Too Many Excuses

Q: I am married to a man who gets angry, goes to bars and turns his phone off every time we have a disagreement. I work every third weekend, and he seems to get mad at everything at those times, and then says he didn't "intend" to go out drinking and turning his phone off. He says it's my actions and bringing things up that make him do it. It is destroying our marriage. I'm not a nag, and I don't like to bring up problems. I told him this has to stop, but he makes excuses every time. Is he turning his phone off because he's cheating? He also accuses me of cheating on him when I'm not. He constantly calls me names and swears at me in front of my kids. They don't like him and say I should get divorced. This is my second marriage because my first husband had a pill addiction. What do I do? Listen to my kids and start over? -- Karen, 42

Dr. Susan: Let's keep your kids out of this for now. It's only going to mess with their heads if they think they're the ones who have to decide your next move. What you've gotten yourself into is an abusive relationship, and you have to make a hard choice. Apparently just telling your husband that "this has got to stop" has accomplished nothing. So either he goes to therapy with you and some ground rules are established and stuck to, or you leave him.

You're certainly not to blame for bringing up problems. You should be able to do so freely, and be taken seriously. No one doesn't "intend" to go out drinking (conveniently when you bring up problems on your work weekends). He is choosing to be emotionally abusive, to drink, to accuse you of betrayal (perhaps to make his own actions more acceptable). Calling you names and swearing at you are bad enough, but to do that in front of your kids is despicable. The man is out of control.

Don't give up without trying to involve him in rescuing the marriage. But don't tolerate any more abuse.

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