Thursday 18 January 2018

Dear Patricia: After his anxiety attack he said he'd leave me, but he still visits my bed

Patricia Redlich

AFTER 30 years of marriage, my husband came home a few months ago and told me he had had some kind of anxiety attack. He went to the doctor, who took blood tests and told him his hormone levels had dropped. My husband said it felt like grief, but grief for no apparent reason. Shortly afterwards, he told me we were now separated and then moved into the spare bedroom.

There was no real discussion. I seem to have settled for simply saying "thanks for telling me". I suppose I didn't take it seriously. He also told me he didn't love me anymore, but kept coming into my bed, saying he was still attracted to me. At the same time, he also said he would leave soon.

He's now trying to get me to work full-time so that he can retire -- and presumably leave. But I'm still running after our teenage children. And I have no formal job training, since we married so young. I have been trying to get work, but at 52 I don't hold out much hope, with so many young people in the marketplace. Yet my husband keeps pushing me, hen-pecking me every day when he comes home from work -- and not just about getting a job, but about even the simplest things like the way I do the washing, or what I've cooked, or what- ever. I'm at a loss about how to handle this.

Patricia replies:

YOUR husband has clearly lost the run of himself. Maybe it's grief, or anxiety, or even despair. But he's not acting with any consistency. He no longer loves you, but lusts after you. He's leaving, but he's still around. He's tearing you to pieces, with criticisms and demands, but is not discussing what's wrong. Like I said, he's lost the head. He's in the grip of real panic.

So, you have to take charge. He's pushing you around. You have to stop allowing him do that. You have to stand up for yourself. In the process, you'll also calm his panic. Negotiation is really the only way -- which means talking to him. But first you have to get your head straight. Why let him into your bed if he says he no longer loves you? Why go looking for jobs, just because he tells you to? Why stand and listen to his nagging about how you do things? Why, in short, are you allowing him to dictate what's happening in your lives?

Maybe it is a good idea that you find a job, but you need to tackle it seriously and go for retraining first.

If your husband doesn't like the dinner you've cooked, maybe you shouldn't cook for him. And maybe the marriage has run its course, but that's something for the two of you to decide. Think about what you want. Then start standing up for yourself. And talk to him.

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