My husband treats me terribly

My husband and I have been together for seven years now. I will be honest: I have a problem lying to him about stupid stuff. I recently stupidly lied to my husband about an accident because I was afraid to tell him what happened. Ever since then, he gives me the cold shoulder. He gets so mad and ignores me for days. He's really verbally and emotionally abusive. He tells me all the bad things about me and calls me awful names. Should we call it quits? I'm tired of crying, but we have a toddler together.

Lynda Martens
Lynda Martens
Marriage & Family Therapist, MSc, RP, RMFT

Hi Texas, Thanks for your honesty; it helps me know where to go in answering you. What strikes me in your question is that you describe several ways in which your husband is hurtful/abusive/controlling with you, and then you ask "Should we call it quits?". We? I wonder if maybe the first step is for you to start seeing this decision as yours, rather than yours together. 

The way your husband treats you is not your fault, Texas. Your lies are a natural and normal way of you avoiding situations and encounters that feel unsafe for you. The problem is not your lying. The problem is that you don't feel safe enough to be honest with a person you're supposed to be able to trust.

There's an analogy that I sometimes use; I don't know if this is scientifically true or simply a useful story, but it's powerful either way, so I will tell it to you.

If you take a frog and drop it into a pot of boiling water, the frog will jump out immediately, knowing instinctively that if it stays in the pot, it will die. If you take a frog, however, and put it in a pot of cold water, and slowly, slowly, heat it to boiling, the frog will boil to death because it will fail to recognise the moment when it no longer has the energy to jump out of the pot; by the time it realises it's dying, it has lost its strength. 

It's called "learned helplessness". When your power or your voice has been taken away for a long time, you get used to that, and you fail to see the options that are available to you. 

You have a toddler, and you may be under the impression that staying in the marriage is best for the child. In my experience, and what research backs up, is that children first and foremost need a safe environment and parents who are happy. You are likely underestimating the effects on your child of living in a home with woman abuse. 

This is a complex picture, and if you were my client, I would want to get you to a stronger place emotionally where you're seeing the situation clearly and gathering resources and supports before you make any big decisions, but I do see that there are decisions that are there for you to make that can lead to a happy life for you and your child. 

I sincerely hope you seek professional help, with either a shelter for abused women or a therapist. I wish you the best.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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