Past Child Abuse Affects My Marriage Today

by P
(Iowa, USA)

I am 53 years old and still suffer from childhood trauma from my parents. Although my and wife I are totally in love and care deeply for each other, I have a very stormy verbal relationship with her. When we fight I say horrible mean things to her, and she says things to me that are (to me) also hurtful and untrue. There has NEVER been any physical violence in our lives, but lots of mistrust; and you know how that hurts us.

I hear lots of stories of domestic abuse, verbal abuse; and it's usually a woman's topic. Can a man also be verbally abused? Of course this can be so, and I think I have experienced it many times. I often accuse my wife of henpecking me to the point of my anger getting out of control. She still continues to peck at me and won't stop until I leave the room or the house. She is relentless in her pursuit of winning the argument, and will never ever concede.

I am in counselling and am really working on my self control. I am voluntarily checking into rehab for substance abuse issues, issues I believed were caused from my abusive childhood. I am a common blue collar carpenter, and I'm very proud of what I do. My wife, on the other hand, has led a "perfect life." She doesn't feel she ever makes a mistake, although we both know that isn't true. She is a highly educated (Masters in math) alternative education high school teacher, and is very successful in her job. But she schools me constantly and treats me as a subordinate. She talks down to me and it is getting worse. She also feels that she is only minutely responsible for our marital problems. She believes since I'm the one with depression issues, that it's mostly my fault.

We are in counselling, and we are getting better at being married, one day at a time. I'm not sure what to expect when I check into rehab. It's an in/out patient facility at Mayo Clinic and seems the perfect place for what I want and have needed for years.

Thanks, Darlene, and God bless all of us who suffer under the hands of our parents and relatives.

Note from Darlene: P, you'll note that I've taken a few liberties in this post. I did so in order to ensure that the child abuse angle is preserved. I believe I've remained true to your story and what your intent was in posting.

Reply from Darlene: Before I address you two points in detail, P, I must congratulate you for making the effort at resolving the difficulties you are facing in your marriage, as well as those you have suffered as a result of pervasive and long-term child abuse. I also commend you for walking away rather than resorting to violence when things get heated between you and your wife. A "real" man never strikes a woman; he walks away, regardless of provocation. I have the utmost respect for ANY man who exhibits such self control. When that self control comes from a man who was battered as a child, I hold that man in even higher esteem.

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