Dear Dr. Romance:
My husband has always suffered from abandonment issues.  His mother & maternal grandmother were abusive and non-nurturing. They dangled the carrot of money as his reward but criticized him for everything about himself and cited the reason he helped them and loved them was for the money.  By the way, it was not a large sum. They told him he was stupid and worthless.  His father died when he was about 10. 

Fast forward, he acts like a pendulum. He has always been possessive of me. He is suspicious of his sister and generally all people.  He waffles between saying outrageous things and then gushing love.  The behaviour has escalated over two years; he is 40 now.  He accuses me of continual affairs, he thinks I am involved with his best friend, he thinks I visit department stores because I have a secret desire for a black man. He wakes in the morning, very angry.  He accuses me of leaving during the night to have an affair. A day without the outrageous accusations is a day of rest.  (We are caucasian and he dislkes black men).

I don't think I can take it anymore.  He needs constant compliments about his appearance.  He says he doesn't get the affection he needs from me and I am at fault for everything that is wrong in our relationship.He is a person that must be recognized for his accomplishments at work and complimented or he is unhappy.  He interprets things that co-workers or others say as criticisms. He usually doesn't last in a job long because of his misconceptions about the people in authority.

On the other hand, he is the person that people respond to because of his winning upbeat personality. He attracts many friends.  He is very outgoing. He has an over the top kind of outgoing personality. Some people find it off-putting.

I am also afraid of familial traits.  His maternal grandfather committed suicide and a fraternal uncle committed suicide.  His father drank and had affairs.

He is completely unreasonable with me! He verbally attacks me. In public he kisses me and tells me he loves me. He expresses love for our children in public and compliments them. I started dating him when I was seventeen and we married when I was 23. He says he can't share me with anyone. This roller coaster of emotions has changed me.  I have become guarded and withdrawn.

I am always aware of my behavior because of the fight it will generate when we are alone.  I am wary of him becoming worse as he ages and the effects on our two children. (daughter age 12, son age 9).  By the way, I have never had an affair and am a person who could be very content in our marriage if he could stop the craziness.  I could end this marriage now and move to a small apartment with my children for a calm and reasonable life. By the way, he is open to therapy because he thinks a therapist can tell me how to give him what he needs.   Is there hope?

Dear Reader:

It probably wouldn't help to go to therapy with him, because he'll only show his socially correct and pleasant side, and the therapist will not be able to get through to him.  He is severely damaged by his childhood, and that is only correctable if he sees it's a problem and chooses to get help. Going to therapy together because he thinks you need it isn't going to be effective. It would be helpful if you went by yourself to a counselor familiar with domestic violence and told the truth.

You are in a dangerous situation.  You have described a classic abuser, a violent and dangerous man.  You need to get away from him.  There is no hope if he doesn't get help for his uncontrolled rages, and he probably won't.  If you think you can protect yourself and your children you would be wise to end the marriage and move to a small apartment.  However I have doubts that he will leave you alone, and men like him typically escalate the violence when faced with loss of their families.  I suggest you take your children and go to a woman's shelter.  Call the Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for advice and help.  Please -- you are leaving yourself and your children in danger.  Read my article, "Family Violence Q & A" for more information about how to protect yourself and your children.  

It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction will help you understand his problems from childhood; as well as your reasons for accepting the bad treatment you're receiving.  

It Ends With You

for low-cost counseling, contact me at 

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.

Dr. Tessina, is CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for, a website designed to strengthen relationships and guide couples through the various stages of their relationship with personalized tips, courses, and online couples counseling. Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC News.