My husband sometimes snaps at me in front of his mom. We have talked about it a few times and both apologized for whatever caused it and promised it wouldn’t happen again. But, it keeps happening and it makes me feel little, unimportant and embarrassed. It makes me want to disappear.
I don’t think he realizes how much this is affecting me, even though I’ve told him. It’s breaking my heart. I love him and I don’t know what to do, but I do know I don’t want this to continue.
To make matters more complicated, we share a house with his mom. I feel that he makes decisions more based on his mom’s needs. I can understand, to an extent, but I want my husband back. Any suggestion I make gets pushed aside if his mother speaks up. It feels like my ideas aren’t valued anymore. Please help me fix my relationship.
Sometimes it takes a tremendous amount of patience to help our partners hear and understand our needs. It sounds like your situation is more hopeful than you might realize. First, your husband apologizes and feels bad for how he treats you. The fact that he cares about the impact of his behavior is no small thing. Also, I like that you’re actually telling him what you need. It’s easy to expect your partner to know what you need without having to tell them.
These attempts to repair your relationship are a step in the right direction. I don’t want to minimize the pain you’re experiencing in this interaction, but I do want you to see the strengths that will help you both rise above this frustration. Here are a few suggestions you can use to build on your efforts.
First, don’t give up bringing this to your husband’s attention. He clearly isn’t hearing you enough to do something different. Even though it’s tempting to give up out of exasperation, keep finding ways to help your husband hear you. He clearly has a dynamic with his mother that prevents him from hearing you.
It might require you to have the courage to speak up in the moment it happens. Instead of pulling him aside after he shuts you down, consider pulling him aside in the moment to let him know what just happened and how it affected you. My guess is that he doesn’t see it and is trained to automatically defer to his mother. You don’t need to be confrontational and make a scene.
This is a man who appears to care about your feelings, so give him the benefit and pull him aside to visit privately.
Anytime you’re living with family or friends, it’s a good idea to spend time as a couple talking about boundaries between families. You don’t want to lose the connection between the two of you now that there is a new dynamic with having a parent in the home. Sometimes we slip back into our family roles without realizing it. The more conscientious you can be about these roles and relationships, the better the outcome.
I agree that your husband doesn’t understand how these dynamics are affecting you. You’re hurting and you need him to hear you. Stay with it and expect your husband to hear your voice.
However, if he continues to disregard you, even though he feels badly about it, it might be time for you to make some unilateral decisions that support what you need in the aftermath of his disrespect. Even though I believe that seeking understanding and making agreements is the best way to initiate change, sometimes it’s important to honor your own sense of dignity.
This might mean that you back up and reevaluate the ways you continue to carry on as if nothing happened. Are there things you can change to help you get the healing you need?
This is where it can be helpful to work closely with a mental health professional who can provide guidance and feedback. The goal isn’t to set up boundaries to punish your husband, but rather, to respond to the impact it’s having on your wellbeing. You’ve sought cooperation from him, but this may require you to make some movements until the pattern changes. And, if it never changes, you’ll be in a healthier position to manage yourself.
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