Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Husband Won’t Stop Berating Spouse

DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I’m constantly under attack in my marriage. Whenever my husband calls out my name, I cringe because I expect him to disparage me about something. It could be the littlest thing. Like, if he can’t find something, he sharply calls out my name and speaks in a berating tone, asking where the thing is. If he is talking about something that I don’t know about, he will look at me with his eyes big and wide, suck his teeth and ask how it is possible that I don’t know that thing. Whatever the topic, usually he treats me like I’m stupid if I can’t immediately join the conversation exactly where he is or have the solution to his problem. This may seem small, buy I really don’t know what to do. I am tired of always being under his surveillance. How can I get him to be kind to me? -- Under Fire

DEAR UNDER FIRE: Have you tried to tell him how his tone makes you feel? I know that may seem like a daunting task, but he needs to know that the way he speaks to you is upsetting. You can go one step further and ask him to go to counseling with you. Tell him you love him and want to strengthen your bond. Right now you are feeling very uncomfortable in your relationship. Tell him that you think a professional counselor might be able to help the two of you get back on track.

If he is unwilling, or if this upsets him more, think about removing yourself from this marriage. Do you think that your husband is being verbally abusive? The signs include: condescension, critical comments, blame, threats and accusations, among others. If you are worried that you are stuck in a relationship that is unhealthy, reach out for help. You can call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233. For more information, go to joinonelove.org/learn/11-common-patterns-verbal-abuse/.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was recently given a promotion at my job. I was excited about that until I learned that it’s a bit complicated. I was up for this promotion for more than a year, and I have been super patient and basically just waiting. My boss had promised it to me a while back. But now that I got it, I learned that I can’t get my raise until some indefinite time down the line. Because of the economic situation we are in, they are unwilling to give more money even though they do expect more work. We aren’t in a union, so I don’t feel like I have much leverage here. Should I go along in hopes that when things get better I’ll get a raise, or should I demand my increase now? -- Time for a Raise

TIME FOR A RAISE: We are living through unprecedented times in which the economy is turned upside down and everyone is trying to figure out how to survive. Within this context, patience and faith are key. Do your best at your new job despite the pay freeze. Trust that in time, as the economy improves, you will get your due. Your boss probably can’t put a timeline on this as nobody knows how or when the economy will improve. With that in mind, work hard and believe that your paycheck will come.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)