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is it possible for an abusive husband to change?

(28 Posts)
happykay Sun 27-Oct-13 13:02:36

My husband has been periodically verbally / emotionally abusive for a year and a half (we've been married for 13). Money problems - I am the main breadwinner, he emasculated, spent more than he earned, debt stress. Being abusive made him feel manly, it completely threw me so I gave him money (him refusing to tell me where it went). I had anxiety/depression issues (work and him) and couldn't deal with the anger, insults and aggression (he didn't hit me, but it felt close a few times - police involved once).
I have hung on because there were calm patches between, and if we separate it would split up our 2 DCs. Eldest is his (my stepchild) and would live with dad only. I'd go from 2 kids to one shared kid, and both kids losing their family and family home.
So, instead, I have sought mental health help for me (helped me label it as abuse), and for the last few months, I have tried to reassert myself.
I now bite back on every single insult/abuse, and I send very clear texts of what I think of his behaviour (he always twisted my words if I tried to speak to him). I try and do it firmly and reiterate that I love him.
My approach is to treat him like a tantruming spoilt toddler, and put in clear boundaries. I think the frequency of abuse is diminishing (although the level of occasional anger/aggression is still foul).
Am I kidding myself that I can retrain him like a spoilt toddler? Is abusive behaviour like alcoholism (once there always there)? I am aware that my personality means I will keep trying to fix a problem, rather than give up on it. I am aware also that abused women lose objectivity. Objectivity please! Can he be retrained or should I accept break up of my family?

Meerka Sun 27-Oct-13 16:03:50

if there is any hope for your marriage, then I think challenging his behaviour and never letting it slide the way you are doing is the only hope there is. But I too think that abusive men need to -want- to change. which is rare.

thecatfromjapan Sun 27-Oct-13 16:45:37

Good luck, my dear.

If it works - come back and tellme us how you did it.

If it doesn't, come back for a chat, anyway.

But wishing you all the best, whatever happens.

AndTheBandPlayedForAnyFucker Sun 27-Oct-13 16:57:07

Another sort of footnote, happykay, from reading this board for years...
With such a change of personality, there may be an underlying physiological circumstance going on. Has he talked to his gp about it yet? His willingness to investigate that possibility may also offer you a more substantial clue than him playing the church card (and I seriously do not mean to offend any one with that, iyswim).

The issue of the children may be traced back to thecatfromjapan 's excellent post about pressure and expectation from society. I agree with the pps who say staying is worse for the dc in that dysfunctional behaviors are being hardwired into their brain circuits. Emotional intelligence, not.

"Emotional Intelligence" is another good book.

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