I’m Stuck. How Do I Help Him See His Problem Instead of Blaming Me?

Morning friend,

I’ve been reading through Proverbs in the month of January. One chapter a day for 31 days. If you’ve never done that, I highly encourage you to try it. If you’re confused, and need wisdom for your life, especially when dealing with destructive individuals read it each day with these three categories of people in mind, and ask yourself three questions: 1. What are the attributes and actions of a godly wise person? 2. What are the attributes and actions of a foolish person? 3. What are the attributes and actions of a wicked person? That will help you know who you are dealing with and who you want to be/become. 

This week’s question:

My husband is going through a mental crisis in his life and he blames it all on me. He is not willing to get help or see a counselor and instead tells me that I need to go fix my issues. 

He lost his job twice last year and is blaming me for his job loss. Currently, he is uber driving and does not tell me how much he makes and does not contribute money to help pay the bills. 

He says he doesn't make much as a uber driver and that he is just doing the job to pay for his personal needs and car maintenance. He says it's my responsibility to take care of the family and show my love by bearing the burden financially. We own a house and it is very hard to live with one person's income. 

I'm currently handling all the expenses and he is not willing to contribute at all. He says he is looking for a job and until then I have to wait and take care of the family. I want to leave him and separate temporarily but am unable because I have a financial responsibility towards the house and am afraid that my credit will suffer if I don't make the payments on time. In addition, it will be extremely difficult to rent an apartment or a rental home because of my current financial responsibility toward our home mortgage. It is very difficult to have a conversation with him as he ignores me and gives me the silent treatment. I want to be able to sell our home, but he won't leave and won't have an open discussion with me about the state of our marriage. I feel stuck and not sure how to move forward. please help.

Answer: I’m sorry you are going through all of this. Your husband is in a crisis but let me ask you a question. Is all his blame-shifting and excuse-making something new for him? Or has this been a regular pattern throughout your marriage? Sometimes people do have a crisis in their life where they are destabilized for a season and say and do some foolish and unhealthy things.

Only you can answer the question of whether this is his normal pattern, or this is completely out of character from the man you have lived with thus far.

You don’t mention how long you’ve been married, whether you have children who also are dependent, and why he lost two jobs this past year. Again, has job stability been a problem previously, or is this a new issue? 

It’s obvious that he’s struggling with something. It’s interesting that he refuses to ask for or receive help for his mental health crisis and/or job loss problem. Instead, he tells you to get help for your issues. Has there been an issue that you’ve also struggled with and not addressed that has put additional stress on him? 

At this juncture, it may be helpful to ask yourself two questions. 1. What is his problem as you define it? …..Take a moment and write some things down. 

Here’s an example: From what you wrote in your question, I imagine you would define his problem as he’s not thinking clearly. His problem is he’s in a mental health crisis. His problem is he’s lost two jobs this year and can’t/won’t contribute to support his family. His problem is he refuses to get help for his problem, instead says you are the problem. 

This is where we usually stop our reflecting and move into problem-solving mode. Once we figure out his problem, we want him to work on it. We even offer to help him work on it. But often he denies, minimizes, or deflects and blames his problem on you. You’re the problem for his problem. That begins the crazy dance. 

Instead of focusing on fixing his problem answer the next question. It will help you move forward. 2. “What’s my problem with his problem”? Take a moment to reflect on that. 

From what you wrote, I’d guess your problem with his problem is you’re scared. You’re not able to have a constructive conversation with him about his problem, your problem, or the marriage problem this crisis is causing. Another problem you have with his problem is that you can’t continue to carry the entire financial burden by yourself long term. Your problem is you’d like to separate but it’s not financially possible with how things are. Your problem is he blames you and as much as you may love him or even want to help him, you can’t fix his problem. That’s his work to do. Even if he wanted your help and you gave it, you cannot do his inner work. Only he can do it.

Moving forward from here means you stop focusing your energy on trying to solve/fix his problem and dial in on your own. What can you do to address your problem(s) as you define them? For example, what might you do to create greater financial stability in your life right now? Can you consult with a financial advisor or an attorney? A realtor? 

Also, how might you honestly evaluate what he defined as “your problem” that he thinks you need help with? Is there any legitimacy to it? Just as you’d love for him to value your feedback on what his problem is, have there been some issues that he’s brought to your attention that you’ve avoided dealing with that have impacted him? 

Last, relationships can be hard, especially a long-term marriage. I don’t know what your own history of relationships is, what traumas you’ve experienced, if you’re connected to a healthy group of female friends, if you have successful long-term friendships, if you’ve been married before etc. It’s tempting to run away from things that scare us, things that make us uncomfortable, and things that are hard. Right now, your marriage is in a season of hard. Maybe it’s always been that way. Self-reflection, self-evaluation, and change are difficult and uncomfortable, that’s why most of us don’t do it until we’re in a crisis. But trust me, most of your best growth and maturity will happen during the hard seasons of life. Therefore, understand they will never be wasted time. Commit to doing your own work. Defining your problem and his problem and then working to do what you need to create greater safety and stability for yourself.

Ask God for his wisdom (James 1:5). God is not a God of stuck places. Ask for his help and guidance (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalm 32:8), and he will show you your next right steps forward. 

Friend, have you gotten stuck trying to “fix” or “solve” his problem and how did you get yourself unstuck from this merry-go-round?

7 Comments

  1. Caroline Abbott on February 1, 2023 at 9:37 am

    Those who choose to abuse like to point fingers at their partners. They often don’t have any interest in making changes to make the relationship better. You are right on Leslie when you say that their partners often just focus on changing the abusive partner. When we are in this situation, it feels like we can’t do anything, that we are stuck. Often we have choices, they just aren’t choices that we like, or that scare us. Turning to others who might be able to see other options and getting people around you that will support you as you make the hard choices may be helpful.

  2. Pamela Reinhardt on February 2, 2023 at 9:18 am

    It seems to me that she is enabling him if she lets the situation continue much longer. After reflecting & taking steps to look at & change what her defects might be in her marriage, I would begin to look at the enabling piece.

  3. Sandra on February 2, 2023 at 12:08 pm

    Your story sounds a LOT like mine – I was in a long-term marriage that had never been great, with 3 late-teen/early 20s daughters, the only one that had ever made a mortgage payment and about 90+ percent of all the other payments. My ex never held a job very long, and I can’t count how many he “lost.” I was always blamed for everything, too. Just try to keep a clear head about that and don’t lose too much sleep over the allegations. They project. When I could look at the situation more clearly, I realized that everything he was blaming me for was actually what he was doing. Correct or get help for what you actually need to do if applicable, but my guess is that this blame game is a lot of projection that needs to be recognized for what it is. Things turned out well for me, fortunately – he threatened me one day via text, and I reported it and had him removed for first offense criminal domestic violence, which, even though the solicitor dropped the charge, at least got him out of my house long enough for me to get a restraining order. He moved in with his mom and never was allowed back in my house. I also haven’t spoken to or texted him since that day and that was 8 years ago.

  4. Ronda on February 2, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    My husband and I are now divorced and it sickens me because I didn’t want this but he was always hiding his income . Right before we were first married he wanted me not to work so I quit my job . I came back from our honeymoon only to find that his family business wasn’t paying him either so we basically had no income . He moved into my home and my home almost got foreclosed on. My Dad is a financial planner and took over paying our bills because he wanted to know what was really going on.
    That was in 2018 ; after I got a job and he switched over to another family business I always had to beg him to put money in the bank. I knew this wasn’t normal but I don’t believe in divorce. My first marriage lasted 18 years but I had to leave because he was abusive . This was my second Marriage so I was going to do anything to make it work.
    Sadly he never could directly deposit a check ; he always cashed it and then deposited whatever so after 4 1/2 years of being married I really never knew his income .
    I refinanced my home and paid off all my debt and hoped it would give him a sense of starting over because I’m his mind he felt like I was using his money to pay off my debt .
    I love this man, he has an inoperable brain tumor and that’s how our story began because I’m a nurse . I spent over $15000 for him to have healthcare through my employer.
    Last year after I had refinanced etc I noticed from January to May he had deposited $5000 in our account. When I asked him about it ; he said he was putting cash in a safe for US . I knew he was lying . There were many other reasons why we divorced (him not having good boundaries with his ex wife and she ruined my relationship with my bonus daughter) . I never really knew what to call his behavior but then found out it’s a form of infidelity. Financial Infidelity is a real thing and it’s just as damaging as an affair . We are trying to reconcile but it’s hard to trust him.
    I hate you are in this situation but you need to know that he is being manipulative and he is betraying you and your family. He is the man and the head of the home ; it is HIS job to carry you financially. I hope that you find answers and that you will find peace because I know how you feel. It’s a dark place .

    • Moon Beam on February 3, 2023 at 5:31 pm

      Hi Ronda. Don’t bother reconciling. What do you “love” about a person who uses and betrays you? It would seem you need counseling. Yes, it is embarrassing and difficult to realize you made another relational mistake. Learn to love yourself without a man and heal your inner child. Dr. Les Carter has a good program on Boundaries, “This is Me.” Read Leslie’s books too. Get out sweetie. This guy is a loser and a thief.

  5. Sally-Anne on February 8, 2023 at 4:44 am

    I also feel like I am stuck in a 24 year marriage as my husband has not worked for 22 years and totally depends on me. I am responsible for all the expenses including mortgage payments, insurance, car repayments. groceries, son’s college tuition and expenses and holidays. He helps out with housework and our son, when he was younger.

    We never had a proper marriage. There was hardly any intimacy and affection because he was not attracted to me. It made me feel used and manipulated as though he married me for the money I made from my job. I feel stuck in my marriage but I keep telling myself that at least he does not abuse me physically. I have put away some money in a nest egg in case my son and I need it later on. I am not able to trust him because he cheated on me some years back and has never accounted for the money he used to take from our joint account for over 20 years.

    I am so relieved to read that God is not a God of stuck places and this gives me hope. I definitely feel stuck as I am 60 years and feel that it is too late to start all over again.

    Thank you Leslie for your encouraging post

  6. JoAnn on February 9, 2023 at 4:59 pm

    Sally-Anne, Even though you have scriptural grounds to divorce your husband (his adultery) , you have stayed, in spite of the fact that he hasn’t been a proper husband. You have allowed him to stay home and not work, while you pay all the bills. I wonder what he does all day? based on your comment about the lack of intimacy, I suspect that he spends a good bit of time watching porn. Go to Leslie’s archives to see some of the conversations that we have had here about that problem. You have a son, so what kind of a model is your husband for this boy? How will he know what it means to be a man? You are sixty years old and concerned about “starting over,” but I can see from your letter that you already have the necessary skills to do what you need to do. You are in a well-paying job, and that right there means that you are a high-functioning person. I suggest that you work on developing an intimate and personal relationship with the Lord who will show you what you must do and where you must go. When we open our heart/mind to Him, He blesses us in ways we can hardly imagine.

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