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Doc@DrIrene.com

Comments for Buddha 1

Comments for Buddha 1

Material posted here is intended for educational purposes only, and must not be considered a substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.

Courtesy of Dr. Irene Matiatos   Copyright© 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

Up Next

 B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, August 13, 2000

S1

I'm in much the same boat as you David. But I am a woman. I've been drinking entirely too much, but AA is restoring my sanity - and my behavior. I'm really not a bad person. In fact, I'm a really nice person. But my husband, who I put too much pressure one and really mistreated badly left about a year ago. I want him back. He won't come back. He says he still loves me, but he met some girl he likes and she doesn't hurt him. This kills me. We had good times, the best times together. I really acted horribly towards him. I see it now but I didn't see it then. He doesn't believe me and I mess up just enough for him to disbelieve me. I've medicated my temper, I've called his therapist who won't see me, I spend my nights alone crying after AA meetings. I've silently been following this site for a while and I am trying to be my best self but its hard when I feel I've had it. I feel like I can't stand it. Then I do something awful (like scream and yell or get him in trouble with the courts or at his job) that in the back of my mind I know I shouldn't have done, but it feels ok at the moment. Then I hate myself and I try to stop. I think you are further along than I am. Even though I doubt it at the times I am upset, somewhere I know I am doing the right thing. MA

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, August 13, 2000

S1

David,

I applaud you for your awareness of what you have been doing and what you need to change! This is one of the major tasks for both abusers and victims. Dr. Irene's advice applies to all of us. (I guess I have to become a Buddha-ette)? :-)  Yep!

Keep at it! I hope all turns out for the best!

Becky

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

One of the best lessons I have learned as a survivor is that I don't have to forgive the behavior, but I can forgive the person. It really takes the edge off the anger.

Now that I am safely away from my abuser, I can see how much pain he has endured in his life to get to this point. Even now he suffers with himself.

I hope this gentleman will continue to work on his issues for himself and his future. I've found I do better in the long run if I change for myself, not for someone else!

Suzanne

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

It's awesome that you have become aware of yourself, and that you aren't satisfied with what you see. I suggest, if I may do so, to dive into educating yourself fully of what exactly is going on here, and why are these things happening, and do this without looking at someone else to blame. I had to do the same thing! Because ultimately, nobody but our own selves can take the responsibility of everything we do and say, even what we allow people to do and say to us! Thank God for that! It's so true what Dr Irene says, when you take time out for you, and to start caring and learning about yourself and re-igniting your own self-awareness and taking your own responsibility to improve yourself, you may not want to be with that person again. Things really do change with knowledge and understanding! Take a deep breathe, accept that this situation "sucks" you can't "turn back time" drop the guilt, and work on YOU for a better future!! You can do this!

~me

 

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

David- You've started on the right path, believe it or not. You seem to take full responsibility for your actions, which in my own experience with abusers and on these boards and such, is *really* a big deal. Few abusive-types can do that. I think the most important thing now to realize that you have choices in how you behave. I'll share a little interaction with my recovering-angry guy boyfriend from last night to demonstrate: We're on the phone, and I suggest something, while seeming harmless, triggers his anger. He didn't do something that we both agreed he should, and instead of really feeling his feelings, he started to get irritated at me for bringing it up (but not acting out, but somewhat angry in the tone of his voice.) Since he's gotten angry over stuff like this before, I ask if he is, and he says yes. Now I've gotta deal with the scary feeling of him being angry at me for nothing again, which makes me feel really scared, anxious, and angry myself inside (I didn't do anything, why is he angry at me!?? etc...) but I also don't act out. Tip: Train yourself to think: he's angry and it's got nothing to do with me.

Then my BF says that he realizes his anger is misplaced and it probably doesn't have anything to do with me, shares a few insights his therapist made about these situations that we get into. I agreed, and then suggested that maybe, even though we both WANT to talk about this (why he's angry, now why I'm angry, etc.) that maybe we should wait and talk about it tomorrow. He agrees, saying he doesn't feel out of control, but in the past these situations can get out of hand and he can end up acting out abusively. So then we changed the subject. Okay, it might sound like I'm making a big deal out of nothing, but this is a MAJOR accomplishment for both of us. Yes! In the past this kind of situation would've let to a big fight. He was able to recognize his anger, control it, recognize that his anger had nothing to do with me, and agree to talk later in a loving way, not withdrawing. I was able to state my feelings without withdrawing or sulking, control my anger and fear when he was angry, and agree to discuss it later without withdrawing. I guess this is how normal couples do it? More or less... Anyway, it feels good. We're both in control and probably avoided a bad experience. I'm confident that when we talk about it briefly tonight, it will be constructive. We both felt the same as we usually did back when we were in abuser/victim mode but we MADE CHOICES to avoid that. -SatokoGirl :)

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

David:

Some men never come to the realizations you have or even ask the questions of themselves that you do. Bravo! It may work out if you do the work necessary to change and win her trust back. It also may not...too much damage could have already been done. Either way , you must respect and accept whatever happens . Good Luck! :)

D.

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000

S1

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Remember the Alcoholics Anonymous prayer- Ask for the courage to change what you can, the strength to accept what you can't change, and the wisdom to know the difference. You've been "courageously" (but not really) trying to change your partner. You must accept that you can only change yourself. Seek serenity. :)

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000

S1

Have you gotten any therapy or pro help? Sometimes (very often) the anger you're giving her comes from stuff that other people did to you. My H is trying right now to mend his ways, I am proud of every tiny step he makes, walking the dog when he gets mad, sitting down to talk when he's angry, (a lot less threatening), complimenting me in front of people. :) I hope you do well and I hope that you don't feel bad about the past, just fix the present! I wish she was there for you the way I want to be there for him (but expect her to get mad a lot, anyway. I still get angry when nothing's going on, just from not being angry before when I should have been.) Good luck! Try the sitting down thing, and if you feel pressured, give in for at least an hour. In other words, if she wants you to treat her a certain way, do it and then while you're doing it, notice how you feel. My H says that a lot of the time he'd argue me down, when what I was asking him for actually felt good and made him happy once he did it - like calm down, or wait until the anger has subsided to actually talk about something.

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 22, 2000

S1

seek chemical help?????!!!!! Try GOD! Didn't God give us these chemicals?

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 22, 2000

S1

Dear MA: Thanks for your comments. I mistreated my wife by verbally abusing her and ignoring her. I know now, too late, what kind of an emotional wreckage this can make out of someone. I honestly didn't know what to do to stop my marriage spiraling downward until I was forced out of the house. Even then, I wasted at least six months verbally abusing her about her new boyfriend. This kind of behavior didn't help at all. I still want her back and she still doesn't want me to come back. I guess the only thing you and I can do is get our own acts together and hope for the best. I just can't believe that I put myself in this position and what was I so upset about all those years anyway? 

Dear Becky: Thanks for the kind words. Do you know the funny thing about Buddha is that he left his wife and kid(s) to try to find spiritual enlightenment? I wonder if Dr. Irene recommends that :) I recommend that each seeker finds enlightenment; who cares how they do it!

Dear Suzanne: Thanks for your post. Believe me I am trying. Sometimes the abuser is at a big disadvantage on working on your own issues because you spent the last N years thinking that you were the center of everything and that you were right about everything.

Dear ~me: Thanks for the kind words as well. I've worked with a local AAMFT therapist, and also with Dr. Irene and all of her website resources, read about 20 self-help and spiritual books, made changes in my diet and in the gym, have tried to become a better father, as well as other changes. I must say that it's helped some. But the overwhelming loneliness (especially on weekends) and grief for what might never be is just hard to deal with sometimes. Do you have any hints on what to do with the lonely feeling? Especially coupled with a longing for your ex-mate. One woman described it as a tangible "pit of the stomach" feeling. Pay attention inside. Recognizing any interests? What do you like / love to do? Keep listening...

Dear SatokoGirl: I have taken responsibility for my actions, and I do believe (no false modesty) that I am one of the select few, judging from some of the vile (even for me) treatment that these men can dole out on their supposed loved ones. Sadly for me, my past bad treatment of my wife and my fits and starts to treat her with dignity and respect in the present (having a boyfriend doesn't help make this any easier) have created an enormous chasm of emotional separation between us. Although it isn't her job to give me false hope anymore, she has let it slip that there is a "slim chance" of us getting back together again ("a 9% chance" - did you see the movie "High Fidelity") so I have made a vow to myself to treat her well no matter what happens, just like total strangers would do. No matter what the provocation. :)  :)  :)  :) Yippeee! too.

Dear D.: Thanks for the nice words. I am hoping for the happy ending. I am in no way ready for the alternative yet. I am somewhat in denial that this could happen although I know intellectually that it very well might. I know it is the adult thing to do to just accept "whatever happens" but it is so sad to contemplate this outcome. I want to give our marriage the chance that it never had. I have a complete new way of thinking and it would be great to get the chance to try this out. (Imagine being nice to someone or putting something into your marriage for a change.) Maybe I am dreaming and I'm not really ready to be taken back yet. Maybe I have a lot more "heavy lifting" to do. Maybe you will begin to feel good about the truly wonderful person you are as you implement this type of behavior... Maybe that's what being "on track" is about...

Dear Serenity: That's the irony of being a "controlling" person. You are not controlling anything! At least not with my wife. I did all the controlling and she did the opposite of what I wanted anyway. I had a few small "victories" that I am now ashamed to even talk about. But in the main, she did what she wanted and all the while I was yelling and the love was draining out of our marriage.

Dear Therapy: Yes I am going about once a week to talk to my female certified PhD AAMFT therapist! See above, thanks.

And we would be remiss if we didn't thank God as well.

Cheers, Regards, David. Bless you David. You are a very special person.

 

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 24, 2000

S1

David - You said: "Sometimes the abuser is at a big disadvantage on working on your own issues because you spent the last N years thinking that you were the center of everything and that you were right about everything."

These are brave, brave words. How I wish my partner could "fess up" like this.

I wish you the best, my friend, in your healing. Asha Isn't he wonderful? I hope one day he realizes what a human being he is...

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 28, 2000

S1

David - I don't know if you are still following this thread, but I'm just wondering - is there anything your wife *could* have done to impact you while she was with you? My husband and I are now separated and I think he's just waiting for me to "come around". He admitted for the first time that he had been living in an angry state for most of his life and he didn't want to continue on that path. However, I don't see him really making any big changes. Maybe it's because now I'm the angry one. I'm trying not to be, but I adjusted so much of my life around his wants/needs/crises, that I just want to think about *me* for a change. I also want stability, but when I'm upset he walks out. I think he wants me in his life, but thinks that I'm equally to blame for the situation. I'm not the blaming type, but I think I tried far harder to make compromises and work things out in the relationship than he did. He used to talk about compromise as a negative thing; I think he felt he would be giving up his independence or something. He thinks I'm too demanding, but what I most want is to be listened to, and to have my desires respected and considered. Anyway I've told him everything I feel about all this, but he just thinks I'm "ragging on him". Any thoughts? Should I just leave him alone and continue to focus on me? AK AK, that's all you can do. What you did "wrong" was accommodate, accommodate, accommodate...

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 28, 2000

S1

Dear AK:

I am still monitoring this thread. Dr. Irene put a lot of work into it. I am still rereading her comments for inspiration. I guess there was nothing my wife could have done short of kicking me out. One of the things that makes her nuts during counseling is me letting a thoughtless comment slip like "you should have done a better job" of telling me, etc. She just starts crying and saying "I DID TELL YOU!!", which she did. But when you are heavily into the control paradigm it doesn't register. EXACTLY! You think you are right about everything and don't understand the severity of the problem. I never did. Plus verbal abusers usually aren't that displeased with their marriage even when they are in the middle of wrecking it. SO WELL PUT, SO TRUE!

[Any thoughts? Should I just leave him alone and continue to focus on me?]

AK, I am the last one to be giving advice, especially underneath Dr. Irene's shadow here If you weren't my shadow, I wouldn't be here..., but since you asked ... I would give anything to have a wife like you. Someone who explained what she needs and then, I assume, you would eventually get back with him if he did it? I don't think it is your job anymore to continue to please him. Once you have put him on notice like this, it's his job to come around. If he doesn't then that's it. There are a lot more men out there (as I have come to find out) that WILL treat you nicely. In my case, my wife is so beaten down emotionally that she doesn't give me any direct advice or encouragement and the stuff that does come out is like interpreting the Oracle at Delphi. I am just ASSUMING that there is something left and that if I blow on the embers gently maybe we can get a fire started again. You're doing all you can under the circumstances.

One final comment. A common thread in all of these self-help books is the notion of out-distancing the distancer. If your husband was distant and uncaring and verbally abusive, one way to "smoke out" his true feelings for you is to distance yourself from him and no longer try to please him. No dates, no sex, no calling him. In a lot of men they wake up to what they have lost and become the perfect husbands and will do anything to get back into the marriage. From what I have read in this website, though, a lot of women think this is too little, too late and don't even want the husband back once he wakes up and tries to make amends. If this technique doesn't work, then, well ....

When this technique works, it works after the wife has left him, told him what a crummy creep he is - and only then is she able to forgive him.

Regards, David

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 28, 2000

S1

David - thanks for your comments. They are helpful.

<<<< verbal abusers usually aren't that displeased with their marriage even when they are in the middle of wrecking it. >>>

This is interesting. He has always felt that his needs were very simple and that I'm too demanding, while I've always felt that we were acting like "roommates" instead of soulmates; what I mean by soulmates is people who consult with and consider each other in day to day decisions, rather than just doing their own thing independent of each other's needs/wants/desires. A kind of non-dependent "interdependency" if you know what I mean.

I've been hearing that it's very common for women to be the ones to end a marriage, while the guy hardly knows what hit him. And yet in most cases, I bet the woman has been shouting "SOS!" for a long time. Yes. Someone should do a study on this, if there hasn't already been one.

<<<AK, I am the last one to be giving advice, especially underneath Dr. Irene's shadow here, but since you asked ... I would give anything to have a wife like you. >>>

To be perfectly honest here - I think you did have a wife like me -as far as being clear that she felt something was terribly wrong in the relationship- but you didn't know it at the time.

<<<<I assume, you would eventually get back with him if he did it?>>>>

There are a lot of wounds that haven't had a chance to heal and the environment hasn't been a healing one. Unless I could somehow feel safe, and be certain that I would have a chance to heal my hurt before the wounds got ripped open again, I don't know. I don't know how this is achievable, when so many times I've taken the risk and so many times I've been hurt again. How does a person start to feel safe in a relationship, when they've opened themselves up, only to be hurt again? If this relationship can be seen as a gamble, then I guess I'm looking at my odds.

Sometimes I wonder if after so much water under the bridge the "victim", knowing all the damage that's happened so many times before, just can't provide the trust that the "abuser" needs to heal. (I quote "victim" and "abuser" because I don't really see myself as a victim, except of my own choices, and I don't see my husband as an "abuser" - just a guy acting out on his pain.) So true...

<<<In my case, my wife is so beaten down emotionally that she doesn't give me any direct advice or encouragement and the stuff that does come out is like interpreting the Oracle at Delphi.>>>>

At first I laughed at this (I think this is kind of a common male/female thing), but be careful not to make light of her attempts to relay her feelings to you. She's just telling you what she feels with the experience and communication tools that she has at her disposal. There's the hurt, the anger, and the defeat that she's experienced that enter into her communications with you, and that has to be factored into the equation. I think your job now is to sincerely try to understand, even when it seems like she's making no sense. Excellent advice. And never forget how hard it is to "hear" when you are just learning to hear...

<<<A common thread in all of these self-help books is the notion of out-distancing the distancer. If your husband was distant and uncaring and verbally abusive, one way to "smoke out" his true feelings for you is to distance yourself from him and no longer try to please him..... From what I have read in this website, though, a lot of women think this is too little, too late and don't even want the husband back once he wakes up and tries to make amends.>>>>> Distancing works best early on. The earlier, the better.

Yes, I think when you get to the point that you have accepted the fact that ending the relationship might be the only healthy option, after endlessly trying on your own to work things out, there's a feeling of not wanting to risk the hurt feelings all over again. Of course, each situation is different. Guess it's like trying to interpret the Oracle at Delphi.... :)

AK

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, August 28, 2000

S1

Dear AK:

Your comments are helpful to me as well. I am fast embracing the loving, caring, warm, involved, non-pressuring, consistent high road with my estranged wife as the only approach. Not as a fairy tale notion of what I probably should be doing but also as a real practical method of preserving whatever chance I have left with my wife at the moment. And as a real practical method of preserving whatever chance you have with yourself, with your own life.

The only weak link at this point is my over-reactions to her boyfriend. I think I am going to go back on Paxil to get over this piece of the puzzle. I really didn't care about their relationship when I was on Paxil last time. Excellent.

Regards, David

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 29, 2000

S1

David:

Another question for you. Why do you think you were unable to consider your wife's requests or desires when you were with her? This is the part I find hardest to understand. My husband views these as "demands" and it's as if it would take something away from him to do something I wanted instead of what he wants to do. He seems to really be pressured by what I consider to be normal requests; i.e. occasionally having a turn in deciding what we do with his kids (my stepkids), wanting him to remember my birthday, making social plans more than a couple of days in advance.

I don't expect him to spend a lot of time doing things he doesn't like, but it would be nice if he could occasionally make a sacrifice and try something I suggest without being miserable. But that just doesn't happen and it's killing the relationship for me. Any idea why, or what could be going on in his head? I don't know what your particular circumstances were or if you can relate to that at all.

I'm really trying to understand why it's so difficult for him to consult and negotiate with me about plans. AK

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 29, 2000

S1

[Why do you think you were unable to consider your wife's requests or desires when you were with her?]

AK, I think it is part of this "paradigm" problem. The abusive husband has a view of what the marriage is. And it's not the one that you or most women would like to have, i.e. a normal sharing 50-50 type respectful marriage where the partner is viewed as another human being. As long as the husband is in this mold there is not much hope of getting through that - read the "victim think" thread for proof of this. In my experience there has to be a paradigm shift whereby the husband is thrown out, the wife leaves, or some other way to instill a real fear that the husband will lose the wife forever if he doesn't "get with the program", i.e. start putting something into the marriage. 

Right up until my wife told me she wanted a divorce I thought I had a great marriage - whether or not I put anything into it at all. Some things that will definitely "change the paradigm" for a neglected wife who has reached the end of her rope: the wife announcing she wants a divorce, kicking the husband out or the wife leaving, and/or the wife having an affair. While I am not recommending any one of these things, one or all of them will definitely change the neglecting husband's thinking. It may provoke a divorce, but, from what I read on this thread and from my own experience, it more likely produces a remorseful broken-down pathetic husband just crawling to get back into the marriage on the wife's terms.

Dr. Irene: Am I out of bounds on this one? David, it's got nothing to do with bounds. It is an accurate response. It is your experience and speaks for many if not most.

Regards, David

 B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, August 29, 2000

S1

David I guess what I am trying to understand is how "abusers" are unable to take their wives/husbands cries for help seriously. I guess each case is different, and I guess I don't really need to understand, but I'd like to. When you talk about different "paradigms" do you mean that the abuser sees his/her actions as having little or no impact on the wife/husband, truly as "no big deal" even when she says otherwise?

I wonder if in some cases this has anything to do with the old "traditional" husband and wife roles - where the wife's job was supposedly to serve the husband and tend to the children, and the husband to provide for the family. Women have been conditioned to be nurturers (and therefore are probably more skilled in caring and taking care of everybody) while men were supposed to be the providers and tough-guy warriors (envision men in an ancient tribe gathering for a buffalo kill), so their competitiveness and independence was rewarded. Women traditionally may have more skills in considering and consulting others because traditionally, it has been their job. Of course this doesn't explain the abusers who are women. What'dya think David? and Dr. Irene if you're still out there? AK I'm here AK. Just took a break of sorts... I think your hypothesis makes sense. Most cultures reinforce submission in their women. But, I wouldn't be able to account for all the abused men using that hypothesis alone. I think lots of stuff comes into play, including biology.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 30, 2000

S1

AK since no one else is listening I guess we can just use this as our private chat room. :) Tell ya what, we'll keep this one "active" as long as you two are chatting...

[When you talk about different "paradigms" do you mean that the abuser sees his/her actions as having little or no impact on the wife/husband, truly as "no big deal" even when she says otherwise?]

Yes, this is exactly what I am saying. Your lips are moving and there is sound coming out but if it doesn't comport with your husband's "world view" of the marriage then is just doesn't register. Yes.

[I wonder if in some cases this has anything to do with the old "traditional" husband and wife roles ...]

Don't know. Me neither. Probably somewhat. I was never a big fan of psychology to begin with and the only reason I am here at all is to get the information to fix my marriage. Once I have accomplished my goal I hope to get back to living my life and not having to think so hard about all of this stuff.

Regards, David.

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, September 01, 2000

S1

Isn't it normal that he be hurt that she has a boyfriend? You bet! This is an acid test.

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, September 07, 2000

S1

David, it sounds as if you feel like you become an abusive person while trying to be with this woman? Maybe once you are true to yourself, and stop reacting to your wife, whatever she says or does, you may see that you are not happy with the way she treats you. I don't think that you can change how she treats you, but I think that you can change how you treat her. Then, once you are happy and comfortable with how you treat her, maybe you can say, "I am a good person, but she is still hurting me." You may feel badly because you think that you are also hurting her. I know that I feel terrible that I also yell and scream and cry out of frustration, when I am trying to have a "normal" conversation with a person who is not capable of it. It is inconceivable to me that someone would not want to talk to me, or discuss things with me on a day to day basis. I don't understand why my husband cannot discuss our child, our dreams, our goals; or establish rules and boundaries with me for our life together. It makes an otherwise Ok person turn sour. Then I feel guilty for blaming him, because I am giving it right back. The one big difference that I see between me and him, is that everything I do, good or bad, I FEEL a genuine sense of remorse, or happiness, or confusion; yet he FEELS nothing. Hang in there, David, whatever you decide to do. Sincerely, "a concerned person".

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, September 08, 2000

S1

David

I had the same scenario going on two years ago. We were separated he was out there dating and suddenly I found a man to talk to. Suddenly, he was back at my door IMMEDIATELY wanted me to break of any contact with this guy. Swore undying love, romance and all those good things I had wanted to hear before he withdrew and broke up.

I broke down, gave in and went back. I did this because I knew how much I really loved him. I never spoke to the other man again, much to this lovely man's dismay I might add.

Well, it wasn't two months into this new fairytale of ours, when I was back in la la land over him, that he started to do exactly all the things he promised he wouldn't do. I couldn't believe it. Progressively it got worse and worse and worse. Silly me of course kept thinking I must be doing something really wrong because why else would he revert back. I certainly didn't know at that time what I now know today from reading Dr. Irene's site on abuse/victim/codependency. I had tried talking, sharing, understanding, explaining nothing worked he just got angry. I actually was obviously and incredibly mentally challenged because according to him I could do nor say anything right.

The info on this site came too late anyways, because he had me where he wanted me, back in love with him so he left again. This time he could turn into a saint and I will know for sure "a saint he aint." because I will have my very own life and won't waste any of it entertaining the idea of returning to him again. Realizing of course that this is just my tale of woe. What's more, he still just doesn't "get it" and still just blames me for everything. Oh well. The whole idea of the victim's recovery is for the victim to reclaim their life. That means, never, ever, ever allowing another person to step on their toes, no matter how subtly. When you can do this, your abuser cannot abuse you; you won't tolerate any of it. Your abuser respects you. But, unless your abuser changes too, you won't respect him or her.

 B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, September 10, 2000

S1

Hi David, I just found this place and read your sweet words. My husband and I were in your shoes 20 years ago. We had known each other for 13 years when I reached my breaking point. We had dated 4 years and been married 9 years with two adorable children. He had been a relatively good husband and father until then, although somewhat aloof. I accepted this as part of his personality. Suddenly without warning, he began raging. I was only 27 years old, and it terrified me. I tried harder. He raged more. My terror grew. He isolated himself in the bedroom to watch T.V. If our children went in to see "Daddy", he would scream to me "Get YOUR kids away from me". I cried rivers over that in bed at night. The Pain on their beautiful faces gave me nightmares. No child on earth should ever have to hear something like that come from their parent's mouth. One began wetting the bed, the other began to stutter. About that time, I caught my husband on the phone with another woman. They were having phone sex. He got on the plane the next morning to go see her. He went even though he knew I had heard the conversation. When he went out the door, it was clear to me that he had made his choice in wanting her and not us. As incredible as it seems, he came back in three days, announced that nothing had happened, and wanted to pick up where he had left off. Clearly something was very wrong, no matter what did or did not happen with the other woman. He was TOTALLY CLUELESS that any damage had been done. He was CLUELESS about what he had done to the kids, to me, or to himself. I calmly went out and filed for divorce. I was not going to let anyone hurt my little ones, and the other woman didn't feel so good to me either. Funny thing happened when I filed for divorce. He suddenly wanted his family back. Now here is the part that I hope will help you, so stay with me. At that point in my life I would have trusted a P###ED OFF rattlesnake more than him, and I hate snakes. Giggle. 

He begged me to stop the divorce. I almost did, but then a perfumed letter came from his so-called "NOT GIRLFRIEND". He had told me that he told her to go to H##L. Guess she forgot. Years later I discovered that he had told her this in his mind. Wow... Beats the heck out of me how that works. It's called denial and rationalization. When you lie so much, you start believing your own lies... He was sure she was gone, because he wanted nothing more to do with her. All this was in his mind, and of course everyone was suppose to read his mind and know this. Some times I think he was just making this up, and sometimes I would think that he must believe that whatever he thinks " in his mind" is real and true. Spooky huh? I got the divorce, and let him think I was dating someone. It drove him nuts. I was sure he was just putting on an act, because remember when he was interested in the other woman, he dismissed my feelings, called me naive, said that if I was half the woman she was that I wouldn't have this problem, said that everyone does this and that; I was just a baby and needed to grow up.

NOW ITS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD!!!!!!!! I was convinced that he should be up for an academy award, and he really should win, hands down. He begged, pleaded, cried, and once kicked over the coffee table. He tried making me feel guilty because he was all alone in an apartment. Suddenly, and when I say suddenly, I mean SUDDENLY, he can't get enough of the kids The kids were loving it. He gave me too much money and barely kept enough for his rent and food. He was attentive, a good father, caring generous, protective, he listened, he helped. I didn't buy any of it. He begged me to marry him. It took 6 months before I realized that he had changed. First he got my attention with his gentleness with the kids, and I was really keeping a close eye on that. I had made up my mind that if he ever said one more abusive word to them that I'd never let him near them again. His anger seemed to go away. He wanted "TO TALK", when that was never possible before. Many changes came about. I told him that I would marry him, but he would never have the ability to abuse us again. If he were to do that again, the kids and I would be gone for good. We took our kids, went to Las Vegas and we all got married again.  Look at your attitude. You did not go into la la land. You refused to trust him. You lack the codependency of others who hear one nice word and flip back into believing everything is wonderful. You never let the pressure off.

Our boys are grown now and still mention how we all got married, and how happy they were. These years have not always been easy, but then when is any marriage easy? He has slipped up a little here and there, nothing too serious, just bad habits. He turned into a wonderful father. As for me, I've never trusted him blindly again. I some times catch myself not believing him, but I don't tell him that. Its something that I have to work on all the time. He will never know how much he hurt me, but I do know that he loves us and we love him. You should tell him. I am proud of him for changing, and I try to remind myself when old hurt try to enter my mind that he probably really didn't mean all the pain he caused. He didn't. And, I can say this though I don't even know him. 

Having known his mother, I'm sure she caused him much distress when he was small. I feel for him, but will not let him abuse me. :) He has choices in his behavior. So you see, there is always hope. The biggest problem for your wife is trusting you, and she is exhausted from trying to please you all this time. She's probably convinced that there is no possible way to please you. Probably. She's totally burned out, my friend. What helped me was having some space, getting some rest, and watching my husband CONSISTENTLY showing improved behavior. Yes. From a distance. If you need to take the medicine to help you with the hurt about the boyfriend, then do it. YES! If you are truly sincere about getting her back, now is the time to show her that you really do care about her, not the time to fight over him!!!!!!!!!!!!! YES! How do you show her that you care? LISTEN TO HER, and never close your ears to her again. Tell her how sorry you are about the past. Most important...... be honest, be your true self, and don't withhold yourself. And keep your cool. And let her divorce you if she must. I truly hope that all goes well for you both. We have all endured toooooooo much pain. I am very proud of you for coming here and telling your story. You are a REAL MAN in my book. Mine too! Keep plugging, things will get better. BIG HUG Pat  Thank you Pat. Big HUG from Trubble for you too!

P. S. Maybe you could tell me something too. Even after all these years, I still have a hard time believing that anyone could do the things my husband did to those he "loved', and not realize how much pain and confusion he was creating. He really didn't know. It amazes me.

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, September 10, 2000

S1

Dear Pat:

Thanks so much for your post. I really like the fact that you eventually reconciled with your husband. I will re-read your post many times, as well as continue to act on all of your recommendations. Thanks again. Her words sound a lot like this doc...

[P. S. Maybe you could tell me something too. Even after all these years, I still have a hard time believing that anyone could do the things my husband did to those he "loved', and not realize how much pain and confusion he was creating. He really didn't know. It amazes me.]

Did you read my "paradigm" posts to AK? Do you agree with that line of reasoning? I am sure that the man having a dominating perspective in the marriage eventually leads to this kind of behavior, at least in part. Another part may be witnessing this kind of behavior played out in the parents' marriage. One of the things that I found out is that this "man calls the shots" attitude is a one-way street toward wrecking your marriage. It just keeps getting worse. The only thing that stops the slide is separation, divorce, wife's boyfriend(s), "out-distancing the distancer", etc. as I wrote before. Incredibly, the man usually does a complete turnaround at this point. Wake up call! As you wrote, the only way the abused woman can be sure the man is "worthy" to be let back into the marriage is good behavior over a protracted period of time. Most people aren't willing to put in this kind of time given the immediate gratification culture we live in. Especially when there is no guarantee of a positive outcome. Plus all the hell you have to live through in the meantime. A quick aside - I have read several books on healing from affairs. Not one of them mentions how you cope with them when they are still going on!

Anyway, thanks again, and

Best Regards, David     Pat, Your husband never questioned his behavior. His mindset was "normal" to him. It never occurred to him to look outside himself. He knew no better...

 

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, September 10, 2000

S1

David

you said: "the only way the abused woman can be sure the man is "worthy" to be let back into the marriage is good behavior over a protracted period of time."

I think this is absolutely true. I also think you are right when you say most people aren't willing to put this kind of time in.

The process of re-building trust doesn't happen overnight. This makes it more difficult for the "abuser" because growth that takes place in an atmosphere of love and trust is always preferable. I'm starting to think though that pain may be the only thing that pushes some people to grow. It's like a daily reminder that something needs to be changed.

For myself, I'm right now working on the path of acceptance. Acceptance that I can't change my spouse, acceptance of myself, my desires, my circumstances and my life the way it is right now. Really, there is no other choice (except of course, to change those things I *can* change - I have tried to get through to him, but he just doesn't see things my way--maybe he just can't--and for now I have to accept that). Yes.

People don't always choose the paths that you think would be best for them. I'm trying to change my response to pain; to see it as a message that is telling me something is wrong. Then I think about what concrete things I can do in response to it. Pain is real, but how we interpret it is up to us. We really do have a choice in how much we let it get to us. I'm a fan of using affirmations. What I mean is when I wake up feeling "in pain" I try to reprogram the response by saying something to myself again and again like "I accept my spouses choices and make positive choices in my own life" or whatever feels right at the time. I don't know if you would be comfortable doing something like that, but what I'm getting at is the idea of re-programming the painful response. You're changing your bad habits.

Also, instead of trying to analyze my entire future, I am trying to deal with 10 minutes at a time. That helps, and makes it much less overwhelming. I can handle thinking about the next 10 minutes, but not my entire lifetime. EXCELLENT. Ten minutes at a time. I like that even better than one day at a time.

Hope that gives you some ideas for coping. I really think things will get better for you and that there's a reason for everything that's going on.

"Eternally optimistic"   Good! We should all be. Especially since we script our life, let's err on the side of focusing on the positive.

AK

This thread has been very productive and I want to thank David, AK, and all the other posters who have participated, and continue to keep it active almost a month after it was published. I also want to thank the posters for their wonderful attitude. You have not blasted David or each other; you seek to understand him so you can understand the abuser in your life. Excellent. Thank you to all. Also, this post will stay "active" i.e., visible on the left banner as long as you guys continue posting. (Even though you can post even once a title is off the banner too.) Dr. Irene

 

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, September 11, 2000

S1

David, I am glad for you that you are looking at yourself and your own behavior. My husband does not yet do that, and I have not turned to another man, but I can fully understand why a woman would. I don't think I have ever felt that my husband really ever cared about me, but only so much that he needed something from me. He is always nicest when he needs/wants something from me. I tell my children when they squabble with their friends or someone says something mean to them that it does not matter if everyone likes them, but they'd better be sure by their own behavior that people respect them. I must follow my own advice at all times. Good stuff!

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, September 11, 2000

S1

Dear David,

Dr. Irene suggested I read here. I'm Lynn in the Cat Box. Great. I want to read these over again (and again). I hope you are doing well. Good Luck to you and even if you don't get "her" back, don't quit. Get this behind you and do it for yourself. Maybe then the right one will come along and you both won't have to go through this again.

I feel I'm jumping from anger to indifference and when Dan sees the indifference he wants me safely back in anger where he knows I care. You can't be angry with someone you don't care about, can you. The indifference doesn't mean I don't care. It just means I have on get on with my life with or without him.

Loads of love to you and lots of good luck, too. Keep trying. You won't be sorry. Lynn

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, September 11, 2000

S1

Wow, what great posts. Thanks.

 

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000

S1

What a great column! Has anyone had any lasting success with just counseling? I have (with my husband) been to counseling many times in our 14 year marriage and with only temporary results if any. And our last therapist just never got to the point where any change was suggested. She even told me that he was incapable of empathy for me because of his childhood and that I had to learn to accept any minute effort on his part and praise him for it. You know, you can't get blood out of a rock... I had jumped for years at his "crumbs" of effort, praised him, blah, blah, blah. I had had it that is why I was in therapy with him again. I actually had a loss of hope. Now I feel that from reading this particular column I have learned more about myself and my husband than I ever did from any therapy. I am still untrusting and pretty angry with him, but I am not going to sit around all day thinking about it. I will put my needs first and not apologize for them or wonder if I am asking too much (you know like, a "Hi, how was your day?" or "Great dinner, I'll help with the dishes." or "Sure, I'll run your car to the carwash.") I know my husband knows better because he doles it out in spades to people at church, in the community at large, in his business and to our neighbors. He is the quintessential "good guy". OK. Maybe he's a living rock. Ask him to treat you like an acquaintance... But I doubt anyone thinks he is great because they see him being a good husband or father. No one ever hears him say anything nice to me but they do hear him make snide jokes about me now and then. I almost die when he does that because there is no balance, nothing good to make up for his efforts to be funny at my expense. He might die (of embarrassment) if the next time he did this in public, you turned around and asked his audience to forgive his poor manners.  THANK YOU AGAIN FOR SHARING YOUR SIMILAR EXPERIENCES!!! And thank you David, for letting me know there are thinking, caring men out there. I'm just not sure I will ever know one personally. Good luck to you. You are truly in touch with your own spirituality and goodness.

  B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000

S1

A lot of these posts have the theme that the husband doesn't "get it" and the wives wish that he would - and would presumably either take the man back or reconnect with him emotionally if he is still in the house. Well I do "get it" but that doesn't mean I get my wife back.

It's ironic that in my particular situation I have been making good progress with treating my wife well (when those few opportunities arise to interact with her at all, and this is even acknowledged by my wife - she said maybe I shouldn't even go back on Paxil because she knew I was making changes on my own!) and am also much more involved with the children (did you ever hear of a man who took the kids to the doctor? bought a new set of tires for his wife's van without being asked first?), but it doesn't seem to help (right now). There is nothing coming back from my wife of encouraging nature (I am definitely looking for crumbs at this point.) What I have going against me is an 18 year relationship in which a lot of it was verbally abusive, followed by a month or two of consistent good behavior, a stable informal separation understanding, and a mild meek understanding wife's boyfriend who knows how to drive a boat. The biggest thing I have going against me is that my wife has told me that she doesn't LOVE me anymore. How do you ever overcome that? Can it happen - I don't love you anymore - a few years of consistent good behavior - now I do love you again? 

David  Yes David. It can happen. "I don't love you" translated: "I am so angry with you for what you did to me and our lives!" Did you see B's Board? That's just what she did after she dumped her guy. Eighteen years of pain is a lot by any standard. And, with a couple month's of behaving here and there, she needs to see that you can far surpass that. Be your own best friend. Then be her best friend. You probably think you can do that now, but you probably can't and probably don't see what you don't see - yet. Here's a BIG tip: Ask and Listen.  

 

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000

S1

Pat:

[If you are truly sincere about getting her back, now is the time to show her that you really do care about her, not the time to fight over him!!!!!!!!!!!!! YES!]

This is very difficult to do in real life. That's why I am going back on Paxil again to be able to accomplish this, i.e. not fighting about that issue. Excellent. I think you and Dr. Irene, both being women might view this issue differently. Don't you think it's easier for women to deal with the man's girlfriend than for men to deal with the wife's boyfriend? I know that sounds sexist, but there are more articles about men perpetrating violence in these "love triangles" than women (although it does happen). It's the testosterone. And my wife's boyfriend works at my same company about 20 feet from my office! Ouch. Ouchhh is right. I have no stats, but I think it depends on the person, but overall, you are probably right.

Thanks again for your post Pat.

David

 

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000

S1

Dear David,

This is Lynn from the Cat Box. I just wanted to tell you how much your posts have helped us, and to suggest to you that you may never get your wife back. Dan was married before and I was married, divorced, married and then widowed. There may be someone special out there for you that you haven't met yet. We have been reincarnated into other lives when we thought there was no future. We both have a lot of unfinished business, too, but at the moment I wouldn't trade him for any of those in my past nor would he trade me. Keep working, please, but try to focus on the future. You might be pleasantly surprised.

To the post above, I didn't get a name. Yea, we had faulty therapy. We're still trying and if this one doesn't help, we'll try again. Dr. Irene has been fabulous, but she can't do just us (although I'd like them to come for a visit and stay till we got it right), I just know we can be better and just need a little guidance.

Take care David, and keep an open mind about your future. It might be full of a lovely woman and all your work will be behind you and you won't make the same mistakes.

My best, Lynn      

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000

S1

David, Dan here. I read your page yesterday after coming home from work and I must say that I admire you, because you are working to help yourself. I read your post today, and must tell you that it reminded me of the situation with my first wife. I felt terrible, especially when she started seeing other men. We were separated for a year, and she kept me on a string, (which I feel from reading is happening to you) before I had the sense and support of good friends to apply for the divorce. Even then she kept putting me off until my lawyer threatened to ask for lost wages, presto in court, fini. A few years later I met Lynn, and it's true that we are having problems, but things will work out, I have faith in that, whether for a future together or not. I'm telling you this to hopefully help you through this period of your life. Also if you feel better on medication, get it, I think that your wife is afraid that you will get better and live a more fulfilled life. These are just my thoughts but I do wish you the best. Take care of self and trust the Great Spirit. Dan

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000

S1

David

you said:

<<<What I have going against me is an 18 year relationship in which a lot of it was verbally abusive, followed by a month or two of consistent good behavior....>>>

So I think this means that the good behaviour has to last a lot more than a month or two this time. 

<<<The biggest thing I have going against me is that my wife has told me that she doesn't LOVE me anymore. How do you ever overcome that? Can it happen - I don't love you anymore - a few years of consistent good behavior - now I do love you again?>>>>

This is what I think: Maybe it can happen, maybe not. For your own sake, and for hers too, I would suggest that you don't do anything that you expect something back for. Even if her feelings change, she's not likely to have anything to give back to you for awhile. It's your turn. It's great that you took the kids to the doctor - does it make *you* feel good to do something for the kids and to help her out, regardless of whether she gets back with you again? Are you changing her tires because of what you want back, or because making her feel good about it makes *you* feel good inside? Maybe it would be good to practice this with others as well besides her - your neighbours, your co-workers, your friends. If this is behaviour you want to permanently change, why not change it for everybody around you and not *only* her. That way, no matter how it turns out it will be for the best.

<<<<Don't you think it's easier for women to deal with the man's girlfriend than for men to deal with the wife's boyfriend? I know that sounds sexist, but there are more articles about men perpetrating violence in these "love triangles" than women (although it does happen). It's the testosterone.>>>

I don't think it's easier for a woman to deal with at all. Funny, my husband said almost the same thing quite awhile ago and I totally disagreed. Yeah, you hear about the men perpetrating violence over "love triangles", but you also hear about the suicide threats of women who are in similar situations. I think a lot of women turn their anger/depression inward so maybe it doesn't seem as obvious. Good point. If my husband met another woman right now, it would be extremely hard for me. But I also know that I've done everything I knew how to try to make the relationship work and so I would, as gracefully as I could, let it go. I would also probably be very angry for a little while, mostly with myself, for wasting so much energy on the whole thing. If I hadn't done all that I felt I could, maybe I would want to keep trying. Either way it would still hurt like hell!

By the way, have you told your wife about your posts here and is there any chance she would want to join us?  

AK

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000

S1

Thanks David and AK and others for a really thoughtful exchange. David your post on Sept. 12 took me by surprise. I couldn't believe you had written it. To me it sounded as though you had sunken back into your old self. AK's response was right on about looking at why you are doing things for others. Remember what Dr. Irene said about "you are overcoming a distorted sense of entitlement that required a constant replenishment of esteem supplies." It appears that is what you are still doing with the comments you made in that post. This is a hard question, but are you so obsessed about getting your wife back because you feel it is something that is your entitlement and out of your control? We award an Honorary Doc title to you. Excellent insight. And god forbid once you get her back that feeling of need for her might disappear with the victory. Because "need" for another person is not reality to begin with. You need air, food, and water. You don't need another person. They compliment your life, but are not needed... I think you are very brave to tell your story here. But it won't do you any good if you just receive pats on the back, and not some tough questions. My gut feeling from your post is you still have some hard work to do, especially in your quest for "getting your wife back." Especially since her boyfriend is causing you such anxiety. I think once you get to a place somewhat close to being happy for her because she is happy and enjoying life, regardless as to whether she is with you or not, and you can be happy and enjoying life whether you are with her or not, then you are at a healthy place to consider a partnership again. I do wish you all the best of luck David, and hope that these thoughts will help you. ~SR you.  David's immediate goal needs to include learning how to enjoy himself and his life. And, David: you can do this.

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000

S1

Dear AK:

[By the way, have you told your wife about your posts here and is there any chance she would want to join us?]

My wife enjoys reading the posts sometimes when I am pounding away on the keyboard at work and she walks by my office. And sometimes I email her excerpts. She basically agrees with everything Dr. Irene says.

However, as far as actively participating in this forum, she wouldn't do it. One of her favorite lines is that she's done with fixing the marriage because she put so many years into trying that and it didn't work. I don't know if that makes sense or not but she is just worn out. I suppose it's my turn now to try.

Best Regards, David.

 

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000

S1

Dear SR:

[David your post on Sept. 12 took me by surprise. I couldn't believe you had written it. To me it sounded as though you had sunken back into your old self ... I think you are very brave to tell your story here. But it won't do you any good if you just receive pats on the back, and not some tough questions.]

It was me falling back into the "pity pot" that Dr. Irene talks about. I'll own up to getting confused on who the victim and who the abuser is. For the record, my wife is the victim and I am the abuser (up to about a month ago). From my perspective at the moment, though, I am the one having the tough time and my wife is the one who is more or less enjoying life right now. Again, I do admit my mistakes, verbal abuse, ignoring, and all the rest. But as Marcus Aurelius said that we only have the moment that we are living through right now. And lately for me the present moments are not that great. I am trying to work through this doing all the things that Dr. Irene and others have suggested. A temporary backwards lapse is the most normal thing in the world. It's not a negative. It's part of the learning curve. This is hard work and it's hard not to get frustrated.  The lapses get shorter because you catch yourself lapsing and fix it more quickly. David is in the process of changing a lifetime of habits... And, Buddha must have been quite a guy.

To arrive at that place where you are happy for your estranged wife even though you are not in her life and someone else is is a very lofty spiritual place. I don't know if I will ever get there. That's the point of this thread is that you really have to get to a Buddha-like spiritual place to allow yourself to do this. Yes, but not quite as lofty as you may think. Practical, I think. Ask yourself, why in the world would you want to be with a woman who doesn't think you are the most fantastic thing on two feet??? More a matter of accepting reality and loving/accepting who you are.

Here's two examples of people who did it:

1. Gabriel Byrne, the Irish actor was married to Ellen Barkin. I saw him on David Letterman talking about his divorce and her subsequent remarriage to some fat bald billionaire guy. His comment was that "life is short" and he is happy that she's happy. He even went to her wedding with their kids. I just couldn't believe what he was saying. David Lettermen didn't believe it either and kept trying to shake his story but he stayed with it. This guy sounds like he accepts reality; refuses to sell himself short.

2. I was doing a search on Lexis/Nexis and found an article about a dad in England who had mistreated his wife due to verbal abuse and neglect. His wife AND KIDS were living across town with her boyfriend. His comment was that he was OK with the arrangement because that guy treats her nice and God knows he didn't. Ironically, the article was a "Dear Abby" type letter in which he was asking for advice because the wife had approached him to go on a family vacation after several years because the kids were bugging her to do it! He was smelling the very early stages of a reconciliation and wanted to know how to handle it. Maybe he did it. Maybe he is just be relieved that he doesn't have to feel guilty anymore about mistreating his family.

I wish I could get to that point but I have to work through the testosterone, jealousy, sense of justice, etc. I am hoping the Paxil will do the trick again. Oh yes! It will help big time. So much of this is chemical! And if it doesn't, try another one.

I am so grateful for this thread. I don't want pats on the back at all. I want advice and to hear from people who have been there. I can handle the truth. I want to get out of the barrel that I am in.  Well, just keep it up. Clean up your thinking and make the new, thought-out stuff habitual and instinctive. Always keep in mind: How would so and so feel if I said/did that?

Thanks to you and everyone,

David.

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, September 14, 2000

S1

David thanks for your reply. Yes I know it is a "lofty spiritual place" but I think you have to shoot for it otherwise you might drive yourself crazy with your jealousy. You might even want to consider changing jobs. My opinion is that you need to work on yourself first. Yes, and he is! One of the things that concerned me was when you said "I was never a big fan of psychology to begin with and the only reason I am here at all is to get the information to fix my marriage." You have to fix yourself, not just for the sake of your marriage, but for the sake of yourself and all your relationships. More than likely (correct me if I'm wrong Dr. Irene on the contrary, Dr. SR...) you will be working on yourself for the rest of your life, especially since you have a history of abusive behavior. You have taken the hardest step and most important one, and that is to recognize your abusive behavior. But this is only the start of a long, hard road which will involve a lot of psychology and getting to know who you are and how you became that person. It's a hard road, but it's much easier and infinitely more satisfying in the long run than the road you were trekking on before. Understand too that it would have been hard if not impossible for you to grow up feeling other than you grew up feeling. You were an innocent kid. You didn't pick the biology, family, or circumstances you were born into (even if you don't think any of it was yukky, it was subtlety yukky) - or we do "pick" because we have a spiritual task to accomplish... Either way: it's about acceptance, forgiveness, compassion and love for the Self. Accepting that and evolving into a healthy person who is not motivated by jealousy, righteousness and guilt. Then think about entering into a healthy relationship. A final thought to ponder: You do have a very smart wife. Admire and acknowledge her strength, don't get angry at it. All the best to you. 

~SR

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, September 14, 2000

S1

Dear David,

Lynn here from the cat box. I have to add my two bits worth here. Dan and I are trying to work it out. I'm still here. I have told him while I am here I will work on it. When I'm gone I'm gone. Then I will work on me. Lynn: While you're here you work on you! There is no other way to work your relationship! I wrote to Dr. Irene and Trubble and then I showed Dan my post. When I am gone, here's what I thought of you. Period. Well, he woke up. I hope he stays awake, too. He will as long as you stay awake. You hold the key here. He was OK with the way things were, he was so numb. But let him have his backslides. You'll have them too.

As for your situation (this relates to mine, too), How often and how many times did your wife tell, ask, cry and beg you to hear her? Why should she believe you are listening now? Because you say so? It seems to me that she told you it was over and NOW you want to get her back? You may have to realize that you have lost her. She may mean what she says. Own it, learn from it, live with it, accept it and take your share of the the blame responsibility. Then put it behind you and learn from your past mistakes. My advice. Let her go. I seems to me you still aren't listening to her. If I left Dan and then he started listening to me, I would be twice as angry with him. Why? Because I've told him for about 5 years to please hear what I'm saying. I can't take anymore! He finally heard......we still have a long way to go, but....I think he knew how close it was. I wouldn't have taken 1 more minute no matter how hard he tried, because I feel I gave him ample time to try. Why would you or he or anyone who wanted to work it out not make the effort while you were in the relationship and then try when you were out of it? 

I've been trying to be gentle with you as I do feel you know what you did and are willing to work on it. I just don't feel you have to work on it to accomplish your own means only. What about hers? Listen to her now. What did she tell you? The paradox is that she cannot have a change of heart, if she will at all, until you do - and let her go. Letting go of her does something to you. It's good. She senses it. But She is less important now because you take It with you everywhere you go. 

Ok, now that I've chewed you out, I'll tell you what got me so hot at you in the first place. The fact that your wife is having an affair as opposed to men having the affair. BOY DID THAT GET MY HACKLES UP! What makes you think that you guys hurt worse than we do? What makes you feel it is worse for a man? The macho thing. I can understand. In fact in many Latin and European Countries, it is "normal" to expect the husband to stray. That sounds like it's ok for you to screw around, but your wife can't because it would hurt you more. Lynn: Watch it; you're putting words in his mouth. This comes from our personal story. Yes. It does not belong to David. See how you put your unresolved anger where it didn't belong? Dan had a sex site on the web, XXX movies, etc. Was that suppose to hurt me less than if I had Playgirls, XXX men tapes and a Centerfold of some dude over the bed? No, David. Hurt is hurt, no matter what sex you are. Of course. I can see why you are hurt, but the comparison to me is as if I told Dan I was having an affair but it didn't count as the guy wasn't as manly as he was. Fidelity is fidelity. Maybe why we don't react so violently is once you guys have a affair, we want to go find a faithful man. Let you have her, because if that's what you want, we don't want you (men in general, not just you). Trubble: Please take Lynn to the Cat House and stay with her till she chills...

Ok, now that I've chewed you out, reread some of what Dan and I have written to you. There might be a great life ahead of you if you give it a chance and keep up your share of the work, for you, not for her. Give it a chance. He is Lynn! Where are you going, dear? I'd love to hear from you in ten years and hear that you are happily re married, meet with the ex at weddings and such and act like adults who made a mistake and learned from it. Don't take it out on her, the kids, yourself, or the other guy either. Hurt, grieve, cry and then give both of you a chance to get on with your lives.

This is rather a funny letter as I posted one to you in the cat box for Dr. Irene to erase if it sounded to strong. Then I say this! Yeah! David: Go read her post to you on the Cat Box2 Board. Much more OK. What I said was......David, you got a wake up call, now stop and smell the roses. (Or cat tails, Trubble).

If I hurt your feelings, that wasn't my intent. I think you sound like an OK person or I wouldn't have wasted this much ink and energy on you Ouchhh again!. I'm simply giving dumping my opinion laced with my anger from my own personal history to David the person male /man of the lesser, insensitive sex. Singular. 

Hugs because I feel you need them and because I need them since I feel guilty for putting words in your mouth and blasting you, Lynn

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, September 14, 2000

S1

David, Dan here. I just got home from work and after reading cat box I went into Buddha just to see how you were fairing, my friend, and I do consider you one though we haven't met. I'm afraid that you are putting yourself into the same place that I was in when my first wife and I called it quits. I was very hurt when she started to see other men even though she would come over and insinuate that we had a chance to get back together. My guess is that she wanted to get back, but she wanted you different, nicer. She was probably mad at you that you were still holding on to your whatever. When I first met Lynn, my ex was all I talked about, it's a wonder that we ever got together. Re-look at what you are feeling, doing and why. You talked about your children; they are a very important part of you. So do for them; not to show your wife. "See I have changed!", but for them.  In AA-speak, you are essentially suggesting that David make his children his higher power for now since he cannot do it for himself yet. Excellent interim strategy.

I don't talk to my daughter unless I call her, for many reasons - and because I did the same: "I'm a loving father so take me back." Your wife says that she doesn't love you but she doesn't want you on medication that helps you; this I feel proves it. She wants you as you were, then she can say truly, "I don't love you." 18 years is a long time, I agree. Lynn and I have been together almost 12, but you can start over. She has herself another guy, so what? He works where you do, so what? Get the help that you need from here and therapy, take your medication work on yourself, be honest with yourself and your children and if necessary, move to a new location and and as the saying goes, "Physician heal thyself". Remember, on this web site you have friends, identities unknown, who care for you for yourself, an abuser who is recovering, working on the same character flaw that I am. Dan 

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, September 15, 2000

S1

Did anybody read Pat's post? Did you notice that she DIVORCED her husband and then remarried him? Is that OK with everybody? Very, very OK! (And, by the way, your frustration is showing. Ooops!) I don't know why I can't get better as a human being AND have in the back of my mind eventually reconciling with my wife. You can. In fact, you do. Just because my wife doesn't want it at the moment and society at large doesn't want it doesn't mean that I have to give up as well. If I give up too, then our marriage is truly over with. No it's not. It's truly over only if you choose to give it up for ever and ever. :( I wonder sometimes if this whole website isn't dedicated to the "get on with your life" school of thought for both the abused women and abusive men. Is that the ultimate answer for everything? Yes and no. I think that reconciliation is a good thing and should be tried once in awhile. Agreed. When both people are willing. Pat tried it with good (not great) results. I don't want a new wife. I don't want a "new mom" for my kids. "Yuk" as Dr. Irene would say. Yeah, Yuk! Here is a sore point for discussion: what percentage of people who advocate "getting on with your life" would you speculate are themselves divorced?

I thought I had been clear, but I guess, not clear enough. Explanation:  My position is that marital partners reconcile whenever possible because (a la Harville Hendrix) each partner is unable to create their own OK-ness because their broken internal pieces prevent them from creating it. Not only do their wounds prevent their own contentment, but the same wounds also contribute to thwarting their partner's recovery. This is because those very same broken pieces rob the partner of the safe space they need to heal themselves. When there are children, a second, more critical and obligatory layer of responsibility is added. Your kids love both of you. You owe your kids the best lessons you are capable of giving. You cannot role model these lessons unless you live them. 

So, how can I advocate getting on with your life? Because David, that is exactly the lesson (acceptance and letting go) that you must master in order to become more whole. Doing this will tame that controlling, ego-oriented, narcissistic, I WANT entitlement mentality. The effects reverberate throughout the personality. In addition, when you let go, you give your partner the space she needs to heal: to reconsider her actions, her mistrust, her anger. She has the opportunity to fix herself and love you again because you no longer pressure her to do otherwise - or anything for that matter. And, you can bet she's real sensitive to coercion.

This does not work unless both partners eventually work their own program. Often one partner starts the work and the partner is reluctantly jolted into working: the Wake Up Call. 

I hope this is clearer.

I am sorry if I let everybody down but my hope of reconciliation is a dream I am not going to let go of, but I promise everyone that I am definitely doing all of the other spiritual, religious, reading, reflecting, chemical, socializing, outreaching, clicking on www.drirene.com, being a better father, going to counseling, trying to be a friend to my wife, etc. etc. things that I have to do for my own sake.

David  Can you rethink this last statement based on what I just wrote?

 

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, September 15, 2000

S1

Dear David,

I'm not saying that you should give up hope for eventual reconciliation with your wife. I just don't think you'll ever get there (or if you do it won't last) unless you don't fix yourself first. Try to read your posts as another person (i.e., objectively). See if you can't see a man who is so wrapped up in the goal of getting his wife back that it is impeding his own growth (which is what will be necessary for him to achieve getting his wife back). I was so happy to see in your last sentence in your last post "things that I have to do for my own sake." Yep this is really what I was trying to say. Hang in there. Best wishes. I think we're saying the same thing again Dr. SR.

~ SR

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, September 15, 2000

S1

Hi David

I think it's wonderful that Pat and her husband are working things out. I don't think that the "get on with your life" school of thought is the main view of this website at all. Not at all!  Unfortunately, for some of us (like me for example) there are no other healthy options. Correct. Not when your partner cannot or will not participate - which can change, by the way, at any time.

David, you didn't let anyone down here. How could you? We're all just typeface on a page - just an anonymous group that you don't have to prove anything to. Most of us here looking for our solutions to our own problems and we all bring our own "stuff" to these discussions. I don't always agree with everything said by everyone on this site. I sift out what is helpful and the things that don't help me, I put aside, knowing that the people here don't know me deeply and are just trying to help in the way they know how. :)

I think some of the posters are just trying to say that you can't control your wife's feelings and you can't know what her choices will be, so do the work for *you* - this way you will be a winner no matter what the outcome. Yes; same difference. None of us can truly know what's going on inside you, and we know even less about what's going on inside your wife's head and heart. None of us can predict the future.

My personal wish for you and your wife, is that whatever the future holds is for a higher purpose for both of you.

Take care David.   And take you too AK

AK   

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, September 16, 2000

S1

Dear David, My apologies, I just felt I wanted to say what I wanted to say to you, and then I did jump back to the cat box. (See Doc, we need you here), I think I was trying to tell you that we all get too hurt. Singular. I've learned this from the cat box. We are not hurting. I am hurting, she is hurting, etc. I was trying to give you some examples from our own situation and I am sorry, because I didn't mean to tear you apart. I was trying to tell you from my point of view to take care of yourself first.  An email or two later: And you got caught up in the usual human pitfall of taking baggage from your own personal history and imposing it, a bit too vehemently, on other. Essentially, you had stopped responding to David.

Ok, I'm going back home, again......Hey! This is one Cat House you'll find lots of good company in. We all fall into that trap, unless of course we are as evolved - as Buddha!   (Blue pencil accepted kindly, Trubble) Lynn 

Email from Lynn 9/17/00:

Dear Dr. Irene,

Great Message.  Do you wan to add this to the posts? Yeah! OK by me.  Thanks
a bunch, Lynn

Here's the emails:

9/16/00

Dear Dr. Irene,
Got it, almost!  Time for another cat ^_^. Is it "normal" to be walking on air because I feel so good with/about Dan?  Not waiting for the boom to fall, finally.
Thanks, Lynn

Normal? Don't know; who cares. Just enjoy him!
See how much junk we dump into the pot and attribute to our partner when in
fact we're the ones who put it there? Amazing to think both people do this!
That's why I keep saying each person has to fix their own...
Goodnight lovely cat lady.

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, September 16, 2000

S1

David

Dan here, I don't mean to tell you that reconciliation is impossible, I was just answering to your post. I may have misinterpreted (sp) what you were saying in your later posts, but I read "I WANT" "I'm GOING TO BECAUSE" and I was just trying to say that if you and your wife are going to get back together, heal yourself, remember by healing you will become a new person (underlined) although you will slip, I'm sure. Your wife will also be a new person (which sounds to me as if she has started to be) so you will have to accept that. You may not want a different woman in your life, you may not want a new mom (step mother) for your kids, but the only one who can tell the future is the Great Spirit, not us mere mortals. I do wish you the best and hope that your life improves as you work on self. You will be a better person for yourself and for your children and also (Possibly) your estranged (new) wife. I am also an abuser who is learning from Dr. Irene and those who post into the subjects. I've already taken some steps to healing myself. If you want to see what they are read Cat Box. Therapy, medication and a willingness to change and improve are all keys to success. I have faced the enemy and he is me, a slight variant of a famous quote. Perhaps both you and I should make this our motto.

Take care

Dan

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, September 17, 2000

S1

This thread reminds me of something I used to say to my ex-fiancée back when we were together and trying to work things out, and I'm not sure he ever understood it:

"The minimum I need from you is more than the minimum."

I know, sounds like a programming problem, but he's a CS major. ;)

What I meant by that is that, beyond certain bottom lines (and we've all got 'em), I wasn't going to demand that he do things (or not do things) for me. But if he *was* going to do something for me, I wanted it to be done out of love rather than out of a sense of obligation, "this is my lady and I should be doing this that and the other for her." Try to remember a person who is not connected has no sense of doing things out of love as you put it; he will function out of obligation because it is the best he can  do.

One of our problems was that he was at a point in life where he just wasn't capable of doing the things HE thought he "should" be doing for me, and he kept on telling me "you deserve better than me."

And as it turned out, he was right, but not the way he meant it. I don't "deserve" someone more educated, or someone who can afford to buy me flowers every week and pay for $20-a-plate dinners and tickets to Broadway plays. That was never the issue (well, having him pay HIS SHARE for certain things was a bit of an issue, especially when he started buying pot...). But I *DO* "deserve" to be with someone who doesn't continually make me question my own sanity or my own reality, and who does things for me because he wants to do them rather than because he thinks he "should" be doing them. I don't want to be an obligation.

David (and anyone else), please don't play the game of "how much do I have to do?" It's bad news. Take it from one who's been there.

-AngryGirl

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, September 17, 2000

S1

Angry Girl:

Can I give you my comments to your post?

["The minimum I need from you is more than the minimum."]

At this point I am more than happy to do more than the minimum, believe me - but I have limited opportunities now to do anything one way or the other. One of my favorite fantasies is thinking about all of the ways the I could make life wonderful for my estranged spouse once we are reconciled because I knew all the ways to make things rotten for her.

[I wanted it to be done out of love rather than out of a sense of obligation, "this is my lady and I should be doing this that and the other for her."]

I feel like doing things for her because I do believe that I still love her, AND I think I should be doing it/that she deserves it, AND because I want her back in my life one day.

[But I *DO* "deserve" to be with someone who doesn't continually make me question my own sanity or my own reality ...]

I am "so over" this. I did this before and after my separation and don't intend to do it anymore. I wish I could have quit sooner, even early into the separation and I wouldn't have so much ground to make up now.

[please don't play the game of "how much do I have to do?"]

Do you mean don't play the game as in trying to find out where the minimum is and then doing only that much and not more? I am doing as much as I can, way more than the minimum, with the money, tickets, birthday presents, for no reason presents, etc etc. I WANT to do these things. They make me feel better about myself. I want to believe that my wife appreciates my help but a psychiatrist told me that you are damned if you do and damned if you don't on this point. Withholding the gifts lets your wife know that she was right that you never cared about her all along and helping her out just makes her sad that you never did these things when it could have helped to keep the relationship going. In other words, her thought is that I am just doing it for myself because our whole relationship is on the line now and not because I really care for her or for any other good motive. I have to admit that there is a big component of that but I don't think it's the only reason. This certainly is an acid test. I hope she'll come here and read this stuff.

I am just going to keep doing these "good works" consistently over a long period of time no matter what happens. This is bound to have a cumulative effect over time don't you think? Certainly on you!

Standard disclaimer: The best "gift" I am going to give her is to keep working on myself and with my children.

Thanks to you and all for your posts. This thread has been a lifeline for me.

David

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, September 17, 2000

S1

*nods to David*

I don't think it's the only reason. I don't think YOU think it's the only reason, either. But it's your wife that needs to be convinced of that, unfortunately. And I think you'd both be better off if what you gave to her didn't have the "come back!" string attached, no matter how loosely.

This could, I suppose, be a stereotypical-guy thing, but I was guilty of it a time or several myself. And I know my father did a lot of it, with me -- I was given gift after gift (well-chosen and thoughtful, it wasn't as if he was just throwing money after me, not entirely) in the place of being apologized to for one of his outbursts.

But it does seem that, when there's a relationship problem, men (in particular) or alternatively, whoever the angry and acting-out part of the couple is, tend to "fix" things (or try to) with physical affection or with material objects. Like I said, I did more of that than I care to admit, myself. (And then I *wondered* why I felt like a warm body and a wallet. *chuckle* Maybe because I was acting like one?)

What I mean by "more than the minimum" is that you should be doing more than the minimum that YOU FEEL you have to do. If you think you should be doing more than is humanly possible for you to do, stop and think about it. Something's wrong there. Most people have the intuition somewhere to tell the difference between what's given in love and what's given in guilt. And if you feel that the most you can give still isn't enough, that means EVERYthing you give her is going to be out of guilt even if YOU THINK it's out of love, and that's probably going to make her want to run far away as fast as she can. At least, if she's anything at all like me. :)

What it sounds like she needs and is asking for is for you to step back a bit and leave her to figure out what else she needs, rather than having you tell her what she needs, either by saying "see, I can give you this and that and the other thing and I know it's what you want" or by saying "see what a horrible person I am that I can't give you all these things you SHOULD have." That's part of what I mean by "don't play the game" -- no one can define another person's needs for them, no matter what the relationship between them is.

But I think we all as people share the need to be listened to, and the need to have our own personal needs understood by the important people in our lives. I recently read Too Good To Leave, Too Bad To Stay, and the comments about "personal bottom lines" made a lot of sense to me. In fact, that was what let me know I made the right decision not to keep trying to fix things -- one of my bottom lines had been violated, and two others were coming uncomfortably close. The bottom lines are different for each of us, but we all have them, and one of the important things in a relationship is being able to communicate where those lines are. THAT is the REAL minimum -- avoiding the "deal-breakers." Beyond that, ideally, we should all be giving to our partners out of love and enjoyment of their company, rather than guilt, or fear of losing them, or desire to get them to stop complaining, etc.

B's posts about good hugs and bad hugs are a similar dimension of the same thing. Once victims (even those of us with a strong controller streak) wake up and learn the difference, we lose a lot of patience with the stuff that always worked on us before to make us happy, simply because it's too easy and it isn't fixing the underlying problems. Does that make sense? Yes.

Hope this was at least a little bit helpful. :)

-AngryGirl

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, September 18, 2000

S1

David

What AngryGirl says here about giving because you want to and not out of obligation is really, really important.

There is no rulebook on how much or when to give. It's something that comes from the heart, and it's about enjoying the rewards that the other person reaps from it.

There is a certain what I call "lack" mentality that makes it hard for some people to give of themselves to others. I think it may be about giving up control. Yes! Very hard to take feedback from the heart when one has been controlling (blocking) the input from the heart forever. David is learning to hear himself now. Someone with "lack" mentality may feel like giving is like losing something. Maybe it makes them feel weak. I don't know. Do you have any insights on this?

It sounds like you are continuing the high road, and that's good to hear.

take care

AK

David, you never did reply to my asking you to rethink stuff based on what I wrote... Still waiting!

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