Comments:  What If He Could Change?

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Courtesy of Dr. Irene Matiatos   Copyrightę 1998-2006. 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

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(((((((((((Hugs to you, Rachel))))))))))' AFTER, Reading books....reading this site.....attending Group meetings with other abused women.  You will find.....THERE IS A COMMONALITY IN WHAT THEY DO!!!!!! They do the same things.....say the same things....act the same way. Like they DID get some guide book in high school shop class on how to treat their girlfriend/wife abusively. I wasted 2 years thinking that he would get it...he would change...he would see the light!!! He didn't, he won't...........and what a waste of 2 of my precious years!! Not to mention, 2 extra years of my kids seeing this insidious behavior from him. So, good luck and hugs!!!...Dr. Irene is right!! Listen to your heart! and don't second guess your intelligence, intuition and gut feelings!! Me


Dear Rachel: Although I have never met you or your husband - I am telling you he will NOT change! IT has nothing to do with you, it is completely ALL him. He is abusive because of his childhood, his frame-of-reference, the influences from him life. HE ALONE needs to work through this. AT THE VERY LEAST YOU TWO NEED TO BE SEPERATED FOR A LONG WHILE so that he has an opportunity to sit by himself and figure his own stuff out. I do believe that people can change, but not overnight. But with Emotional Abuser's, the success rate for change is really not in your favor. The few who do change have gone through extensive therapy, life changing moments, and really have LOOKED at their own behavior for a while. It sounds like he likes the "chase" of trying to get you back moreso than actually having you back in his life. DON'T BE MISERABLE! BE HAPPY - and move on with your life.. LIFE IS SO SHORT, why not spend the few precious years we do have on earth as happy as you can possibly be. And it sounds like you met a really nice guy to spend some time with. BE around healthy people, and you'll notice your much happier! ((HUGS))


Rachel, as Dr. Irene points out - guilt and WHAT-IF's are a normal part of life after leaving. There is a tendency to minimize the reality of the "bad times" and to romanticize the "good times". I know for me there was also the stigma of "failing" at my marriage. Your husband has had a choice all along to treat you well and to form stronger bonds in the marriage - and he hasn't done that. Now your child is growing up seeing these things. The hardest part of leaving an abusive person is to recognize that you cannot help them - except by leaving and forcing them to face themselves. Even IF your husband began today to change himself, it would take years before he achieved success. Do you have those years? Does your child? Since your husband is still trying to place the blame on YOU, it doesn't sound like there is much hope he will make the choice to change himself anytime soon. You DESERVE the best life you can make for yourself. And you have a parental responsibility to provide the same for your child. I have mixed feelings about your new relationship but that is just my own personal issues speaking. In any case, focus on yourself and your son and be alert to any signs of repeating the same mistakes. Best wishes in your new life free of abuse. Learning more about abuse and how we get involved with it will ease some of your doubts and ensure that you live a healthier life from this point forward. I hope you join us on the CatBox Forum and share your experience with so many others with similar issues. HandyGram

I think you may be misinterpreting why he would want you back. It is this piece that needs to be looked at closely, because, I think your misinterpretation of his seeming desire to have you back is what is giving you false hope. When a man who abuses you over time, disrespects you, and treats you like someone he doesn't really care for and then says he wants you back if you leave- what is it he wants? Most likely his possession, his slave, the person who gave him a reason to feel powerful. He sees that someone else took his possession, you, so of course, so he wants it back. None of this has anything to do with love or you as a person. This is about him and what it means that someone took what he thought was HIS. He abused and dis-respected what once was His. Why even contemplate giving yourself back to someone who can't treat you well?

I would be crying right now if I could anymore...Rachel, our stories are so familiar it's scary...right up until you left...I'm still in and Dr. Irene is right...the chances of him changing are slim to none...my H has promised again and again and still I wait...'what iffing' is a chronic disorder for me I think...I've been working on a lot of my issues and hopefully that will give me the insight to finally make some decisions. Rachel, you've already made one of the hardest decisions...and you were happy...why let yourself get sucked back in...just enjoy being happy

Wow! You guys are terrific! Thank you so much for sharing; from your heart and souls. This stuff is "right out of the book," though it sure doesn't feel that way when the chapters are the chapters of your life.

Hi Dr. Irene, Rachel here. Hi Rachel! Thanks for that, it's made me think about so much. I'd like to answer some of the points ..... You ask if knowing what I know now, would I have married my husband? My answer would be: Yes, I think I would have married him. We had many years of good times together and fun and he gave me my beautiful son. Our entire relationship changed after our son was born. I'm sorry... I stopped being the main breadwinner and became a full time stay at home mother, which involved a giant leap of faith on my part, as my husband up until that time had never earned enough money to support us both, let alone a family.

I have to say, he came through. He worked hard and provided well for us. But that was when the dynamic in our relationship changed dramatically. I wonder if he resented you for not taking care of him... I think we were no longer an equal partnership in his eyes. I think he resented me for the fact that he now had all the financial responsibility. Heh! I didn't read ahead when I answered. I felt that he never valued my role. I remember many times when I felt that I had to defend myself with “Do you think I sit on the sofa all day watching t.v and eating chocolate?” If only that were true! I was struggling to bring up a very demanding baby, in a foreign country which we had just moved to. I had not yet made friends and had no family. When he came home from work I needed him. I needed his support. I needed a break from childrearing. But for him, when he came home from work, he needed to relax and shut down. It was as if he felt he was “doing his bit” by going to work, and that was all he had to do. Unfortunately, this is a familiar story.

Everything else was MY job. 6 months or so after I left we talked. He said he still wanted to get back together. I said there would have to be a heck of a lot of changes before that could happen and he agreed. We talked about how we could never communicate with each other – how things would always escalate into a fight, or how he would sulk and not speak to me for a couple of days, etc. etc. During those discussions it was always about how we BOTH had to change. He needed to do most of the changing. He was creating the resentment, not you. After having those discussions we started to spend some time together again. I was looking for evidence of change, but during that time I saw things he did which showed me how controlling he still was. Exactly. I’m sorry, this is going to be a bit of a ramble….but I need to write it down to get it off my chest. This is the place to do it!

For example: He has a 2 seater sports car, (bought since we split up) which he regularly takes our 8 year old son in. In this country it’s illegal to have a child in the front seat of a car until they’re 12. I asked him not to do this. He refused to listen and refused to budge on it. He continues to do it. *Sigh* On one occasion when the three of us were going out to eat, I assumed we would be going in my car – a 4 seater. No. he wanted to go in HIS car. He wanted me to sit in the front with our son on my lap, which was DOUBLY illegal. Not OK. What you are describing is exactly what happens when these people are asked to change. While they may change the specific point in question, new points arise. Anybody else would see the similarity that all these issues are the same, but the individual won't. And the tensions mounts, and it becomes like pulling teeth again for you.

I argued that it made more sense to go in mine, but no, he wanted to go in his. So I took mine and he took his and we arrived at the restaurant separately. Another time, we were out with our son. Officially it was one of my husband’s “days” to have him. A friend asked if our son could go off with him and his mum to a neighbor’s pool. I was quite concerned about this, because the mother, in my opinion, is not too good at looking after her own kids, let alone other peoples'. I was apprehensive about allowing my son to be around a swimming pool with someone I didn’t trust to keep an eye on him. I expressed my concerns to my husband. His response? “It’s MY day today with him and I think its fine for him to go.” Yep. This is the stuff that doesn't change... If I hadn’t been there, yes, he would have made that decision alone. But I WAS there and once again I felt like my opinions didn’t count. They don't. It's about power and controlThere was no discussion. I said at that time that if we were trying to get back together it would be nice to be able to make joint decisions about our sons welfare, but he just repeated what he’d already said, with an “He’ll be fine” added on the end of it. And finally:  He had 3 girlfriends, close in a row, one after the other, who stayed over at his house, in his bed with him, while my son was in the house. Ugh. No impulse control. No self-denial. Not OK. My son still gets up in the night to get into bed with his dad (and does the same when he's with me.) One evening when we were out together I tried to explain to my husband, that in my opinion and from things I’d read about it, this was not a good idea and could be damaging to our son. Correct. His reply? "Do you expect me to live like a monk?" I calmly explained that no, I didn't expect that. I just thought it was a bad idea to subject our son to a string of women passing through his life. I said if he wanted women over, fine, but it might be better if our son stayed with me on those occasions. He told me it was none of my business. I was the one who had left the marriage. What kind of message was THAT giving him? etc., etc. I said “Well, there’s obviously nothing I can say to change your mind on this, so let’s just leave it.” He then accused me of shutting down and said “So YOU’VE decided there’s no further discussion on this have you?” I said there was little point in continuing, as it was going nowhere. I’d stated my opinions and if he wasn’t prepared to change his ways there was little point in pursuing it. He continued to rant, so I left the table. Not OK. 

Anyway, Dr. Irene, you ask me "what do you want to do? Deep inside your heart, what do YOU want? And that’s the million dollar question. I guess I want all the good parts of my husband to stay and all the bad parts to be wiped out. Ain't gonna happen. Promise. But I can now realize that I’m wasting my time, energy, happiness and my future by doing that. It’s just not going to happen. Right. It’s wishful thinking and it’s not based on the facts. It’s been extremely therapeutic for me to write all this stuff down. Sorry if it’s been long. I’m ready to move on. Thank you Dr. Irene for your guidance. Journaling really helps. Often seeing your thoughts on paper, in black and white, will shock you.


Hi everyone, Rachel here. I submitted my reply (above) to Dr. Irene before I read any of your posts here. Thank you all so very much for your support and taking the time to help me with this. It really helps.  :)


Hi, HandyGram, Rachel here. Thanks for your comments. You say "I have mixed feelings about your new relationship". Could you elaborate on that for me maybe? Thanks in advance

Rachel - you wrote "Two years ago I joined a writing group and became close friends with a member of the group. After a year of initially getting to know each other as friends, we started an affair. He left his partner (13 years together, no kids) within two weeks and I left my husband within 2 months. I am still seeing him. He is a loving, understanding and patient enough for me to get to wherever I need to be in my head through all this."

Obviously you were both in unsatisfactory marriages when you met - but NEITHER of you had done anything about it. It may be that meeting and becoming friendly was such a huge contrast to your home life that you both "got it" that staying with a poor partner was not what you wanted to do with your lives. I always am suspicious of "greener pasture" or re-bound beginnings. Now you say you are experiencing guilt and what-if's. Ideally you would have had time alone BETWEEN your relationships to work those doubts out. Of course I wish you the very best in your new relationship. Good analysis HandyGram.

Yes, I have also been wary of “the grass is greener” syndrome and wholly agree, that in an ideal world I would have left my unhappy marriage BEFORE embarking upon a new relationship. (I had always believed that NO marriage should end because either partner met somebody else. I also don't believe that an affair has to necessarily spell the end of a marriage - although obviously it IS a strong pointer that something is very wrong and that a marriage needs to be worked on.) However, sad to say, I just wasn’t strong enough to leave, without the “rope from the burning ship”. This was partly because my husband wasn’t a complete a___hole all the time and partly because my self esteem was so low at that time, I didn’t realize that I deserved any better. I have paid the price for leaving the way I did. I have had many doubts about whether or not I would have left my husband if the “other man” had not been on the scene and I have had to search deep inside myself for those answers. Maybe you were just lucky that he came into your life when he did. :)  Of course it's much much much better to get your head together between relationships, but sometimes the wounded partner just doesn't have the strength to leave alone. I'm glad it worked out for you. I have had counseling and am now able to realize that I am indeed worthy of being treated with respect. I am a lot stronger, and very different to the woman I was 18 months ago. I now know that I would never allow myself to be treated the way he treated me by another human being.

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I wrote in a couple of years ago telling about my verbally and emotionally abusive husband. (Ok, he pointed a gun at me once, pushed me and hit me. Ack!) My retired hubby only wanted to watch t.v. play computer card games and work in his workshop. I finally got tired of trying to get him interested in anything new. I told him I would wait for him to get tired of his movies (8-10 hours a day) He is diabetic, high blood pressure and now has macular degeneration. He is almost blind. I know he can't feel very good, but I have fixed diabetic meals for him. All I got was, "I will eat what I want when I want." Now he is feeling the effects of poor dietary habits. I have been through boils in sensitive places with him, eye surgery, his toe being all but cut off because of infection. We have not made love for years because of his health problems and poor bathing habits. I am quite a bit younger than him, so I of course am a little healthier. I will not cheat on him as I just don't see how that could improve my situation.

Well, now after years of nicely putting up with his cranky, stinkin' unresponsive ass *Giggle!*, he has discovered a web site where he can write to women and they think he is wonderful. They don't know the photo they have is of 8 years ago and I slicked him up for the photo. He is sitting here in clothes he's worn for 3 days, greasy hair and nasty breath. he doesn't use deodorant. I think it is way to funny that these women think they have a "caring, man that just wants to be loved for who he is, cause his wife gets mad at him because of who he is," actually have a man that say's things like, F you c. His daughter introduced him to this site and encourages him on his extra women. She's getting a divorce because she's met men on this site and has cheated on her husband. I am at a total loss because I thought that if I just let him know that I still cared about him and I was open to doing things and being with him then sooner or later we could get back together. I told him today that I can't put up with the internet women. He said he'd stop. He's taking a shower now so well see. I know that he won't meet these women, but its the disrespect that I'm so tired of. I really want to leave, but he's in his 70's and when you get married, it's for better or worse.

In response to the most recent poster- To love, honor, and cherish is the pre requisite for the for better or worse. It's not about if the partner is better or worse, it's about the life circumstances getting better or worse. Since he does not love, honor, or cherish you he has broken the marriage contract. There is no marriage, just you living with a bad smelly guy. This is soooo well put. I've got to remember this one!

 

Rachel, The way he is with you NOW is reality....the 'what if' is NOT reality. The 'what ifs' will keep you paralyzed! I lived your mind set. I was married for 23 yrs....took me 5 years to get the courage to overcome the 'what ifs'. I've been out for 3 1/2 yrs now. 'What if' he changes after I leave???? The answer to that is simply, "Then he changes after I leave. He wouldn't have changed any sooner." Soooooo, the 'what if' game only keeps you STUCK. What you are expressing is part of the process of accepting what is REAL. You are going to find the truth! wooohooooo!! It's a painful process...and so worth the pain involved. Where pain is/was, the joy will be as deep. Let time do her work. You will see, the joy will equal, and I have felt sometimes be greater than the pain experienced. You are on an adventure of discovery. When you are in the middle of it, it doesn't seem a wonderful adventure...but speaking as one who has gone through the 'what if' questions, being paralyzed by those 'what ifs', when you get past them and find REALITY and *ACCEPT* reality, life truly becomes easier. The death of a dream (nonreality) is very difficult...but so worth all experienced as true reality is ACCEPTED! *TAHWANDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA*

My Gawd! His female counterpart just departed my door three weeks ago. Don't rush into the new love until the old one is exorcised.... Wolf

Rachel, think about this -- by staying with him, you are perpetuating his illness. Only you leaving him MAY give him pause to consider his behavior & the consequences. If you stay with him, he NEVER will change..........if you leave him, he MAY. Or he may not. If he DOES, THEN you can always reconsider. But by staying with him, you deny him the chance to make any changes whatsoever. You are worth more than to subject yourself to abuse and honestly, it takes a long time to incorporate that into your being. It's a process, not an instantaneous thing. But in the meantime, leave him. Just go. See what happens. Maybe nothing, and that's got to be okay. The choice to be a man is up to him, but at least by leaving, one way or another, you will have a chance at a normal life. -- Blessings, Leah

 

Hello Rachel! I read your post, and some of the feedback you have got so far. Doesn't sound like he changed much does it? Before you 'what if' yourself to death why not focus on the fact he isn't! Mr. "My way or the Highway" isn't even thinking of it now - he is just the same as he was before. I guess a mindset of entitlement and anger is hard to break, and it seems he hasn't really started the 'change' yet. Yep. LOL When will he start? Who knows, but until that time drop the what if's - the ball is in his court! I think we all get sucked in by the lovely person we decided to get into a relationship with! LOL I mean we wouldn't have wanted to share our lives with them if there wasn't SOMETHING about them that wasn't attractive! Ya know? Yep. I read something that has stuck to me to this day.

They are two people inside. The "PRETEND" person that is fun, loving, and we have an awesome time with. The "REAL" person that we see all to often with their cruel actions, nasty remarks, off color humor, and down right disrespectful ways! The broken one that hurts you is the real, down to the core person inside. Anyone can be happy and act nice when they want to. Its when poop hits the fan is when you see the true character and integrity factor inside! Yep again.

You just want that pretend person to come back - the one that attracted you in the first place! The truth is the pretend person always comes and goes, but as time goes on the real one is the one you see more and more of. Look at it this way...he is an anger addict. Abuse addiction. However you wish to label it! "Selfish" and "narcissistic" might work too. It is treated much like any other addict. First step come out of denial and name what your issue is in the true sense. That means no backing off and changing your mind later! That means taking responsibility for your actions, and stop the blame game! Anger/Abuse addicts have no issues with communication! LOL they communicate all the time! Every knows when they are unhappy! Its the resolution they can't get to! There is never any resolution in the true form. The abuse doesn't stop, and the neither does the nasties! Its not an angry management type of issue either! They blew the anger issues roofs off a while ago - its the rest of the mess also! Once they admit the issue, and THEY (not you) take steps to change that - you will see if they are serious! Too often they start to change and then find "good" reasons to stop.

I mean look at Hollywood and the multi trips to the "Betty Ford" clinic do we read about! LOL! Its a mountain he must climb when he is ready, and only he can do that work to accomplish it! Your husband hasn't even taken the first leap outside his denial so far. He clearly isn't good father material, and may not be for years to come! All you can do with your boy for now is talk and validate the bad behavior. DON'T talk about the bad person! Its Dad and always will be - nothing you can do about that. All you can do is point out inappropriate behavior, and valid how it makes him feel. Even the best parents make mistakes. Its okay to talk about those, just be sure you don't get to hateful ya know? Yeah! It places the child in an strange position. You mentioned therapy. I'm glad!! Stop focusing on him and take a good look at YOU! I'm not saying look for that bad person - that stupid person, or anything else nasty like that! That isn't my focus! Find the reason you didn't see the red flags, and find the reason WHY you put up with this for 18 years! OH BOY do they need to be fixed, but with the years I have found so do WE! There is something broken inside of us, and if we don't find it and face it, and attempt to do some fixing for ourselves...we will likely far down the same path again. I mean if that isn't motivation what is! You're talking about caretaking, dependency traits. And yes, these issues will bite you in the butt again, unless your partner is as caretaking and dependent as you. Which is not such a bad thing. :) LOL! Keep going and know that acceptance of whom is he - that is your best chance for the future. Huggers! App2

Rachel, I was in a similar marriage with a man who pointed the finger at me constantly about my personality "flaws", always turning a situation around so that it was my "fault". My marriage lasted only three years and there were no kids. But two years out, I am unable to date and still question whether I left too soon. He also begged to go to counseling right after I filed for divorce (something he demanded) - the purpose was to change me into what he needed me to be - a doormat. Ick!

When I would share things in the session, he wouldn't say a word, but afterward, at home - watch out! The verbal abuse eruption was incredible - and frightening. All the counseling did was make things worse. I crawled out of that marriage with a broken heart and severe doubts about myself as a person because these kinds of men, when they hurl their insults at you often have a bit of truth in it - "you're so selfish" (well, yes, I am - I need to look out for me here, etc.) A year out of the marriage, he still came back, offering to go back to counseling with me to HELP ME with my issues with my father! Again, there's a bit of truth here, but I was not willing to go back into a relationship where it was already set up that there was something wrong with me that needed fixing. Good for you!!! By the way, we are not kids - we were in our late 40's - early fifties when we met. Eighteen years and a son is a lot to walk away from, but I believe that we all should be treated with respect, especially from the one we made the commitment of marriage with. That simple thing was essentially missing from my marriage, so I left, reluctantly. Now, I need to get over this anxiety thing...... Good luck and persevere - I think this site in wonderful and wish I had it available to me before I married - it could have prevented a lot of pain for the both of us.


Hi again, Rachel here. Thanks to everyone who has posted since my own last post…..your words are a constant source of encouragement. TAHWANDA – you wrote about “an adventure of discovery” and that is certainly what I’m experiencing right now. I really feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster. Lately, I have found myself getting sucked into the mindset of “Maybe he wasn’t THAT bad after all." He was. After all, it wasn’t as if he beat me on a daily basis, or stopped me seeing my friends etc., etc., etc.” That's the biggest problem with emotional abuse. The broken psyche is not obvious. And so the inner dialogue continues….. His behavior and my experience of it, certainly wasn’t as bad as many of the stories I have read in The Catbox. Your story is one of abuse: control and power. Don't fool yourself. And if you are still lapsing into those spaces, get yourself a therapist now. You are too used to being treated poorly to recognize it.

Of course it doesn’t help that the times I now see him, he is often on his best behavior –even offering to do odd jobs around my house etc. Right. How long will that last once you emotionally commit again? I realize from a lot of what I’ve read in The Catbox, that it might now be in my best interests to have as little contact as possible with him. Right. You are too weak now. At the moment, when he comes to collect our son, he often comes in for a cup of tea, stays a while and behaves very nicely towards me. This only serves to confuse me and gets me thinking about his “good” side. Wishful thinking Rachel. Get that book. Immediately.

App2 ….you mention “The "PRETEND" person that is fun, loving, and we have an awesome time with. The "REAL" person that we see all too often with their cruel actions, nasty remarks, off color humor, and down right disrespectful ways!” I suppose since we have been apart for 18 months, it is only the “PRETEND” person that I really get to see. I don’t spend enough time with him for him to show the “REAL” person, although as I said in a previous post on this board I have still seen glimpses of his selfishness since we parted. Right. You also raised an interesting point regarding how I talk to my son about all of this. I would never wish to put his father down to him, but I DO have a problem explaining to him why we broke up. I have only ever said that “daddy and I couldn’t get along together anymore” which is pretty vague. He rarely witnessed his father’s bad points and many of the worst incidents happened when he wasn’t around, or was too young(?) to really understand what was going on. Anyway, thanks again everyone for your input. I still have a long way to go on my journey and your words are an enormous help. Be honest with your son and stop protecting the abuser otherwise you imply to your son that his dad's behavior is OK. You don't want to do that. In an age-appropriate manner tell your son that his father did not know how to treat you in a respectful way, as you or any other human being deserves.


"It wasn't that bad after all, he didn't beat me etc." The question is why did you enter the relationship to begin with? To be treated not as bad as being beaten? We enter relationships to IMPROVE our quality of life, to be with someone who can add nurturance and support beyond what we can give ourselves. When the opposite happens the relationship isn't working and it doesn't exist in any form worth keeping. Any marriage is gone because the marriage was based on the vows to love, honor, and cherish. Abusers do not love, honor, or cherish you. They break all the contracts, there is nothing there but you and this person who is using you, taking advantage, or so immature they cannot relate to you in any way other than as a one way street. Excellent.

 

Hi, Rachel here. The last person who posted, mentioned marriage being based on the vows to “love, honour and cherish.” By the time I finally left, did I feel loved? NO! Did I feel honoured? NO! Did I feel cherished? NO! I think I’d actually lost sight of ever feeling those things. Exactly. I was hoping for the possibility of just being treated with the same amount of respect as he gave to other people. With hindsight and now I’m stronger and out of the situation, I know I should never have allowed myself to put up with his sh—t. But at the time I was caught up in the whole thing and BELIEVED that it WAS my entire fault, because that’s how he told it. Yes, you get blamed for everything! And so there I was, always thinking “If only I could be a better cook. If only I could keep the house cleaner. If only I could find the “right” way to approach him that didn’t wind him up to the point where he lost control, called me names, shoved me etc. etc. THEN we would get along just fine.” Reasoning with him and telling him not to treat me the way he did never worked. Once, when I asked him not to call me an a-hole in front of our (then) 5 year old, he said “I won’t call you an a-hole if you stop behaving like an a-hole.” Great. He managed to get it in TWICE more! Anyway, I now realize it wasn’t about ME at all. I’m actually NOT a bad person. (I’m still rubbish at housework though. Who cares? So get a cleaner already Now you're getting it!) Ok….sorry about the waffling. Feels good to get it off my chest. Thanks for reading. Oh – and as for the “love, honour and obey” thing? Maybe HIS wedding vows should have been to “shove, hoover and dismay” Yes.  :(

The definition of insanity is: Doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Rachel, you are beating a stick with a dead horse. What about your current boyfriend? WHAT IF you give up the chance of having a HAPPY life with him because you are still allowing yourself to be sucked up into that black hole you called a marriage? You already made your decision to LEAVE your husband. It was the RIGHT decision. Tallulah

My daughter is in a verbally abuse relationship and can't let go. She holds on to the dream that one day he will change. That dream as well as the what if dream is just that, a dream. And it will always stay that way. I don't know how many years it will take before she realizes how many of those years she has wasted in her marriage. I also believe that the victims are also selfish because she is not thinking what is best for her children. My grandchildren are getting more and more screwed up everyday. The things they say and I have to tell them that is not how people act. I tell them people don't say mean things to people they love. That their daddy is not be nice when he says those things. Also remember the people who really love you are victims too. One creep has so much affect on so many lives. It is terrible. Be strong. Save yourself and your life while you still have a chance. Don't ever look back!

Rachel here. I’ve been feeling a heck of a lot more positive about things the last few days. :) But I now have a question. From everything I’ve read so far, I understand that it’s very VERY difficult for an abusive person to change their ways, especially if they fail to even admit that they have a problem (as in my x’s case.) But does the difficulty in changing, relate to the severity of their behavior? I guess I’m interested to know if it is more difficult for someone to change if their behavior is of an emotional/verbal type than if they are extremely violent, for example. I know of no data on this. Before I learnt more about this subject, I would have described my x as a bully, selfish, difficult to communicate with, a “my way or the highway” kind of man. I felt that I had to constantly fight for my needs to be met (where we’d go out for the evening, what time we’d leave wherever we were etc.)And if my needs WERE met, I mostly felt that the sulky behavior I had to endure from him to achieve what I wanted, just wasn’t worth the hassle. As long as I allowed him to “call the shots”, we lived on The Good Ship Lollypop. But the moment I rocked that boat by NOT wanting to do whatever it was HE wanted to do, the boat started to flounder. I suppose I’m asking if the type of behavior he exhibited would be easier to change than if he had been the kind of man who regularly hit me, stopped me seeing my friends, was a compulsive liar, hated his kid, and was a cheater, etc., etc. Oh dear. I’m going to stop myself there. What am I doing?????? Yes, what are you doing? I just realized I can’t do this anymore. No. Please don't. That was wishful thinking talking. The bottom line is I wasn’t happy. I often felt scared of what he might do when he was angry and I never felt loved by him. Yes! Please don't ever forget that!!! That’s no way to live. No way to live; a great way to sicken yourself though. I’m sick of going round in circles with this. If he changes he changes. I’m not going to waste anymore energy on thinking about HIM right now. I need to get on with my life. I thought about erasing everything I just wrote above, but I’m not going to. This is a very cathartic experience for me and every day is another step forward. Thanks for reading. I’m off to the gym. I'm glad you left it, because it will come back to haunt you. And each time it does, you have to remember that this is just one of your guilty wishful thinking tapes talking. And you have to thank your mind for the sillyness it brings up, since that's what your mind knows what to do, and then choose not to buy into it.  Think of quitting sugar for your help. Your mind will crave sugar. If you buy into the craving, you will create suffering for yourself and probably eventually cave in. If you just ignore your mind because you know you have to quit sugar, you will be able to quit sugar and regain your health.

 


No matter how much you may have wanted it, you could not change to be what he wanted you to be. Your real self and communicating your real self was too important to you. Well, the same goes for him. Why would he change his real self for you when his main goal is to control you? Exactly. Why would he even consider changing for you. You are the one that he is trying to manipulate in the relationship, that was deal for him, that was why he was in the relationship, to have someone who met all of his needs, without question, and discussion or disagreement. Oh you guys are all so right on!


Dear Rachel: That took a lot of courage on your behalf to walk away from that marriage. It sounds like he was very damaging to your self esteem. I, myself have been caught in the "what ifs" as well, (I love that term) it is so hard to walk away after all the time, love and energy invested into a relationship and you feel as though you are walking away empty and broken. I am proud that you walked away mostly for your son, your son does not need to see his mom confused, upset and weak. Although, I am sure you hid most of your emotions from your son, they are so smart and I am sure he could feel your pain on some level, so Kuddos to you for that! I am reading a book called "In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and the Love You Want " by Iyanla VanZant, I find it helpful in dealing with the "what ifs". You are not alone and thank you for having the courage to share your story, look at all the responses you have gotten. One question I have for the board..is the "victim" does feel pain before the confrontations, during and after the confrontations. Does the abuser ever feel remorse, especially when the "victim" cannot take it anymore and ends the relationship? Does anyone have any insight on that..I think it would be helpful to the "victims" that are going through this transition and "walking wounded" to know if the abuser ever feels any pain for what they have done? OR are they more angry that the victim ended the relationship? THOUGHTS? Depends on the abuser. Some will feel remorse but don't know how to handle the feelings. Others truly don't; they are pained by the fact that they were caught!


My response to the poster above (IMHO)... because I feel like am both an abuser at times and the victim at times. Yes the abuser feels remorse. Yes they feel angry. They feel everything. They just don't know what to do about their feelings. They don't have the know-how to respond (at least not appropriately) to their own feelings or yours. Maybe they didn't have good role-models, most likely they were abused themselves and that's "what they know", maybe it's chemical, anxiety issues, drug/alcohol influenced, need meds, etc, quite possibly it's all of the above. But I say ABSOLUTELY. They do feel. They feel intensely and can't control/understand their feelings; that's their problem. In short, they are extremely confused. Maybe sometimes they are able to "turn their feelings off" somehow, "push it down". But that has got to take an extraordinary amount of energy and it's got to be exhausting. And even if they can manage to do this, feelings will inevitably surface!! Because you just can't spend all your time "pushing it down." You have to rest eventually and when you do, it will all come flooding. That might even be worse. Yes.

 

Hello everyone – Rachel here. Just a quick update. After reading the post from the person who spoke of the abuser’s ability to feel remorse, I felt sorry for my husband and sent him an email. (Just one last attempt to make him see the light?) Ugh... You are participating and are encouraging him to hang around. Anyway, I told him that I thought the only way he could mend things (mend HIMSELF, not the marriage) would be to get professional help. You need some professional help too sweetie... All this wishful thinking... He replied without referring to anything I had said and told me “You can’t move forward when you’re seeing someone else”. I hadn’t mentioned anything about “moving forward”; I had only mentioned that it would perhaps benefit him to seek help. Once again it seems my words fall on deaf ears and the whole situation is turned round to be about something I’M doing wrong (i.e. seeing someone else) and nothing about HIM and HIS behavior. I think he has convinced himself that the marriage broke up because of “another person” and not because of anything he did while we were together. I don’t know why I sent that email. I guess I just needed to know that he has absolutely no intention of even TRYING to change himself or acknowledging that he needs to change. I guess it’s easier for him to place all the responsibility on MY shoulders for what went wrong. Oh well. Enough now. I’m starting to bore myself with all this. Heh!

When I read that last posters note I thought you might begin feeling sorry for him and do exactly what you did. Please look at the note I wrote about why would he change when his goal to be in the relationship is to find someone who will revolve around his world and be there for him in a one way street. As far as he is concerned, the only one who needs changing is you. That is the core belief of all abusers. It is hard enough to change when you think you might need to. It is impossible if your goal is to change the environment to suit your needs, you being part of that environment.

Rachel here again. Sorry to keep on with this, but things are changing on a daily basis and I’m so confused. You're not confused; you are having a hard time accepting WHAT IS. My husband now admits that a lot of the stuff he did when we were together was WRONG. But he still maintains that it was me who “pushed his buttons” and made him do the things he did and that WE had a communication problem. He says he has had 18 months to reflect on things and he would NEVER do those things again. He says he would react differently. I said that he has to take responsibility for his reactions and behavior and that whatever he thought the “reasons” were, (i.e. ME) the behavior was unacceptable. I again mentioned that he would need help to deal with the way he reacts and to deal with his anger. He said he didn’t think he needed help……he said that he has never behaved the way he did with me in any relationships he had BEFORE he was with me or SINCE we split up. He insisted he has changed. I asked him how he could have “changed” without professional help and that without help I believed he would still react in the same way as before, if I “pushed his buttons”. He just insists that it would be different. I can’t see how. I told you you're not confused. :)

Rachel, I too was in an abusive relationship for 5 years. We are apart now, but it is killing me. I just remember the good times, not the horror. Anyway, something you said got me thinking. My former abuser said the same thing to me, that he was only abusive to ME & no one else in past relationships or in the one he is in now. I found out from his brother, however, that the only other long-term serious relationship he was in (other than me), he was, in fact abusive. So I am throwing this out to all the readers & asking an important question; one that Rachel was told. Please tell me this... is it possible for an abuser to ONLY abuse one or two woman & have "normal" relationships with other woman?? No. Unless it is a superficial relationship and he or she is still courting, no. My guess is NO, the only way these men can be so=called normal in a relationship is during the honeymoon phase, where they're not really themselves. Right. The statement Rachel's man made bothered me because it hit a nerve. Rachel, I don't believe he was only abusive with you, that YOU pushed his buttons. These men are either abusive or they're not. The only time an abusive man is "normal" in a relationship is before there is commitment, intimacy and living in close quarters. What does everyone else think? Rachel, you seem like a gem of a woman & it makes me mad ( just like it did when my ex told me the same thing), that this man is stating he was "only this way with you" That in of itself indicates to me that he is CONTINUING to put the blame on you! (i.e. just telling you he was ONLY this way with you... like it was somehow your fault) Yea!


Sorry, I forgot to sign my name (above post) LYNN


There is only one life that is given to us and it is better to live it for oneself. Never feel guilty... whatever you do will be for your benefit in the long run better than inaction. Trust your feelings. Think about your child. This is the only treasure you have. And do not forget about yourself...L.Butterfly 


Hi. Lynn, you ask a very good question. My gut feeling and experience makes me think if one doesn't put up with the abuse right from the start it wouldn't be a problem. Because either the relationship wouldn't exist or the person is taught your boundaries of how you want to be treated. Sounds so simple. Anybody? thoughts on this? Rachel, good luck to you. Heh! Not putting up with it from day one helps, but so much of what happens depends on the people involved. Sometimes the abuse just takes longer to develop. Some abusive types respect strong limits. But the partner has to be OK with that type of relationship. Sometimes two abusive types get together and eventually kill each other - or stay together because each has something the other partner wants, so it kind of works. Etc. Etc. This is way too simplistic a response and for that I apologize, but its not the time or place.


We all start out with a dream of what our marriage is supposed to be like -- "eternal bliss through thick and thin". In our cases we hold onto a dream for so long and make our spouse a part of it. When our spouse is out of the picture the dream still exists, but our minds have adjusted to believe that the dream cannot happen without that person. You begin to miss them... any amount of contact often compounds that emptiness and loss and you find yourself willing to accept the unacceptable for the sake of that dream. We do this without realizing it, and find ourselves back in the same situation then ponder and fuss over how we got there. It's time that the cycle stops - he is NOT going to change, but he will feign it for a while (possibly years) to regain the control and entitlement he had with you. Yep. Don't accept the blame game even if you can see how you "pushed his buttons", because even Saint Mary could upset a control freak. Yep! Don't allow yourself to forget how far you've come without him. In those moments of mourning over the years, and the uncertainty of future now, take some time to look around at all that you've accomplished and find a way to imagine where you would be with his insults, blame, and diplomacy. Take a step back. You don't have to act on anything right now... continue on your path and post in the Catbox. Read each message from each poster again in 2-3 months as you're participating and you will see a pattern. Knowing the steps to this dance they want to lead us in is also the key to learning how to march to the beat of our own drum. Once we figure it out our dreams can finally flourish. (I'm still waiting) Much Love to you. And to you!~Epiphanies

Abusive men are abusive. Period. Either you are abusive or you are not. Abusive men have a built in radar that detects the type of women who he feels can be controlled. There is no satisfaction for an abuser to be in a relationship where he cannot control. It is the control that leads to the abuse. I do not feel that by setting boundaries that will enable an abuser to change his deep set anger. It eventually comes out... it is just a matter of time. Therefore, here is the answer to that question: First of all, abusive men DO NOT choose women who are not sweet, gentle, nice, appear to be have a submissive type of personality. They will put on an act & mimic the way normal men act to catch the victim. Then, when real life sets in (a matter of months or even years), it is virtually impossible for the abuser to keep appearances up on a continual basis. Then the horror sets in and the REAL personality comes out. To think that a true abusive man can go against his outrageous & intense nature of anger & abuse, simply by setting boundaries, may last temporarily. However, I firmly believe that no matter HOW the woman responds to an abuser, it is almost impossible for him to, ultimately, NOT abuse. I am sure that long-term intense therapy could make a difference. But the notion of changing the way the woman responds does not last. The abuser cannot maintain a long term relationship in which he cannot abuse & control There is simply no satisfaction in it for him. To think he can turn into a "normal" man if you set boundaries does not work. I tried everything with the man I was involved with. Passiveness, assertiveness, looking the other way, leaving him, etc. In the end, an abusive man is an abusive man is an abusive man. NO WOMAN can change him. The ONLY thing to do is leave. He will then set out to find your replacement... his next victim... pity her.   


Hi. Lynn, you ask a very good question. My gut feeling and experience makes me think if one doesn't put up with the abuse right from the start it wouldn't be a problem. Because either the relationship wouldn't exist or the person is taught your boundaries of how you want to be treated. Sounds so simple. Anybody? thoughts on this? Rachel, good luck to you. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It all depends on the players, but there is truth in what you say. The problem is that abuse is often introduced very, very slowly, and the partner, who would never stand for *whatever* two years ago, now does...

 

There are tons of reasons why men (or women) are abusive. Hi again. I posted several days ago. I'm the older woman who left after 3 years of marriage. The one thing I did early on was focus all my attention on him ---why he hurt me, why he was mad, why he was sulking. I poured over books about abusive men, personality disorders and I became obsessed with him and his needs. It wasn't until I started focusing on myself - my pain, my hurt, my needs that I was able to step back away and see just what kind of marriage I was in. Yes!!! This was when he started telling me I was selfish and didn't know how to love. Not only did my H. want to be in control, he also needed to be the center of attention - so you see, when I was focused on him, trying to figure out how to placate his moods and make him feel loved, he got the attention and basically he was OK. But I was miserable because I never got it right. This leaving is a process and everyone has to find they own time to terminate a bad situation. When you are ready, it will be incredibly easy. This is not to say there is not an aftermath of feelings from freedom to sadness/grief to process through. Ann. Thank you Ann.

 

Thank you Rachel. Your post stimulated lots of talk and brought up many interesting points. I think you heard exactly what you needed. And, I hope you guys continue here or in The CatBox. Thank you Posters. You were particularly fantastic with this board. I wish everybody out there a Very Merry Christmas, a Happy Happy Chanukah, a Great Whatever-Your-Holiday-Is, and many, many blessings for the New Year 2007.  Dr. Irene, December 21, 2006

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Hi everyone, Rachel here. I just wanted to say a massive "thank you" to everyone who has posted on this board. I can't tell you how much of a difference finding this website and finding you, Dr. Irene, has made to my life and my hope for a brighter future. I thank God for you all and wish each and everyone of you a very Happy New Year.

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Hi, I just read your story and it sounds familiar to me. I too am in an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship. I struggle with the what ifs as well. I have a 9 1/2 month old son and want so much for him to have his mom and dad together, family vacations and all of that stuff. My husband does the same thing as soon as he senses me pulling away from the abuse cycle and not getting pulled in at all to his irrational anger episodes more promises to reform come about. He too has told me he will go to counseling, it has been 3 years and it is just more of the same. I think that we really need to ask ourselves what DO we really want? I know that for me is to just live in peace and to be able for once in my life focus on myself and my needs, my baby....it's not all about him alllll the freaking time. It seems like you know what you really want, but keep putting what he needs ahead of you. I mean I know this is the pot calling the kettle black...b/c I do the same exact thing and am still doing it.

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Hi, to the last poster....this is Rachel. I think my problem was, that like you, I wanted the "happy family" thing. And often, we were very good at playing that game in front of our son. I think in the end I had to look at what my husband was giving to ME - not at the pretend game we played. And that felt selfish, because it meant our son would have to grow up without his parents living together. My counselor asked me what I thought the "payoff" was for my husband when he wanted us to get back together ....and I honestly couldn't help thinking it was that he would have his son around all the time - (who he adores) when he currently only has him for 50% of the time since we split up. I never felt that he really wanted to be with ME, because he never made me feel that he particularly loved me for a long while. If it's any consolation, our son continues to thrive with us being seperated. I think it's because I'm less stressed and more able to be myself now. My son and I recently had our first holiday on our own and we had a brilliant time. I would never have believed that could happen. Thanks for your post.

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Being around any form of abuse hurts the children. To witness his mother or father being treated badly is very bad for him emotional wellbeing. You did the right thing for both of you.

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He can't play happy family in front of his son all of the time, eventually he will feel the tension and witness what is happening.

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Yes, to the last poster. That was what had started to happen to some extent. As our son grew up, I believe he began to be more aware of the reality of what was going on around him. My husband seemed to have an extremely covert disregard for women. He would "joke" to our son and say things like, "women are rubbish - men are great, aren't they?" and "why do women wear perfume and make up?...because they're ugly and they stink". Then he would laugh. When I told him I didn't think those kind of jokes were funny, he would tell me I had no sense of humour and that I was being a stiff and over-reacting. Well, I didn't want my son who was 7 at the time to listen to that crap, even if it was a "joke". I want him to grow up to respect women.

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Wow do I ever agree with Dr. Irene. What if he doesn't change? Then what? It's hard to make big changes in life... but without taking a risk there is no reward. Even if he did change and become Mr. Wonderful, would you be able to get past all the hurt? I know I couldn't. Mine did a 180, when I was out the door. I stuck it out for a year and realized that I didn't love him and I would never get past the hurt. Even with the changes he was not the man I wanted to be with. I'm a different person and I need someone who cares about me and so do you. If you've got a good relationship now, why in the world would you want to go back? Off the fence

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Yes, off the fence, I've thought a lot about that. I think it's my unwillingness to "admit defeat" , "time invested","making sure I've done everything I possibly could have for my son's welfare" etc.etc. I'm almost there though. Working through it all and learning to enjoy what I HAVE, instead of what might have been. Letting go of the dream. I'm still waiting for the book to arrive ("When Hope Can Kill")that Dr. Irene suggested. Hopefully that will be of further help. Thanks for your input.

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hello my sisters. Thank God for Dr. Irene and her website. i've been a silent onlooker for about 8years. But felt the need to post in response to Rachel post. Thank you Rachel for having the courage to post. I have been feeling the same 'anxiety' since christmastime. I didn't know what was happening and couldn't afford more therapy sessions. After reading Dr. Irene responses and everyone elses. I feel that I'm not going crazy and shouldn't be second guessing myself. I am pushing out the negative what-if, how come, fantasy ideas. I have ordered the book listed here and have just finished reading Dr. Robin Smith: Lies at the Altar. I am now mourning the marriage that I thought I had with who I know see as a stranger. Be strong Rachel....take care of yourself and your son. (I am working on how to deal with the ex when he has the kids.)

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Dear "silent onlooker", I'm so glad it has helped you to read this board. I wish you luck wherever you are in your relationship. God bless. Rachel.