Dr Eddie

Dark side of relationships - power and control

Prof Eddie Murphy

Reporter:

Prof Eddie Murphy

Dark side of relationships - power and control

Controlling behaviour from a partner is just as harmful as physical violence

Hi Dr Eddie, I am a married lady for over 20 years, throughout my marriage my husband is a touch controlling in respect to my socializing without him. I like to socialise with my sister, usually to concerts, we both are non-drinkers, a few years back he began to join us even if he didn't like the singer or even if he never heard of them. Nine times out of 10 he would be morose and once the evening was finished it straight home we have to go. Recently he has started to resent my sister visiting our home, he puts himself into the middle of our conversations, but for the most part sits there non-speaking, mood getting darker with each passing second. By bedtime he is in another morose silent mood which lasts for days, I feel like I have done something wrong but before she called he was fine and sometimes next day he is fine.
If I ask why the mood he has no answer. Recently on two separate occasions he has made a social outing all about him, if he makes plans I have to adhere to them or live with silence for days. He had no intention of going out on the first occasion but behaved appallingly to my sister, very gruff and insulting, the second time was an festival show we always attend. It’s a girlie day out and we end up visiting another sister who lives close by. This year he for some reason wanted to go, made a point of wanting to drive down with me and once the festival was over boycotted visiting my sister and head home, again because I was going to be out without him and he in his warped mind imagined all sorts of temptations.
Again he was abrupt with my sister, she even hinted at staying away and not coming between us. This is exactly what he wants, to isolate me so that if and when I go anywhere it is with him only. Last Christmas and New Year he shut down in middle of family gathering and didn't speak again till 3rd Jan, my birthday met by 10 days of silence. He seems to wipe all these incidents from his mind but they keep happening and are more frequent and more prolonged, he is never going to change, has an awful temper and anger which flares up over even small things. Mary – Cork.

Hi Mary
Mary I am saddened that the quality of life, the freedom to socialise, the joys in your life are just not there. In your email to me there was no sense of warmth, no mention that you ever loved this man or that you have children. If I were to wear a somewhat compassionate / clinical hat I might question if there is some depression present given these bouts of silence and irritability. However I doubt it and I can tell you that past behaviour is the greater predictor of future behaviour.
However I am weighted more to the fact that you are in an abusive relationship. To me the presence of jealousy, silence lasting days, gruff and insulting, anger – extreme passive aggressive, resentment, temper, flare-ups, controlling your relationships with your sister – These are your words Mary. If you think your husband will just change then I can’t really see it happening. This leaves you with a number of options:

Stay
Have an honest conversation (only if it’s safe) about changing the situation and get couple counselling support.
Plan to Separate – nothing rash planned
Domestic violence doesn’t have to be physical abuse. It’s where one person uses abuse to control and assert power over their partner. In the majority of cases it is perpetrated by men and experienced by women. If this begins to form a consistent pattern and you feel afraid of your partner, then this in a sign of domestic violence. Here are some warning signs below to help you make sense of your situation. You do not need to experience several, or all of them for your relationship to be abusive.
In your relationship I see aspects of emotional abuse where there is highly effective means of establishing a power imbalance within a relationship. It is often unseen or intangible to those outside the relationship. Emotional abuse is as harmful as physical violence. It can include:
l You are afraid of your partner.
l You are constantly 'walking on eggshells' because of his mood swings.
l You spend your time working out what kind of mood he is in and the focus is always on his needs.
l He loses his temper easily and over minor things.
l He criticises your family and friends and/or makes it difficult for you to see them or talk to them on your own.
l He is jealous and accuses you of flirting and having affairs.
l Your needs are not considered important or are ignored, and he makes the decisions in the relationship.
l being put down and or constantly criticised.
l threats by the abuser to harm others or himself.
l never being left on their own; being accompanied to all outside activities.
l You find it hard to get time on your own. When you do spend time away from him, he demands to know where you were and who you were with.
Mary if you or another reader is after reading this you think that you are, or might be, living in an abusive relationship then I recommend you contact Women’s Aid www.womensaid.ie on their Helpline 1800 341 900. The Helpline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I encourage you to get good advice from Womens Aid or a GP/counsellor so you can reflect, think and plan your options. Keep Safe, you deserve a life of peace, joy and growth.
Dr Eddie