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Doc@DrIrene.com

Comments for 23-Yr Marriage

Do I Want To Leave a 23-Year Marriage?

Courtesy of Dr. Irene Matiatos, Copyrightę 2000. The material on this website may be distributed freely for non-commercial or educational purposes provided that author credit is given. For commercial distribution, please contact the author at Doc@drirene.com

 

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2000

S1

You sound so much like me just over a year ago. Your feelings are very similar to what mine were before I left my husband. I as well had an affair and looked like the bad guy while he looked like the victim. After awhile something in me snapped and decided I couldn't hide his secret anymore. I told everybody, I told him, my mother, his mother, friends, strangers. I kept a journal and record of it just so I knew I wasn't the only person who had wronged. It is very easy to shift the focus to a huge event like an affair then to small simple things that can seem to be explained away simply because he was angry. I began my recovery while still in my marriage and then I finally made a move to leave. It took time. I had the same thoughts that he could get better while we were apart and then some other woman would get what I had deserved it ate me up inside to the point that I BEGGED to go back! It was more of the same and I decided to get out while I still had what little I had worked on while we were apart. Now if he gives someone else the "good stuff" great for him, I'm happy for him but I doubt it. it makes me feel good about me to know that I will never stand for that kind of crap again. But I am still recovering, I will be for awhile and that is okay. As for regret, I don't regret anything. This was a journey, a life lesson for me. I plan to use the knowledge I have gotten to make the rest of my life healthy and happy.

Paula

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2000

S1

I'm trying to get up enough courage to leave a 30-year marriage; I'm 50. I'm going to do it soon, thanks to this site and the two Evans books (no real thanks to the therapist we have had the past year). I have to leave for my own health and sanity, although the abuse is not as overt as yours.

One of the wonderful things about this site is that I have learned that I'm not alone. Your story is much like mine--but your abuse is far worse. Our son is 22; my husband also was supportive when I went through graduate school. When in the space of 5 years things fell apart for him professionally and his parents both died, things really fell apart. Dr. Jeckyl became Mr. Hyde.

What I've really learned from this site is that in order to change he really has to want to--and my husband doesn't. Also from reading this site I see that he is not the only one who when faced with confrontation about the more overt forms of abuse (name calling and criticizing) has switched to more subtle, crazy-making behavior. If you confront this guy and he stops the overt stuff, he'll just find other ways to attempt to control you. And as was pointed out in one of the letters, you will have to live your life on guard, because no matter how nice he is at time, his agenda is to control you.

You say you want to grow old with him. I thought that too, until recently when he was hospitalized and felt helpless in one dimension of his life. The only way he could feel powerful was--guess what! Abuse! Forget growing old with him; it will only get worse as he feels more helpless. (One of the two people I have confided in about my abuse is a lovely 80-year-old woman who told me that when she was 60 she went to a lawyer, but her family talked her out of divorcing her verbally abusive husband. She tells me that she regrets not leaving, but that it's too late for her now, and tells me not to make the same mistake. She doesn't put up with the abuse any more, but says there is no love at all in her marriage.)

I don't think it's a coincidence that all the ugly stuff happened when you finished grad school. Looking back, I can see that was the beginning of a lot of changes in our marriage. All of a sudden the little girl that my husband married (who, by the way, before grad school had gone to therapy and become a much stronger person) was capable of earning as much as he was.

And re the affair. My husband told the therapist (seriously, with a straight face) that my attitude to him changed when we got our dog! (I don't think he can sue for alienation of affection in regards to an animal...) Of course, it was the dog--not the fact that at the time he had been out of work (and not looking very hard) for almost a year and that I finally had begun to see that he was the weak one; I was strong.

If you think of staying, have you thought about the message you are giving your daughters--particularly the one who is being/has been abused by her father? One reason I'm even reading this site is that I grew up in a home where my father verbally abused my mother, my 1/2 brother, and myself. I knew in my gut it was wrong, but like Evans says, grew up too week to say, "Stop that!" when it appeared in my own life. (And my husband's abuse is much more subtle than my dad's.) And one reason I am gathering up the courage to leave is that my mom left my dad when I graduated from high school. She blossomed into a happy person I had never known before.

Read the "Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay" book listed on this site if you are still on the fence. It helps you see that others who feel the same way that you do have left and are GLAD they did.

I hope something I've said will help you; reading your letter and writing this response has helped me in ways I probably don't yet realize.

God bless.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2000

S1

I've been in a roller coaster relationship. I too had an affair. I've been married over 25 years too. I set myself boundaries.. and told my husband what they were.. mainly if you ever hit me or our children I will leave you. And when he did.. I followed through with it and had papers for divorce delivered to him while I was in a safe house. This led to a whole new husband.. who promised me the world if I would come back.. and I did and renewed our marriage vows. I think it benefited our relationship when he knew that I had limits too. However.. even though the affair is over 10 years ago.. his pain is not.. and he has felt that I hurt him so much (he goes as far as to blame me for causing him to be depressed and on medication, overeating, hiatal hernia, low self esteem) and he has not been able to 'punish' me enough.. until now.. Now he is writing other women.. responding to single ads.. and calling them from vacation home.. plus seeing massage therapists.. and lying constantly to me. When I mentioned what I knew he said whyy should I be upset.. he was not seeing them or having an affair with them.. and cruel statements like 'you can dish it out but can't take it'.. so think about the benefits of your relationship.. are you secure that he will not desire to lash out to you in an even deeper emotional pain than the verbal and physical abuse.. Look at yourself and all the positive things you have going.. young enough to make a new start and have a life without that eggshell feeling.. I just wanted to caution you that their "love" is not a guarantee. Jan

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2000

S1

I can't really give you advice but I can tell you from my experience that leaving will not be easy. I have been separated from my husband for seven months and life is very peaceful. But I spend many weekends crying and missing him. He started seeing another woman right after he moved out but continued trying to get back together. I have been strong so far but sometimes he says all those words I want to hear and it becomes very difficult to uphold the separation. To make matters worse, we have a two-year old son that he picks up every other week. I can tell you that separation is never easy but it sure is nice to go home to a peaceful place with no name-calling, etc. Only you can make the decision what is best for you.

 

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2000

S1

This lady is living my life, only I've been married 43 years and have grandchildren in college. Our life has been one crisis after another. There were 12 good years, then he went to Viet Nam (career military-it was his second war). There hasn't been much good since. At first I thought it was adjusting to coming home, and he drank every day. He went to four rehabs before it finally took and has now been sober four years. He took the first job he could find after he retired from the Military. He's had so many life changes in the past 5 years.(1)Quit his civilian job when he was 62. (2)Finally gave up drinking after he'd had a seizure on the front lawn. (3) He had prostate cancer and the resultant impotence. (4) this should have been no big deal, since we only made love about twice a year for the last 30 years. Prior to his going to Viet Nam, our sex life was wonderful. I was 34 when he came back and I became a nun. He steadfastly refused to talk to me about it. The verbal abuse has escalated over the past year to the point where he knows no boundaries. Instance: I had a suspect mammogram and have to get another one and when I told him I was worried about it, he said " I hope they cut them both off!" There is no surcease. I'm still working, and I know he resents it. but work is my salvation. I live a truly schizophrenic existence; all day I get treated with respect and then I come home to this. He's also been diagnosed with clinical depression and is on Celexa. We have four wonderful, successful children and a financially comfortable life, but nothing makes him happy. I have never seen anyone so angry. He has no societal controls because he has no friends. Sorry to ramble on, but I'm incapable of helping myself so I can't help anyone else. If i were in a position to give any advice I'd say run like hell! I wish I had 20 years ago. Thanks for listening.

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, January 27, 2000

S1

Obviously she is involved with a man who is abusive. I think there is hope for this relationship only if she can get her husband to get individual counseling for his behaviour. If he is not willing to do that then he is not truly remorseful for the abuse that he heaped on her over years which probably led to her affair. Also, I think it should be taken into account that it takes time for him to recover from the shock of her affair. He will be in no shape to make rational decisions or behave much differently in the immediate wake of the affair. They both need to continue in couples therapy to overcome this initial shock (of the affair) and to make him realize how abusive his behaviour is. If I were in her shoes I would wait a year so that his grief over the affair is lessened and then if he agrees to get individual couselling for his behaviour she should stay in the relationship. In the mean time she should protect herself from harm from him and let him know that she is willing to give it another chance because she loves him. Good luck

 

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, January 28, 2000

S1

I'm ready to leave a 23 year marriage myself. From what I've been reading in this site and from all of you it's the same thing I've been going through. We were married about 4 years before we started having problems. I got a new job and worked with women who were also married but enjoyed going out together. Well my husband didn't like this at all. I was out with these women until 2 am the first time and we did nothing wrong. We danced and had a great time. I didn't even talk to another man. But when I got home my husband was very verbally abusive, calling me names and threatening to tell my mother that I was a whore. He has never let up since. I've left twice before. The first time I left we went to a counselor three times for an evaluation. The counselor put much of the blame on my husband so of course we never went back. The last time I left him my parents had to call the police because he showed up at their house and refused to leave. He said that he poured gasoline through the house and threatened to kill himself. A minister friend of his got involved and my husband became a born again Christian. He was always so negative toward Christians and he actually gave himself to God in front of a congregation full of people that he didn't even know. This to me was astounding. So I went back thinking I was getting a changed man. And I did for about a year. Part of the agreement was we had to go to extensive counseling. We were in counseling for about 6 months. That was 5 years ago. And he is worse now. I have to travel once in a while with my job and he fights with me about it. He is so jealous. I sometimes feel like a prisoner in a concentration camp. He tries to break my spirit and get me to do what he wants me to do. I'm hearing the same things from all of you. The affair, etc. It's scary when you think about it. My kids are now 21 and 20 and both have moved out because of their father's behavior. He tells me he loves me and would do anything for me. But in the same breath he belittles me, calls me names, degrades me. He looks at everything the way it effects him. He is so self centered. Well you all know what I'm talking about. I'm getting out and I'm going to run like hell.

     B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, January 29, 2000

S1

First to thine own self be true .Then you can be false to no one. I do not say this in a cavalier way. Recently I was asked to leave our home , after 22 years together. I am heartbroken .We have 3 great kids . I respect + recognize her decision as the only way . Act with courage now , or live with doubt + low self esteem ,possibly self loathing until you do . J.G.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, February 02, 2000

S1

Less than a month ago, my two teenagers, one preteen and I moved out of our home and I filed for divorce. I have been married for 25 years. I finally realized that my husband will never stop the verbal abuse towards the kids, as he sees nothing wrong with it. There was verbal abuse towards me as well, but it was worse towards the kids. And my husband was the one to have an affair a few years ago. It took me over three years to come to this decision after the affair was revealed. I tried to keep the marriage together for the kids' sake. Have I regretted leaving? Not for a second! I do not miss my husband at all and things are so peaceful at home now. The kids are doing well and there is more laughter in our lives. I see my husband once or twice a week. He has asked me to come back, but I told him that is not going to happen. I am amazed how easy it was to walk away from this marriage. I have not cried since I made the decision to leave 10 weeks ago. I feel healthy!

 

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, February 02, 2000

S1

UPDATE: Dear Friends, Saturday night was the latest (I resist using last - I know myself too well). When we went to bed at 1:30AM - and I was too tired to make love (we had just made love Thursday night) - the episode started. He told me I was an awful wife - I've never been a good wife etc. etc. Indicated I must be sleeping with someone else because I sure wasn't sleeping with him. I went to another room to escape. I know that always makes things worse, but I needed to get myself away from it. He then took all my jewelry from me - including my engagement ring. He said he bought those for his WIFE and I wasn't good enough to wear them and he wasn't going to let me scratch someone else's back while I was wearing them.

Sooo...I filed for divorce on Monday. Don't know what will happen - now he admits he needs help and has attempted to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. Will see....the roller coaster continues because it isn't over until it's over.

I'll keep you posted.

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, February 04, 2000

S1

I've been divorced for 7 months now from a "sophisticated" verbal abuser - I hadn't realized he was abusive until 3 months after the divorce. All I knew was my self-esteem was very low and I had been depressed for a long, long time.

After filing for divorce, my ex-husband went to alcohol rehab and it seemed to me that he changed, was turning into the thoughtful, loving generous person I always wanted while he was there for the 90 day program. I was an emotional mess & was advised by the support side that I needed to see the head person - a Catholic priest. At this point I had hit such a low that I handed my life to God - really, I had nothing to lose & I knew I was not doing a good job on my own with my life.

By surrendering, I became very open the wonderful people that came into my life from that point on. With me I had such a tough time going through the divorce because I was Catholic mainly. But when a Catholic priest advised me to go through the divorce, it was my 'green light' to go through with it. It happened very quickly (the divorce) but I went through with it.

A couple months after the divorce, I made a special trip to see that priest just to thank him to giving me the strength. I really felt that going through the divorce had added years to my life because I was so emotionally stressed and physically sick all the time. For once, I felt peace! It felt so damn good too. Also, I had hope. (When you have no hope in your life, it's like being dead anyway.) The priest told me that although he didn't know me, he advised me to go through with it because my ex was not doing the recovery work & he didn't feel comfortable putting me back in the same situation.

I know lots of women that have worked things through with their husbands, about half of them are happy the did. All of them said it took A LOT of work (for both people). Those husbands did the work - that's the key. Also a lot of them stopped doing the work after a couple years and fall back to old habits. I am now convinced that recovery is a lifetime journey!

Although my ex is alcohol, he was also verbally abusive & controlling. That has been the most damaging. I got to be frank with you. Life hasn't been great once I got my freedom, like I thought it would be. First of all, I was shocked that I attracted men similar to my ex. Once I realized this, I backed off from dating completely until recently and I still have a hard time dating. I questioned what was wrong with ME that I was attracting these self- absorbed losers. That one question took me on a journey (probably for a life- time) of self discovery and self love.

I have got to add too that for about 4 months after the divorce I was soooo angry at my ex husband for all the crappy things he did to me. Then for about 2 months after that I was sooo mad at myself for putting up with it all. I was really hard to function being so angry all the time, but necessary I think. Now I have got to say I have compassion for him and myself. I don't live in a fantasy world and see things truthfully.

Now being single, I can easily hook a guy by telling him my victim story of the real bad man I was married to. But I am wise enough now that I won't even go there because it doesn't really say much about myself. Truth is we are all 100% responsible for our lives. Truth is I allowed all the verbal abuse happen because I never spoke up for myself, from childhood, and I never asserted my rights as a human being for the need for respect and love. I was a lost soul and had no clue to who I was & I allowed him to tell me what was best for me. That was my responsibility to myself all along. I gave this man I loved all my power as a human being, thinking it was an act of love. In hindsight, I am sure he would have respected me if I asserted myself and has more self worth.

I will end my story by stating that breaking up was hell. I felt so lonely, but that's where I needed to be - alone. By going through the divorce officially, I gained clarity on the situation, saw us for who we were. I made recovery my #1 priority. I am loving myself more and more each day. I know that I would much rather be alone than with an abusive man any day. I have peace now. On several occasions my ex contacted me, and I am very proud of myself that I didn't jump at the opportunity to resume contact. After all, I worked very hard to gain my self-respect and it would just be a knock of my self-esteem to go down the path where there is nothing positive in it.

I wish you all the best!

When I went to see him I told him how confused I felt. He advised me to continue with the divorce. I was shocked.

 

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, February 09, 2000

S1

Dear Friend, I have been where you are and where you are coming from. It does not get any better. Just worse. I filed for divorce in Aug of this past year after l9 years of marriage. I am forty and starting over. It is not easy, I will not lie. But my boys l5 and ll encourage me to because they were sick of the temper outburst of there father and his constant verbal and sometimes physical abuse. I begged for him to get help before I did this and he told me hell no! He didn't give a shit and go today and get a divorce. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. He was a poor pitiful me thing for a while. Last week I found a month after he moved out he has been living with another woman already! That has hurt. But I will survive and have lots of friends and family to support. He doesn't get his boys much. Hasn't seen them since Jan 2. To busy with his slut I guess. But I am beginning to come out of the fog and beginning to recover with a support group. It is nice to live in peace and not walk on egg shells anymore. My boys are happier and I'm getting there. My email address is PerkyHit@aol.com Please write me and let me know how u are. We have to stand together to understand this craziness. Get the book Verbal Abuse Relationship by Patricia Evans,,,, it has been my bible. It will make things so clear. God Bless-Marla

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, April 27, 2000

S1

UPDATE FROM ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF THIS INTERACTIVE E-MAIL

It is important to me that you know that we have reconcilled - the divorce has been dismissed and things are definately looking up. My husband has been in counseling since I filed for divorce, he is on meds. and we are working very hard on our marriage. Things are not easy - and we are not blind to what we have been through - but we both recognize that our love for each other is deep and we don't want to let go of each other but things have to change. I am so thankful. We are happier than we have been in years, we are appreciating each other and working on mutual goals in our marriage. I have depended deeply on my faith, prayers and my pastors support. My husbands therapy has been very helpful. We had to change counselors as the first counseling was contradictive to our marriage. We end each night with a prayer, a couples devotional and discuss things we appreciate about each other. I will always regret my affair and the deep hurt I have caused...and I will maintain the boundries I have worked so hard on. I will not tolerate the verbal abuse in my life anymore. Thank-you for all of your support!!

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, May 13, 2000

S1

My heart goes out to you in all you say. I left a 23 year marriage that had been wonderful for at least 17 years. Due to job changes, health problems and the death of his Mother, my ex fell into the same pattern of abuse as your husband. Your husband's sexual behavior is so similar to my ex it's scary. He had moved out and would come by demanding sex and then leave in a frenzy. He also had "cars" that took most of our money. After 2 years of abuse I finally left. I have reclaimed my life, friends, and my joy of living. It wasn't an easy process and only you can decide if it's the right move for you. I knew when enough was enough.

With children involved I know this must be much harder than my situation, but your self-esteem is suffering greatly and I'm sure that affects your children too. I don't have any wise words of wisdom for you, except that as Dr. Irene says, you can't fix him, you can only fix you.

It took me a long time to realize how dysfunctional my marriage was. It has been 3 years since my divorce and I know own my own home, have good friends again and a new life that is what I always longed for.

Prayers are going out to you in your search for direction. Love prayers to you.

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, September 15, 2000

S1

This woman lives my life.. I hope she got out of the relationship and is doing well. I'm still in mine :(

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, July 17, 2002

S1

I have a 20 year old marriage going through the same with my husband.I swear he has some sort of mental problem,But he will not seek help.I am on antidepressants and nerve meds.He IS Fine.I am ready to walk out He has taken my life away.Anymore i cant even think.I am always downing myself.gained to 235lbs.But if i had the means I would have already have been gone.I havent any family And i am disabled from spine injuries.So i would say go and be happy i am sure that you deserve it.

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, December 09, 2002

S1

get the hell out

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, December 09, 2002

S1

get the hell out