Ever notice that Carey Tennis is the only advice columnist I seem to do over? Yeah, well, he fucked this one up bad.
I am a longtime reader and fan of your column. I'm not really sure that my problem falls into any of the usual categories. My husband is a hard-core environmentalist. I am also, but to a lesser degree. I've made many concessions to try to make him happy, such as living without a car and becoming a vegetarian. I am the main breadwinner and work 50+ hours a week, plus I run a small business on the side to help put him through graduate school. I don't have a lot of free time, but I do a lot of the housework. Here is where the problem comes in.
My husband becomes enraged if he catches me putting clothes in the dryer (instead of hanging them outside) or if I forget to turn down the water heater (he insists that it be turned off whenever we're not using immediately.) I've gone around and around with him, trying to point out that there are reasonable limits to what a person can do to save energy and decrease her carbon footprint.
Sometimes my time is simply more valuable than the energy I burn to save it. He doesn't see it this way and accuses me of being lazy and uncommitted. I'm feeling increasingly inadequate and resentful. Over time he is becoming more and more extreme. Apart from the environmental thing, my husband is a very sweet and gentle person. It's like he's morphing into Captain Planet. Or the Planetary Avenger. Or something. Can you offer any fresh insights into the situation?
Dear NC Hippie,
Your husband is not an enviromentalist. He is a control freak and an abuser. His need to control you and his insulting you when you don't do things his way is a huge red flag. Like all abusive partners he is sweet and gentle after he insults you so you will continue to stick around hoping for the good parts to come. Like all abusive partners he will escalate his controlling behavior until you are completely dominated by him and your fear of his anger if you don't do things just right. Get out. Get out now before it gets any worse. If you need help call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.