I was that husband for many years, and now that my children are gone, I can see where I wish my spouse could have understood just how stretched thin I was. I see how it has impacted my children's relationships with me, their own children, and others. I was wrong. I needed to be more self-confident and taken things off my plate. I am so sorry that I didn't have the courage to self-correct. No one was dragging me to work in shackles to work so much. No one was dragging me to church callings. No one was dragging me anywhere to be stretched so thin that I had little left for my family. I provided, supported, encouraged and financed, but always with that underlying stressed feeling of impatience. How I wish I could re-parent. So what can that wife do? State it clearly. "We need to figure out how to de stress you because I can't allow this behavior to continue. We are stewards to our children's (and grandchildren's) spirits and we are injuring them. It has to stop now. How do you propose we do this?" Then give it an agreed amount of time, then get out if there's no positive change. The trend has to be positive or it's a deal breaker on earth. Heavenly Father will help us sort it out in the next life. But for this life, it's a deal breaker because of what it's doing for your children and grandchildren, etc. Abuse is a vicious cycle, so are other maladaptive behaviors. Be strong!!!!
One thing that we all need to understand is that our family is, usually, a safe and secure place. Because of this, we tend to treat our family worse than our friends, neighbors, or even strangers. We know our family won't leave us (or we at least believe this) and so we don't see our bad behavior as risky as we would if we displayed the same behavior with our friends. Understanding this, both as the recipient and the sender of the words and actions, help in overcoming this type of situation.
I dealt with this for over 35 years and by the time I realized (after several years of counseling for depression over it) that he was in denial and used intimidating justification for all he did, he would never change. I decided to stay until my children were grown and gone.... By this time they were in high school. I left him, primarily to see what effect it would have. He became worse....hateful, bullying, trying to intimidate me, using guilt to get me to come back. Not one word of love or admitting that he had a problem. After giving him one last chance with yet another marriage counselor (4 in all), the counselor finally pulled me aside and offered to call me an attorney. In this case, it was the best thing I could have done. I gave him every possible chance, I did every possible thing.....
The person asking the question might look into her husband's upbringing. My wife was taught all her life by her mother to be polite to people outside the family but treat family any way you want. It took me many years to convince her that her mother was wrong (and we know that mommy is never wrong). It took me literally forcing her to be courteous. It took grown-up children nailing it into her head how hurt they were growing up and being treated like dirt while their friends were treated with kindness and courtesy her children should have been treated with. Definitely check with your husband's parents and see what he was taught as a child.
Outside of the house, where one feels secure, one puts on a mask to receive recognition, but lets the hair down at home and acts out the natural frustrations. I am always happy when my husband lets down his hair, even though it could be uncomtable.
We women are stronger and here as a help-meet for the men to build them up and lead them along the right road to deliverance from his frustrations.
This couple needs therapy plain and simple, and the wife needs to go on her own if the husband won't agree. This is or can be abuse. By tolerating it she is diminishing her own and her children's self worth, and teaching them that it's ok for people to mistreat you. In this case it's dad, but what if someone else is abusive and they think they have to tolerate it? Very dangerous and emotionally/mentally damaging.
Good article--and not an unusual family issue--even in the church. I agree that this wife needs to extend understanding and support to her husband, but in their dialogs she needs to make very clear that this needs to change because he is putting eternal relationships at risk. He needs to CLEARLY understand that the long term results of giving the people you love most the least love, understanding, support and the worst part of yourself can end up being disastrous. At the very least, it deprives us of the sweetest joys life offers. People who behave this way need to be reminded that it is in the family that we share burdens, are supported and sustained when we are "stretched thin," and that we draw strength from one another through difficulties. Treating family members as the ones it is OK to be unkind to cuts us off from the added strength we draw from our most important eternal relationships. I know several women who have such husbands, and they have tried in vain to help their husbands understand these things. Two of them have finally concluded that while this life lasts, they will do their best and honor their covenants, but if things remain the same they feel unwilling to remain married in eternity to those men. That is a pretty massive loss, but I can completely understand their perspective. It is NOT love to dump on the people closest to you.
What about when the problem is more serious? My husband is the life of the party with everyone else. He is fun and helpful and engaging. He volunteers our Saturdays to help others plant their yards or to spend time with his parents.
But as soon as we are away from others he verbally attacks me. He even uses the bishop and other ward members to manipulate me into doing what he wants. I cannot tolerate this any more. I have been active my whole life and now am being abused by Church members. And boy do they have a weapon. I kept my maiden name when I married. Heaven help the feminists among us. Your husband is the head of the home even if he uses it to abuse others.
I can address this situation because, I have lived it. Still do.
I have learned over the many years of this treatment that it is family abuse. That's it, pure and simple. The damage this man is doing to his wife and family will show up in each of their lives.
I can't begin to tell you the hurtful things our children and I endured. Believe me when I say that the silent treatment and constant judging is as bad as any physical abuse.
I was too weak to do something about it and I will always regret that. I spent my whole life enduring the abuse and trying to protect our children from it.
I suggested getting help, but my husband would have no part of it and in fact said, "If you would just try harder things would be better".
At this point we have all been able to make pretty good lives for ourselves, but the scars remain, and as hard as I tried to teach love and compassion, my husband's poor example shows up now and then. It breaks my heart.
Without help, things will not change for this family. I kept thinking that my husband would mellow as life went on, but, in fact, it got worse.
Give him an ultimatum. Say, "The way you treat us is abusive, and hurtful. We don't deserve it. I want us to be a happy family, but we are not. Something needs to change and I think we need help."
He will probably say, "That's not fair. I work hard and try to do good things and you won't support me"
Get the picture? Don't be intimidated! You have to stand up for yourself. You are a child of God. A person in your own right and you deserve to be who you are and can be. No one has the right to control or own you.
I hope this will encourage you to do something about your situation. I sure wish someone had told me I could do it.
Geoff, I think you missed a chance to provide real comfort and solid advice to this wife and mother. There is a difference between accepting someone where they are so the other person will feel safe enough (non-defensive) that they can let the spirit guide their behavior, and putting up with bad behavior toward yourself and your children.
If the stress from a church calling is hurting the family, perhaps that should be discussed with those who he works with or was called by. If he needs a space between ending work to transition to being home and present with the family, he can create that (and you can support him if needed). If he just doesn't care how he treats the family once you have brought the problem to his attention, there is a problem, and changing tactics and repeating the message may just build resentment on both sides.
You might need help creating safe boundaries so that his choices do not have such a negative impact on the rest of the family. The attitude of the father toward his children has long-lasting effects. With the help of a counselor, if needed, you can teach your children how to respect themselves enough to not feel personally blamed by the bad choices of other people. The first step is to identify whether this is a case of emotional abuse, or just a temporary case of bad behavior. (I would suggest if the husband excuses his treatment of the family or blames you and other things out of his control for how he is choosing to act, you have reason to be concerned.) Whatever the case, you are on the right path by asking for help. You might want to research information about creating healthy boundaries. Another good book is "How to Hug a Porcupine" by John L. Lund.
In my own and family member's lives this behavior was a combination of ignorance coupled with stress or indicative of addiction.
I totally agree with this article. My husband had a very time for at least 4 years. He was miserable in his life and way overworked. He was able to put on a good face to everyone but me. When I would say something, he would respond that he had to have a place to let his true feelings show. I had mixed feelings. I was stressed too and lonely for my husband. I felt I was all alone in my marriage. I had a choice. I could let the bad feelings fester and dwell on the unfairness of it all or I could change myself. I went to the Lord. I focused on my spiritual growth, on supporting my husband where I could, showing him that someone cared about where he was, finding small ways to make him smile, etc. it took a long time, but he had to figure out his own road. By becoming happy myself, it helped him find his way again. But he had to do it.
So many problems - especially within the family - cannot be solved when we would like them to be. This represents a very challenging test on our patience, long-suffering, and ability to love unconditionally. Unfortunately, many are those who give up before deliverance finally comes. If this man is willing to work hard in making a living for his family, as well as do his best to serve in his Church assignments, he may deserve this kind of approach, till he eventually comes to his senses through the Lord's gentle influence, and amends his ways.
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