Wayne M. Levine
Vail, CO Colorado

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May 19, 2009
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Vail relationships: How to deal with an abusive wife

Dear Wayne,

I don't know if you have ever dealt with anything like this. When my wife gets angry, or she does not get her way, she gets really mean. Sometimes I will sleep in the spare bedroom because there is so much tension between us.

The other night she did something that she has done in the past. In the middle of the night, while I was fast asleep, she came into my room and poured a glass of cold water on my face. She then went into another tirade. How do I get her to stop this?

Signed,

Wet and Frustrated

Dear Wet,

Wow, that ain't cool. In fact, that is terribly abusive behavior and it's got to stop. The question is: if you were the man you wanted to be, how would you go about preventing this from happening in the future?

That's the dilemma many men find themselves in. If any man did that to you, you'd probably jump up and (once you wiped the water from your eyes) clock the bastard. But wait, if you hit your wife, now YOU have become the perpetrator. Hmmm, seems like you're stuck. If she won't listen to reason, you're forced to either retaliate or somehow live with it. There's got to be a better way. Well, there is a more effective approach.

Call the cops. "Call the cops on my wife!?" Yes, on your wife.

Men are extremely reluctant to report an abusive spouse. Much has been written about the shame men feel from being the victims of domestic violence. That's why incidents are so rarely reported, according to some studies.

But if your wife is resistant to reasonable discussion, what choice do you have? If you allow her to continue with this and other equally abusive and intolerable acts, you may likely get to the point of no return, where you actually do strike back.

Although it may sound like an extreme measure, it may be your smartest move. Police officers are trained to deal with domestic violence. They'll know how to calm everyone down and they'll be able to lay out the reality to both of you. You want your wife to get a clear message and it sounds as if you could use some reinforcements. Better to call in the troops before YOU become the one they haul away. Remember, these types of situations can escalate very quickly. And the results are often tragic.

Now, back to you being the man you want to be. I suspect this abusive relationship you call a marriage didn't always look like it does today. Your wife is clearly unhappy, frustrated, and lacking a healthy sense of boundaries. But barring any mental illness (and I'm referring to both of you,) you may still be able to get your marriage back on track.

The only reason a woman acts out as she did, is because she knows she can get away with it. She knows her husband is weak and afraid. She clearly has no respect for you. It's vital for you to discover why that is, and whether you're willing to commit to being a better man, husband, and perhaps father.

Seek out some counsel and start figuring out what you want your life, your marriage and you as a man to look like. You certainly have a challenge ahead of you. But these situations sometimes offer opportunities to finally deal with important and unresolved underlying issues. Once you begin this process, you may be surprised where it leads. And wherever that is, it'll be a place that's a helluva lot better...and drier than you're in today. Good luck.

Wayne M. Levine, M.A., mentors men to be better men, husbands and fathers. E-mail your questions to MantoMan@BetterMen.org. Visit www.BetterMen.org for more information.


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The VailDaily Updated May 20, 2009 11:05AM Published May 19, 2009 09:17PM Copyright 2009 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.