Unhappy partner blames me for everything


Dear Annie,

I have an arranged marriage that is having problems. When my husband and I talk, he makes issues out of everthing I say. Also he never supports me with my mother-in-law who seems to look for that moment when she can create a misunderstanding between us.

I have a baby and my husband threatens divorce. Then calls up my parents every other day complaining. What can I do to make this better? ~ Worried and Discouraged

Dear Worried,

I am sorry that you and your husband are having so much trouble. I imagine that neither of you expected your marriage to be this way. And adding an un-supportive mother-in-law into the mix makes it that much harder to create a marriage where you and your husband feel like you are on the same side.

Before I answer more directly, let me say that generally when people aren't getting along it's pretty common to make it all about the other person. It's just easier to blame our unhappiness (problems, disappointment, frustration, anger, stress, bad moods, etc.) on other people then to have to look at ourselves.

So here's the truth. While many of our challenges are truly about us, some of them really aren't.

The trick is to figure out what is our responsibility and what is the other person's. In your case - it sounds like your husband is seeking to put it all on you - and, you are responsible to try to bring your best to your roles of wife and mother, but he also needs to have reasonable expectations and good communication skills. Unfortunately, without these, his frustration has made him harsh and possibly even verbally abusive.

So to be clear - you are NOT responsible for his anger and constant criticism, even if you are making mistakes, he is responsible for how he treats you.

But what can you do about it? Your husband needs not only a change of heart but also a change of mind and abilities. And though I cannot help him because he is not the person seeking help, I can encourage you to take the lead in trying to make your marriage work better.

You need to talk to your husband.

Find a time of your own choosing and explain that you want to be a good wife and mother and are doing your best (which does not mean that you can be perfect). Then tell him that what you need from him is that he work on having more reasonable expectations AND being kinder (less critical) in how he talks to you.

Also tell him (only if you mean it) that your goal is to be a good daughter-in-law and to work on making peace with your mother-in-law and not adding fuel to the fire by making big deals out of her issues. And as you do this, you would like him to take notice of your efforts AND support you when things do come up. (See if you can get him to agree that that is reasonable.)

Beyond this, I strongly encourage you to find continuous support through books, relationship and/or parenting classes and from wise and trustworthy people (family members, good

friends, an elder, mentor, or therapist) who can support and possibly guide you both into being better partners. Hopefully, your husband can learn to be a kinder, more reasonable person with better communication skills and you can get better at growing in your own abilities while standing up for yourself when he becomes unreasonable or mean.

I do hope that you both can find your way. And even if your husband isn't ready to admit that he could do


better, I especially hope that you get support for yourself. You deserve it.

Take care, 
~ Annie

P.S. Feel free to get back in touch with an update or more questions.

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Annie Zirkel, LPC is a Speaker, Author and Relationship Consultant based in Ann Arbor, Michigan who has great appreciation for the challenges of marital happiness, blame, assertiveness, and extended family. She is available for consultation and to answer your questions. You can contact her at annie@practicehow.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .