When Is Enough, Enough?

My spouse has suffered from severe chronic back pain for the last 3 years of our 7 year marriage.  Recently it's gotten so bad that he has begun to take it out on me.  I try to support him, I rarely (I'm not perfect!) complain about him not being able to help out with child care (we have two children under 5) or house work and I help him as much as I can.  But I have my break downs too.  Why am I expected to never be stressed out?  Last night I had one of those break downs and slammed a door.  My husband freaked out and came after me and began to choke me.  Luckily he stopped before he did any harm, and apologized later, but how much am I expected to take?

Mimi80 Mimi80
26-30, F
12 Responses Sep 20, 2009

Hi Mimi,

I'm new here, and I wrote in originally because I was so glad to find at least a group where the spouses of the chronic pain sufferers could come and get support. I am the spouse IN pain in my house, and it's destroyed my marriage, but my husband never said one word, until "I want a divorce." Then I had my bonus fear confirmed. He found somebody else.

Clearly you have a different situation with the same base. HOWEVER, I also worked in law enforcement before this happened to me and even though he's in chronic pain NO ONE EVER HAS THE RIGHT TO HURT YOU! Ever. Period!!

Read the 2nd to the last sentence of your posting. This is classic. IF you knew how common the feelings of guilt are for a victim, and the reinforcement they get that it is all their fault that their hubby (or wife) had to slap them, punch them, choke them....
I realize you feel guilty for not being able to handle it all, but you are human. This does not mean the right you have to respect has been forfeited. But to try and cause harm to you, and then make sure you feel it's YOUR fault. NO way! Throwing the B.S. flag on that one, excuse my language.

Your marriage has turned into a classic batterer/victim pattern. This WILL progress if you do not take steps NOW to address it. You love your husband, of that I'm sure, and he loves you, but he's gotten to the point where verbal blaming or outpouring of anger is not enough for him.

Your marriage and your husband's pain have brought him to a place where he will, not might, but he will bring physical harm to you, unless you get help now. If I were you, I'd sit down with him and tell him that the strain between the two of you has gone to far and you both need to see a counselor.
Now, I can hear you already saying he didn't mean it, it's ok now, he'd never "really" hurt you and on and on. I get that. It's the way anyone feels that has had this start in their relationship. The reason(s) he did it do NOT matter. The line has been crossed and without some anger help, for you both, and an objective party that can help you both see that the other one still has the same rights to feel, and the same humanness to feel all the rotten feelings, AND someone to help you both see that each partner's feelings are valid, even if they don't stem from the exact same point.

What I mean is, no you cannot know how it feels to have this everyday back pain, but he does not know how it feels to give birth. Yes, I realize one is all the time, one was short term in comparison, but what I'm trying to show is you are just as affected by what's happened to his back, as he is. albeit in different ways. You will never know how it feels to be in his pain. But that is not a reason to feel guilty.

His anger, which I have felt, over losing the ability to work, losing the feeling of being productive, (men often feel that their role as protector has now disappeared, but I'll tell you what, female I am, but damn have I felt guilty that we have had to survive on one income, especially when we had always had two incomes.) OF not being able to go and have fun with his girls, of the side effects of the meds, and the depression and isolation, it's all valid stuff for him, that gives him no right at all to make you feel guilty for. This goes for any and all people in pain, and the spouses/partners that love them.

Please, you owe it to your marriage, to your daughters, to yourself, and your hubby, we don't leave him out lol, to get some help now. A counselor will be able to give both you and your husband, and even, your daughters, new tools you never needed before this. What you're both using, blame, guilt, and physical blows, will only destroy what you have. Even if you stay married for the next 20 years, your daughters will gravitate toward angry men that blame them for all their own problems. They will respond in kind, having learned how from watching you.

There was never anything of the physical sort of harm in my marriage. But it's been over 19 years, it's in tatters, and the pain I know I feel has nothing to do with my back. It puts that pain on the same level as a paper cut when compared.

Even if he will not see a counselor. You need to make that commitment and promise to yourself that you WILL. At least then you might feel better having some tools and outlets that will make you feel better. I'm begging you. YOU are worth it. Don't ever not believe that.

The more I read the more I'd like to try and fill this gap for both partners. IT seems there is so very little out there that actually addresses how very huge the toll is on both the pain person, and those they live with. We need to try and make sure the next wife or husband down the line is not left without new tools to meet this new challenge in their lives. Same goes for the pain patient. Nothing more than lip service was paid to me. And not because my doc doesn't care, he's awesome. I don't think the DOCS know how huge it is.

Ok, I just saw how old the post is, so was going to say, I left this here, simply to have an answer for anyone else that may be going through this. Then I saw your response which I'm still reading.

So, I will stop here. I am hoping that the story ends well when I get to the end. I see it got pretty hairy there. As far as I've read, wow Mimi, you so did the right thing. I hope you are all safe, and whether together or not, I hope you realized that this was never your fault. I'm thinking no matter what, you got the tools to realize and believe that.

Ok, I got to the end of the post. You did the right thing, I think you know that, but I am so glad you are happier, and he is better, although still meeting challenges himself.

I can tell you, that I have 5 herniated discs in a row. Those are all thoracic. Then I have at least 2 lumbar herniations. I have had this pain for over 10 years. I know this won't be the same, but I'll tell you, you don't have to make excuses for him because of the pain he is in.
Nobody should feel they have to take any abuse, verbal, emotional, or physical from their partner just because their partner has chronic pain.

I wish you the best, and hope that the girls are also doing well. I also wish your ex husband the best.

I know this post is ancient, but your story hits close to home that I really want to know how things worked out. I'm the husband who is slowly coming apart at the seams. Old damages, hangups, and yes, abusive tendencies have come out when I slip into the deep depths of wanting anything except more pain. Everything that I thought I was over and some current problems I didn't appreciate the gravity of came to the surface. I often feel like a cornered injured animal during a pain spike--and that's when people do things they didn't even consciously know they were capable of.

In that sense, I pose the question of whether you were in more danger a week before this incident than the day after--same person, same risks, pain, and potential triggers but now you know what's under the surface and can be wary. He might not have known it was a possibility, either.

I agree that you and the kids need to be absolutely sure you feel safe. It's different for every family, but I can speak from experience that there is healing out there for each of you if you seek support in the right places. Everyone here has given wonderful advice on where to go and what to do. Healing doesn't always mean staying, but whether you left or not, your husband needs help too. Do you know if he's gotten any?

Hi tranksunk. Well, here is the rest of the story:

A few days after this incident, I sat my husband down and told him this: "What you did was unacceptable. If you ever do that again, or I ever feel threatened again, or I get any inkling that you might do something like that again, I will take the children and leave without a word and you will never hear from me again. I love you and I want to help you, but I won't tolerate this." And an incident like this never happened again.

BUT... his pain got worse and his associated depression got worse until the point that he decided to take his own life. He made a plan and drove out the desert while I begged and pleaded with him on the phone not do this. When our call got cut off, I called his family and begged them to pray or do anything they could think of to help. Eventually his brother (an emergency response professional) and his mother were able to get a hold of him and talk to him. He checked himself into a hospital and I spent 48 hours unaware of what was happening to him. That was my final straw. I told my husband that I couldn't handle what was happening anymore. I explained that my love and care for him was not enough to help him... I didn't have the right tools, but if he was willing to seek help from professionals, I would take that journey with him.

So, we both participated in therapy - as individuals and as a couple. His pain did not get better at that time, but his depression, our relationship, and both of us as individuals did get much better. Professional therapists and the help they gave us were miracles.

During late-August through mid-October of last year, there was a tumor discovered and removed from the lamina of the L2 vertebrae in my husbands back. After that, the pain disappeared, but recover and withdrawal from narcotics is still ongoing.

Our marriage - meaning communication, respect, understanding, appreciation, etc. - was much better after the hell and recover we went through. With that being said though, we are currently separated and going through the divorce process. We still love and care for each other and have a great friendship, but our differences were too great. Hitting rock bottom was the catalyst for us to address our problems and we grew into better people of it, but we also realized that we both wanted more from a companion and lover.

I want to reiterate again that our marriage was better at the end than it had ever been and that we still care for and respect each other. I think too, though, that there may have been too much pain (emotional) inflicted on each other. I don't know that I have the words to properly express what that does to a person's ability to trust.

Anyhow, to answer your question, yes, we've both gotten help that has been very beneficial to each other and our children and we both continue to do so.

And please know that I ache for you and your family. I know how hard it is to see the person you love suffer day after day and not knowing how to help. There were so so *so* many times I wished there was someone out there with whom I could talk. Please feel free to message me anytime - you, or your spouse. Good luck.

I didn't say this, but I think it's also very important: We are both happier and more fulfilled today. (Our children are also!)

(Oh - and we separated and began the divorce process in July and I would say that thanks to the therapy and improvement of our relationship, we've been able to do this without any lawyers. We agree on most everything and what we don't agree on, we've been able to discuss and then process and then compromise unbegrudgingly. Knock on wood that it continues!)

I'm so sorry to hear about your husband. Mine too has been practically bedridden for 9 months. He gets crabby with me and the children (combined total of 5 all loving with us). You have every reason to feel overwhelmed and stressed. He can not hurt you. Do what you need to to help yourself and your kids. Don't look back in 20 years and wish you'd made different decisions. Im sending you good vibes. Please send me yours. :)

I have been. Much love and good luck.

His pain may be awful, but it doesn't justify his actions. I know - my wife has chronic pain, and we both lose our tempers way more than we should. We've seen marriage councellers for the matter, and right now, I'm seeing a therapist to deal with my own stress. It sounds like you guys are at that point, because things either need to change or you need to leave him.

i get it . you do what you have to.i had to tell my hubby i was unhappy miss-sir- bell. i love my hubby but wean you lash out on me and the kids. it geting a lil better but i tell him wean you feel mad sad or you want to be alone tell me and i try to work arond how his mood is but it can feel like wip lash i have had my sher of ex that put there hand on me 1 time and there no marks you can for give but if he do it one more time you have to tell him to get out cool off then get the kids out of the house pack your's and the kids stuff put at the door wean he comes in you tell he not the only one in pain and that it not ok how he acting he in pain well he you are to and if he dont get his **** right ther wont be a us you have to go foword wit what you say cuz only you can stop it you have to talk if that do not work u have to act cuz your kids need a mom. be strong cuz women have had to be strong from the begiening of time

That is a very difficult situation to face. But, you, as of last night have become a victim of domestic abuse and my strong suggestion would be to remove yourself and your children from that situation. I cannot even begin to tell you that I understand what it is like to face the fears and uncertainties associated with a decision like that. I don't. But, the studies have been done over and over and over again. Once it starts, it rarely, almost never, stops. And the most common recommendation made by professionals is to remove yourself from the situation. Ouch. I'm sorry. That's a tough one. Prayers to you.

That is a very difficult situation to face. But, you, as of last night have become a victim of domestic abuse and my strong suggestion would be to remove yourself and your children from that situation. I cannot even begin to tell you that I understand what it is like to face the fears and uncertainties associated with a decision like that. I don't. But, the studies have been done over and over and over again. Once it starts, it rarely, almost never, stops. And the most common recommendation made by professionals is to remove yourself from the situation. Ouch. I'm sorry. That's a tough one. Prayers to you.

I hope with all my heart that you take your children away from this situation right away. No excuses. My husband is at a chronic level 9 pain and despite extreme stress and my regular breakdowns, he has never disrespected me in word or deed. This behavior is not excusable. Please don't stay where you or your kids are in physical or psychological danger.

These people are hearing clearly. Listen to them, you are not.<br />
You should be alarmed and roused to action. Get a therapist involved, go talk to his doctor and have them prescribe it or get in touch with Social Services in your area. Make it clear to him that there are two completely independent lives in your household and that you have to take care of your integrity, your physical and your psychological well being to the extent that you are able in order to function as a partner, friend and lover. Set the ground rules that there will not be a second time. That you do not deserve physical or mental abuse. This is your right darlin. Please do it.

Honey I have lived with cronic pain most of my life which has got alot worse since being diagnosed with early onset of osteo arthritus. <br />
I have 2 young sons that I have always had to raise totally on my own and love doing it, I also have a severe manic depression.<br />
No one, no matter how badly I may feel physically or mentally, ever needs to make excuses for my behavior. I am by no means perfect but it sounds like your husband expects you to be!<br />
So do you really think it is ok that he can feel whatever and take it out on your self which in turn will effect your kids. If he is allowed to keep behaving this way without learning to control his outbursts, next time he does take it out on you, maybe he might not be able to stop and what if your kids witness it?<br />
He'll keep appologising tll one day you may not survive to be there to say sorry to, what will happen to your kids then!<br />
I really hope that you can expect more for yourself as there is no excuse for any sort of violence for any reason, and that is a well known fact world wide!<br />
I wish you good luck and much strength!

Yes, he is seeing a doctor and getting treatment, but we haven't seen any improvement yet. He's also going to school for a PhD in a very intense science. He has lot's of burdens and I feel like I have to make excuses for him because he lives with pain I can't imagine every single day.

Girl, what the hell is wrong with you, dont you EVER let no man put his hands on you. Run, thats all i have to say. Put your foot down and MEAN it!