January 21, 2016 - 11:55am
In my marriage of 17 years, everything has revolved around my husband. When we married, I was highly codependent and he was narcissistic. Our dysfunctional behaviors meshed together well, though in damaging ways. Having spent many years in counseling, working hard to heal from and overcome the effects of my severely abusive childhood, I am now a healthier person. I am breaking free from my codependency, which is fantastic, but am now struggling with how to be healthy in my unhealthy marriage. I am just now able to look at my marriage honestly and have important questions. When I say everything is about him, I am not exaggerating. How money is spent, what food is bought, what meals are prepared, temperature of the house, where we vacation,...all and more, up to him. He has many specific rules I am expected to follow, such as buttoning the very top button when I hang his shirts, keeping the van clean inside and out (with kids !), having the house clean when he gets home from work, keeping our dog from bothering him, keeping anything from bothering him when he's resting or relaxing, not serving leftovers, heating his food for him...and more. He has different standard for the twig us. If I have a health issue, he gets angry because of cost, but if he has even a small issue, we must treat it right away no matter the cost. If I'm in our basement, he doesn't want the heat running because it's expensive, but if he's down there, the heat is cranked on hi. If I want to take a nap on a weekend, he gets aggravated and will wake me up, but for his naps I am supposed to keep kids and dog and all things quiet. Anything he needs or wants is top notch, but I am supposed to search for bargains or not buy the item. The double standard goes on and on. He monitors me. He criticizes and critiques every phone call or text, wanting to know everything said, and he discourages me going out with girlfriends. Perhaps worst of all, I cannot get him to think outside of himself. No matter what I try to talk with him about, he turns it immediately to be about him, or just leaves. I even talked with him recently about two instances when he physically hurt me. He just stared. Then he said he didn't remember them. When I asked him if he thought those actions were ok he said no...but no concern or apology. In 17 years, never an apology. So, my questions: Does this seem like emotional abuse? How long do I try to get him to value me before I accept that he won't change? Can I even expect that he will be able to think of me as equal? What should I be doing, other than require he go to counseling - which so far he has made all about him. Any helpful words are greatly appreciated. Am I trapped in this oppression forever?