DEAR ABBY: My husband is a hard worker, a good provider and a good dad. However, he's angry all the time. When he sees something on TV or reads something in the paper that upsets him, he can say really vile and violent things. Often when he thinks things the kids and I do are not good enough, he borders on being verbally abusive.
His friends say I'm a "saint" for putting up with him, but lately all I feel is tired out and worn down by it. I'm not sure how much longer I can last.
I have asked him to go to counseling, but he hasn't been willing. Do you think there's anything I can do besides leaving that will make him see what he is doing to me and the kids?
- Ready to Leave
DEAR READY TO LEAVE: Your husband may be a good provider and a hard worker, but I seriously question whether he is as good a dad as you would like to think. Children need their parents' encouragement and approval, as well as their patience and counsel.
When they are given a constant barrage of angry put-downs from a parent, they begin to internalize it. They think such behavior is normal, which means that they will repeat it in their relationships when they are older. Or, they may think they deserve to be treated that way and choose mates who treat them like Dad did. Kids with low self-esteem also tend to choose friends who are like themselves, which can cause even more problems.
There is something you can do besides leave right now. Make an appointment for yourself with a licensed psychotherapist and take the children with you. That way, your husband can foot the bill while all of you get your heads straight and you make up your mind if you're serious about leaving. (Alternatively, he can finally admit he needs help with his anger issues and schedule an appointment for himself.)
TO MY ASIAN FRIENDS: Today marks the first day of the Lunar New Year. It's the Year of the Horse. The horse is a symbol of traveling, competition and victory. May it be a winning year!