He Takes Work Stress Out on Her

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I am begging for advice with a problem that is probably very common for military families. My husband works 10-12 hour days in a job he hates and for which he feels he is overqualified.

He comes home tired and frustrated. He only wants to lie in bed watching movies or playing video games. He is great with our two-year-old and doesn't mind letting her climb all over him.

The problem is the way he treats me when he is tired. Tonight, for example, he decided to take his dinner into our room to eat alone. I let him, but our daughter ran to him as soon as she was done.

When I joined them after doing the dishes, he started cursing at me, even calling me an "f*** b***" right in front of her! I tried to stay calm, but I told him he could never speak to me like that in front of her.

When I asked why he suddenly got so upset he said I was too stupid to understand -- going out of his way to use the F word three more times.

I am trying to be understanding of the way this stress affects him, recognizing when he is tired, and giving him space. There is simply no excuse for his taking it out on me. I am not feeling threatened or anything, but having been raised by a manipulative and verbally abusive father, I am very worried about our little girl seeing him treat me this way. This will affect her thoughts on relationships and marriage.

Worst of all, when I ask for an apology the day after this kind of temper tantrum, he refuses to apologize or acknowledge that he did anything wrong. He usually just gives me a sarcastic, "I'm sorry you feel so offended."

I am starting to wonder what more I can do, as he has stated that he will never go back to couples counseling. Where do I draw the line between supportive/committed wife and concerned mother?

Sincerely,
Daddy Has Temper Tantrums

Dear Tantrums,

Let me get to the point really quick: Your husband is abusive toward you and his behavior is totally unacceptable.

How many people each day go to a stressful job they hate? Honestly, it’s probably millions of people.

How many of them come home and take their stress out on their wife and start swearing at her and belittling her because she enters the room? Probably less than one percent of those people.

Listen, your husband has a problem and I believe it goes much deeper than a stressful job. For example, he won’t accept responsibility for his behavior. He blames you for his actions. He refuses to consider counseling.

Something is terribly wrong and you say you don’t feel threatened? I’m not trying to come down hard on you, but you should feel threatened. I’m thinking because your father was verbally abusive maybe you are able to minimize your husband’s behavior in some way.

To your credit, you are concerned about your daughter witnessing your husband’s behavior and you should be. Right now, you are walking around on eggshells so you don’t upset him.

Honestly, I think you have some decisions to make and you should ask yourself some questions. For one, why are you willing to stay with a man who treats you so terribly? Why are you willing to overlook his behavior and minimize it? What’s your definition of love?

You really have to take care of yourself and your daughter. That includes being with someone who respects and cherishes you. Let me know how you are doing when you have the time.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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About

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, is married to an active-duty Soldier and has three sons. She has a Master's of Science in Social Work from the University of Louisville, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and currently works as a therapist with military servicemembers and their families. She provides services for a wide array of concerns such as combat stress, PTSD, couples and marital problems, depression, grief and loss, stress and coping.

Ms. Vicki also writes an advice column "Dear Ms. Vicki" that appears in the Washington Times, the Fort Campbell Courier and the Heidelberg Herald Post. Ms. Vicki also hosts an internet radio show and blogs on her community site with the Washington Times. If you want to ask Ms. Vicki for advice about your military life, please email her at AskMsVicki@military-inc.com.

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