Dear Abby: I have been married for two years, and my husband has three grown children. He was recently planning a getaway with the youngest and included me in the plans. I didn’t want to interfere and suggested that his child might want to spend some one-on-one time with him. I later learned that not only were his other kids going, but their spouses were as well. Everyone was included but me. I felt very hurt to be excluded.
When I shared with him how I felt, his response was that he couldn’t control his kids, but I feel he could have controlled his response. To exclude me was deliberate. When I told him how hurt I was, he got less than an inch from my face and started screaming about MY kids (who love him like a father). It scared me because he was in my face. I have never had a man scream in my face like that before. I don’t know what to do. I was truly terrified.
— Lost in the East
Dear Lost: Your husband may have reacted the way he did out of guilt. If you haven’t already, tell him that no one has ever spoken to you the way he did and that it terrified you. Tell him that when someone acts that way, the natural conclusion of the person being bullied (which is what he was doing) is to fear the verbal attack will escalate to physical violence.
If he can’t explain calmly why he overreacted when you said you were hurt, then the two of you could use some sessions with a marriage counselor. If he refuses to go, go without him. He was less than honest in not disclosing beforehand that everyone but you would be vacationing together. During some of your counseling sessions, consider discussing healthy ways to disagree and the dynamics of “vacations with the kids” — both his and yours — in the future.