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Emotional abuse.... and struggling to leave!!

Community Member
I’m 48 and have been married for twenty years, and in the last couple of years, as there has been increasing awareness an info available, I think I’ve realised I’m in an emotional abusive relationship. I would say there is bullying and gaslighting and distancing by my husband, and yet I’m still here despite it all! I could give many examples, that are all quite textbook I’m realising, and to give a quick overview, he will cycle between being really moody, and hardly wanting to talk or communicate and only giving brief responses to anything to then writing love notes or messages and promising things will chance to then back to being just the way he was. I’ve seen psychologist and we have been together and yet nothing actually does change! The challenges relate a lot to times when I may need emotional support and he instead becomes very distant and abrupt and dismissive. A pattern that has been for a good decade and had really been challenging during the passing of my dad to an aggressive brain cancer (I spent time caring for him and my husband was frustrated as he “didn’t sign up to be a single dad”. I was coming and going and the longest I was away was about ten days! I’ve always been the breadwinner and often the sole income earner and we have had many disagreements when I have shared we need him to help ease financial stress and work more but he gets very resentful. We have three kids, our eldest is living interstate for uni, our middle is in Year 10 and our youngest in Year 6. My husband loves to push buttons to get reactions from the kids and our youngest copies this too, and so I’m often having to intervene and our 15 year old ends up in tears- he’s taller than his dad! The elder two see what my husband is like (often rude and abrupt and dismissive with me) but the youngest will always try and smooth his dad when he starts to sulk by telling his dad how much he loves him. I’m still working full time, and quite a demanding job, and should add I also have MS, and I’m tired!! At the lowest moments with my health my husband withdraws even further, and will make snide comments and feign sympathy is a very sarcastic tone. Quite simply, I find him quite unkind and selfish a lot of the time. He’s said a few times lately he’s leaving as he “doesn’t want to cause me any more stress”, and then just as quickly he’s apologising and on best behavior for a short while. I forgot to add he is a functional alcoholic (at least 8 beers every night) and a moody one! 😞
6 Replies 6

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hello there

It's good that you've recognised that this is what's happening, as it's not always easy to do so. You haven't asked for advice so perhaps you wanted to vent or talk it through, which is cool. When I was in this type of relationship, people told me it was ultimately up to me to decide what I was willing to put up with. Which of course, is true. No-one can decide that for you.

What I do recall is how tiring it was to be in this type of relationship, never knowing where things were at. You've got a lot going on already without the added stress, so I hope at the very least you have some support that is constant and reliable.

Kind thoughts, Katy

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hey you

I was you 4 years ago ...I have left since ..I was barely alive with the emotional drainage going on ...turns out he had an affair ...for a very long time ...I was covered in his lies ..it was horrible ..felt unloved, ignored , blamed for everything . It’s the worse cos they seem to drift in and out giving you hope and then nothing changes . Take care do yourself ...I focus on myself and my mental well being ..I took up hot yoga to keep myself sane . I did finally leave after tormenting myself for 15 months ...just picked and moved ...lol ..I was like a zombie .not quite sure how it happened . But I am glad it did ...hang in there ...focus on yourself ...that’s all you can do . The mistress also harassed me and so I thought ..she can have him all to himself .

I am in a way better place ...and glad I did what I did . You might not think it now ...but you will soon be in a better place too ...it’s the universe way of shifting you towards something better .focus on yourself ...is your best tool at the moment . Because he is not your responsibility...his well being is his responsibility...not yours and in case you are wondering ..you did nothing wrong .

good luck and keep posting

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi JCW2020

First, let me say what an absolute star you are. Being a carer for your dad and watching him face the challenges of his illness must have been overwhelming, on top of dealing with his passing. Raising 3 kids automatically elevates you to stardom (I'm mum to only 2 teenagers) and dealing with MS on top of it all leads me to wish I could give you the biggest hug and congratulate you on being so amazing.

  • Would you say your husband's immature in some ways?
  • Would you say he's irresponsible to a degree?
  • Would you say he appears a little lost and frustrated and relies on you for some form of recognition and entertainment?
  • Would you say he has a habit of declaring how tired he often seems to be?

Myself, I'm 49 and have been married for just over 17 years. I just recently went through the process of assessing my own relationship. Up until this point I had spent a lot of years questioning myself, in regard to why the relationship lost some degree of satisfaction. How could I put more effort in? By the way, my husband's a hard worker, a nice guy and deeply loves me and his 6 or so beers a night. I had quite an epiphany during my questioning that proved to be a game changer. He's not really big on actively raising people. He's a great provider in the way of providing money for us to rise through financial opportunities (which I have always deeply appreciated) but outside of this he doesn't spend much time actively raising folk to new adventures, fulfilling goals or stimulating conversations. JCW, it's only recently that I pretty much told him 'Get your poop together and actively love people. Love yourself to life. For a start, instead of spending the evening drinking your self to sleep, put more effort into the relationship you share with me'. Yep, pretty harsh, I know. A bit of tough love. He was actually in a low without realising: Low energy, low level of interest in other people, low expectations of the relationship; it's the old style 'Let's grow old together' and that's about it. I'm more about 'Let's grow young together', through adventure. He has a low level of interest in understanding how he ticks (how booze and stress can slow the metabolism). He doesn't really seek highs all that much. This is not meant to be a bag out session, just letting you know I can relate.

Have you ever told your husband to wake up, grow up and spend less time being selfish and more time raising you, himself and his kids? You deserve to be raised JCW, without a doubt!


Community Member

Hey JCW2020,

So sorry for your current position. Just reading your story has given me shivers. I too had some similar issues. Married 17yrs , together 20yrs....X1 stepson, x4 our kids and my mother with dementia all living together. Then his behaviour changed. He was either over interested or really dismissive/ abusive.

Asking me to get taxi to hospital when I was getting cancer treatment, to finding his affair partner on his phone messages - “how she loved him, but couldn’t go on like this.” While I was near bleeding to death post op and caring for the children, while he was with her. Afterwards he told me, I was a smart girl and of course I’d find out!
X2 more years I cont. to be me. Wife, mother, carer for my mother
and work. Giving him every opportunity to get counselling, for himself or as a couple. I did my own counselling during this time.

I was finding myself and still trying to have my best friend, my husband do same. He made no effort.

I actually became numb to him and his behaviour. Many occasions of family and friends requests for him to seek counselling. Clearly I wasn’t only one seeing this behaviour. He came to me and said yes we should have a go at counselling. I was so happy!

Then the straw that broke this camels heart.
He said “But if you choose the wrong therapist”.....after that I cannot remember what he said. I was OUT.

I had x5 children, a mum and myself to love and look after. I certainly didn’t need another child? That’s how he was acting. He was no longer my husband. Couldn’t take responsibility for himself, our marriage or our children. Why should I have to be responsible for him.

Now I am 46yrs, separated for 3yrs. Myself, my Mum and all kids moved, inc. x2dogs and x1cat, rented for 10months and now our home. Was stressful but we did it.

He does what he wants and we don’t have to worry. He is Dad and has the children x1night per month. At same time children and myself are thriving. No more hourly/daily catering to him. Our energy goes where our energy comes back to us. He’s still my best friend, but didn’t want to be a fulltime husband or father.
comes down to how you want to live and what’s important. I just didn’t want to be a door mat any longer. If your current situation is all taking, with no giving, you have to look at your and children’s best interests. You can only help yourself, & those who want help. Live the life you deserve, not what anyone else wants.
Take care & all best wishes


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi JCW2020,

Like you, i was trapped in an emotionally (and at times physically) abusive relationship for a number of years. The physical was almost easier as I finally could characterize it, but the emotional abuse had been going on for a lot longer and was harder to identify and overcome. Like your husband, my partner was also bad tempered whole drinking, and he of course drank all the time. But he was moody without it too, it got so bad that I used to get major anxiety when I heard his keys in the door, wondering what mood he’d be in when he walked in. I finally had enough after I had a cerebellar stroke, I came home and expected something different from him but he kept on with his ways. A few weeks later I had an epiphany, watching myself trying to push the bathroom door closed with my weakened arms while he was trying to bust it down, that I decided there and then to leave. Like you I had health issues but I set about regaining my strength, reestablishing lost connections, etc and I finally left. I don’t have to tell you that this is no way to live. As I see it, you can either stay in things as they are or you can make the decision to leave. Neither are easy, but at least one will give you a shot at happiness.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello JCW2020, and a warm welcome to the forums with so many great replies but also very sad, however good outcomes.

After being married for 20 years would normally be an achievement in itself but unfortunately, not so in your marriage, especially when you have MS where you have to start thinking of the future, I am really sorry to say because you need all the emotional love and support you can get and this isn't going to happen while you are with your husband and perhaps the disappointment that your youngest parallels with him.

You have shown the love and care you provided for your dad and understandably should have complimented, instead your husband's true colours have been shown.

You can't hope that any of this will change for the better and as time progresses you will be needing all the support and encouragement you deserve and need to think about yourself and the future of your children, although this may slowly develop by itself.

Take care.