The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a male company employee in my 40s, and I’m having trouble dealing with the words and behavior of my wife of 15 years.
I learned after marrying her that she is highly strung and short-tempered. She always says rude things like, “That ticks me off,” “I’m tired” or “So annoying.” And she always looks sullen. She is also verbally abusive to our two daughters, both of whom are primary school students.
I’ve made efforts to entertain my family to meet her expectations. However, she never seems to be grateful. When I offer to help with household chores, she refuses, saying, “You’d just get in the way.”
When I try to talk with her heart-to-heart, she snaps back that I’m “not much of a man.” She even tells me, “When the children grow up, I’ll divorce you and get a ton of compensation money.”
I take this to mean she thinks I’m such a horrible husband that this is all she has to look forward to in life. This makes me feel very sad.
It’s probably due to her influence, but our older daughter has become defiant toward me. I end up seeking moral support from our kind, younger daughter.
Nevertheless, I still love my wife. I want to live with her happily somehow. How can I improve our relationship?
Dear Mr. A:
While reading your long letter complaining of your suffering, I thought it’s too cruel for you to live with such a wife. So I was surprised to read that last part: “Nevertheless, I still love my wife.”
If you really do, don’t quietly endure life under her thumb. First of all, you need to know why she is saying things like, “When the children grow up, I’ll divorce you and get a ton of compensation money.” If you leave critical matters like this alone without understanding them, the situation will simply get worse.
However, let me tell you one thing. A person in a marriage who resorts to verbal abuse wants to hurt the other partner and is not necessarily saying what’s really on his or her mind. Maybe your wife just can’t stop venting her frustration at you as you never seem to get mad about what she tells you.
I suggest you express your opinions strongly whenever necessary, quietly listen to her complaints and take her side, and pass off trivial matters with a smile.
If you just agree that “I’m a hopeless husband” as she says, it will only further irritate her.
You need to be confident in yourself to confront her so that you can firmly say to her: “If you want to divorce me, fine. But my love for you won’t change.”
Megumi Hisada, writer