Sent: Sunday, September 26, 1999
Subject: Do people change?
Dear Dr. Irene,
Like so many people who have found your website, I found it to be a breath
of fresh air. As I read through the stories and descriptions I kept
thinking to myself, "this is my life". Many of the stories
featured are much worse than mine, but many of the elements are the same.
I married my wife 4 years ago and lived with her for a year before that.
While we were dating she confided in me that her stepfather had sexually
molested her for several years. I also learned that her biological
father had not spoken to here in ten years and her mother verbally and
emotionally abused her (and still does). I was young, self-assured
and felt I had the strength to handle anything, so I married her.
After we were married, I noticed that she began to speak to me a little
more harshly than before. She would order me to do chores or demand
I be home at a certain time and if I was slightly late I got a verbal
lashing to beat the band. As our marriage continued, she became much
more demeaning in her comments. She would constantly tell me that I
couldn't survive without her, she didn't know how I made it this far, my
mother obviously didn't do a good job raising me since I didn't know how
to do anything.
I remember one time I was listening to one of my favorite bands downstairs
and she charged downstairs and started yelling at me. She said,
" I can't believe you are listening to this s**t you go****n redneck.
I'm so embarrassed of you. I hope no of the neighbors heard this
shit. I don't ever want to hear this s**t again. You're such
an embarrassment to me." This was one of many incidents that took me
She also began controlling where and whom I saw. Whenever I wanted to
go see my parents she would make it very clear that she did not want to
go. She would pout, yell, scream and threaten not go to my parent's
house. I would finally convince her to make the trip and while we
were there she made everyone miserable. She would disappear
upstairs, not participate in with my family. My family would
try to get her involved with events #61485; playing games, taking her (and
me) out to eat and embracing her as my wife and a family member. She
would have no part of it. In fact, if I wanted to play a card game
while we were at my parent's house, she would do something that would
force me to stop playing and attend to her. If I continued to play,
she would let me know how horrible a person I am. She would tell me
how much she hated my parents and tell me that I obviously loved them more
than her. She just hoped that the umbilical cord would be cut soon,
so I would learn to stand on my own.
When my son was born this year, she told me to call my parents and tell
them not to come and see their grandson. This outraged me. I
told her that she would have to do it, because I would not deprive my
parents of meeting their grandson and that family would be an important
part of his life. She fortunately did not make the phone call, but
she was clearly agitated that they came up.
She also keeps me from doing things with my friends. If I want to go play
golf, go out to a ball game or participate in any event with my friends,
she tells me that I obviously like my friends better than her and sends me
on a guilt trip. I once took a half-day off work to play golf
with my co-workers. I had told her that I was going to do this and
that I would be home as soon as I was done. I returned home at 5:30
that evening, which is about an hour before I normally get home. She
started yelling at me, telling me how inconsiderate I was for not getting
home sooner. She figured I wasn't coming home at all and wished I
hadn't. She's not sure our marriage is going to work and we should
get divorce. After a taking this for awhile, I stopped doing things
with my friends. Very bad idea. It seemed
better to avoid the yelling than to take it.
These are only isolated incidents
of my life with my wife. Over the last four years I have compiled
quite a mental list of incidents. I don't think my life is as bad as
many of your other respondents. Just wait. It tends
to get worse over time. She has only struck me once out of
anger and did stop giving me "love pats" after I repeatedly
asked her to stop hitting me, but I feel like I have taken a lot of abuse
throughout the years.
Here is the crux of my e-mail. About six months ago I told my wife I
no longer love her and we began marriage counseling. Through it all
she has stated that she now realizes what she has done is wrong, and
will never do it again. In fact, for the most part she has been nice
to me. Is it possible that she is truly changing? What is the
likelihood that she has truly changed? What is the likelihood that
tendencies of verbal and emotional abuse will return? Most of me thinks
that she is only acting nice to me, because she doesn't want me to leave,
but part of me says maybe she will change with time and I need to be a
little more patience. I'm not asking for advice on whether to leave
her or not, although any incites you have I would appreciate. I do
want to know what the likelihood that she can change is?
Thank you, Kevin
Read the abuser pages. All the info you ask for is there.
Change will not come quickly or easily to your wife, if at all. She's
really got to want it, and, you've got to keep up the pressure. Go back
to "normal," and odds are it won't be long before she begins
to slip too. Your wife is taking out her contempt for
"weakness" out on you!
You are a guy,
but my advice is the same as for a gal: Read Evans' book, the Verbally
Abusive Relationship (Link to book at Amazon.com). While its really
written for abused women, I know of no better resource to really open
your eyes to every type of abuse you can think of. You have to spot each
instance of disrespect and stop it. You must stand up to her!
I know of no good
research that tracks initial severity and treatment outcome differences
among men and women. I've seen tough gal and not-so-tough gal cases;
same for guys.
If you love her
enough, hang in there. Why not join
Men_D, the guy's support list? See what your peers have to say.
Regards, -Dr. Irene