My self esteem and Husband’s Motives
Dear Positive Way, I feel my husband married me for my looks and someone for his children when he only sees fit. First five years I expressed the need of him and I committing at least one hour a week alone. I had heard responses like too busy, no money, no response, to even what do you want me to do drop everything for you response, you need friends, its not up to me to make you happy etc. He makes comments about my appearances. When first married I gained 5 pounds he expressed his disapproval of this to me and especially now I have gained 20 pounds since having a baby who is currently15 months. He says he has needs for an attractive wife and it is biblical for him to have these needs. He has seen me cry over his comments about my weight and me feeling I’m not good enough to him. He has even seen me cry numerous times over this. He has full custody and do not see there mother maybe talk to her twice a year. The last 7 years my spouse corrects me in front of the boy all the time and doesn’t allow me to be a parent to him. To the point 3 years ago I was trying to correct my step-son and he yelled at me and said I’m calling Dad and your going to be in trouble. My step-son was 4when I met him and now is 12. He shows no respect to females mostly of the time especially me and school teachers. My spouse doesn’t correct so much with the stepdaughter who now is 18. I feel 98% of the time my spouse has never supported me as the other parent. I feel the nanny in the house except I pay half of the bills and my spouse sleeps with the nanny but the nanny has no say or position to say or want anything in her house. How do I really now my spouse’s true motives or does he even love me or care? My self-image, and esteem is shot. signed, noesteemleft, age 34
Dear noesteemleft, it is understandable that your self esteem is shot with this type of treatment. Your husband obviously has not learned how to treat a wife and life partner. I have some suggestions and advice for you to consider:
1. It is time to start setting some boundaries for yourself. All relationships need solid boundaries and since you don’t have any in place your husband continues to get by with his behavior. For all actions we take in life there are consequences – there are good consequences for the good things we do and there are bad consequences for the negative things we do. You must set a boundary for at least two areas in your relationship and I will give you an example of what that means: concerning your husband putting you down about your weight. You new boundary must be to not listen to him when he starts such behavior. Tell him your weight is off limits for a conversation and don’t try to justify or explain it away. You could for example the next time he tries to talk about your weight in a negative way then put up a hand like a stop sign and say something like this “my weight is not up for discussion” and then walk away and refuse to listen. If he follows you and continue then tell him you find that rude and inconsiderate and therefore you will not be listening and if he doesn’t stop then you could not cook the next meal as a consequence for his behavior. Let him fend for himself. The idea is to let him know you will not tolerate that behavior and that there is a consequence if he continues. Make sure the consequence is something that you can and will follow through on. Threatening without actions will get you no where and only set you up for more disrespect.
2. Once you start setting some boundaries and honoring those boundaries your self-esteem will improve over time. Please read our article on setting boundaries and if at all possible purchase the book we recommend in the article. Learn as much as you can on setting boundaries and start setting them with your husband and with your children. Everyone needs and deep inside wants some boundaries. We all want to know what we can and cannot get by with in our relationships. Your husband needs some limits and is looking for you to set them.
3. Set a boundary for how your husband treats you in front of the children. The next time he tries to put you down or not uphold your parenting then you must put up your hand and say something like “stop, I will be happy to discuss this matter in private but not in front of the children” then leave the room. If you have to leave the house for awhile then do it but don’t stay in the conversation no matter what. Remember a consequence for the behavior.
4. Have a private meeting with your husband. Tell him you need 10 minutes of his time to talk about a family matter. Many men dread having a “talk” and knowing that it will only last 10 minutes allows most men to be more open to meeting and listening. Give him a choice of times and let him pick which time works best. Make sure this time is not interrupted in anyway – no phones, tv, children etc. Bring a timer to the meeting. Set the timer to show your husband you mean business and that you will honor the time. Once the timer goes off stop the conversation and thank him for listening. Don’t drag the conversation on after the time ends. You can always reschedule another 10 minute meeting for future discussions. Please read our article Express and Own Your Feelings before having this meeting and then practice what we suggest in that article. The purpose of this meeting is to let your husband know that you will no longer tolerate his behavior concerning the two topics we discussed. Tell him you love him and want the relationship to work but you are not happy with how things are going and therefore you will be making some changes in your behavior. Men need guidelines and lessons on how to treat women. You must be the teacher and say what you mean and mean what you say. Make it very clear on what you want his behavior to look like and tell him exactly what to do and not to do without shaming him in anyway. Teach him how to treat you. Men want the ABC’s of how to act and what to do. He needs your guidance.
5. One of the best ways to rebuild self-esteem is to start setting small obtainable boundaries and then you can add on from there. Make sure that what you say you will do if a certain things happen is enforceable and followed through by you. Don’t make idle threats of any kind.
As you set boundaries with your husband and be totally honest and clear about what you want from him and how you want to be treated. If he really loves you and wants the relationship to work then he will make some positive changes. Give him several weeks to show that he is willing to improve on your relationship and treat you the way you want to be treated. If he does not respect or honor your wishes after your conversation and if he puts you down for even trying to make some positive changes then you should reevaluate your relationship altogether and seek some marriage counseling. Ask you husband to attend counseling with you and if he refuses you go yourself. Many relationships can be improved even if only one of the partners seeks outside counsel. A good counselor can also help you build back your self-esteem. You could get a good referral from your family physician, minister, or local social services. Please read all of the articles we have written on self-esteem and take one step at a time to improving yours. You deserve better. Take care of yourself by setting some firm boundaries and you will start feeling better about yourself overall. I wish you well.
Please understand you have free will. This advice is given only in the realm of personal growth and self-help. This is not to be considered a substitute for therapy or professional counseling. We wish you well.