Dilemmas: A possessive husband

Virginia Ironside

'Will having a child calm down my jealous and possessive husband?'

Dear Virginia, My husband has always been a bit possessive.

He said that once we were married, he’d relax, but now he demands to know where I’m going to be every minute of the day and checks up on me by ringing or texting me.

He says my clothes are too sexy, and wants me to cut my hair and wear flat shoes. I can’t even talk to a man without him questioning me for days. He says if we have a baby that’ll make him feel less threatened, but I’m not sure. What can I do? Yours sincerely, Antoinette

Virginia says

What I'd do is to go on the Pill now. Of course, any right-thinking woman would get out straight away, but it's difficult to think straight when you're in a relationship like yours, and no doubt there's a bit of you that loves him, which hinders your making a strong, and far-sighted decision.

Abusive men like your husband are usually tragically insecure. They feel that unless they're on constant watch for betrayal, they'll be desperately hurt. These feelings usually go far, far back to early childhood — perhaps they were constantly let down by their mother and feel they just can't trust women — and, if he himself had an abusive father, he probably sees his behaviour as normal.

Unless he's prepared to get help from a third party, and understand fully that he has a really big problem there's not much you can do.

He may well, at some point, start hitting you and the natural end to violence is, of course, murder. Cut your losses, leave (you don't want to be alone when you break the news) try to find someone who wants a child because he loves you, not because he wants to relax.

And, perhaps, ask yourself, before you go into another relationship, what drew you to a man that most of us would have spotted as a dangerous control-freak long before we walked up the aisle.

Readers say

He may be dangerous

Your husband is suffering extreme low self-esteem and possibly developmental trauma — quite likely with a history of childhood abuse (whether emotional, physical or sexual). If he could accept psychotherapy (for trauma), your relationship has a good chance of surviving.

However, if not, here's a prediction: his behaviour will become increasingly bizarre, paranoid and sooner or later, violent. You will persuade yourself that he's weak and that he needs you.

A child or children will make no difference. If you decide to leave him, he will stalk you, terrorise you and even use your child to blackmail you.

The question is, how are you two the perfect match? Because, after all Antoinette, you have very likely married someone who in some way re-enacts your own past.

If you both have the courage to seek help, preferably with someone who is trauma trained, you can both shake off your demons and make a great partnership.

Frank, by email

Get out right now

Antoinette, you need to get out of this abusive relationship, right now.

As for thinking of having a child, why make yourself more helpless and tied to a damaged man — not to mention the effects on the child?

Make sure that, when you tell him the marriage is over, there are other people around to protect you. Make sure he doesn't get your new address (arrange to use a solicitor's address for divorce proceedings). But go, now. Things can only get worse.

Roisin, Dublin 9