DR. WALLACE: My husband and I have been married for two years, and we have one child. Before we married, he treated me like a queen. After the birth of our baby, he started to change a little. He began to physically raise his hand as if to hit me whenever we had a disagreement. For a long time, he never did actually hit me, but it sure was scary to see how red his face was when he was angry and had his hand up in front of me.
After things would settle down, he would apologize and say he would never hit me. But lately, we've argued again a few times because he's been drinking and driving. Last week, he again raised his hand, but this time he slapped me ever so slightly in the face. I say slightly because it just grazed my chin, and luckily, I was not hurt at all. He immediately apologized and said he didn't mean to hit me; he just meant to wave his hand by me out of frustration in the heat of the moment.
I know that I should do something about the potential of being battered in the future, but instead I find myself making excuses for him: If he didn't drink, he would have hit me; he's young (20), and he will grow out of this stage; he's wonderful in other ways; he accepts responsibility for his family, etc.
All I want to know is if there is hope for raising my son in a healthy environment if we stay together. I love my husband and want my son to be with his father. Please answer my letter. I can't talk to my family about my problem, as they would go nuts if they knew he even grazed my face. My young husband is a very good man 99.9% of the time, but I have a real sense of uneasiness regarding his anger issues. What can I do to keep our family happy and in harmony? — Worried Young Wife, via email
WORRIED YOUNG WIFE: It's important to a degree that your family remains intact, but only if your husband will admit that he has a major problem and needs professional counseling to help him overcome his unstable behavior immediately. The fact that he is even waving his arms anywhere around your body or your head is quite disturbing. Don't ignore this warning sign.
If he agrees to get the help he needs, chances are good that you can have your son reared in a healthy home environment. But there is work to do before this can happen.
If your husband won't admit he has a problem, or says he can handle the problem by himself, remove yourself and your son from the house as soon as possible. In that circumstance, tell your husband that once he has successfully completed an anger management program, you will consider living together again. This first such occurrence must be the last! No ifs, ands or buts about this. Do not make excuses for him, and do not worry about your family's reaction either. Your life and your son's life could be at stake, so take this warning sign very, very seriously.
One final point to consider is that he is driving after drinking even though he is only 20 years old. This is a separate major problem, complete with its own warning signs, which must be addressed. Do not ride in a vehicle with him at the wheel under any circumstances. It sounds to me like your young husband has a lot to work on in order to become a responsible spouse and father. Do not make excuses for him, and do not put your life or your son's life in jeopardy while your husband continues with this behavior.
YOU CAN EARN THE SAME DEGREE
DR. WALLACE: I'm a pretty good student and will be graduating from my high school in June 2020. Ever since I entered high school, I've wanted to attend the University of Southern California upon my graduation.
About two months ago, my parents told me that because my father had been laid off from his job, I would probably have to attend a community college because it is much less expensive. If I do attend a community college for two years and my parents and I can save up enough money, could I attend USC for two years and still get my degree there? Also, please don't tell me to talk with my high school counselor about this information, because I do not like her at all. She's very pompous and talks down to students all the time. — Future Trojan, via email
FUTURE TROJAN: Whether you like your counselor or not, she is your best source of information, and you should make an appointment with her to discuss your goals for higher education. However, since you took the time to contact me, I will give you my own opinion. If a community college student takes a transferable program of study, all four-year institutions, including USC, then accept those courses. Your degree consisting of two years at a community college followed by two years at USC will provide you the same undergraduate degree equal to someone who attended all four years at the University of Southern California.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.