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Thursday, 29 March 2001

Abusive Father and Husband

Written by  Dr. Louise Klein

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor,

My husband and I can't seem to get along. For a while he went through a period of months of staying away from home and when he was home we either fought or he was asleep. He has sleep apnea and it seems chronic. He has a doctor that he sees for it and uses a cap machine but he won't wear it. You can tell when he doesn't as his sleep is affected.

We have five children and this is also hurting them. I know I can push his buttons and I'm trying not to but it makes me mad that he seems to take no responsibility for anything. He does work and is a very good provider but he does not spend any time with the children or me. He fusses with me as if he wants to pick a fight.

I would like to help him and improve our relationship. He told me he would not go to a counselor. If you could give me some advice I would really appreciate it.

ADear Problems with Husband,

On the surface, it appears that the sleep apnea, and the lack of sleep that not using the machine will bring, is the major issue here. Although it would be tempting to blame everything on this I feel that there are other issues in your marriage that are not being addressed.

Where was your husband all those times that he wasn't at home? That is the first question that needs to be addressed. You say that he's a good provider but that he spends no time with the family. So what does he do with his time when he's not working? Have you seen other behavior changes? I'm not trying to plant unwarranted suspicions but if you came to me in a therapy session with these statements I would wonder if this man were having an affair, dealing with an addiction, or involved in something else outside of his business that he didn't want anyone to know about. Please understand that this is just speculation on my part as I don't know your husband.

I'm not saying that it's your responsibility to try to make this marriage work if he has no interest in doing his share. But offering your love and support is a good place to begin.

It sounds to me like you still care for him so start there. Ask him to meet you somewhere away from the children so that you can talk. Tell him that you still love him and that you want your marriage to work. Ask him what you can do to help him. Try to just listen to what he has to say without becoming angry or defensive. I'm not saying that it's your responsibility to try to make this marriage work if he has no interest in doing his share. But offering your love and support is a good place to begin to get these issues out into the open.

Finally, on a practical note, if his sleep apnea is keeping you awake then consider moving to another bedroom so that you can get your sleep. You need to do this for your own mental and physical health.

Dr. Louise Klein

Last modified on Monday, 14 March 2011 14:24
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Dr. Louise Klein

Dr. Louise Klein

Louise Klein was born on the West Coast of Canada but lived for many years in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology from Widener University in Pennsylvania. Dr. Louise Klein is an experienced therapist in insight-oriented talk therapy. She has worked with individuals, couples and groups for many years. Her experience with families includes stepfamilies, adoptive families, nuclear families and families dealing with illness or death. Dr Klein is also trained in thought field therapy and regression therapy and has taught and worked internationally. Louise Klein lives in a rural community with her husband and St. Bernard and has a stepdaughter in college in New England.

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