly yearning for a chance to pay forward the good that was done for us when we were in situations like yours. Please do not underestimate the support that is available to you, how warmly it will be offered, and how quickly you can be in a place (mentally and physically) where you'll be able to breathe and think -- and thrive.
posted by argonauta at 5:06 PM on April 29, 2015 [16 favorites]

this is the first day of the rest of your life.

Which will end sooner than you think if you stay with him.

if you stay with him, this will also be one of the happier days of your life.

If your house were on fire, where would you run to for shelter? Run there.
posted by tel3path at 5:07 PM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

When you leave, in a few months you will feel like you're walking on a hard surface again and not eggshells, and your sense of self will knit right back up into the whole it once was.

Your therapist may be able to help with shelters/point you to local resources too.
posted by slateyness at 5:20 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I read your question, there are many, many things about your behavior that stick out to me as those of someone with an abused person's mindset.

First of all, you need a lot of affirmation of your reality. You are here asking if you're wrong for wanting your husband to stay in counseling, which is so obviously where he should be now and for the foreseeable future, that it's breathtaking to anyone not in an abusive relationship that you need to be told you're not wrong for wanting it. You even need his affirmation of your reality; this is obvious by how you engaged in his "fearful" mindfuck, rather than calling it out for the bullshit it was. This is typical of people who are constantly being gaslighted, which is typical of abusive relationships.

Second, you're quick to brag on your husband and prop up all of this really, really hard work he's done on a month. (Now, of course, he's not doing any bragging on you; quite the contrary, what with all the calling you BAD and engaging in endless gaslighting and projection, but I digress.) No. You don't have to throw a parade for your husband because he's stopped throwing your dog outside and letting people call you a cunt in your own house. He doesn't get knighted for not berating you and making your life a less immovable object for four weeks out of the three years you've been codependent with him. You should rightfully still be on your guard after your husband - an angry, paranoid, irrational person, says his own therapist - quits therapy after a month. Your husband should be in his own space working on his myriad, entrenched issues, and nobody should be tripping over themselves to heap on the praise. Even here on AskMe, in this space, while he's not here and we're all on your side, you feel the need to normalize your abusive husband and praise, praise, praise, as if, in praising him, we will believe that he's worth all this shit you're enduring to make your marriage work. That's not unlike believing he will start to feel better about himself and you and stop being abusive if you show him how to act like a non-abusive person by providing an example and just loving him through to the prince you seem to think is underneath the ogre. That's the belief and the behavior of an abused person.

You keep pointing up all the things you know and all the things that it makes sense for the therapist to say and speaking here as if, in simply speaking rationally about all of this and breaking it out into its minuscule parts, it will make sense and be a typical, manageable situation that makes sense - "a terrible year". No. This situation is twisted. Your husband is a sick person. You're living in sickness, too, because you need it both ways - we're just a couple with our problems, a terrible year, I know, I know, my husband should love and respect me but, instead, he attacks me every 3 to 10 days and I'm petrified of him. Your marriage is abusive. That you're in couple's counseling is BAD. Couple's counseling gives abusers ammunition to further abuse. IE his "You're so fearful, you live in fear, you're bad and horrible and fearful" harangue. See, he might be starting to touch - lightly, barely, the very beginning - the top of the very deep well of terror and shame inside himself. But, because he's abusive, he's projecting that onto you. You, his abused spouse, the repository of his terrible, shame-filled behaviors and thoughts. You're supposed to deal with his fearful feelings and his shame that you're afraid of him, both. This is all textbook abused person, Sisyphisean justification.

Is it the sunk cost? Is it that you got involved with him while he was still with someone else, and you feel ashamed and guilty and foolish? You think you can't leave because you've made this huge move with him, and you're away from all your friends and family, and you need to think that this situation can get better so that you don't lose what's left of your tenuous self-esteem? What is it? Is it that you love him? Is this how you know love? The love of feeling nauseated with dread, the love of watching your dog thrown outside while he's in a drunken rage. The love of being called a cunt by his one friend. (I'm invoking your last question because - though you helpfully reference it here - you're minimizing it. Even by referencing it, you're minimizing it. Yep, that's us. Sigh. Terrible year.) I am sorry but he is still the person who did all of that, and you are still in the psychological fog about this man.

I'm sick for you and I'm angry with him on your behalf. It takes years to change abusive behaviors if the person even has the insight to make real change. One month is nothing. You can't see the person he's turned you into. You can't see how far away from your best self you are.

You will never change him, I promise you, and that he is deluded enough to think that, one month in, he's done, wipe hands, phew, glad I'm done with systematically terrorizing my wife makes that same pit of dread you walk around with in your stomach open in mine.

You have to leave. He's feeding off your shame and embarrassment and will continue to do so until you remove it as his power source. Leave him while you still have the will to try. He doesn't have what it takes, I promise you.

Good luck.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 5:24 PM on April 29, 2015 [23 favorites]

Man, it BLOWS that your local domestic violence shelter blew you off like that. I know you have beloved rabbits and that you also may or may not have the dog; you may find this list of resources for domestic violence victims' pets to be helpful. This is another resource which might be able to help you secure the animals somewhere safe while you get yourself on your feet.

I remembered you vividly too, OP, and I hope to god you get out safe. If you need a ride to another part of the country (say, a place in Pittsburgh?) or you need a convoy to get your pets to safety, I can give you a leg of the drive through Texas if you need me. We're rooting for you. The way he is treating you is not okay, it is not going to stop, and it is not your fault. If he wanted to change, well, he shouldn't have gone straight back to the abuse after 30 days the moment you did something he didn't want you too. You are not obligated to give him another chance.
posted by sciatrix at 5:26 PM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

I am a social worker. If you memail me your city location and some demographics, I promise you I will personally call every organization in the area which I think in my best judgment may be able to help you, and I will memail you back where to go and what to have and what their requirements are likely to be.
posted by corb at 5:34 PM on April 29, 2015 [65 favorites]

They said I needed to go and apply for food stamps

Apply doesn't mean receive. Apply means apply. Apply. Call the DV shelter and say you applied. Give them the confirmation or whatnot that they need. If you get denied afterwards, if you failed to fill out a line item or not -- who cares. That might be enough time to get you into the system and once you're into the system people stop asking. Tell the truth on the form. He doesn't live with you anymore. You are on your own with X income. Chips fall as they may. But right now, you just simply need enough support to get yourself enough weeks to get yourself someplace safe and regroup.

Also consider asking about specifics in six days, anonymously, with your location and a Hotmail address attached. See if there are people in this community who can guide you and who know local resources.

Unless your SO is a total idiot with regard to "computers" wipe your browser history early and often. You do not want him seeing this post or being able to access any email accounts with stored passwords.

In fact, create a new email account, wipe your history, go incognito (chrome) and change your passwords. I would tell you to hit me on MeMail (obvs it's okay if you do) but I'm worried I don't know enough about covering my tracks on a machine to really keep you safe.

You do not want him finding this thread through your browser history.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:10 PM on April 29, 2015 [12 favorites]

Leave. Being broke and eating noodles and worrying if you can afford another bowl of noodles the next day is still better than having your heart deliberately broken over and over by someone who says it's your fault they hurt you because they love you so much or whatever today's abuse excuse is.

You know how you think you can't do any of the stuff he's handling? How applying for food stamps is a mountain and how no-one else will help you because you've got no friends etc? I promise you will discover that you are capable and smart and can fill out forms and get things done and people, strangers even, like you too! I thought I was a dim unpleasant freak, and it turns out I can pay bills and put up shelves with power tools and make new friends , and Get Stuff Done.

He's covered you in invisible weights to slow you down and trap you where he wants you. Leave and you'll be amazed how much energy and time you'll have - how much life you'll have for yourself. can you really imagine another five decades of dreading his moods?
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:21 PM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

Adding another voice to the chorus of people willing to help. I'm in Los Angeles and can provide a place to stay for you and your animals for a few days.

There are sincerely good people here on MeFi, and I've been lucky enough to be the recipient of their collective goodwill when I was in tough spot, so I can vouch that every person who has offered help here is serious. Please, let us know what help you want.
posted by holyrood at 7:00 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I know you wrote a long post, but I feel like you've already wasted too much time and effort on this man. To answer your questions:

1. No, you haven't done anything wrong.

2. No, he's full of shit. He's manipulating you and gaslighting you.

3. I am begging you with everything I have: please, please leave your husband. I don't want him to kill your pets in a bid to control you. You deserve more than this and I don't want you to be hurt any more and I especially don't want you to die.

4a. What you're missing is that the counseling is a means to an end for him. He doesn't actually intend to change his behavior, he's using it as a way to string you along into thinking he's going to change so that you continue to stay with him and he can further abuse you. He can also use the act of going to counseling as a weapon against you - which he's already done.

4b. What you're also missing is perspective, as someone else said. If this were happening to someone else, you would clearly see the abuse and that your husband is never going to change. You would see the warning signs and know statistically that it's very likely he will hurt your pets and if that doesn't work, it's also likely that he will kill you.
posted by i feel possessed at 7:04 PM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

You already know what you need to do. Maybe you feel you need overwhelming permission to do it. But instead of being yet another stranger on the internet to give you permission, I'm going to suggest how to give yourself permission.

Reread everything you wrote, and pretend it was written by your sister. Your college roommate. Your next door neighbor. Your best friend. What would you tell her to do? What sense of empowerment would she deserve? Please love yourself as much as you would love that person.

A good life isn't perfect, but it's good. Most days, it should be very good, and you should always feel safe, loved and respected, even when you don't share the same opinion. Please, give yourself the gifts of safety, love and respect. You deserve them.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 7:07 PM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]

I remember reading you're fist post months ago and wondering what had happened to you. It saddens my heart to see that this is still going on. I'm very very afraid for you and apparently you are too or you wouldn't have called the women's shelter.

I'm afraid he's going to hurt you physically like he did to your dog. I'm afraid that he may do more than just give you a bruise or black eye. Please get out. Start getting things in order quietly. Then one day take your dog to a "vet appt" and don't go back.

You sound like someone with Stockholm's syndrome. You defend him for the barely any effort. You're in the thick of it so I appreciate how difficult this is. That said it's going to get more difficult. Normally, when people write these letters they ask for advice but I never feel like they actually take the advice. Something is telling me that you will take this advice and leave your know how bad you really want to.

He is a dangerous man. I suggest you find a shelter and reach out to Ms. A and perhaps you're family. You're going to need them because once you leave he's going to trying to bring you back in, say no or hell just ignore him But don't go back.

You're not a bad or manipulative person, you're a reasonable person. He's being awful, no wonder you're scared. Just prepare to make a quiet exit and then leave.
posted by CosmicSeeker42 at 7:33 PM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

Your husband absolutely hates himself, and he's taking it out on you.

Apologies if someone already posted this, but one thing really stuck out to me: "He says nothing in his life would be good without me." Those are the words of a person who hates themselves and their lives, and by extension, everyone else. It might sound like love or flattery, but it's an impossible ideal that 1.) reflects his dichotomous thinking and distorted perception, and 2.) in reality, is on the flip side of abuse. I'll say it again - it's the flip side of abuse. Don't be flattered or hooked by comments like this. He loves you but he hates you. Nothing is good without you, but you're manipulative and controlling. You've been so supportive/patient/rational/fair/"never once controlling or manipulative...the most loving and supportive person he has ever known" but then you are yelled at and told that you're mindfucking him. Sounds like his motivation for therapy was to reel you back in when circumstances demanded it. Maybe that's unfair of me to say, but his behavior is unquestionably abusive and controlling.

The other piece is this - do you truly trust him and all the hard work he's put into therapy, or is your trust contingent on his continued work with his therapist? Reading your post, it sounds as if you don't truly trust him - because his good behavior seems so tenuous, so dependent on his insights from his therapist. I mention this because I realized while reading this......

"When he told me this, I filled up with this horrible sense of dread. I'm worried that without the positive influence his counselor has on him, he's just going to slide back into the old ways and the abuse is going to start all over again."

.....that you have very little reason to trust him because you're terrified of him and his behavior (and rightfully so!). I wouldn't trust him either - I'd be terrified and, like others have said, pack up and leave. It sounds like you need to really take a close look at whether or not you really, truly, deeply trust his ability and willingness to change, and come to terms that you're not a bad person if you soul search and that answer is "no, I don't."

Your recognition of his inability or unwillingness to stop the cycle of abuse is NOT a statement about your "good" character or a testament to your "commitment" or your "loyalty" to your relationship. Your commitment and loyalty to him ends where his abuse begins. You're not a bad person for recognizing that you're being abused and doing something about it. You can love someone, and let them go to save yourself, and that isn't selfish. He'll tell you that it's selfish, but it's not. How loyal are to yourself, and your own life, when he treats you this way? Who stands up for you? It's your right as a human being on this planet to live without manipulation and terror.

And really... mindfucking? Come ON. Who's the one on MeFi trying to figure him out? Is he spending his time trying to understand his wife and save his marriage? Nope - he's too busy trying to convince you that he's paid the price of admission after a month of good behavior, and then convinced you that you're the problem.

I agree with others who have said that you've spent too much time on him. Can you take some time away, a week or two, with a relative or a friend out of town?

Please, take care of yourself. MeMail me if you need to.
posted by onecircleaday at 8:00 PM on April 29, 2015 [12 favorites]

I just wanted to add- if you want to come to Texas, memail me. I can't have your dog in my house because I have cats, but I can find a temp foster home for them pretty fast, and you can stay with me till we get you back on your feet.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:34 PM on April 29, 2015 [8 favorites]

The threatening suicide comment is what puts me on edge. There was a recent post on the blue (I believe this one) about how men who kill their domestic partners often plan on committing suicide in front of them, but in the moment get taken over by rage and commit murder instead.

I'm really worried about you. Please stay safe, and if you leave (please do leave) do so as carefully as possible. Abusive men are at their most dangerous when the relationship is ending. Don't tell him in advance, don't tell him at all. It's far better to be extra cautious then it is to put yourself in danger.
posted by Dynex at 10:20 PM on April 29, 2015 [7 favorites]

I want to say the magic thing that will help you realise just how not-on his behaviour continues to be. I remember your last question and how worried we all were about you. We really thought you were in imminent danger. If you're now thinking, see, it's been tough but he's not dangerous - please stop. You are still in danger. It sounds like the only things he's been learning from counselling is how to use it to manipulate you.

I remember the thing that got me to leave - it was a little thing, in retrospect. It was when I finally realised that weekends (spent with my abusive partner having uninterrupted chunks of time to play head-games with me) left me more exhausted and miserable on Monday than I was on Friday, after a long work week. Somehow the backwardness of that pattern sank in where all the other, much more obvious things, had not.

We can all tell you to leave. I hope that you do. I hope that this unanimity (even more so now than your last post, which was near-unanimous) and offers of help actually do persuade you that you are in danger of being trapped in his abusive reality (at best) and physically harmed or murdered (at worst). But if you are anything like I was, your head is so full of the ideas he's been dinning into you - that it's all your fault, that you bring out the abusive behaviour, that you are completely messed up and have no idea what's right, that you're no saint because look at all the horrible things you've done to him - you may not be able to believe us. But please do.
posted by Athanassiel at 11:12 PM on April 29, 2015 [10 favorites]

My husband and I have had a terrible past year. He has verbally, emotionally and mentally abused me. We each started into individual counseling last fall. His counselor is extremely perceptive and has keyed in on behaviours that lead to him abusing me, and we've both noticed real improvement at home as a result. After one month without any abuse, now he wants to quit counseling. This led to a nasty fight, where he thinks that I am a bad, manipulative person for wanting him to stick with counseling. Now I feel absolutely awful in every way.

It's incredible. In your opening paragraph there are only three instances of the word "I."

I have had a terrible past year.
(He thinks) I am a bad, manipulative person.
I feel absolutely awful.

I read two pages worth of post and I have no idea how you feel about anything. All I know is you feel like shit and your husband thinks you're a piece of shit. Do you even know where you are anymore? Do you recognize your surroundings? Do you know how you're feeling and what you're saying and who you let talk to you this way?

What is your conscience telling you?!?!?!

I don't think I've ever said this but you need to leave this person immediately and initiate a strict no-contact rule for 90 days. And for the love of God go to Al-Anon. This person you are married to has turned into a first-class narcissist and has completely sucked you in, predicating your well-being on his own. The course you are on right now - he, he, he, he, he, he, he, he - I promise you, things will never get better.

Are you sticking around to prove you are a good wife and to show everyone you're not a nag? This is ridiculous. You do not have to prove anything to anyone. You do not have to prove anything to anyone. You do not have to prove anything to anyone.
posted by phaedon at 11:27 PM on April 29, 2015 [21 favorites]

Hey there,
Please leave as soon as you can, as discreetly as you can. Don't let him know that you are making plans.
You are not in the wrong here; he is, in so any ways. And you deserve so much better.

Count me as another person who is rooting for you. There are in fact people all over the world thinking of you, and wishing you luck.
Go! You can do it!
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:43 AM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

I ALSO remember you from your last question, and felt my heart break a little when I read this one, because you sound so sweet and smart and caring and empathetic, and when I saw that you were STILL with the same man, it made me go, "NOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Please, please, please get out. I know it's rarely as easy as that - I helped a friend leave HER abusive marriage last year, and it was a grueling ordeal at the time. You know what, though? My friend is radiantly happy now, and wishes she'd left years earlier.

Someone upthread mentioned "sunk cost", and I'd like to mention that again. As humans, we are SO GOOD at trying to avoid pain and upheaval and regret that we'll make all sorts of justifications to ourselves and twist reality. In your case, you've mentioned that your husband is great/wonderful/kind/etc. ... but seriously, sweetie, HE IS NOT. A great person does not do the things he does to you even once, LET ALONE SYSTEMATICALLY, FOR YEARS. You need to remove your blinders and your desire to not mentally "betray" him. He has acted abusively for years. He IS an abuser, not a "wonderful" man. Facing that fact - really, truly facing it - may feel as painful and damaging as staring straight into the sun. But until you DO face that, you're going to go through the same cycles of pain, fear, and anxiety as you have for years. You deserve better. You can and will FIND better than this. Please, for the love of god and for the love of YOU, leave. And Memail me if you need anything - I am fairly resourceful and will help in any way I can.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:27 AM on April 30, 2015 [14 favorites]

The end game for anger management is controlling your anger and abusive actions forever. Even if someone says something upsetting or suggests you stay in counseling.

Look at how little you trust yourself, you are making this your problem. Leave.
posted by French Fry at 7:16 AM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

I didn't think of this yesterday, but if PayPal is too traceable/trackable or your husband has access to your checking account, drop me a line and I can send cash via Western Union. I did this for another MeFite recently and it was very easy on both sides of the transaction, we'd just need to exchange real names.

And of course, mi casa es su casa if you happen to be in the Chicagoland area -- you and all of your pets are welcome to stay in my attic bedroom, you'd have the whole floor to yourself. There's lots of space, a garage spot if you have a car, and it's warm, safe, and quiet. Hell, if you're within an 8-hour drive of my place, let me know and I can come get you. I have friends all over the country who would be willing to offer up their spare rooms and driving legs as well.

We're rooting for you, chatelaine, please let us know if there is anything we can do for you.

posted by divined by radio at 7:32 AM on April 30, 2015 [18 favorites]

Is that museum director job of yours still open by any chance?

You could be living a very cool life (as a museum director! God! You know how many of us robot through days as corpo-peons, wishing we could be in an environment that is beautiful and creative?) as opposed to this ugly mess. I know your husband feels like a major character in your life now, and a big factor in your decision making, but he's a mean, nasty person and you don't have children and there's no reason you need to keep letting him take your life off track. If you leave him now, in a few months you'll feel like you've woken up from a bad dream.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:08 AM on April 30, 2015 [15 favorites]

I had a loved one who tried to manage an extremely abusive long-term relationship and I'm finding this ask and the one from a year ago seriously triggering. My loved one would have loved someone to swoop in and fix the situation but the three things she herself had to do for the situation to be fixed (legally divorce; call the police on him; won't state the third as it's exposing) she just would not, could not, steel herself to do. We did everything possible to support her bar forging her signature on documents (!) and in the end, the person letting him into her life was no other than herself. And by allowing him into her life she exposed her parents, her children and her friends to the harm he could do.

I mention this because she felt responsible for him, and she felt she couldn't be the hard-hearted person who was mean to him, and there are just hints in what you say that remind me of that. I've tried explaining that being in a marriage means.... Why do you need to explain this? Is he a child? Does he have a learning disability? Do you think he doesn't know? He knows what a marriage is, what a good relationship is (ie one without screaming and blame) and he is not interested in having one. He gets more out of having someone in his life to be the person who is Wrong All The Time. That's you. You signed up for that. You can maybe explore why you think you should continue to do this as part of your therapy sessions.

The food stamp issue - do you have a job and a salary? Because if you do you can keep yourself without him, and if you don't you could move back home and apply for them.

My loved one had some sort of idea that she was wielding soft power, emotional power, and it would eventually prevail. You might as well dig compost into a garden to kill weeds. And then watch your neighbours' gardens (all of us caught in the fallout) get overrun by them.

I wish you all the best. Abusers know who to pick and how to keep them there. Please continue with your therapy, but remember, when it works it is sometimes very uncomfortable.
posted by glasseyes at 8:32 AM on April 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Selected excerpts from Lundy Brancroft's other book, Should I Stay or Should I Go:

"Notice that in his eyes your anger doesn’t justify your behavior; in fact, your anger, to his mind-set, just shows what an angry, unreasonable, out-of-control person you are. But his anger gives him license to unleash his verbally abusive or violent urges."

"Note here that the abusive man’s outlook on relationships is that there are two choices: you can either be the person who is controlling or the person who is controlled. So when you refuse to be controlled by him anymore, he is going to insist angrily that you are trying to control him. For example, if he is required to deal respectfully with your disagreements, he will claim that now you aren’t allowing him to disagree. Do your best not to fall for this turning of the tables. He still has the right to disagree with you—he just doesn’t get to insult you and intimidate you, and he has to take your opinions seriously. If he is going to choose to act victimized about having to live within these entirely reasonable guidelines, that further reveals his attitude."

[Signs he is not changing]

❐ Having insights that appear important but then vanish soon and believing that he has the right to tear you down if you point something out about him and it threatens his self-concept.

❐ Overestimating how much he has recovered from his destructive behaviors, and/or speaking of recent horrible behaviors as though they took place in the deep past and believing that it is your job to celebrate his recovery and not mention how little he has actually changed.

❐ Having extreme emotional reactions when you bring up his wrongdoing while believing that contemptuous or violent expressions of those extreme reactions are justified because he should never have to be answerable to you.

"If you are coming to the conclusion that your partner is abusive, it does not mean that he is a bad person, or that you need to stop feeling love for him. It does mean that you will need to face up to the fact that he is not good for you, that he is a toxic force in your life. He will either have to give up his abusiveness or learn to live without you. You may reach the point where you decide you have to stay away from him permanently, for the sake of your own mental health; but even then you are likely to continue having caring and loving feelings for him—from a safe distance."

"For even if your partner does engage in all the hard work to maintain a life of healing and recovery, even if your partner is able to live in a way that makes amends to you, your life will not be made anew by his healing and recovery. Your healing will still need to take place—from the pain that he has caused you—and your relationship will need to be rebuilt in a new way."


I paste these links directly from my own highlights of this book. I have been where you have, being filled with relief that the abuse is coming to an end and then faced with the backlash when he realized that being non abusive meant committing to an absolute end of this kind of behavior, for good. I saw the toddler tantrum happen the first time that he couldn't reconcile who he wanted to be and who he was, and not longer after that I witnessed the turning point when he made his peace with being abusive towards me because not being abusive was keeping him from being who he wanted to be.

It's so difficult to take that first step out the door when you have been doubting yourself and second guessing everything you do. Your life is not your own right now. I promise you, things can and will get so much better after the tears, after the doubts, and after you take your life back for your own. Making your own decisions, checking in with yourself about what you need, what you want. My friends tease me that they don't know who I am anymore because I am a wholly different person, full of laughter and joy. To be honest, there are a lot of times when I think they're right. I am rediscovering who I am, I am a warmer, sunnier, cheerier person, who smiles and laughs and feels gratitude for the life that I have everyday. And then I realize that this person was inside me all along, being made smaller and smaller every day that I was stuck in a miserable situation. Please don't do this to yourself. Leave. Fly. It's the hardest thing you'll ever have to do. I promise you, it's worth it.
posted by hindmost at 8:37 AM on April 30, 2015 [29 favorites]

Would just like to add that there's degrees of abuse, and women in these situations generally do a lot of weighing of risk. The consensus on these pages is that, given a number of signals, you are not actually physically safe. Listen to these people and be very, very cautious if you take steps to leave. Do not let your husband know anything about it. If you stay you'll just get keep getting hurt. If you leave, there is a risk of worse than that.

Your therapy - that's therapy on your own, right? Because as many have said, couple's therapy won't do you any good right now.
posted by glasseyes at 9:09 AM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

Maybe everyone else is wrong and it will never escalate. He won't physically abuse you, he won't kill your pets, and he certainly won't kill you or himself.

Would you be happy if your life was like this for the next 50 years? Never knowing when he's going to turn into Mr. Hyde? Always having that fear in the back of your mind? Always having to be careful with what you do or what you say so you don't set him off? Do you want to spend the rest of your life feeling like shit?
posted by bgal81 at 11:35 AM on April 30, 2015 [13 favorites]

I'm in Indianapolis, and if that's closer to you than some of the other generous offers of shelter you've received, please memail me. My wife and I have a guest room and pets. We'll think of something.

I am rooting for you too. Please keep us posted.
posted by Gelatin at 1:06 PM on April 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I remember your previous question vividly, and was hoping you'd follow up, but I had hoped things would be better for you. I'm so sorry you're going through this still.

Everyone has already said everything I was thinking, and provided valuable advice to you. I just want to be one more voice in the chorus that is telling you your instincts and everything you know deep down about who your husband is, is a billion percent correct. You know him better than anyone, because he has shown his true, monstrous face to you more times than you can count. Not even his counselor (as effective and perceptive as the counselor has been) knows your husband as well as you do. The only other person who may have seen all his cards would be your husband's ex-wife.

Trust yourself. You are the world's foremost subject matter expert on this man. You know what he is, and you know that his words can't be trusted..

What you need to realize is who YOU are. You are kind, intelligent, insightful. Not "BAD." Don't let your husband tell you who you are. Everything he says and does is with an agenda to hurt, control, and manipulate you. Of course he'll tell you that you're bad. Of course he'll throw his own controlling, manipulative, and abusive behavior in your face. That's his whole deal. But it's not yours, it doesn't have to be. Not if you can get yourself away from him.

I filled up with this horrible sense of dread. I'm worried that without the positive influence his counselor has on him, he's just going to slide back into the old ways and the abuse is going to start all over again...

When I expressed that concern...He proceeded to throw a toddler-style tantrum in the living room.

Look at what happened. You knew instantly and viscerally that this was going to turn bad. That everything was going back to the way it was. And then it WAS, like RIGHT AWAY. You were RIGHT. That kind of instant confirmation and validation that you were right? That doesn't happen a whole lot in life.

So your husband was just clever and disciplined enough to say and do all the right things for one month. Then he claimed he was all fixed, no issues here, no siree. Except that his reaction when challenged was to do the exact thing that he claimed to be cured of. It would be like an alcoholic freaking out because someone didn't approve of them celebrating a month of sobriety with a big bottle of vodka. You said it perfectly, here: By the same token, his hostile reaction would seem to indicate that he hasn't learned a damn thing.

He let his mask slip. And now he's probably extra angry because he made that mistake, and if abusers are good for anything, it's misplacing anger at themselves on other people. That's why he's saying that you're bad, manipulative and controlling. Because it's completely beyond his capabilities to recognize that he fucked up all on his own, no he needs someone to blame for causing him to fuck up, and that someone is you. He needs to believe that you made him do the bad thing, because he can't stand to be responsible for the bad thing. And someone who makes him do the bad thing must be bad and manipulative and controlling by definition.

To answer your questions, there was not a speck, not an iota wrong with your wanting him to continue going to counseling. You didn't invalidate anything, HE did by throwing a tantrum over your legitimate concern. He couldn't have given more convincing proof if he tried, that he's nowhere near ready to quit counseling. You've given him every chance to be better, and he's burnt each of them to the ground.

Please take care of yourself and your safety. I'll be thinking of you and rooting for you too.
posted by keep it under cover at 1:36 PM on April 30, 2015 [26 favorites]

If there is the teeniest tiniest part of you that feels like you should stay because you have invested too much and Time Is Running Out, that's not the case. Leave and then do a separate Ask about that later. But lots of us had shit relationships in our thirties and went on to happiness without having to sacrifice our self-esteem.

Hit me on MeMail for my sordid tale of aging-related bad decisions and the outcome.

Maybe this is a totally out of line response, but on the off chance that it isn't, don't feel you've painted yourself into a corner. This is the sunk cost fallacy at work. You have plenty of time to be awesome and have an awesome life.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:01 PM on May 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

Honey, somewhere in this person's mind, he knows what he is, and he is projecting it on you. His sense of self is irretrievably broken. People don't throw the term "monster" around here indiscriminately. He will hurt you not for any reasons you can sensibly judge and ameliorate but because he is an insane, crazy, no-lights-left-on-in-the-house reptile.

I ended things with a narcissistic partner the morning he yelled at me that I was evil. It froze me solid and scared the shit out of me. Please, get away from him for good, and start taking care of your self. That is what you are here for, and what he will never be able to do for himself. How dangerous would you be if you lived in a world devoid of love?
posted by macinchik at 11:33 PM on May 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

When I read this I didn't know what to think, because so much of it is vague to me. But then I read your last question about what he did at the Birthday party and what he allowed his friend to do to you and your guests that night. Do you know what my boyfriend would do to a man who DARED speak to me like that in our own home?? He wouldn't have any teeth left. Your hubby, not only allowed the guy to treat you that way, but he took the guy's side when you tried kicking the guy out!!

You are in utter denial my dear. Even in your last post. You actually believed that your hubby was "oblivious" to the way he was making the guests and you uncomfortable?? My dear. Your hubby not only knows very darn well how his best friend of 20 years talks about women and was doing at the party- he damn well counted on it! Why do you think he insisted on having him over that night? You truly believe that was a coincidence? Abusers will come up with all sorts of ways to make their victims feel horrible. He knew darn well what he was doing. I feel sorry for you and I mean that sincerely. You are too sweet and naive for your own good.

Well, I'll tell you to leave because that's really the only option here- but all the 4 women I told to leave their abusers remained and they're not even more miserable than they were back then- only older and with less prospects to find someone new and with lots of regrets. I hope you won't be one of them. Don't tell him you plan to leave. Set up an escape plan and if you're married get a lawyer in secret and talk to them about how you can protect yourself financially here.
posted by manderin at 1:42 PM on November 4, 2015

"and they're not even more miserable than they were back then"

typo. Not= Now
posted by manderin at 1:49 PM on November 4, 2015

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