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Confused on how to make progress

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#1 13MWZ



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Posted 19 June 2012 - 01:58 AM

I feel stuck and am confused on how to proceed. My wife of 12 years (19 together) is still refusing to think about or do much about her abuse. We have made some traction however, just enough to give me a flicker of hope. Finally, she at least acknowledges her behavior (as opposed to it does not exist) - but as always, it's really my fault. Thanks to many of the posts here, I was well prepared for the "you made me this way" conversation. I am much better about being defensive; I now know that I have nothing to defend. Understanding how much I have been driven by fear and what poisonous things fear does to your mind and how it drives your actions was liberating. Of course the "that must be hard for you" responses to her various attacks are more evidence to her that I don't care about her feelings etc . . . the closer we get to a real pain-point for her on what drives her to attack, the more it must either be my fault or the marriage is beyond repair so she really doesn't need to look in anyway. I know in my heart that much of her behavior comes from childhood issues.

We've been together for our entire adult lives and there is much in her past that is traumatic. Though many connections are obvious, she vehemently resists any links between past events and her behavior. For example, her father would go on business trips and take his girlfriend. Eventually he left my wife's mother for this woman and effectively drained the bank account on the way out the door. He always kept my wife and her 3 sisters at arms length and was totally uninvolved in their lives. My wife has always lost it when I travel. I have always gone to ridiculous lengths to minimize overnight travel. Finally after years of couples therapy she finally admitted the connection - but I had to set her up by hiding my credit card statements so that she could not comb for evidence on "what I was up to". I hid them for 3 months to force it into an issue that we had to dedicate several therapy sessions to. But even after we arrived at the obvious, in the blink of an eye we were back to various reasons that she needs to be suspicious and controlling. Sadly, I know there is trauma beyond just dad leaving, and I suspect much worse than I know. If she can't look at and acknowledge such a "slow-pitch" like the business travel thing; I feel I must accept that the hard stuff will never make it out. Confronting head on does not work, whether gentle and loving or charged and tearful. Offering sympathetic ear gets silence. Often times I feel that she really does not know and I wonder if blocks of time are missing from her memory. Of the 4 sisters, my wife is the only one not divorced - and we're not looking good. Baby daddies, drug use, none of them made it out clean from that nice suburban home with the white picket fence. I can't leave without knowing I've done all i can even when I've suffered so much. It's in my make-up that you don't quit when it counts - and nothing counts more than your family. But nobody is talking.

I love my wife and want to be with her. When I'm 80+ years old and ready to punch out, she is the person I want to say good bye to, but I do not believe she can look in. Without her looking in - all of us are screwed (S6 D4). Her grandfather was abusive, her mother was abusive, her father was abusive, she is abusive, and the next generation that will receive this horrible gift belongs to me.

#2 SorryMum



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Posted 19 June 2012 - 04:04 AM

It stinks when you can't stay, but you can't leave either.

Not sure what support I can offer you, except that I've been there and it's not good. I left - 15 years ago now - and have never looked back.

You have the choice to end the pattern for the next generation while your children are young. If you stay they could well continue the legacy into the next generation.

Only you can decide what to do, but sticking around here can give you ideas and support.


#3 Kokoca



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Posted 19 June 2012 - 08:28 AM


It is difficult to know what to say...

There's some really contradictory stuff in your post. And I don't mean that as a criticism but as evidence of how difficult and confusing this is for you. That's a really tough place to be: loving someone so much and yet being so stuck in such a painful state. Make sure you are giving yourself lots of room to make mistakes and forgive yourself when the going gets tough.

Your comment about wanting to be with her to the end of your days really struck me. I hit a point with my Ex where I couldn't imagine living with her that long. There was so much poison that even if we could have cleared the issues between us, I couldn't envision it really being happy. So I admire you and wish you had an easier time of it.

One thing for sure... you can't fix her. Like an alcoholic, she has to make the decision that she wants to change for herself. The more detached you become, the less you enable her behaviour, the more likely she'll reach that point. Unfortunately, it sounds like her pain is so deep that it will take her a long time to realize that she's the source of the pain and then decide to do something about it. Also like an addict, she may have to hit rock bottom before she figures that out. What that looks like is impossible to predict.

That leads me to wonder whether your "doing all you can" has a limit. There is collateral damage here: your well being and the well being of your kids and all the future relationships that you and your kids will be involved in. When things between my Ex and I came to a head, I had no room left for friendships or work relationships so I'm not even talking intimate relationships here. Relationship problems like this rob everyone of the possibility of living a good life and it may eventually come down to it that allowing you and your children to be "screwed" does nothing to help her and may actually prolong needless suffering.

Ultimately, it isn't your job to rescue her. You can rescue yourself when the time comes. You can throw a life-line to your kids but even that is temporary because as they get older they're going to have to figure out how to deal with a troubling and challenging relationship with their mother. Maybe they'll have a good relationship, maybe they won't, but that isn't your responsibility either.

Keep checking in...


#4 13MWZ



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Posted 21 June 2012 - 11:58 PM

Kokoca - thank you for your thoughts. I really appreciate it and have given thought to your words. Over the last two days I've spent several hours with S6's psychologist to make sure he is up to speed on what's happening in our house and to get all the advice i can on how to support my children with all our challenges at home. I'm talking to as many skilled people as i can to see if we can heal this, and if not, how to make divorce the least traumatic for all of us. I also got confirmation today that my wife has bi-polar disorder which i long suspected. My ADD, her BPD, abuse now, past unresolved abuse - loaded package. You know, all the stuff every couple has to deal with. I think our solution is in chapter 4 of Mars & Venus right after the section titled "try holding hands more often" . . .

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