My name is George and I have come seeking advice on how I might save a marriage that I
have taken advantage of for a long time now. I am married and a father of 3, about 2
months ago my wife informed me that she had endured my verbal abuse for several years and
was now seeking to get out. She said she had gotten a book on verbal abuse and was also
seeking counseling for abuse victims.
My initial reaction was one of disbelief, why would she consider herself an abuse victim;
after all I had never hit her? I found your web site via a search on abuse and I
spend most of my time there now. I have learned many things from your articles and I
am going out to purchase several of the books you recommended this weekend. I'm
afraid it is too late. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE. DO IT! AND IF YOU
WONDER WHY SHOULD YOU BOTHER, REMIND YOURSELF YOU HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO WITH YOUR
After reading much of your material I will freely admit that I do have an anger problem
and I have been verbally abusive to my wife. GREAT! YOU CAN'T
CHANGE IT TILL YOU OWN IT. The effect your material has had on me is to bring forth
a feeling of profuse shame. MOST ABUSIVE PEOPLE SHARE YOUR
REACTION. YOU HAVE BEEN TRAINED TO FEEL NOT-OK SINCE YOU WERE A LITTLE KID. ENOUGH
ALREADY! STOP JUDGING YOURSELF! YOU ARE NOT AN AWFUL PERSON, JUST A PERSON WHO HAS BEHAVED
AWFULLY. AND THAT YOU CAN CHANGE. When she initially stated that I was verbally
abusive 2 months ago I have endeavored to correct my behavior. I tried to strike up
a conversation the other night and during that conversation I asked her if she knew I
still loved her? Her response was she didn't really care. HER
REPLY REFLECTS HER ANGER. SHE HAS A RIGHT TO BE ANGRY. I asked her as to what she
felt about the past 2 months and she replied it was good but that she did not trust me. SHE HAS NO REASON TO TRUST YOU. JUST LET HER BE. THEN YOU WILL BECOME MORE
"TRUSTABLE." Is there anything I can do? YES.
ACCEPT THAT SHE IS WHERE SHE IS.
We have had many arguments in the past and things were said
both ways that were meant to inflict severe pain. I recently wasn't feeling well and
I asked my wife if maybe I had cancer? She responded that she did not really care if
I did or not. SHE IS VERY ANGRY WITH YOU. DO YOU
NOTICE THAT ASKING HER ABOUT CANCER IS MANIPULATIVE? I PROMISE YOU SHE IS
TIRED OF MANIPULATION. IT WILL ONLY MAKE HER ANGRIER. NOTICE IT SO YOU CAN STOP IT. of course did not forget that statement.
STOP DWELLING. USE THE ENERGY TO FIX YOURSELF. Later the next month we had an
argument and I made the statement that maybe she should just drive off a cliff
somewhere. Did I mean it? No! Why say it? I was trying to inflict
as much pain to her as she had to me. THEN YOU UNDERSTAND WHY
SHE SAID WHAT SHE SAID AND HOW MUCH SHE "MEANT" IT. WE SAY LOTS OF STUPID THINGS
OUT OF ANGER, AND WE MEAN THEM ONLY FOR AS LONG AS WE ARE ANGRY. USE ANGER MANAGEMENT
SKILLS TO HELP YOU NOT ACT OUT AND MAKE THINGS WORSE.
Some background on myself. I am a very gung-ho type
person. No, I am not a Marine but I go after things at work with the same go get-em
attitude. I recently started back to school to earn my 4-year degree. GOOD FOR YOU! Having only a 2-year degree has always made me feel
inferior. STOP JUDGING AND COMPARING. I have driven
myself hard and achieved a position where I am actually supervising others with 4-year
degrees. I still fell inferior though. I had a choice, remedy the situation or
live with it. I decided to remedy the situation and go back to school. ALTHOUGH ITS GREAT THAT YOU WENT BACK TO SCHOOL, SINCE THAT IS WHAT YOU
WANTED TO DO, YOU STILL NEED TO DEAL WITH THE INFERIORITY. YOU ARE NOT INFERIOR BECAUSE
YOU ARE LESS EDUCATED. YOU FEEL INFERIOR BECAUSE THAT IS HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT YOURSELF.
BUT THERE IS NO BASIS IN REALITY NOT TO FEEL OK ABOUT BEING WHO YOU ARE...BUT THAT'S
A WHOLE OTHER TOPIC...
Do I feel inferior to my wife because of her higher
education? Yes. YOU WOULD FEEL INFERIOR ANYWAY, AND YOU
WILL UNTIL YOU ACCEPT THAT IT IS OK TO BE IMPERFECT. STOP JUDGING YOURSELF!
Do I tend to overcompensate taking a superior position on most things because of
this? Yes. I'M GLAD YOU SEE IT. DO NOTHING
ABOUT IT - THAT MEANS, STOP ACTING SUPERIOR. (TRY HUMBLE). Do I over emphasize even
the smallest error she makes to try to make myself seem like the smart one?
Yes. GOOD. NOW YOU CAN STOP IT SINCE IT DOES NOT ENDEAR HER TO
TO YOU TO PUT HER DOWN. YOU ARE AS SMART AS YOU ARE, NO SMARTER & NO DUMBER. THERE IS
NOTHING TO PROVE. My wife completed her education after we had gotten
married. We have been paying her student loan ever since (over 12 years). When
I told her I would have to get a student loan she became upset at increasing our
debt. I couldn't believe it! After all of those years of paying hers I
couldn't get one? LOOK AT HOW YOU GO ON AUTOPILOT AND FOCUS ON
UNFAIRNESS... Actually looking back at that argument though enlightened eyes
created by your articles, I see now that maybe she was trying to recommend that we pay as
much as we can before getting another loan. However, being as insecure as I am, I saw
it as a threat and retorted in anger trying to do my best to hurt her feelings. GOOD THAT YOU SEE IT. YOU CAN STOP IT. ALSO, TELL HER. SHE WILL
PROBABLY APPRECIATE YOUR GROWTH EVEN THOUGH SHE MAY BE TOO ANGRY TO LET YOU KNOW THAT SHE
As for my childhood I had a fairly unstable family. My
mother and father fought a lot ever since I was very young. I vividly remember a
fight they had and my mother going out and sitting in the backyard with the car keys in
her hand all night. I was on my knees crying at the door yelling for her not to
leave. My father sat at the kitchen table chain smoking cigarettes and didn't even
offer me any comfort. My father was pretty much verbally abusive (now that I know
what to look for) either not saying anything at all or only letting me know what I had
done wrong. The result of this childhood? In my family I saw myself as the
discipline and my wife as the love. Pretty stupid eh? I would severely punish
my children when they made a mistake yelling loudly and spanking them. In short I
became my father. This has severely hurt my relationship with my children. ABUSE SPAWNS ABUSE. YOU CAN STOP THE CYCLE NOW SO YOUR CHILDREN DON'T
REPEAT IT WITH THEIRS. START BY APOLOGIZING FOR HURTING THEM. MAKE IT YOUR BUSINESS TO
TREAT THEM NOW AS YOU WISH HE HAD TREATED YOU THEN...
So I am this uncontrolled monster that thinks I can do no
wrong and it is everyone else's fault right? Wrong! YOU
BET! Actually, I love my wife very much. Not because she's easy to verbally abuse
and I can take all of my aggression out on her, I actually love her as a person. YEP. TELL HER THAT. She's really smart. She finished
school ON TIME while having a baby in the middle of her final year! TELL HER THIS TOO. She loves to work outside with plants and she
has a really good green thumb. AND THIS. She has what I
consider to be a gentle spirit. AND THIS. When she is
around it is this gentle spirit that I feed off of like a starving animal. TELL HER. I wrap myself up in it like a warm blanket. I feel
that I am as addicted to
it as a drug addict. What has my anger done to that spirit? ASK HER. It doesn't shine as brightly as it used to. She has
one of the biggest and gentlest hearts I have ever encountered, and my anger has made that
heart distrustful and spiteful. Like the song says, when she shines, she shines so
bright! Thanks to me there isn't much left but a glimmer. It's too late isn't it? ITS NEVER TOO LATE.
As I mentioned earlier I have made extreme strides in taking
control of my behavior in the last 2 months. I was attempting to achieve general
behavioral improvements but after locating your web site I now know specifically what to
do. Do I really want to? Absolutely! I pride myself
on always wanting to learn. It's too late though isn't it? ABSOLUTELY
One of the things that used to anger me the most was my wife
and I would go through long periods of sexual inactivity. She would ignore or avoid
my advances. SEX IS ABOUT LOVE. IF SHE IS NOT FEELING LOVING TOWARDS
YOU, WHY WOULD SHE WANT TO HAVE SEX? I accused her of alienation of affection all
the time. I accused her of having affairs and being interested in other men and that
was the reason for avoiding me (I do believe she did have an affair last year).
Finally she would give in to my gestures just so my mood would improve. The
results of this pattern? Recently she told me that having sex with me made her feel
dirty, and that she could never be intimate with me again. It's over isn't it? NOT NECESSARILY. BUT YOU NEED TO EXAMINE YOURSELF: IT IS OK TO HAVE NEEDS
(FOR SEX OR ANYTHING ELSE) AND TO MAKE A REQUEST. ONCE, TWICE. THEN STOP. IF THE OTHER
PERSON DOES NOT WANT TO GO THERE, YOU NEED TO ACCEPT THAT. ASK YOURSELF WHY YOU WOULD WANT
TO FORCE ANYBODY TO DO SOMETHING THEY DON'T WANT TO DO. WHAT DOES IT DO TO HOW THEY FEEL
ABOUT YOU IN THE LONG RUN?
So here I am opening up my heart to you look for any glimmer of hope and feeling pretty
confident that I will receive none in return. Mainly from what I saw on your web
site was that you were saying "round up the verbal abusers and nuke them
all!" OH BOY, ARE YOU OFF BASE! THAT CARTOON IS A TAKEOFF
ON HOW THE ABUSER NUKES HIM OR HERSELF!
Question, what do you do with a verbal abuser who
genuinely wants to change? ITS NOT WHAT I DO; IT IS WHAT YOU
DO. YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO OWN THE AWFUL WAYS YOU HAVE BEHAVED IN THE PAST, APOLOGIZE TO
THOSE YOU HAVE HURT FOR HURTING THEM, AND FORGIVE YOURSELF FOR YOUR BEHAVIOR AND FOR
HAVING ALL THESE THINGS WRONG WITH YOU. REALIZE THAT YOU ARE HUMAN AND
IMPERFECT. THAT IS A SIMPLE FACT. DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME DWELLING IN SHAME OR
DEPRESSION. SPEND THAT ENERGY ON REDIRECTING YOUR BEHAVIOR. SEPARATE WHO YOU ARE
FROM HOW YOU BEHAVE. NEVER FORGET THAT YOU CAN HAVE WHATEVER FEELINGS YOU HAVE.
BUT, REMEMBER, WHAT YOU DO WITH THOSE FEELINGS IS YOUR CHOICE.
What do you do with a verbal abuser who has a proven history
of learning and being able to change? Too bad he's a verbal abuser just kill
him? YOU MIGHT KILL HIM; I WOULDN'T. Already I
have made improvements. I will continue to do so if for no other reason than for my
children and myself. GOOD! YOU'VE GOT NOTHING TO LOSE AND
EVERYTHING TO GAIN. Even if my wife and I do get divorced I will continue to visit
your web site, read the
books you recommend and strive to become a better person and achieve inner peace.
Life is not much good without inner peace, as you pointed out.
But what about my marriage? Too bad you verbally
abused your wife; one strike and you're out? YOU DESCRIBE MUCH
MORE THAN ONE STRIKE. Is there nothing that can be done? YES.
YOU CAN ACCEPT THAT SHE FEELS THE WAY SHE FEELS AND RESPECT HER FEELINGS EVEN THOUGH YOU
DO NOT LIKE THEM OR AGREE WITH THEM. I feel so ashamed that I don't even talk
to her unless she says something first. TELL HER THIS.
way I feel as though the roles have reversed with me becoming the victim and she becoming
the abuser. NOT BY A LONG SHOT! BUT, SHE IS FED UP AND
ANGRY RIGHT NOW. I guess it is poetic justice right? NOPE. JUST PART OF THE DANCE. IF SHE HADN'T GOTTEN FED UP, YOU WOULD NOT
BE EXAMINING YOUR BEHAVIOR. How can I even talk to her without her feeling I am
trying to manipulate her words and use them against her? YOU
CAN'T. SO, JUST LISTEN. DO NOT TRY TO CHANGE HER MIND OR TEACH HER
SOMETHING. JUST LISTEN TO WHAT SHE HAS TO SAY, NO MATTER HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT IT OR HOW
IT AFFECTS YOU. DO NOTHING. LISTEN AND SAY NOTHING, EVEN IF YOU FEEL YOU ARE GOING TO
BURST. The last time I asked her to give me an honest answer she said "why so
you can use it against me?" YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT
BECAUSE YOU HAVE USED HER WORDS AGAINST HER IN THE PAST. SHE DOES NOT TRUST YOU
NOW. NOR SHOULD SHE. TRUST IS EARNED. YOU WILL BECOME MORE TRUSTWORTHY AS YOU SHOW HER
THAT YOU CAN ACCEPT HER FEELINGS.
Isn't there some sort of checklist or signs you can tell
verbal abuse victims to look for if their verbally abusive partner indicates that he
actually Wants to Change? GREAT IDEA. I WILL POST A LIST - BUT
IT WILL BE A TIP SHEET FOR THE ABUSER TO CHECK THEMSELVES ON (THE PARTNER
CAN USE IT OR NOT-THIS IS NOT ABOUT CONVINCING THE PARTNER). MEANWHILE, CHECK OUT THE MANALIVE LIST).
Is there no other option other than Get Out, Run Away?
THERE ARE MANY OPTIONS. Is there no type of counseling we can
take together to improve things? IF YOUR WIFE IS NOT INTERESTED
IN COUPLES COUNSELING, THEN COUPLES COUNSELING IS NOT AN OPTION. ACCEPT IT. SHE WANTS HER
OWN COUNSELING. YOU SHOULD CONSIDER THERAPY AS WELL. ASK HER FOR A REFERRAL THROUGH HER
There are 3 precious little lives at stake here. Do
you think the kids want the weekend mom and dad routine? The youngest is only 1 year
old, she'll probably think her father is just some kind of weekend daycare worker. KIDS WANT MOM & DAD TOGETHER; THEY LOVE BOTH OF YOU. That is
not the main reason I want the marriage to work. I actually am in love with my wife.
TELL HER THIS. Can you imagine the pain it inflicts on me to
hear her say, "I don't really care how you feel?" Sometimes I wonder if
she is speaking honestly or simply trying to inflict pain. SHE
IS VERY, VERY ANGRY. YOU HAVE TO RESPECT THAT SHE FEELS THE WAY SHE FEELS. YOU REALLY HAVE
NO OTHER WISE OPTION. NOT ACCEPTING HER THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS IS WHAT GOT YOU WHERE YOU
With the divorce rate as high as it is today and the
emotional damage it causes to children, can we not find a way to fix relationships rather
than abandon them? YES. FIX YOURSELF FIRST. I know it is
harmful for children to be in a verbally abusive relationship with a parent. I am
the product of one. YES. But imagine the lesson I would have learned to see my father
change and my mother and he develop a truly loving relationship both between themselves
and with me. YES! THAT WOULD BE THE BEST LESSON IN THE WORLD! I
would have endeavored to become the person he became, rather than the person he
I know you really hate to respond in any positive way to an
admitted verbal abuser EXCUSE ME, WHERE DO YOU GET THAT
FROM? YOU'VE READ THROUGH THE SITE. HAVEN'T YOU FIGURED OUT YET THAT
I'M NOT HERE TO PUNISH YOU? I TELL IT AS I SEE IT. I DO NOT JUDGE YOU IN TERMS
OF GOOD OR BAD. I ASK YOU TO STOP JUDGING YOURSELF - FOR YOU ARE FAR TOO
PUNITIVE A JUDGE, AND THIS IS NOT ABOUT JUDGMENT ANYWAY. I SUGGEST THAT INSTEAD
YOU ASK YOURSELF IF YOUR STRATEGY WORKS, AND OFFER SUGGESTIONS TO CHANGE IT IF IT
DOESN'T. MY GOAL IS TO HELP YOU OWN YOUR BEHAVIOR WITHOUT BEATING YOURSELF UP.
MY GOAL IS TO HELP YOU ACCEPT WHAT YOU CANNOT CHANGE (ANYBODY ELSE, ANYTHING OUTSIDE
OF YOURSELF) AND CHANGE WHAT YOU CAN (YOUR THINKING & BEHAVIOR, ASPECTS
OF YOURSELF). but there are a few of us who are ashamed at what we have become
and are so personally offended by what we've become that we will do anything to change. GOOD. NOW YOU'VE GOT A REAL SHOT AT CHANGE.
The last time I asked my wife do you want to leave, she said
she didn't know. I don't know how to take that. JUST
ACCEPT THAT SHE DOESN'T KNOW. Is she simply afraid? PROBABLY.
Is she simply worried about the financial impact? PROBABLY.
MAYBE UNDER THE ANGER SHE ALSO LOVES YOU. I'm too scared to have any hope. FEAR IS A NORMAL FEELING UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. JUST SIT WITH
IT. BUT THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE.
Please, respond when you get a chance. I plan on joining the
GRRRR forum and corresponding with other reforming abusers but I would rather not have my
email address posted on the web site for the entire world to see. Gee, that sounds
like someone who is embarrassed and ashamed at what he has become doesn't it? NOPE. SOUNDS LIKE A NORMAL PERSON WITH NORMAL CONFIDENTIALITY CONCERNS.
Thanks for listening,