Annie's Mailbox for Feb. 28, 2011: Husband's tantrums ruining marriage

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Dear Annie: My husband and I are in our early 60s and have been married for eight years. "Troy" has a temper. One minute he will be sweet as pie, telling me he loves me, even singing love songs. The next minute he will fly into a rage and say every nasty thing possible, screaming at me and saying he wants a divorce and that I'm the worst wife ever.

When I tell him he's a bully and a little nuts, he gets angry. Later, he usually apologizes and tells me he doesn't know what got into him and he can't live without me. Other times, he apologizes but says I am at fault for being so annoying.

In other ways, Troy is a good husband. We have a beautiful home, and he is very generous, so I try to ignore most of these tantrums. He is already taking an antidepressant and blood pressure medications. Could he be bipolar? Schizophrenic? I've asked him to return to his specialist, but he won't.

— Would Like an Answer

Dear Would: We don't know what is wrong with Troy other than the fact that he has uncontrollable outbursts and berates you. He could be bipolar. Or he could be having a reaction to his medications. Or his antidepressant may not be doing the job.

The next time Troy is professing his adoration and singing love songs, ask him to make an appointment with his doctor and discuss the anger issues. Explain that you want this marriage to work out, but there are obvious problems and you need to know he is medically OK. If he refuses to seek help, it may be necessary for you to walk away. A generous husband and a beautiful home don't seem worth this abuse.

Dear Annie: I have a friend who, when she doesn't like the conversation, loudly interrupts, saying "I don't want to hear that!" She then proceeds to make fun of the person who was talking, calling her a "downer."

When I told her one of my relatives had lost his eyesight, she immediately said, "I don't want to hear anything negative!" I find this extremely rude. I don't dwell on negative things, but the news isn't always a bed of roses, either.

Oddly enough, if the conversation is centered around her, there are no interruptions. How should one handle her rudeness and name calling?

— Life Isn't Always Positive

Dear Life: Your friend seems self-centered. She doesn't want to hear anyone else's sad or difficult stories because that might require that she express concern and interest. Hearing only the good news may be pleasant, but it isn't the mark of true friendship.

Dear Annie: You have printed a few letters about teaching children manners, and one writer suggested a game called "Pass the Piggy."

When I was 4 years old and first learning to use utensils, I dropped something off my fork. My father leaned over and said, "Am I going to have to get you a pig trough?"

The next night he watched me intently, and when something fell from my trembling hand, he exclaimed, "That's it!" He had nailed together a wooden pig trough, which he dropped in front of me and then laughed like it was the most hilarious joke in the world.

Since then, I have felt shamed and unlovable. When I started school, I was terrified that somehow the other children would find out about it. I have had two bad marriages and don't date. I'm now 59 and was only recently able to talk about this incident in a support group, and only after both of my parents died.

When your psyche is damaged in childhood, it is irreparable. Don't ever compare your children to pigs.

— Texas Single Woman

Dear Texas: Your father chose to bully you to make his point, but we doubt he wanted it to have lifelong consequences. We hope you can continue to work on your feelings with your support group.

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