Help! My hus-bear is a control freak and I want out!

Whether it’s a passive-aggressively abusive partner or a "mean-girl" friend who's just a bully, you deserve better. Here are some steps for freeing yourself from toxic relationships.

Q:

My hus-bear of less than two years wants a divorce. He blames me, and while I know there were mistakes on my part, I feel he played a role in this too, and we just need counseling. He doesn’t see it that way.

I admit that we rushed to get married. We had been dating less than a year. He says that he didn’t know all he needed to know about me yet to make a lifetime commitment.

I can be overly sensitive, take too long to make decisions, and afraid of conflict. He hates that. I cry when I’m upset. He hates that more. I get it.

From the beginning, even things totally beyond my control became triggers for him to lash out. He was insensitive at best, mean at worst, and never willing to look at his own actions or shortcomings.

Still, to me marriage is forever. How can I get him to work it out?

Dear PTSD:

What you’re describing is abuse. Even if he never lifts a finger against you physically, he’s doing psychological damage. Your husband has you believing that your natural reactions are faults, and has you blaming yourself for inherent aspects of your personality. That’s not good.

He definitely plays a role in your marital issues, because he’s a husband in the relationship too, not an innocent bystander. He exacerbates whatever problems there are with inappropriate attacks.

That said, don’t focus on him. There’s been enough of that. Focus on what you can do.

Your instinct for counseling is a good one, though maybe with a tweak in your case. It sounds like he may be uncooperative and unwilling to say the least. Go to counseling anyway, even if it’s alone. Read your Q letter out loud when you get there. It contains all that any professional needs to know to start helping you.

For your wellbeing, “Marriage is forever” can’t mean “stuck no matter what.” I like where your head is about divorce in general, though. Too many couples jump at a “final solution” without trying to resolve problems. Even a brief separation can lead to healing for some of those couples. 

In your case, though, his desire for a divorce may be exactly what’s needed for you.

Q:

It seems everyone is offended by everything these days, but how do I handle someone who is seriously being an offensive bully without making a scene?

Dear Hurt:

First, make sure that you’re not being overly sensitive to what may just be someone else’s opinion. You’ve heard opinions are like assholes: Everyone has one, and only a few people, if any, actually want to see it. Sometimes showing yours just leaves two assholes out for all to see. 

If someone is disparaging others based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or physical condition, among others, first consider that the offender might be uninformed. Ask, “Do you know how that sounds?” If they clearly do and continue, go ahead and make a scene, but calculate it for their ability to hear it and your own safety from the fallout.

The Q is for entertainment purposes and not professional counseling. Send your burning Qs to [email protected]

Illustration by Brad Gibson

This column originally appeared in Q magazine. Read the latest issue, and pick up a new edition each week.