My husband thinks i’m stupid

When I don’t understand something right away, my husband asks: "How stupid are you??" I’m beginning to doubt myself already.

Dr. Doris Wolf

My husband thinks I'm stupid

© PAL Publishing House

Cornelia describes the following problem:

If I don’t understand something right away or make a stupid remark, my husband immediately asks: "How stupid are you??" Slowly I myself begin to doubt my abilities and trust myself less and less.

The other day we were invited to my mother-in-law’s birthday party. At the coffee table the conversation turned to the topic of driving a car. When I said that I would like to get my driver’s license next year, he just laughed out loud – that would only make the driving school rich. And his family joined in. I can’t tell you how humiliated I felt. I was laughed at like a little child.

Actually I have no reason to be ashamed of myself. If I had been supported as a child, I would be in a different position in life today. Jan has the better school education and even studied, while it is "only" with me was enough for secondary school. He has the time to read and have interesting conversations with colleagues, while I have to take care of the household and our two children.

But instead of relieving me and helping me to fill the supposed gaps in my education, he does everything to discourage and humiliate me. When I want to take an English course at the adult education center, he calls it a "wasted effort". When we are invited to a friend’s house, he tells me beforehand to stay away from political topics. When he’s in a good mood, he lectures about what he reads in the newspaper.

When I’m with friends and acquaintances – without him – I hardly take part in conversations nowadays. If I would be laughed at here, too, I could not bear it. I am really afraid of doing or saying something wrong and so I prefer to leave it alone.

When we were still freshly in love, I admired him for his education. At that time he probably made one or two remarks, but I didn’t mind that. Love makes probably not only blind, but also deaf. In the meantime I wonder why he married me, since I am supposedly so beneath him.

Jan, her husband, says

There are simply things that Cornelia has little or no idea about. Nevertheless, she always pretends to have a say in everything. It’s obvious that she’ll be shipwrecked quickly. Others would learn from it and hold back – not my wife. She does it with such a mixture of naivety and carelessness.

And that annoys me so much that I sometimes call her stupid. Well, that’s just the way it goes. Quickly said, quickly forgotten. It is possible that in a social gathering a joke may be made at her expense. This is a harmless teasing and no reason to be offended to death right away. Everyone has his little weak points. For example, I couldn’t run the household nearly as well as Cornelia could. I admire her for that.

Dr. Doris Wolf answers

In the partnership of Cornelia and Jan the fundamental respect is missing. It’s all right for Jan to find that Cornelia lacks knowledge on certain subjects. But this is no reason to embarrass her in front of everyone or not to listen to her. He obviously lacks the necessary self-confidence to take Cornelia as she is. He feels strong when he makes fun of Cornelia.

Cornelia has to learn to take herself as a yardstick and to recognize her own strengths. She has to speak her mind and realize her goals regardless of how Jan reacts. Cornelia exists only in the combination, with the abilities, opinions and experiences, as she is – not as Jan would like her to be baked.

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