"I FEEL JUST AS TRAPPED AS MY HUSBAND DOES IN FRANCE"

Therapist A is a counsellor with a psychodynamic approach with experience of working with adults and young people .

You are in a very difficult position and I can understand how desperate and helpless you feel and also your reluctance to discuss your husbandís difficulties with a third party. However, I think from what you say about his behaviour, that your husband is ill and already in a state of breakdown and cannot, at present, take responsibility for himself.

For both your sakes, whether he thinks he needs it or not, you have to put your difficult feelings to one side, gather your strength and find him some professional psychiatric help before things get worse and he does either you or himself some real damage. I think you would be letting him down if you didnít. If he wonít go to your doctor, then you need to go and talk the situation over with her and try to get a plan of action. I do hope that your doctor is sympathetic and that you manage to get the help from her that you both need.

Do you have any close friends or relations who have a good relationship with him and whose help you could seek? I think you need some support and, if there is nobody else you can trust, maybe you could find a counsellor on this site. I know you fear what your husband might do but you are going to be no help to him if you donít look after yourself.

Right now I donít think a talking therapy would be helpful for your husband, although in the future it might help him to discuss with a therapist the damaging relationship he feels he had with his mother. Clearly you are experiencing other more practical difficulties, shortage of money and no work. These will have played into your husbandís state of mind and you will need to find some practical help with that too. You donít say why you came to France or how long you have lived here, whether you are permanently resident, but maybe you could seek some help from the French social services.

Difficult as it may be, you have to stand back, think of the future and take practical action, just as you would if your husband had had a serious physical illness or accident.
 

Therapist B is a Relate-trained counsellor with experience of working with relationship issues and is an experienced couples counsellor

THERAPIST B IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE SO THIS RESPONSE IS FROM A PERSON-CENTRED COUNSELLOR WITH EXPERIENCE OF WORKING WITH FAMILIES

The situation that you both find yourselves in seems to be exacerbated by not having the usual support systems that you would have in the UK. However, the support IS there in France but it can only be accessed through your doctor and from what you have said, her referral would likely be to a psychiatrist. Maybe you could go to see the doctor as this is not a counselling issue and, to be honest, a counsellor would be likely to refer you on anyway as your husband sounds as though he is having a mental breakdown. If he is showing aggressive tendencies, this makes me really worried about what might happen if he doesn't get some help soon. He may be angry when he discovers that you have gone to see the doctor without his knowledge, but you may find that he is glad that you are taking the initiative to get some help as he seems to be feeling utterly helpless himself.

You seem to have been trying to tackle this for quite a time while the situation has gradually worsened and I think you have been have been very brave to take this problem outside yourselves, but also very sensible as you wouldn't be helping him by continuing to try to handle it between you. Given the hint you have given about his relationship with his mother and the fact that your husband is desperately trying to keep a grip on reality, I honestly feel you need to act immediately to make sure that you are both safe, as the situation sounds really worrying for you as well as your husband.

What sort of family support do you have? If the worst comes to the worst and you are unable to access help in France, would one of your family members or friends come to pick you both up and take you back to the UK, ostensibly for a visit? Once there, your husband may be more willing to communicate with a mental health professional and you at least would be able to get proper support and help. I wish you well and hope it all works out for you both.

Therapist C is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with experience of working with relationship and many other issues.

There seem to be a number of issues involved in what you write.

Firstly, it may help if you work out for yourself what you want and how you want to handle the situation. I would imagine that there are moments when your husband is less distressed and more able to listen.

If possible, you could try to tell him calmly what is acceptable to you and what is not. Secondly, it sounds as though your husband feels out of control and this may be aggravated if he feels that you are plunging down with him. You do not say how long you have been in France and whether either of you speak French. Moving to a foreign country can mean that all our usual means of making yourself feel safe may no longer be available and may lead to feelings of vulnerability and disintegration.

It is as though our usual defences are either no longer there or no longer work. This can be very frightening and may be something that your husband is experiencing at the moment. It would seem that it is all too much for him and feelings and thoughts from his past are being evoked by all that is going on. It is frightening to witness somebody going through what your husband is going through.

It is quite clear that he cannot handle this crisis on his own and needs help. You cannot arrange help without his knowledge unless you feel that the situation is extreme enough to call the emergency services. You can, however, get help for yourself by talking to your GP or someone else with whom you feel comfortable.

At least this will give you some support and it may make it easier for your to deal with the situation at home. It may also help you to find way to talk with your husband about what is going on.