Q: I haven't been married very long, but the initial stage of my marriage is worrying.
My husband seems to lack basic empathy for me. I don't think he's being malicious, but anytime I have a need that encroaches on his comfort, he gets visibly upset and refuses to deal with the issue. For example, I have some varied allergies. When we got a dog, he swore the one he wanted was hypoallergenic and that with daily, over-the-counter medications I would be fine. That turned out not to be the case. And despite my seasonal allergies, he leaves all the windows open, meaning I end up getting more severe sinus infections. I tried to get him to keep the windows in the house and the car closed during the spring but he says he enjoys the nice breeze and shouldn't have to stop.
I could go on about the ways he dictates my life but these are the most extreme.
Carolyn, I'm worried about how long this is sustainable, and I don't know what to do. I don't think he thinks he's doing anything wrong and when I try to talk to him, he says he can't talk to me when I'm upset. I knew when we got married he had quirks but they've gotten so much worse since we said, "I do." How do I even begin to tackle this attitude?
A: I can't see why you'd want to stay married to him. (1) You're miserable and (2) He's A-OK with that.
You don't have to stay, either.
But if you're just not to that point yet, then I urge you to get into therapy solo with a really good marriage and family therapist. That he's setting rigid parameters for himself and then expecting you to live within them, no matter how sick or unhappy they make you, suggests he's either abusive or showing symptoms of a condition awaiting diagnosis. Not that they're mutually exclusive. Please do talk to a pro as soon as possible; change is inevitable, but with controlling tendencies, the changes you get in the absence of therapeutic intervention are rarely good ones.