In this counseling answer:
• One thing for certain is that when he criticizes you for silly things, you can know that he is not really angry with you about those things.
• Take some time out for yourself. Get connected with your friends and family who will support you and provide that emotional nurturing you need to remain strong.
• The idea is to get yourself involved in something that makes you feel like you are growing and developing so that you can see yourself in a positive light and be around people who also see you for who you really are.
• Find professional counseling.
Wa ‘Alaykum As-Salam dear A,
I can see how upsetting your husband’s behavior is to you, and that you have been traumatized by his abusive behavior. My heart and prayers are with you. For now, I want you to determine if you are in a safe environment. Something doesn’t sound right here.
When you mentioned that your husband actually hit your daughter because he was angry with you, this just sounds like there might be some “over the top” violence.
Indeed, this is very abusive and you must determine if you and your daughter are safe. If you are not safe, then the first and most important step is getting yourself to a safe place.
With that said, your situation is such that you cannot expect comfort or empathy from your husband at this time. He is not upset with you. He is upset about something else. It is likely that he judges himself very harshly as well. He is probably not very happy with his life for whatever reason, but it is not your fault nor even about you. Your husband is not telling you what is really in his heart or mind, but it is bothering him a lot. He sounds quite volatile, so I would not pressure him to talk to you if he does not feel like it. You can write him a non-judgmental letter and let him know that his constant irritation is hurting your feelings, but that you are even more concerned with the fact that he is not a happy man. Let him know that you are there for him willing to listen and offer support any way that you can.
We don’t know if he has a drug problem, financial problem, imagined his life to be different than it is and resenting his responsibility, having problems with work, etc. His behavior could be explained by a number of things.
One thing for certain is that when he criticizes you for silly things, you can know that he is not really angry with you about those things. He might be angry with you for some other deeply emotional reason that he is not sharing. This is why we want to be gentle, non-confrontational and develop a safe emotional space for your husband so that if and when he is ready to talk about what is really bothering him, he will open up.
In the meantime, take some time out for yourself. Get connected with your friends and family who will support you and provide that emotional nurturing you need to remain strong. It is likely that your husband wants to be the provider of your emotional needs, so, if and when you are able to clear up what the problem is between you both, he will be able to do that.
For now, you must make sure that you do have people around you who support you in feeling about yourself the way you want to feel. For you, confidence building and self-esteem building will be very important. This is why I advise you to connect with friends who believe in you and will support you so that you will have someone to talk to when you are feeling down.
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Without knowing very much about your relationship, it is difficult to recommend appropriate activities. But if your husband is supportive, you might consider getting a part-time job, or take a class, or join a community group, etc. The idea is to get yourself involved in something that makes you feel like you are growing and developing so that you can see yourself in a positive light and be around people who also see you for who you really are. Being exposed to constant verbal abuse can cause a person to be very wary. Therefore, you really need to put yourself in an environment where you can feel better about yourself. Again, I am concerned that your husband might become violent as he probably suffers from very low self-esteem, and he might need some support and help himself.
For now, see if you can find some professional counseling or someone outside your situation to talk to. You will likely build up resentment and fear if you do not get help yourself, and this will contribute to the abusive cycle that needs to be broken so that you and your husband can develop a relationship of mutual trust and mutual respect. There is always hope for a marriage.
On the one hand, I believe that we often give up too soon in many cases where some support and encouragement from outside the marriage might very well help a couple work things out and create a more positive atmosphere where trust and communication can build. However, again, if there is violence and you are fearful of your safety or the safety of your children, then you must seek out a way to find a safe place for you and your children.
This does not necessarily mean divorce; separation provides a space for both husband and wife to cool down, reflect, and get in touch with their heart feelings while working on communication and trust building skills. Whether you remain married or decide to divorce, you will want to develop trust and communication with this man. Even if you divorce, you will need to remain a cooperative co-parent with him, and this will require both elements.
So, bottom line, if you are safe enough, you can do this work while remaining under the same roof. If you are not safe, then get safe first. And, rather than focusing on whether you want to remain married, at this point, focus on how you might be able to create an environment where your husband will feel safe to tell you honestly what is in his heart and mind. You need to use non-threatening ways to let him know how deeply his roughness and criticism hurt your heart. Take one day at a time, and keep me posted.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.