DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Jimmy," and I moved to the United States from an Asian country 15 years ago. About seven years ago, he lost a lot of money in the stock market. After that, he quit his well-paying job to do day trading and recover the money he lost. He has tried several strategies; none has made any money.
I have a good job, so Jimmy doesn't feel pressured to support his family. However, he's become chronically angry, constantly criticizing me and the kids. His self-esteem is down and he has become extremely impatient, giving me and the kids the silent treatment for days and weeks over little things that make him angry.
Both of our families are back home in Asia, and I do not have a strong support system here. Jimmy doesn't care about socializing with people from our culture and doesn't go out with the family. I have suggested counseling; he doesn't have much faith in it. I have gone for two counseling sessions on my own, which helped me to recognize that he's being verbally abusive.
The negativity in our house is so bad that even our kids don't want to be in the same room as their father. I have considered divorce, but it's not easily accepted in my culture, and I am afraid of being on my own and scared of making such a big decision.
I have tried everything -- offering to help him, be there for him, trying to appease him when he's angry, even though it's not my fault, giving him his space, etc. We are living together for convenience and practicality, but there is no relationship left. We live parallel lives and avoid each other.
Even before changing professions, Jimmy was arrogant, difficult to get along with and had a temper -- but now it has gone from bad to worse. I don't know what to do anymore. Any suggestions you can give would be helpful. -- BEWILDERED ASIAN WIFE
DEAR BEWILDERED WIFE: Your husband used the stock market to gamble, and he lost big time -- as did a lot of other investors who mistook the stock market for a sure thing. He may be mad at the world, but he's probably angrier at himself, and he appears to be taking it out on the people closest to him.
You can't fix him. Until your husband is ready to admit that he is the problem -- and do something about it -- the best advice I can offer is to consider carefully how his abusive behavior is affecting your children. If you stay, your son(s) will grow up thinking this is normal, and probably repeat it with their wives. And your daughter(s) will likely marry someone "just like dear old Dad."
My advice is to offer your husband the option of counseling one more time, and if he refuses, to consult an attorney about a legal separation. That way you will no longer be responsible for any more debt he may incur. And then, either get him out of the house or take the children to a healthier environment. It wouldn't have to be fancy -- just tension-free. You absolutely cannot continue being the golden goose that gets kicked around. It's bad for you, destructive for your children, and it isn't helping your husband.
P.S. More counseling for you is a must! It will serve as the support system you need while your family goes through this period of transition.