Dear Annie: My wife and I have been married for four years. I have never been married before, and my wife, “Gertrude,” was divorced when we married.
While dating, Gertrude told me about how her ex-husband would verbally abuse her and her child. But now Gertrude is treating me the same way she says she was treated by her ex, making the same types of comments and doing to me almost exactly what she told me he did to her, yelling and screaming for nothing.
I have mentioned to her several times that she is treating me exactly how she described her ex-husband treating her. I am getting extremely frustrated.
I love my wife and want our marriage to last. I have asked her to stop treating me in such a way, but it continues. Gertrude and her ex were married for 10 years, and we met two years after their divorce. I cook, clean, do yard work, work full-time and pay the bills — all the things she complained her ex never did. What advice can you give? — Extremely Frustrated
Dear Extremely Frustrated: Seek marriage counseling as soon as you can. If your wife refuses to go, then attend counseling alone. No one deserves to be verbally abused. It can be as damaging to your self-esteem and just overall sense of happiness as being physically abused.
When you tell her that she is treating you the same way her ex treated her, what does she say? If she agrees and says she wants to change, there is hope. If she gets defensive and blames you, then saving this marriage will be much harder. Both partners have to want to change their behavior and have mutual respect for each other. First, you must respect yourself enough to stop this behavior.
Dear Annie: I have three sons with whom I have no relationship. Two are drug addicts and alcoholics, and one is a narcissist. Their father was emotionally abusive, and after 22 years of marriage and much counseling, I finally divorced him.
My sons don’t care about me, let alone love me. I have tried for the past 20 years, since the divorce, to have a close relationship, but to no avail. They just don’t care. My heart has been broken in two over and over. My therapist agrees with me to let it go by not contacting them anymore since they never respond. It’s so hard, but I’m trying. If I completely let go, I know I’ll never ever hear from them again. — Should I Let Go for My Own Sanity?
Dear Should I Let Go: Your sons had a very turbulent childhood, and most likely, they love you but are just mad at you, their father and the entire situation. Hurt people hurt people, and it sounds like they are hurting with alcohol, drugs and narcissism. I’m not sure you can “let go” of your children, no matter how old they are. What you can do is work on your own anger, hurt and regret about what happened and heal from it.
The more you forgive yourself, your ex-husband and actions that your grown children have done by pushing you away, the more at peace you will be. The more you are at peace, the greater likelihood they will come back to you when they are ready and in need of support. If they don’t come back, at least you will be living with more joy.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.