Saturday, 19 Jan 2019

Carolyn Hax: His silent treatment will not work if you're not there

(Nick Galiafinakis / for the Washington Post)

Dear Carolyn, I've heard that "life is too short" a lot lately. This makes me think that I have lost a lot of time, energy and money in a relationship that has lasted for 23 years and that has caused me so much pain and suffering. exhaustion.

My husband is difficult and controlling. Both tendencies come directly from his family: his mother is a dominant narcissist.

When I was younger, I thought I just had to improve and that would relieve some of her anxiety, selfishness, and control problems. It was only when I had children that her tendencies really made me question what I was doing.

We live close to his family, who, in recent years, treated me quietly, called me names, and usually caused me a lot of stress. After the therapy, I was able to establish good boundaries with her family. And I tried different ways to talk with my husband to make him understand what I was going through. Since his family is his norm, he does not quite understand.

He is now experiencing weekly meltdowns that include silent treatment and sometimes insults. I answer calmly most of the time because I just have to accept it for what it is, since it refuses to ask for help. I have three young children and a household that I have to occupy – it helps the home only when and where it feels like it, and usually nothing is too stressful. I am also the only provider for my household. So I work full time and my household is full time with little help.

I may have the opportunity to move for my job. I think maybe the physical distance of his family could work. Does this help in these situations? That's the only thing I have not reasonably tried.

– Life is too short

Life is too short: No it is not. You did not try the divorce.

I'm not saying that you should have, just that you do not do it.

In general, I avoid reporting things that people need little to know – I do not explain that there is an adoption, for example, to people who have trouble conceiving – because that duh – but the blind spot of your letter seems so vast that I feel obliged to make an exception:

Divorce is a valid legal and emotional remedy against 23 years of suffering and a buffer against 23 others.

Life is too short? May be. I say that life is too long to justify spending all its duration with an apparently capable partner who does not contribute, emotionally, without emotional support, without income or proportional domestic effort – you do not even mention love, no share – and that contributes to egoism, stress and mediocre borders, nasty family and weekly collapses / insults / silent treatments.

I'm glad the therapy has been helpful to you and I'm glad your border with his family held it. But let me suggest that this was not a solution in itself, but rather the first part of a difficult but long-awaited, long-lived or short-lived overhaul.

Please explore Part 2 in private consultation with a very good lawyer, and in therapy again, solo. (If he miraculously gives up, he also goes solo.) Read "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin of Becker. Do not skimp on the preservation of oneself and the child, nor on safety, especially when moving. Suppose he makes the job as hard as possible.

But ask yourself: if you were your child, would you like to grow up in this house?

Write to Carolyn Hax at Receive its topic in your inbox each morning at the address


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