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Ask Ellie: Relationship can't survive bullying tactics

Dear Ellie: My husband and I have been together since we were 16. We have three children. Things started getting rocky between us after our daughter was born. She’s now eight years old. He picked up a second job, then went back to school.
Advice columnist Ellie
Ellie

Advice columnist EllieDear Ellie: My husband and I have been together since we were 16. We have three children. Things started getting rocky between us after our daughter was born. She’s now eight years old.

He picked up a second job, then went back to school.

I’m the one who cooks and I work full-time, too.

Whenever we have a small misunderstanding, he calls me a nasty name like fat bitch and much worse. He’s fat-shamed me for a while. He’s even said that everyone else has babies and loses their weight fast.

I turned to surgery to alter my body, and it nearly killed me. I became septic and now I’m on a feeding bag and have a bunch of issues. I’ve lost about 30 pounds just from being sick.

But I can’t get those names he called me out of my head.

Will I lose the weight and then be good enough for him? I’m so hurt and still so angry at him that when I was in the hospital fighting for my life, I told him that maybe if he treated me better and supported me, I wouldn’t have had the surgery that almost killed me.

Yes, I have tried leaving him, and then he says he will

change and that we have kids. I need advice.

Still Hurt and Angry

I have advice, but first, a reality check: Fat-shaming is the lowest form of bullying, especially from someone within your own family and daily life. It reveals a total lack of support and empathy.

You may have three children together, but you do not have a partner.

Focus on yourself and your health. I understand your hurt and anger, but they’re depleting your energy to heal.

Ask your doctor all the possible safe ways to improve your physical situation and pursue health improvements.

Next, find a therapist for yourself (not marital), and work on mental health with ways to boost your self-worth and self-image. Work towards a time when you dismiss those low-level insults from memory.

Your children need to grow up believing that bullying isn’t accepted. They need to be in a family where parents show respect and caring for each other. Without that, his response that “we have kids…” is meaningless.

Once you look after yourself through health and therapy, you can consider working on keeping your marriage together and trying marital counselling, or deciding that you need to move on.

Dear Ellie: My son, 21, has been in a two-year relationship with a young woman, 20, from overseas, here on a work visa. She’s returning home soon to begin post-secondary studies.

They’re very compatible. I really enjoy seeing them together and how they’ve matured and grown.

I don’t think they’re “breaking up” when she goes and I’m unsure what’ll become of their relationship. They’re obviously young with a lot ahead of them.

I’d like to be able to offer some words of wisdom for how to handle the fact that they’ll be so far away from each other.

I know my son will be heartbroken when she leaves.

Caring, Concerned Mom

You’re a loving mother so your concern is natural, but there’s little you can do to affect how this will turn out.

Their youth is a charming but predictable factor: They can’t avoid meeting other people, feeling a need for socializing and seeking steady companionship.

Stand back, Mom, while remaining supportive and understanding of your son. Time will tell the rest.

Reader’s Commentary

Regarding the young man whose live-in girlfriend is being pressured by her father to marry someone of his choice or he’ll cut all ties if she remains with her “low caste” partner:

“It’s not that I’ve suffered such a situation, although these pressures are readily exerted even today across all of our society.

“However, I am puzzled about something: If caste is so prominent as a reason for a gainful marriage, why does the young woman’s current relationship not invalidate her worthiness as a bride?

“Perhaps it’s more a financial concern for the father. His upper-caste pick is most likely well-monied.

“Just a thought.”

Ellie: It’s a clever deduction on your part, and possibly also an accurate guess about the father’s choice, because much of a society’s caste system and racism is based on keeping certain groups down in education opportunities and job levels, so that other “higher” groups can prosper.

Ellie’s tip of the day

No relationship can thrive in an atmosphere of bullying and insults. Families in which these tactics persist are harmful to everyone, including innocent children.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca