I don't know where to start (long)

cheerful1_gwMarch 29, 2006

My husband and I are divorcing after almost 29 years of marriage. We dated for about 2 years before that. We have been fighting steadily for the past two years. He says I have been emotionally abusing him. I started reading up on emotional abuse, and noticed that the times I would tell him he shouldn't react the way he does to certain things would be considered invalidation (a form of abuse). He says his family does the same thing to him. I admit I don't always understand where he's coming from in his feelings. He says I only think of myself and don't consider him in the equation, which I strongly disagreed with. I don't know how to make him realize how much I love him and would never deliberately hurt him. After a situation comes up that starts the fight (usually something I do because I don't always think before I act), he gets upset, I get upset back, he starts calling me names. Is what he does abuse since I've started the fight? I don't want the divorce, but I don't want him suffering (or me either). Sorry this is so long.

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Seems to me you've described unproductive arguing habits. If you say : "...usually something I do because I don't always think before I act..." that's a separate issue.

The arguing thing can often be worked out in counseling if both of you are interested in getting better at it. Good counselors have lots of interesting productive techniques to help you both overcome this assuming you both want to. If there's more underlying and the arguments are being used for emotional cover, its more difficult.

The acting-before-thinking issue is yours alone.

Since you say "...the past two years..." is where the fights have come in, you have a focus-point. What changed?

Don't get hung up on "name calling" and "emotional abuse" if its only at the level you've described. If you both want to work this out, it seems to me from your description it may be quite work-outable. You can change how you handle these encounters if you both want to. You can drop such hurtful communication habits and get things civil, inoffensive, and productive.

Takes two, however. He'll have to join you in the effort or it will be a waste of time and money. If you are, indeed, being divorced there may be no purpose served in making the attempt. Then, again, a last-ditch acknowledgement and appeal may be timely. Your life. Your call.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 1:44PM
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To me it sounds like you two never learned how to have an argument. You tell him how to feel, he responds with name calling- didn't your mommas teach you how to fight nice? If not, it's high time you both learned.

Honestly, it's like bad playground manners. He's abusing me, I'm abusing him, he started it- SO WHAT?!

The point is that neither of you are being very considerate or nice towards each other. And your arguments are accomplishing absolutely nothing- not even a reasonable exchange of ideas. Name calling and telling someone how he should feel is not a point; those are things people do when they have no point. Why argue over nothing?

Instead of "Stop feeling hurt" try "It really upsets me to see you hurt. Why do you feel that way?" You'll get a response besides being called a name, I'm sure. Whether or not you're prepared to hear what he says, that's another story; it depends on what he says.

The other thing I would say is that it takes 2 people for one to be invalidated- the invalidater and the invalidatee. He has some responsibility to stand up for himself in a civil manner (name calling is not civil).

If you both work on expressing yourselves in calm, civil ways then I think you're on much better track to saving the marriage. It will obviously take a lot of work from both of you- you've done it your way for the last 29 years; it's hard to change. Unless you both are willing to put in that effort, I don't think the marriage will be salvagable; communication is key in any relationship. Even if the divorce goes through, still learn how to fight nice- it's a skill that everyone should know because it is more productive than accusations and name calling.

I know you really want to make this work, and it's up to him whether or not he does too. You're in for a very long haul- you will have setbacks- be prepared- that's part of the learning process. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 10:10PM
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