Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Announcement Icon
You can win one of three $200 gift cards. Complete our survey by 5pm, 30 June 2024 AEST to enter the draw. Your response will be anonymous so you can't be identified.

Feeling isolated and controlled

Community Member
A bit of background info. My wife and I have been married for 9 years. She suffers from anxiety, depression, and OCD to varying degrees. She refuses to treat these with either medication or therapy.
I entered the relationship with a very naive view that I could help her work through her problems and eventually "fix" it.
For the first 6-7 years her condition was quite bad. She suffered frequent panic attacks, isolated herself (and me) from everyone, and required constant support and attention.

The only way I could deal with this was to disconnect from friends, stop speaking to my family, give up my hobbies, and focus solely on her and keeping her happy. This worked well at the expense of my individuality. I was now a robot that would work, cook, clean, and give any spare moment to her.

I tried a number of times to bring up my feelings but was shot down immediately and told I was being horrible and making her feel worthless and depressed. Whenever I got too fed up and went against what she wanted, she would tell me she has nothing left in life and would threaten suicide.

In more recent years her condition has improved. I'm still doing everything but the panic attacks stopped and her depression was under control. Things seemed to be going well, my robot ways had improved things. We now have 2 kids together. My wife decided to be the stay at home mum while I work. However, with the added burden of looking after 2 kids, I have been getting overwhelmed with everything. I am also taking over looking after the kids when I get home on top of everything. Most nights I am still awake doing chores when I need to feed my child at 1am. This leads to a 2am bed time when I have to be up at 5 at the latest to get to work.

When I bring up how exhausted I am and ask for help I get told that her friends partners are doing everything for them and that I'm a chauvinist for expecting her to do anything after she has looked after the kids all day. Her anxiety is at a stage where I need to make late night trips to shops and pharmacies to stock up on spare formula or nappies because she doesnt want to risk something going wrong and being left without them. This is seen as normal. I brought up my concerns that her anxiety might be stating to get worse again and I have been told that I'm gaslighting and if I bring it up again I will be reported to the police for domestic abuse.

I dont know what to do and I cant really talk to anyone about it.
2 Replies 2

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

This one hit close to home as it is similar to my first marriage.

Briefly- she was 19yo me 29 in 1985. She had never been encouraged to do chores or spread a workload. So once married I soon realised she was incredibly lazy. We discussed her being a stay at home mum because frankly I couldn't get her out of bed mornings to work.

We had two kids but bills were high. I ended up working 3 jobs one of which was shift work. Plus I can say I changed nappies more the she and washed clothes or they'd be lying on the laundry floor. But she enjoyed the wood heater without a thought I'd have to find cut and split 10 ton of wood annually. To top it off she used silent treatment when I complained or begged for her to go to the doctor. So I ordered a home GP visit. He couldnt see the problem clearly even at 2pm with her still dressed in pyjamas. A blood test was ordered.

A week later Dr called me- "the blood test showed no concern, "I suggest diagnosis laziness" was his statement.

The weapon of silence, a narcissist trait broke our marriage, a full time fatherhood lost, kids suffer etc. Her two relationships that followed had the same difficulties.

So the similarities are she controlled the home and marriage. She didnt care for my welfare.

Remedies? I offered my wife to get a job and I'd be a stay at home dad. I got the silent treatment. You might do better?

I'd suggest her threatening suicide is emotional blackmail and is indeed abuse. Gaslighing is only relevant if your intention is to drive her insane- very extreme. As her carer you are entitled to make observations.

I think you should have a meeting to discuss priorities like sleep, workload and chore efficiency. If she doesn't comply I'd attend a counselor. If she doesn't go then go alone on the premise you have to learn to cope with her.

It is also unfair of her to make unsubstantiated claim of other couples. If that happens ask her who says that? Then contact them if it isnt intrusive. Making the worker to remain awake till the early hours is most unfair.


Community Member

Oh yes, this is very similar to my situation too. Except I wasn't accused of gaslighting, I was accused of playing the victim when I tried to discuss how unfair it is that I have to work, keep the kids and the house. By that stage, I had left all my friends and my family.

My spouse has mental health issues so I tried to support, support, support until one day I went bananas. You can't help your spouse if your spouse refuses to talk or seek help. You, however, can seek help for your own self just to keep YOUR sanity. Go get a mental health care plan from a GP and get some therapy from a good psychologist. Your children need you to be the steady one and you can't be the steady one if you are running on empty. You've had the strength so far, you just need to keep it up for their sake.