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Re: My marriage
May 4, 2012
It sounds like both of you have some pretty legitimate reasons to be depressed - you have a mental illness and drug side effects that kicked you HARD when you were down and your husband lost his kids and his ability to support himself, plus he's a continent away from his family and that support system.

.... I'd say both are calls for a fair amount of sympathy and hugging.

However, from the sound of it, your husband is probably someone who, when feeling depressed and helpless, bypasses the gloomy sadness when confronted and jumps straight to anger, because either that's how he was taught to deal with it or it's just in his personality (He doesn't want to show that he's weak or helpless, so he overreacts is my read on the situation). Either way, it makes him a chore to live with, especially for someone who is dealing with an unstable disorder like bipolar, whether it's type I or type II.

I get the sense that he's lashing out at you because you're a target who will take it, in his mind, and probably not abandon him. Whether or not you should pick up and walk away is a tricky question, because it sounds like this could be a very good bunch of reasons for you guys to learn how to support and lean on each other, if that's possible.

I have a couple thoughts for things that might help a bit, but I don't know what will help, so you may have to experiment.

I would say, first you should decide, with sympathy to his emotional situation, how much of him acting out will you tolerate before you spin on your heel and walk out of the room. Despite him dealing with an awful situation, you should not tolerate abusive language from him at all. He can shout, if it makes him feel better, or swear at other people, or rant however he likes, and you'll hear him out but the second the abuse switches to you, you're walking out the door and the conversation is over.

If he says you make him so angry that he has to swear or some stupid excuse like that, say that's not acceptable to you and go take a 30 minute walk or something. Remove yourself completely, and let him stew. If he's someone who is normally rational, he'll probably think over his own words and actions, and apologize. If he's unrepentant after, this is when I'd start considering leaving.

Another thing I'd try, is that if he does start yelling at you, instead of yelling back, grab some paper and a pen, and start writing down what he's saying. If that alone doesn't startle him enough to shake the anger (I'd expect a nonplussed "....what are you doing?" ), tell him you're trying to make sure you hear him properly and that you want him to see that you're trying to only listen to him and take in what he's saying. Without your reaction to feed off, his tone and anger may simmer down, a bit. (..... If you've ever seen the movie "Hot Fuzz", it has a rather funny example of how this works.... I've done it myself and it can be quite effective - though granted, I've never done it with someone close to me. I volunteer for the local police, so I use it in that context, and writing what someone's saying down and the reading it back to them is usually a huge way to calm them down, because then they feel like they're being heard - often their anger and frustration stems from no one "hearing them out").

Another way to do the above is repeat back what he's saying, word-for-word, without trying to add in anything or take anything away, and then asking him if it's accurate after every paragraph or so. If you missed something, he should correct you. It really shows (and forces you) to take in what he's saying. When you've gotten through what he wants to say, you reply with "Now, I would like you to do the same for me, please."

I would also start trying to figure out if there's way his love-tank can be refilled somewhat. This is a term from that "Love languages" book guy, where he says that people really have different ways they prefer to be shown love and affection - touch, time, gifts, etc. What does your husband really like and what makes him feel secure? Loving words? hugs? spending time hanging out with him? sex? Something planned just for him? I would work on helping him feel a bit more emotionally secure, because at the moment, he sounds like a raw nerve. You won't be able to "fix" his problems or totally alleviate the emotions he's having in other spheres of his life, and you shouldn't try, but at least for now, I would try to treat him lovingly in the way he appreciates most. (which may be different from the way you like it most - and you should ask for that in return - your problems are JUST as relevant and once he's feeling slightly more secure, I would make it clear to him (in a nice tone), that you would like him to do the same for you.

I don't know how much of this will help or work, but good luck.

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