Hi Adam, I am a successful educator and doing extremely well in my profession. I earn a handsome salary, am pretty and respected in my chosen field. My two sons are also well settled and the elder one is married. We are all staying in a joint family.
My husband retired from a high post sometime back. The problem is that my husband is a very negative person. In any problem or situation, he will always think of the worst possible thing that could happen. He is also very bossy, almost a bully and wants to control everybody's life. He opens his mouth only to instruct, order, find faults, criticise or advise. He expects all family to behave, or do things HIS way. It is becoming increasingly difficult to stay with him because he is snapping at us all the time. He often gets into arguments with the elder son. He even insults me in front of servants.
I am an independent woman and I resent being treated as if I am stupid. I run a school with 3000 kids. I keep forgiving and forgetting, but it starts all over again. How should I handle the situation?
There are different approaches.
For some reason, I feel like saying to you to write him a letter. Not necessarily an attacking letter, but one that expresses how you feel. You can include what you like about him as well as what you don’t like about him or his behaviour. Write about how it makes you feel when he acts in certain ways. You may find it therapeutic, and if you find it difficult to talk to him, or if he doesn’t listen to you, then you can just give him the letter.
Obviously talking is the most obvious step you could take to at least express how you feel. You didn’t mention any of this in your message to me, so I assume you haven’t spoken to him about this? Maybe you have, but he becomes very closed and defensive whenever you bring it up? I understand he may not be at all receptive to anything that he feels is critical towards him.
And as an extra note, talking doesn’t have to be you criticising him. It could be more about how you feel e.g. “When you react like this I feel very uncomfortable inside, I feel a strong resentment towards you when you say these things.” This can be more effective than just snapping at him in anger. I’m not saying there are any ways you should behave, I’m just giving some ideas.
If none of that is useful, then what is left to do? You either remain living with him or you leave. If you remain where you are, you can notice that your resentment and resistance towards him doesn’t actually fix the situation, it just creates pain for you. Often people can just act as triggers, showing us what is inside of us. If you take his negativity or reactivity seriously, as if it is real, then it will seem very important, and your very resistance to it will probably just fuel it.
If you give him some freedom to be as he is - freedom to be negative, freedom to be hostile, then you may notice that it is not your burden to bear. It is not yours to control or manipulate. If you let him be as he wants to be, you may see that none of it is really about you, it is just his own pain regenerating itself over and over again. But if you feel yourself pushing back against him emotionally, it will not be easy to see the impersonal nature of it. It will all feel very real and personal.
If you let him snap, you may see the madness of it, but rather than resenting it or wishing it were different, you may just laugh. Not in a mocking way, but you may see the silliness of it. Or you may just feel no need to react to it, since your reactions are what make it seem to stick and live inside you.
The trick is this: someone gets angry, and blames you or others for it. They believe that you are the reason for their inner distress. Then this can make someone feel responsible for someone else’s bad mood or ill feelings. But you gave them no uncomfortable feelings, you didn’t create it within them. They create it within themselves..
And it is the same for you as well - a great deal of inner negativity is not directly due to what goes on around you. It is an inner creation, a reaction which sustains itself by convincing you that it is due to another person. When really, if you allow your own reactions, allow your own negativity, you will see it is purely an inner phenomenon. The situation or person may trigger it, but the feelings themselves are created within you. This can naturally be seen when you do not argue with yourself, let yourself feel however you feel. Give your feelings and thoughts space to be exactly as they already are. This doesn’t mean they will stay, it actually means they will burn up. As they are released they may feel more intense, but this will not last. In the same way, if you let your husband be bossy, but not take his bossing seriously, then he may become angrier in order to get a response, in order to feel that he exists. Let that happen too.
When the moment presents itself, you may find yourself speaking up, but it will come from a deeper, more powerful and less reactive place. Or you may just be silent. The right thing seems to occur whenever you are not trying to fight and manipulate life. Then action can just flow.
If that is of no use, then what else to say? Leave? But notice that remaining in the home whilst still creating negativity inside only creates suffering. You don’t have to remove your own negativity, it leaves by itself once it is seen to no longer be helping you or the situation.
Hope that can help,