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What can I do about my disrespectful and obsessive wife?

Tagged as: Big Questions, Family, Marriage problems<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (11 March 2008) 10 Answers - (Newest, 9 July 2012)
A male United States age 41-50, *ustins_Dad writes:

My wife and I are in our early 40’s, we have been married for 3 years, and have a 20 month old son. Things have been difficult for us since our son was born. Both of us have done and said things to each other that are totally out of character for both of us.

I am willing to admit that I have not been a perfect gentleman towards her during times of stress. And for that I have deeply apologized. However, my bad behavior was not unprovoked. I have since sworn not to let myself go down this road again.

She, however, has also treated me badly. Due to her self-riotous, holier-than-thou attitude, she have never shown any kind of remorse for her behavior. She has never apologized for anything that she has said or done to me. She has said to me that she is perfect in all respects, and has never made even one small mistake in our relationship.

For this reason, I believe that it is impossible to speak to her or negotiate with her in a calm and rational matter. Logic and rationale completely elude her.

I am willing to admit that I am not perfect. I have many faults (unlike her and her perfect, deity-like behavior). I am probably not the best father and husband on the planet, however, I am better than most. I have a good paying full time job that allows her to stay home to take care of our son. Most families in our area (San Diego) cannot afford to do that. I willingly attend to all household chores when needed: such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and even changing the nastiest overflowing poopy diapers without having to be asked (all of these are called interfering by my wife – see below).

I do not drink, do drugs, gamble, or have any other addictions that could harm a family. I play with and read to our son as much as possible. I have never harmed, or even raised a hand to him or my wife. I have never cheated on my wife (or even considered it). My only problem is saying unkind words to her in response to her constant disrespect, nagging, criticism, and complaining.

For these things above, she refers to me as a jerk, bastard, and the devil. I don’t deserve this. Also, she doesn’t deserve to have similar things said to her (which I have regrettably done).

The specific problems that are of concern to me are as follows:

Parenting: On this subject, we are polar opposites. I have let her have her way 90% of the time on this subject lately, even if I strongly disagree with her parenting style. Apparently this is not enough for her. She wants absolute 100% control over our child, and she wants me out of the way. She calls anything I do with him “interference”. I call it being a good father.

Her education: She has a PhD in education, and I only have lowly a BS in mechanical engineering, and an AS in nuclear engineering. Therefore she acts as if she superior to me in all regards by pointing out my lack of education, calling me stupid, etc...

Equality: I want to be treated as an equal in our household. Currently, I am not allowed to be involved in parenting much at all. Currently, all decisions on all issues made in our home on all matters must be approved by her. No decision is left to me alone, but many are made by her alone. This is not fair. This is controlling.

Constant criticism: She has a habit of pointing out every little perceived mistake that I make. This is not healthy for a relationship. After years of this treatment, I am not able to take it any more. Each time she picks on me for the smallest infraction, it erodes our relationship more and more each time. This is why I sometimes lash back at her. A good wife would certainly point out big problems or mistakes, and let the little ones go.

Nagging: I don’t need to be told the same things multiple times per day every day. She may order me to do any given task her way 1000 times. I hear and understand her orders 1000 times. I have the right to tell her that I am aware of her orders by saying “I know”. I also have the right as an adult to make decisions for myself and do things my way if the result is equivalent.

Baseless accusations: She has accused me of cheating on her multiple times, with absolutely no evidence to back it up. This is disrespectful and wrong.

She also has accused me of causing ours son’s recent bout with croup because I took him out for a walk around our neighborhood. This is ridiculous and impossible. During the same time, she took him many times to a public indoor play area with other kids, and I did not lay accusations upon her. These things will happen to toddlers, and you cannot prevent it. Placing blame is wrong.

If our son gets a bump or a scrape, and I am in the vicinity, it is always my fault because I am not watching him closely enough. If I am not at home, it is still my fault through some creative logic. Is this fair?

Respect: She has made it clear that she doesn’t give a damn to how I feel about anything. She continually cuts me off when I try to speak to her about how I feel on any matter (and she criticizes me for being a bad communicator). When I occasionally do get to voice my opinion, it is ignored or cut down if it disagrees with her opinion

Every issue listed above points to disrespect. This is our biggest problem.

Threats: She continually makes threats to take my son from me, and keep me away as much as legally possible. She also makes threats to tell the police that I am abusing she or our son (when it is not true).

Obsessive behavior: Weather she accepts it or not (probably not), her behavior is very obsessive. Not just a little obsessive, but way over-the-top extreme obsessive. I would expect a mother to be a bit obsessive about her child, but she has taken it to a wild extreme. Here are a couple of examples (I could provide many more if necessary):

Our son’s sleeping conditions: His bedroom is set up like a bunker. Multiple WWII style blackout curtains on the window. There is another curtain on the door to prevent light from coming in through the door. There is a small night light with objects placed exactly around it so the exact amount of light that she want is emitted to within +- 1 lumen.

He is bundled up in sweats to sleep, with the heater set to exactly 76 degrees (not 75 or 77) while we live in the most temperate climate on the planet.

Absolute silence must be observed when he sleeps. The click of a mouse button, a cough, or a whisper 2 rooms away is enough to destroy his sleep. This is ridiculous. If he wakes up, and I am at home, it is almost always my fault, and I am criticized for it.

Our son’s eating: He must consume the amount of food that she has previously specified (usually enough for a 5 year old). If he is one bite shy, he is ‘starving’. She turn on the TV to distract and trick him into eating as much as she can possibly cram into his mouth by hand. Her mood for the day directly correlates to the volume of food that our son consumes.

I am also not allowed in the room when he eats. She says that it is a distraction, and that he will starve if I am present. I am his father. How does she expect me to react to this type of treatment?

Dressing our son: It is not necessary to dress him up like there is a snow storm outside during spring time in San Diego. Contrary to her superstition, he cannot get sick from simply not wearing a wool hat and sweater when it is 65 degrees outside.

I could continue, but I think that I have said more than enough. She is certainly not behaving as she did before our child was born, and I cannot forsee and end to it.

I wish that she would at least agree to go to marriage counseling. At least an introductory appointment. Unfortunately, she has said that counseling would be useless because she is so highly educated, and superior to any counselor or therapist. There is nothing that they could possibly tell her that she does not already know. According to her, I am the one with all of the problems. She is perfect in all regards.

In conclusion, I would like to say that our son deserves to have a happy two-parent family. Contrary to my wife’s beliefs, he needs a father. I intend to be there for him weather she like it or not.

So, the big question is: What do I do in this difficult situation?

Currently, I am sticking with it (and hoping things get better over time) for the sake of my son. I have sworn to my self to take the moral high road no matter what she says or does. However, I don’t know how long I can possibly keep this up.

I also don’t think that my son should grow up in a home where his mother disrespects his father. A split home with happier parents (in this situation) may be better for him in the long run.

Thanks in advance for your help.

View related questions: cheated on my wife, drugs, shy

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A male reader, jezzykilla United States +, writes (9 July 2012):

Hello Justins dad, just a little bit of my story, I hope it helps.

Nearly every incident you mentioned, I have experienced and still experiencing with my wife. Last year it finally came to a head when my wife began disrespecting me by placing a picture of another man on our living room table.

I told her that was being very disrespectful and to remove it. When she would not I crumpled it up and threw it in the trash! She then began attacking me with her usual verbal assults. What made this so bad was the fact that she did this in front of her 24 year old daughter.

I snapped, and before I knew it my hands were around her neck I shoved her to the floor. Well of course her daughter called the police and I spent a night in jail. I was ordered to take anger management classes for 6 months at $25 bucks a class while little Mrs innocent sat at home. Though I felt less of a man for grabbing my wife, she played the victim as though she never provoked the incident. I felt ashamed because for putting my hands on my wife, though I suffered her rage and verbel abuse for years, I knew in my heart that to strike a woman was wrong.

In the anger management class I began to get some relief. The books and literature was very infomative on how to deal with people who are controlling, verbal abusers. The main lesson I learned is I and only I have power over my actions.

Number two was that I am entitled to my opinions perceptions and actions, and I will no longer be controlled by the opinions, perceptions and actions of others BOTTOM LINE!

This is what controllers hate. They make there opinions, perceptions and desire the dominate force in the relationship and if you don't bow to it then there is hell to pay.

START TAKING YOUR POWER BACK.

Number three. I began to assert myself more. Many men avoid confrontation with women because we feel we can't beat them in an arguement. Its not about winning or losing arguments it's about standing up for your idea's opinions and perceptions and no longer giving a flying flip if they differ from others.

We can agree without being disagreeable, and if I see you want to be nasty then I will nicely tell you that because we can't seem to come to a solution I must remove myself from all conflict and walk off. When a controller see's that you will no longer argue, yell and scream and you voice you opinion and take your own actions just as well as they do, get ready for a fight but always STAY CALM keep a even voice tone.

Thats being assertive. When it comes to the child. It is not your child its our child and I will no longer allow you to distance me form the child PERIOD (calm yet assertive)I have just as much say so in his/her rearing as you and I totally disagree with some of your methods. So we will come to a compromise.(Get ready for a fight but you must assert yourself

After a while, they will begin to see you will not be moved. I began telling my wife the things I learned and began to implement them. She knew the books were written by scholarly professionals and began to feel ashamed of her behavior

Here's a true story in one of my anger management books. "Two friends meet every morning for coffee before heading to work. One friend is a writer for a local paper.

After coffee they go to the same newspaper stand so he can read his column and everyday the newstand owner angrily shoves the writers change back to him The writer smiles at him and says have a good day. The writers friend asks"Does he treat you that way everyday"? The writer responds "Everyday" The friend then asks Why are you so nice and calm everytime he treats you that way?

The writer says because I will never allow him to dictate how I should act! I thought that was a profond statement

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A male reader, ch1ck3n.s0up United States +, writes (3 May 2009):

Sounds like you've got yourself a quarrelsome woman. Every man's worst nightmare.

I'd get some counseling. If she won't go, then go alone. A good counselor will teach you techniques for how to deal with her.

I was in a similar situation. I didn't think that counseling would help two sticks, but I forced myself to go anyway. Best decision I ever made. I learned how to assert myself in a relationship, and how to be clear about what I will and will not stand for.

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A male reader, rcn United States +, writes (13 March 2008):

rcn agony auntsory for the delay in answering your question, had some connection difficulties.

personality disorders come in many different forms. Narcassistic, her "s**t don't stink" attitude, antisocial, doing things without remorse, and not taking responsability for her actions or appologizing for them, they also have the element of blaming others for what is not their fault, my mind went blank, I pulled a back muscle I don't think was designed to be last night. lol

what i believe she has is a disorder called "border-line" personality disorder. They could do not wrong, everyone is at fault other than them, the belittle others, get angry and have outburst, but those outburst are not simple to discuss with them because their way of perception is not normal. You can sit with all the evidence infront of you and they'll still deny involvement.

This disorder stems from a "real or imagined" fear of abandonment. There are many ways to develop this, such as past trauma, delayed maturity or behind schedule in early childhood development.

This is difficult because they don't see themselves as having a problem. It's not them that needs to change, it's everything else around them. It's also known as the "love, hate" disorder. They claim they love you, but display some of the most hurtful behavior with who they are with. Treating this disorder is one of the most difficult. Less than 2%. Reason being, how do you treat someone who doesn't recognise they have a problem.

I want you to buy her two books. The first is called, "I hate you, don't leave me", the other is called, "Walking on egg shells."

This could explain why she really started after having the child, now the fear of abandonment has grown to an all new level. I was with someone who has this disorder, she didn't recognise having a proble. I has her read "walking on egg shells" we went to a counselor and she told him her picture could have been put on the cover of the book.

To treat these people they have to pretty much redesign the way they view the world. A difficult process. If there is anything traumatic which is the underlining cause, I recommend "NLP" Neuro Linguistics Programming. This is a process of literally changing the subconscious picture of the event itsself. It's like hypnosis, but the client is awake and not put under the trance. My theory there is if you can change the picture of trauma, whatever developed because of it will disappear itsself.

She needs to come to a realization that marriage is a partnership. I have a simple view of marriage or any realationship. Marriage is a choice. You choose to be with her, she chooses to be with you. If you cheat, that's fine, it's your choice, but then she has a choice to forgive or to leave. I'm not condoning cheating but I believe no person has the right to dictate the another their activities and what they do. Marriage is not a position of control nor does it give additional rights over another person. She has no right to treat you the way she is, and the long term affects to your son by this treatment can be huge if she doesn't seek treatment or if your son isn't taken out of that situation.

There might be a challenge in getting her to agree to treatment, or to acknowledge her behaviors. Bringing it up, she may rebel. She may use the police against you. As you know, if she does, it's in your best interest to protect yourself.

If your interested, and emailed me with your name, I'd be willing to fax a letter to the D.A.'s office in your county, and attach your story just to be kept on file if any retaliatory behavior were to take place from your wife.

I hope this helps you. Take care.

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A female reader, Gena Bullock United States +, writes (13 March 2008):

Gena Bullock agony auntYou don't dare give up on yourself, and your son. Do seek counseling for yourself. Start there. Stand up for who you are and what you believe in. You are a good father and caring husband--she has issues that are not your fault and beyond your control or help. One step at a time. Baby steps. It isn't hopeless.

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A female reader, Gena Bullock United States +, writes (13 March 2008):

Gena Bullock agony auntWhere did you find this woman? Jeesh!

She obviously has an imbalance in her hormones-she needs counseling and you do too to have put up with her outlandish ideals and controlling mannerisms. It's just plain ridiculous.

do you ever have family visit or friends? what do they notic about all of this? Can you have witnesses other than family on your side to notice her behaviors? If you do go to court, you are going to need witnesses and proof as it will be her word against yours and most cases, the women get their way..I am a woman, but it is a true thing.

Please do not let her do this to you and demean you as she's doing. That is your son too-you have rights. Might I suggest you go to a counselor yourself and discuss these issues first? Get some legal advice and go from there. Keep a low profile until you get your ducks in a row. If she doesn't seek professional help--medical or pyschiatric, you need to motion for a separation. It is not the right environment to raise your son. Good luck and keep in touch.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (13 March 2008):

Hi Hunny

I agree with r.c.n you need to write things down, And I still think you should see a counsellor as that would take alot from your shoulders, In the mean time could you try to continue without bringing up your problems for the time being, you have said your sorrys. And I no you feel as if she hasnt heard you, or will apologise for any of hers...If you were to act quite normal (hard I no) for now and try and get her to go out and live a normal life again, Without trying to get her to admit to her being in the wrong as well....To see how this would go may give you more of an indication of whether she is suffering from some sort of postpartem anxiety, And then hun you will have to go from there, Write all the behaviour patterns down and then love make your choice TAKE CARE WITH LOVE AND PRAYERS MANDY XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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A male reader, Justins_Dad United States +, writes (13 March 2008):

Justins_Dad is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Thanks to all of you for your kind responses. I am trying to seek as much advice as I possibly can from many sources. You seem to have provided the best info that I have yet received.

To answer rcn's questions: I don't believe that she was ever abused. She grew up overseas in poor conditions. She has always (and still does) worked part-time in a good job that she does very well.

Her behavior used to come and go, but it is now a daily problem. We cannot have a normal conversation anymore. Just very basic communication is the only thing that will not spark outrage. If I start to talk about us and our problems, she soon degrades it into an argumentative shouting match.

The arguing usually centers around the assumption that I am the one that has caused every problem. I am the one that needs to change, and nothing will get better until I change.

I have admitted , apologized for my misdeeds, and sworn not to repeat those mistakes. She will not admit to, or apoligize for anything.

This is the point where I feel stuck. Do I continue trying, or give up?

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A reader, anonymous, writes (12 March 2008):

Hi Hunny

You said she was not like this before your child was born? Hunny I have looked on the net for an hour and I cant for the life of me find anything other than this and it still doesnt seem to point to what is going on here ill send it to you love so you can read it, But if I were you as I feel you are a great father and she is totally deluded at this moment,

http://www.healthyplace.com/communities/Anxiety/women_14.asp

This may not apply to you at all but wrapping a baby up to warm is dangerous as a child does not need to be layered in clothes if a room is the correct temp, A friend of mine was the same as you have described here and I got to the child just intime as he was blue to hot!!!! And her poor husband was running around trying his best to do two jobs and take the time to be with his son and she did nothing but put him down, I heard the way she spoke to him and this was not my friend before she had her little boy and he snapped back and then got so upset it was just heartbreking. She to felt the child had to eat a certain amount of food a day and no noise was to be around...When in truth a child will eat what they feel they need any other food usually ends up on the floor, And to hoover and make normal everyday noise as the child was used to this in the womb is more comforting to the child as they get used to it love and can sleep fine mine slept through everything I did around them and you cant get croup from a walk, My son suffered from croup for yrs its one of those things you cant wrap them in cotton wool, And if you try they will be more likely to pick up anything going.....She is controling you love it matters not how well educated you are to no the basics of love and kindness you dont need a degree...Hunny she keeps threatening you that she will accuse you of abusing her and your child, I think you need to cover yourself here and get this spoken about with a legal counsellor to see how you stand as this is more than strange behaviour its bordering on physcotic, You have mentioned so much that is quite alarming and to go home to this every night must be draining...Hunny I would see a counsellor not because you need one but for future reference as if you have gone and all this is written down then you do have back up just incase she goes through with any threats....You dont need to tell her your going its for you to get support and help with this awfull situation...She accuses you of cheating which you have never done and tells you what to do with your own child and you say you are not perfect as you have said some hatefull things well to be honest hunny most men would have snapped by now...You work you do chores around the house you care for your child you worry for your child and your told not to come into the room while he eats as you are a distraction!!!! Hunny you need to get some support and so does she, But as you say she wont admit to anything being wrong with the way she is behaving and Im sorry but there is something wrong very wrong...Get some help love some advise and get it all written down so if this does come to it at least someone is on your side and can stand up and say so PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOU WITH LOVE AND PRAYERS MANDY XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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A male reader, rcn United States +, writes (11 March 2008):

rcn agony auntIf what your saying is all true, with no enhancing the situations for dramatic appeal, you're wife isn't just in left field, she's completely fell off it.

Let me ask you about her background. We know she has a degree, but other than that how was her past? Has she ever been abused herself or had bad relationships prior to the one with you? Is this behavior consistant or does it come and go? If it comes and goes how often? Asside from what's written, how inappropriate does her behavior become when you address isssues? Such as does she say things to justify, but in a normal contex would not make any sense?

First I recommend a small notebook, you'll need to document these behaviors, date, place and time. If she does make false accusations, you need your evidence of her behavior.

I'll tell you now, I have a real good idea of what's going on here. I need those questions answered to be more definate.

If it is what I think, I'll tell you after you respond. It's hard being with them, but you have to feel sory for them as well. Imagine having a mental disorder which you're behavior is inappropriate to everyone else but you. Our brains trigger what's right and wrong, what's appropriate and inappropriate, with this disorder, people with it act up, but their brains trigger their behavior as being okay, and that everyone else is wrong and they are right.

I await your answer, then I'll have more information for you. I don't want to jump the gun and end up being wrong, and having you take it in a direction that wouldn't be needed.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (11 March 2008):

Pregnancy does VERY strange things to a girl, as does staying in a room with a baby alone all day.

You mention that she is intelligent and highly educated - did she work before the child was born? Can you imagine going from working and being an independent sociable woman to sitting in a room with a baby that needs your attention every second of every hour or it my die and it would be your fault?

I am not a huge fan of therapy but I think you need help with this.

Get her to see a doctor to rule out post natal depression. Then tell her that as she is obviously not happy and you want to use a therapist as a mediator to set down ground rules.

eg. you will ask her / let her know when you are helping changing nappies, she will let you help with more things like feeding.

Get her to get out more. Get a baby sitter and get out and talk about adult things, see a film, discuss holidays. Get her friends round. Make sure she has people around her to ground her a bit and make her less of a "Mummy" 24 hours and day and more of a "Woman"

It sounds like this baby is ruling both of your lives and is driving her mad as much as she is driving you mad.

Be loving supportive and remind her she is that beautiful intelligent woman who you fell in love with and still love.

Good Luck! x

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