Dear Dr. Romance:
My husband and I recently celebrated our 20 year anniversary. I bought my husband a small gift and when I ask what he got me- he told me I was not worth getting anything. This really hurt, my husband does not show any kind of affection or consideration for other people's feelings. When he is confronted he just replies "You knew this when you married me." But this is the least of the problems: he refuses to "man up" and be a father to his two boys- the older one is about to graduate from high school and constantly is getting in trouble and my youngest son is in his early teens. My husband talks down women in general and my older son has learned from this and absolutely hates any kind of authority especially from women. I can't talk to him because he acts and says everything just like my husband- he is an exact clone of my husband!! When I ask my husband for help with the kids, he says I am shitting on him by telling him my problems with the kids and to just leave him alone. I really can't go on living like this. I feel like I am a maid and a sex toy not a wife. Any advice would be very helpful.
I'm very sorry to hear of your difficulty. This is going to be a tough fix, since you have put up with your husband's bad behavior for twenty years. During that time, he has gotten more and more comfortable in his rigid thinking and anger. It sounds as if you're afraid of him, and I'm not surprised. You are going to need support to help you fix your situation. It's not likely your husband will change, unless something drastic happens to shake him out of his set ways. That something drastic might be his son getting into severe trouble, or you leaving him, but there's no guarantee that even that would get through to him that he's got problems. I'm not sure where you live, but there is probably free or low-cost counseling available, that would help you think through what to do about your situation. Try your local community or county mental health department, or call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
If possible, you would also benefit from attending Adult Children of Alcoholics (whether the name fits you or not, you have the symptoms) meetings, which are free, or take a donation. You can find ACA meetings here Also, try reading "What is a Dysfunctional Relationship" and "Family Violence Q & A".