Abusive Relationships/Torn in pieces


Greetings, I hope you are a dog lover, as this may sound a bit odd to those who have never had a strong bond with their dogs. Here's my story.

My husband and I have been married about 17 years, I am tired, exhausted of being mistreated for the tiniest mistakes I make. This has been going on for too long. This is an issue he had with his prior girlfriends too, they had fights over him complaining about how they drove or for breaking something etc.

Today, I spilled some syrup. He takes control of the area to clean, making a big deal out of it. I offer to mop it myself and he thinks I can't mop the floor well as he does.I should just shut up and not even defend myself. 99 percent of our big fights happen when I get tired of taking all his criticism and explode defending myself.

He has a history of not wanting me to eat on the couch, walk with shoes in the bedroom, I can't eat in the car. If I want to go see my parents (who are in their 80s) in Italy which I haven't seen for 2 years, he makes it really heavy on me. He wants me to cook on time every day which is tough when I am in the middle of working (I work at home and he helps me out a bit). If my dogs drool on the floor as he prepares meals he gets pissed off at them, yelling.

Last month  I saw my cardiologist and I wore a holter monitor, I figured out my heart rate went up to 150/ 174 each time we had a discussion over me doing some stupid mistake. My question is: we work at home, so I don't socialize, so wondering at times if these fights are normal between husband and wife? He accuses me, and if I dare defend myself, he gets more angry and ends up saying nasty things like go back to your parents, but then hours later he apologizes and acts like nothing. Up to he next fight.

These big fights happen like a few times a month/ After a big fight, he may not be overly critic for some time, but then it's like if all the buried criticism comes out with a vengeance and when I defend myself saying it's not a big deal, that I didn't do it on purpose etc it gets worse. I work at home, stay like 80 percent of the day on the computer so there are several days with little chances of me making mistakes, since I don't do much other than cook, the fight they mostly happen when I am cooking, when we're out shopping or I drop stuff or forget to do something or I don't give him 100 percent exact directions to a place and we get lost.

My cardiologist said that those high heart rates puts a strain on the heart. He prescribed me a betablocker but I felt awful. Saw another specialist and he put me off it, saying that I am still OK don't need it, but I still think it's not good that I get so stressed out.

Anyhow, in days like today, I feel tired, exhausted of all these years taking so much but then,  I have a hard time leaving. Why?

1) because I have two old dogs and if I leave it's to go to Italy to my elderly parents. I can't bring one dog along as it would take like 3 plane changes. I feel devastated. I am basically staying for the love of my dogs, but then I feel awful as my elderly parents are getting old too and would love to be with them these last years I can enjoy them.

2) because I still care about my husband and since I work at home, I feel awful that he would be by himself and have to go to work. He has never been social and always loved staying at home, playing games and watching TV. While I do work at home, to me it's more like a hobby than real work.  I think he would be sad, depressed and lost without me. The guilt makes me feel terrible. I think I still love him as the thought of abandoning him really hurts.

3) because I might be old fashioned but I always felt that I would leave a husband only if he hit me or cheated on me and I caught him red-handed. He never really hit me other than once push me a long time ago and once he put his hands to my neck but it was a very loong time ago and it was my fault as I pushed him first and ripped his necklace off. He hasn't laid hands on me for more than 15 years, but I sometimes think it might be because I have been sort of scared of getting him to angry so I leave the room.

  He did betray my trust a couple of times, twice watching porn which humiliated me and  he lied to me that he didn't, when he did as I caught him red handed, and once I found an email address that brought me to a girl he worked with and a condom in his wallet but he denied everything and his boss covered up for him and he said the condom was from when we moved as he got it last minute and forgot it in the wallet and I never figured out if  anything really happened or not. Some stories are fishy, but since I never really got 100 percent proof I gave him the benefit of doubt.

Anyhow, I am in a tough situation. A part of me says run, another says, I should stay and live with it as I did for all these years. But I feel like I am getting old. tired and exhausted of walking on egg shells, and would never forgive myself that day I have another fight and decide to leave and my parents will no longer be around as they are the only anchor, the only people I have left. I am 40 and sometimes think that if I wait too long to leave, I will start looking old and no longer find another partner to be with. I sometimes think now is the time, my parents are still around,but then others I feel lazy and don't have to force to leave my dogs, my husband and all these years of marriage. Gosh, I feel torn in pieces. Any advice appreciated, sorry if this is so long!

Dear Jane,
Thank you for your question.  I really do understand how torn you must feel with regard to your animals and having to leave them behind.  They are part of the family.  However, I would encourage you to really research how it might be possible to take them.  There is always a way to do things.

It also sounds as though staying with this person is a health issue as well as a mental health issue.  As I tell women all the time, what happens if something happens to you that you get hurt or disabled and then are in a position where you have to depend on this man.  That would not be good.

He has been physical with you, he is not a positive influence on your life and the consequences of not being a person others can have a relationship with is that you don't have relationships.  If you leave him, you are not doing anything "TO" him.  You leaving is the consequence of his behavior and it is very much on him.  You don't stay with someone in an abusive situation because you need to take care of them or because they would feel bad if you left.  Of course they will feel bad, but he doesn't feel bad enough in order to change his behavior.  

You might research OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder).  It is not like OCD at all, but it might give you some insight if that is what you are dealing with.  

The idea that you would only leave if he hit you or cheated on you are only two reasons why someone should leave a relationship.  He has already done one of them and because women usually know if their mate is cheating, may have accomplished both.  You don't have a relationship that is filled with life, it is not moving forward and you are not happy in it.  You are frightened of him and that is never a good sign.  

If he is unwilling to change the dynamics of his side of the relationship, it will not get better.  It sounds as though you want to leave and you have some good reasons to start that process.  

I wish you the best as you consider your options and decide what to do.  Change is difficult sometimes, but it does not mean change shouldn't happen.  If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me.

Abusive Relationships

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Kriss Mitchell, M.Ed, CRC, CNHP


I can answer questions regarding emotional and physical abuse in dating and marriage situations, however I am unable to give legal advice. Having had firsthand experience in an abusive relationship, I understand the feelings, the questions and the doubts we have as we try to make decisions about how to improve our situations. I am also able to address spiritual concerns regarding staying in or leaving these types of situations.


Having been a victim of emotional abuse for many years and having family members who were in violent abuse situations, I have personal experience on many levels. I have since gone on to become a professional counselor and work with abused women.

American Mental Health Counselors Assn., American Association of Christian Counselors, International Association of Prayer Counselors

I currently maintain a blog at www.livingwellcc.blogspot.com. I also have links and currently written articles on my website at www.livingwellcc.com. You can also follow me on TWITTER @livingwellcc, or on facebook at Living Well Counseling and Consulting. My writings have appeared in The Good News Northwest and the North Idaho Business Journal

Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Certified Natural Health Professional

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Board Certified Christian Counselor

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