Originally Published: May 21, 2016 6:01 a.m.
Dear Annie: “Can’t Win in Tennessee” said his wife calls him names, constantly criticizes him and threatens divorce. You correctly told him that he was in an abusive marriage. What you didn’t point out is that his two young children are also being damaged by his wife’s psychologically abusive behavior, even if it is not directed at them. From my own childhood experience, I can promise you that those kids are feeling the instability of the marriage.
Dad might think he can “man up” and take his wife’s abuse, but his children don’t have that strength. He needs to see a counselor not only for himself, but also for them. – Collateral Damage in California
Dear Collateral: We agree that children are deeply affected by whatever relationship their parents have, especially when it’s so dysfunctional. Here are two more letters on the subject:
Dear Annie: I, too, am married to a quarrelsome wife who refuses counseling and has shut herself off from me both physically and emotionally. Although many couples have (understandably) sought divorce in situations like ours, I have chosen to remain faithful to the vows I took before God, family and friends, even though “for better or for worse” is painful and emotionally draining. Loving the unlovable isn’t fun or easy, and it may never produce a reward. But in my case, I know it’s the right thing to do. My children benefit every time I combat anger with peace. – Maryland
Dear Annie: My husband cut out this column and put it on my desk, saying that I was abusing him. You tell me.
We have been married for four years (a second marriage for both of us). In that time, my husband has been mostly unemployed. He is a heavy drinker. He reeks of it and it affected his last job performance. It was the reason he was the first one out the door during layoffs. He quit one job because he “didn’t like it.” I support him and our four kids. He claims he can’t find a job, but he won’t look because he considers most jobs beneath him. I resent that he sleeps in and then reads the paper until 11 a.m.
I buy the groceries, make the meals, do most of the dishes and pay the bills. He occasionally cooks a meal or washes his own laundry. He refuses to clean the house. When I ask him to do something, it sits for a week and if I complain or do it myself, he says I am overbearing. Most of our discussions are about how disappointed he is that I nag him about getting a job. Two weeks ago, he decided he’ll take classes over the summer. I expect him to find a part-time job (we make our kids do it while they are in school), but he always has some excuse to delay looking.
I am tired of being the bad guy. I have made things too easy for him, yet he claims his life is horrible because I nag him about a job. We are both miserable. I don’t want another divorce, but it’s difficult for me to respect someone who could be helping our future, but won’t. – Wisconsin
Dear Wisconsin: You don’t sound abusive. You sound desperate and frustrated. Your husband sounds like an alcoholic and a freeloader. Try Al-Anon (alanon.org).
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.