Ask the LifeQuake Doctor – Jul/Aug 2014
Dear Dr. Toni,
I have been following your column for about a year now. My closest girlfriend is a therapist and she keeps Counselor magazine in her office and I read it when I come to visit her. I am writing you now because although my husband is very wealthy, he is also extremely paranoid about anyone knowing our business so he has forbidden me to seek therapy. I hope you can offer some light in my dark tunnel.
Here is the situation. We have been married for fifteen years. I have known him for twenty-five years. I was his mistress, so to speak, when he was married before. What pushed him to finally end his last marriage was being diagnosed with brain cancer. He has spent a lot of money on the latest treatments and they have kept him alive in spite of a stage four diagnosis. He has become a very angry person. In order to cope with his mood swings, I have been drinking more wine. Although I know this is not a good thing for me to be doing, my bigger concern is that I think my husband’s cancer is getting worse. He tried to strangle me last night and after I managed to get away he had a grand mal seizure, hit his head on the safe in our closet, suffered a concussion, and had to be stitched up.
When the paramedics came out, I told them that he had tried to strangle me but that he has brain cancer so it was not a typical domestic violence situation. I managed to talk them into not including the strangling in their report.
He became incensed with my having let the paramedics come to our home. He is incredibly afraid of hospitals. My question is this: I am afraid the violence could happen again given the frequency of seizures he is having now. However, I cannot leave him when he is this sick. He also told me that if I ever did leave him, I would not end up with one red cent. I have put too much into this marriage to walk away now. I know that sounds greedy, but I am not leaving him and ending up penniless.
Should I take his gun he keeps for protection and learn how to use it at some firing range so that I can protect myself from him killing me?
–Baffled and Terrified
There are a couple of things to address here. First of all, go to an AA meeting and stop drinking. The worst thing you could do is use a loaded gun while drunk, not to mention the fact that you need to sober up, period.
Secondly, speak to an attorney and find out if you live in a community property state. What he is telling you may not be accurate. If you are only staying for the money, you need more information. If you genuinely love him and just want him to get treated, tell his doctors that he is progressing into violent behavior. They need to know this so they can adjust his medications.
Thirdly, do not pick up the gun he has. Police officers are continually upgrading their skill set so they can respond in any emergency with accuracy. You will not. What you can do is buy pepper spray over the internet and stun him if and when he lunges at you again.
You are in danger as long as you keep this a secret. The right authorities need to be advised so they can advise you properly. I am sure he gives you a lot of cash. If he does, instead of buying Jimmy Choo’s with the money, ask your friend for the name of a good therapist who treats addiction and chronic illness. It will help to have more information to move forward in the right direction.