29 July 2021

Dear Fiona: Why is my husband so critical?

29 July 2021

The problem…

“I’ve just about had it with my husband’s constant criticism of me! I have stuck if for the last 17 years because of the children, but I just can’t cope with any more of his constant carping on.

“He takes every opportunity to put me down in public and if I tell him I didn’t like it, he says he was only teasing. He thinks he’s being witty for the benefit of others and that I am being over-sensitive. Everything I do or try to achieve is ‘wrong’ or ‘bound to fail’ and if I stand up to him, he simply says, ‘the truth always hurts, doesn’t it!’ Well, it’s not true – I have achieved quite a bit in my life, but he always belittleS me and I’ve had enough.

“It’s got to the stage now where I try to ignore his remarks – but I’m sure this only serves to make him believe I am accepting his criticism. Please help, how do I get him to stop?”


Fiona says…

“It sounds as though your husband has developed techniques for making you feel like a loser or the one to blame, whether you respond to his criticism or not. In this seemingly no-win situation, it’s no wonder you are angry and frustrated.

“He either doesn’t care about how you feel, or he doesn’t realise, so you need to make it very clear to him that enough is enough. If he doesn’t care enough about you, then you have a decision to make. Do you put up with this indifference or call a halt to it and move on?

“Divorce after 17 years sounds hard to deal with, but you could make a new, happier life for yourself if you chose to. If he doesn’t realise how much he is hurting you and you’re prepared to give him a chance, then make him understand that you won’t put up with this anymore. He sounds like a very insecure man if he needs to belittle your achievements – perhaps because he feels he hasn’t achieved very much himself. Putting you down may make him feel good, but most people will see through his strategy.

“He needs to come with you to counselling – and he may well need counselling for his own insecurities in addition to counselling to help with your marriage. I don’t know if the two of you have a future together – but you’ve had 17 years together so it’s worth exploring your relationship to see if it can be mended.

“Contact Relate (relate.org.uk) to make arrangements to get help – either by phone or in person. A Relate counsellor could certainly help to deal with the rift in your marriage but if you feel your control slipping, please call the Samaritans (116 123) as they are always willing listeners.”

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to [email protected] for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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