Dear Dr. Romance :
Me and my husband just recently celebrated our 20 year anniversary.  I bought my husband a small gift and when I ask what he got me- he told me I was not worth getting anything. This really hurt, my husband does not show any kind of affection or consideration for other people's feelings. When he is confronted he just replies "You knew this when you married me."  But this is the least of the problems: he refuses to "man up" and be a father to his two boys- the older one is about to graduate from high school and constantly is getting in trouble and my youngest son is in his early teens. My husband talks down women in general and my older son has learned from this and absolutely hates any kind of authority especially from women. I can't talk to him because he acts and says everything just like my husband- he is an exact clone of my husband!! When I ask my husband for help with the kids, he says I am shitting on him by telling him my problems with the kids and to just leave him alone. I really can't go on living like this. I feel like I am a maid and a sex toy not a wife. Any advice would be very helpful.

Dear Reader:
I'm very sorry to hear of your difficulty.  This is going to be a tough fix, since you have put up with your husband's bad behavior for twenty years.  During that time, he has gotten more and more comfortable in his rigid thinking and anger.  It sounds as if you're afraid of him, and I'm not surprised.  You are going to need support to help you fix your situation.  It's not likely your husband will change, unless something drastic happens to shake him out of his set ways.  That something drastic might be his son getting into severe trouble, or you leaving him, but there's no guarantee that even that would get through to him that he's got problems.  I'm not sure where you live, but there is probably free or low-cost counseling available, that would help you think through what to do about your situation. Try your local community or county mental health department, or call the Domestic Violence Hotline  at 1-800-799-SAFE. 

If possible, you would also benefit from attending Adult Children of Alcoholic s (whether the name fits you or not, you have the symptoms) meetings, which are free, or take a donation.  You can find ACA meetings here   . At least try a meeting or two.    "What is a Dysfunctional Relationship"  will help you understand how much trouble your relationship is in and "Family Violence Q & A"   will help you get out of your situation. It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction   has all the information and exercises you need to begin to understand and change the dysfunction.     

It Ends With You

For low-cost counseling, email me at tina@tinatessina.com

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.