They were getting ready to go to a party. She was all dressed. He demanded that she change her dress.
“He didn’t like the way it looked,” she said. They got into a huge argument. Finally she backed down and changed her dress.
The other evening a friend called to talk. Within five minutes he was telling her it was time to get off the telephone. He thinks she should talk to her friends and her mother during the day.
He continually points out how much money he makes in comparison to how much she makes, as if their individual worth as a human being were determined by their paycheck. At one time she did have a better paying job, but he demanded that she quit because she had to travel and he didn’t like that.
If they’re at a party and he wants to leave, they leave. The other evening they were with friends and she started to feel sick. She wanted to go home. He refused.
Why does she stay in the marriage? She says she loves him. They have fun. She wants to have a baby. She’s hoping he’ll grow up.
Rose is also married to a bully. She’s been married to him for 44 years. All their children are out of the nest.
“He complains about everything,” she says. “We’re driving down the street and I’m looking at the beautiful trees. He points out that the neighbors haven’t put away their trash cans. I say, ‘Look at nature. Don’t look at the trash cans.’ He says I have my head in the sand.
“He expects to be waited on. When’s lunch, when’s dinner? And then he never makes a suggestion for what I should fix.
“When I ask him to help, like take out the trash, he says okay. But when two days go by and the trash starts to smell I take it out. He then tells me I have no patience, and asks why everything has to be done on my schedule.
“If I get irritated with him about anything, he puts me down, tells me I’m stupid, and then refuses to talk for a few days.
“Last week there were no towels in the bathroom. I had taken them to the washer. Instead of getting himself a towel, he fussed, ‘There are no towels in here. Get me some towels.’ Our linen closet has not moved in 20 years.
“If I want a new lamp or carpeting, I have to fight for it. When I tell him I’m going shopping with a friend, he tells me I have enough clothes. We live carefully and I do not overspend.”
“He puts me down in front of our children. The children have said they don’t want to come visit if we are going to argue. So I say nothing when he makes rude remarks. Sometimes I wonder why the children don’t say anything to him.”
Why does she stay married? She wants a companion. She wants to be a couple. She’s fearful of being poor.
I suggested to both of these women that they detach. They need to pull back emotionally and stop arguing and trying to get their points across. Detaching is a little like watching a scene in a movie and having no feelings.
When the first woman’s husband wants her to change her dress, she should say nicely, “This is the dress I’ve chosen to wear. Next time I’ll wear something different.” When her mother or a friend calls in the evening, she should take the call if she and her husband are not having dinner or doing something together. She should be respectful of their time together as a couple but also respectful of herself.
When her husband talks about how much money he makes, she can say calmly, “It’s nice that you bring in a good paycheck.”
The second woman’s goal should be: Not to respond to her husband’s inappropriate comments. Nor should she roll her eyes or show by her body language that he’s gotten to her.
If he complains about the neighbors’ trash cans, she should say nothing. If he complains about her wanting to put in new carpeting and they can afford it, she should get new carpeting and stop the ugly discussions.
Because he resists seeing the house as half his responsibility, she can make a list of what she will do and not do anything else. This may mean that the basement, garage, and closets never get touched.
Or she should decide to hire a cleaning service periodically. Another choice would be to do all the tasks and take pleasure in a job well done.
Men who are bullies are not nice people. What I regret about women who live with bullies is that they often become not nice people themselves in response to their mate’s bad behaviors.
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