DEAR ABBY: I married "Jerry" five years ago. I am 37 and he's 26. From the beginning, Jerry has said hurtful things from time to time, like, "Our marriage is over," "I want a divorce," etc. He also refuses to do household repairs. (He moved into my house.)
When Jerry doesn't get his way, he accuses me of being selfish. He wants us to buy a new house. Abby, I am terrified of going further into debt with him. We've been to marriage counseling. We were told the worst thing we could do is to buy another house together. We would only move our problems to a new location.
Yesterday was the last straw. He said, "You may look young, but you're old. No one is ever going to want you for anything except what they can get out of you!"
I have not confided this to a single soul. I'm too ashamed that the man I married could think something so cruel -- let alone say it.
Jerry always apologizes, but I can't seem to get past this. When I think about what he said, I start to cry. (He can't understand why I'm not able to "get over it" and jump into bed.)
Abby, I look a decade younger than my actual age. May I add, Jerry is no Mr. Universe, although he seems to think he is. What do you think of this situation, and most of all -- me? -- CRUSHED IN THE ROCKIES
DEAR CRUSHED: You are married to a verbal abuser. He uses insults and deprecation the way other abusers use their fists. If you continue to accept this treatment, your self-esteem will eventually dwindle to zero -- which is his goal.
You've tried counseling. It hasn't worked. Now it's time to ask yourself, "Are you better off with him or without him?" The answer is obvious to me.