My husband and I need to think carefully about how to manage my mother-in-law’s behavior. Fortunately, as we now live in our own house, we have removed ourselves from any potential danger. But I have noticed that if my husband and I argue (which is not very often), he will suddenly develop a severe headache or stomach ache and complain of feeling sick. It seems to me he may have learned this response as a way in which to protect himself from his mother’s violence (and consequently from the potential threat that I may become violent if we argue). Sometimes I almost feel angry if my husband becomes “ill.” Not so much angry at him, but angry at his mother: anger and resentment, not only because of things she has done, but also, in some small way, because she still has control over him. Also, more often than not I will assume the role of caregiver and “look after” him as his own mother would have done. Perhaps it has become his subconscious desire to reassume this role in our own relationship.
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This is my husband to a T. He is also using the illnesses that he fears his children (and himself) might have in our arguments as a way to protect himself. I could really use some help to know how to deal with it in a healthy way.