I can’t decide whether to divorce my abusive husband

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female company employee in my 30s and I’m now on child care leave. I can’t bear my husband’s verbal abuse and unreasonable attitude any more. I’m thinking about divorcing him, but can’t make up my mind whether to do so.

My husband is about 10 years older than me. When we were dating, he was very kind. However, since we married two years ago, he’s frequently been angry with me, saying things like, “You’re noisy when doing the dishes.” He goes out at night and often doesn’t come home until morning. He says nasty things about the meals I cook, like “[Eating them] makes me ill.”

When I gave birth to our child, I told him, “It was very tough for me.” In response, he said, “You were punished because you were a bad girl when you were pregnant.” I couldn’t believe my ears when he said this. It’s true I sometimes went shopping with a friend at that time, and he didn’t like it. The day after I gave birth, he didn’t come to the hospital but enjoyed himself outside instead. He never apologized for this.

We’ve quarreled many times recently. Finally, he said: “It’s not your house. Get out!” So I went back to my parents’ place and he sent along my belongings. He told me to return the key to our house, and I did. Then he called me and said, “Why don’t you come home?” I can’t understand what’s on his mind.

H, Kyoto Prefecture

Dear Ms. H:

There’s a famous Japanese proverb: “Fufu genka wa inu mo kuwanai” (literally, “Even a dog won’t intervene in an argument between husband and wife”). This means never interfere in an argument between husband and wife because they have various reasons for quarreling and other people can’t understand the issues involved. However, it seems your problem isn’t a quarrel but one-sided abuse by your husband.

You said you can’t make up your mind about whether to divorce him. I’m rather puzzled why. If you can’t make a decision, it means there’s a possibility you may return to your husband.

If you do go back your husband, you should be ready to put up with his behavior. Are you prepared to do this?

Of course, you’re probably concerned about your child and your daily life. But thinking about these matters makes sense only if your husband shows at least the absolute minimum of affection for you and the child. Do you think he will repent from the bottom of his heart, mend his behavior and become as kind as he was before your marriage? I doubt it.

It’s also said that we can never learn the true personality of a date until we marry that person. It seems unreasonable and a waste of time on your part to expect much from your husband, who doesn’t hesitate to behave so outrageously and coldly to you.

I don’t mean to lecture you by suggesting the common solution that you should divorce your problematic husband immediately. But if what you wrote in your letter is the absolute truth, I just can’t understand what’s on your mind when you hesitate to divorce him.

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from Jan. 21, 2016, issue)Speech

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