I am married with two small children: one boy and one girl. In the seven years I’ve been married, my husband has been both very loving and very abusive. After he abuses me, he is immediately sorry (even crying and begging my forgiveness). But I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I keep leaving, but then I miss him, and the kids miss him, and we go back.
My father says if I go back this time, he will call Social Services and have my children put in foster homes. I’m so confused. I cannot lose my children, but I miss their father. I also hate him and how he has made life for us. Is it possible to hate someone and love them, too? ~ Natalie
Dear Natalie, you did not say if you were abused, yourself, as a child. But I find it curious that your father (and mother) did not say they would take your children. So I’m answering your email (which I have abbreviated) on the assumption you were abused as a child.
Now, to your question: Is it possible to love and hate someone at the same time? Absolutely! In fact, if you were abused, yourself, it would be normal. Survivors vacillate between conflicting emotions constantly because they are persons of extremes.
If friends have an inkling of what your husband is doing to you, will ask why you keep going back to him. They’ll ask why you allow yourself to be degraded like that? And you will have no answer for them because you, yourself, do not understand why you do. The common answer is, “Because I love him.” But you and I know you also hate him, even as you try to make excuses for his behavior.
You need to be in counseling, Natalie. If you lose your children, you will never forgive yourself. God trusted you with those babies, and it’s up to you to put their safety first. The fact that your husband is always “sorry” does not impress me. Many abusers are extremely unstable emotionally. His crying says more about his instability than about your worth to him.
Perhaps you don’t know the law in your state. But I do, and should your husband harm one of them, you would be charged right along with him. When I was the Director of C.O.P.E., Inc., I saw dozens of mothers go to prison even though they were not the ones who physically/sexually harmed their children. They were accessories. (They gave the man access to the children.) And yes, they lost their children to the system. Since your husband seems to have no impulse control, the ball is in your court, Natalie. It’s up to you to protect them.
If it is not possible (or healthy) to move in with your parents, there are shelters in every county that will help you. They will house you, feed you, and give you information on where to go to get legal and psychological help.
One thing I would definitely caution you about is getting involved with another man until you have finished counseling. If you run out and find another man to “rescue” you, the odds are very high that you would only pick another man like your husband. Your “love needs” must take a back seat to your children’s safety needs.
Did you ever wonder what your children are learning through all of this? Children are like little sponges, just soaking up intuitive knowledge through what they see demonstrated in the home. What your daughter is learning is that women should expect to be disrespected and beaten as long as the abuser is “sorry”. Your son is learning that the only way to “control” women – and his father has taught him that they do need to be controlled – is through disrespect and violence.
And last, you didn’t mention if you had a relationship with Jesus Christ, Natalie. If you don’t, you can ask Him into your life to be your Lord and Savior. He died for you so that you could have access to God The Father. God will help you in ways you never dreamed possible because He loves you very much. (His love does not include violence.) Perhaps you can’t even grasp that concept right now, so go to a shelter, or the Salvation Army, or a church and ask for a Bible. The more you read God’s Word, the more you will understand how very much God loves you. Besides, you need loving Christians to help you through this hard time, so it would be good to get involved in a church body.
God bless you and give you strength, Natalie!
(c) 2009 April Lorier