Over 3 years
ago I'd answered Megan's letter. Well, guess what overjoyed lady I
heard from recently? Yep, Megan! The black and blue writing is
from 2000. The red
is what Megan added Now! Wow! Doc
January 25, 2000
Dear Dr. Irene,
I'm sad....bet that is one you haven't heard
before ! I've been married for 23 years. We were not high
school sweethearts, but we were always very close friends. After a 6
month courtship - we married. I was 17 and he was 21.
I finally found the courage to leave… my divorce was final just 30
days before our 25th anniversary.
I've worked with my counselor to determine my earliest memories of the
abuse. It started with a violent temper that his mother warned me of,
however I had not ever been witness to it. After about 3 months of
marriage - I remember he threw a window air-conditioner out of a
window (but I cannot remember what he was mad about).
Of course – the abuse escalated - and
became very physical. The local state police tried very hard to get
me to press charges because of physical injuries he was responsible
for – typical abused women… I declined to press charges and even
stayed with him the same night! The physical abuse continued – and
was not isolated with this episode.
The story is familiar - years passed. I was a stay at home mother -
frequently criticized for my parenting, housekeeping and lack of
assistance with family finances - although it was a joint decision for
me to stay home with our two daughters.....and of course there were
happy times too.
After 10 years of marriage - we moved into a house that took us a year
to build (I am sure you can only imagine the incidents this stressful
situation encouraged). We lived in the house for 5 years - while I
was working on my graduate degree in a competitive field. The school
was 1 1/2 hours from our home. My husband was very supportive of my
education and took on much responsibility of our home and children at
Then the explosion -- a whirlwind of transitions......
I graduated with honors - came out of school with a career that
provided me with an income that more than doubled his (remember,
I was the stay at home Mom before school).
His best friend was hit by a car and killed.
He received a promotion that allowed him to work in our
hometown rather than a small community 20 miles from home
(however, he loved the previous position and has really never
been happy with his promoted responsibilities).
We sold our new home and bought our dream home - an old
Victorian (money-time pit) that we had always admired.....and
then the real bombshell.....
He was arrested at local state park for public indecency. My
husband is a prominent local businessman. It was a real scandal
-- he was innocent, but the papers made it sound as if he were
involved in homosexual activity. I am certain of his innocence
but the ramifications of the 6 month ordeal nearly killed us
I can’t believe I was so certain of his innocence…. 3 months after
our divorce was final – he disclosed his gay sexuality. I know
there is no excuse for abuse – but it sure did answer a lot of
questions about his anger.
All of these transitions occurred in a period of less than one year.
Ouch! But, there is no excuse
His verbal abuse began to really escalate at this time. He would keep
me awake at night - threaten to leave me if we didn't have sex, even
if we had had sex as recently as the night before. Character
assassinations accompanied increasing episodes of violence toward
objects in our home.
It never did stop – and actually…he still continues with the character
assassinations today – WHO CARES!
There were occasional episodes of physical violence between my oldest
daughter (19) and him - but he was never physical toward me.
YET! The first physical episode was just a few months after my
original letter in January 2000.
The ugliness - name calling - threatening violence and rage became a
whirlwind spiral. Police were called more than once for domestic
disputes.....my self-esteem continued to dwindle - although I
continued to try to soften things and assume that I must have done
something wrong to make him so mad - while hiding the fact that this
was going on to others and to myself. We were upstanding - he was
president of the governing board of our church, we were very involved
socially and in community activities. And then I began to fade.
I dropped out of all organizations, my contact with friends ceased
(my friends and family are so happy to have me “back”)
and I was at home at night for 2 years while he spent the time working
on a vintage car with his father. I have a history of eating disorders
- my weight has fluctuated forever. I had ballooned to 250 pounds .I
decided to use the time available to me and I joined a gym - and lost
I became reacquainted with someone I dated before I became engaged
to my husband. This person told me he had always loved me and
didn't date anyone for 7 years after our last date. His
compassion and kindness gave me the safety I was dying for. I
made the worst decision of my life - I had an affair. I own that
decision - I am responsible for what I did - and I truly am sorry
to have done something so hurtful to my husband who already had so
many trust and self-esteem issues - but I am also sorry that I let
my husband off the hook. My affair took away his responsibility
for what was wrong with us.
Exactly. Don't let him do this. Having an affair is never "right,"
but before we get all wrapped up with making you into the bad guy,
recognize that professionals understand that an affair is a
symptom of underlying problems in a marriage. Your marriage sure
has its share of problems; you even know what they are!
I have completely stopped all contact with the other man - pledge
my faith and love to my husband and completely changed my
lifestyle to attempt to earn back his trust.
Wait a minute... All this is fine, but, what about you? Why
doesn't he have to earn your trust? Once he stops behaving like a
that is. You must insist that he do so and stop cutting him
the benefit of the doubt time and time again.
It has been 7 months of persecution, punishment and hell. I don't
think he will ever get over it - he is so suspicious and
paranoid. He refuses to get help and he continues to
perseverate on details of my affair. He
never gave up on the suspicion – he would NOT let go of it…and his
constant persecution was only a daily reminder of the love the
other man gave to me.
He can refuse help, but his decision should not influence you. You
need to get help. Now! As a family therapist, I often start with
one partner, usually the wife, who wants to drag hubby in - but he
won't come. I tell her, "No problem. We'll work alone. Watch how
quickly he gets curious!" Besides, there is plenty of work to do
We ended up seeing separate therapists…. BUT they were married to
each other. On occasion – all four of us (husband and wife team)
and my ex-husband and I met for sessions. It was intense…but they
were the FIRST therapists of many that we saw that didn’t paint a
false picture of what could be…. They made me realize – he
probably was never going to get better. I learned he had also been
sexually abused as a child…. Probably was diagnosed with
Borderline Personality Disorder…
And life with him – would not only continue the way it was…. But
probably would end up getting worse.
Okay – here
is the big kicker that the Dr. probably won’t agree with – It is
true – I did commit to ceasing all contact with the other man. I
did not look him in the face for nearly two years. After my
divorce I dated someone else for a few months – but my heart was
with the true love of my life – the man I had dated as a teen and
later had an affair with.
(2003: And don't you have
a nice, clear conscience now that you did things the way you did
He left his
wife while I was dating the other man. We were meant to be – We
have just celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I didn’t know
life was supposed to be peaceful. I didn’t know what love really
was. What a wonderful feeling to lay in the arms of a man that
loves me…and wouldn’t hurt me if his life depended on it.
I desperately want to be happy with my husband - but a single day
doesn't go by without abuse and conflict. It is such a roller
coaster. He is often remorseful and in tears and says he can't
live without me - and nearly the next breath he is calling me a
Not OK, but you already know that. He is out-of-control and you
must put a stop to his antics.
We have such a deep history. We have two daughters now 17 & 22.
We have a brand-new grandchild. I desperately want my dreams to
be true with this man - but I cannot keep living with this roller
coaster and hazardous behavior toward me. He refuses to go back to
counseling with me and has told me if I go I am NOT to turn it in
on our insurance, which is his coverage.
And, you are intimidated. Time to stop. I hope you are still in
counseling. If you are not, go for help and don't apologize for
it; he doesn't have to like it. Tell him his choices are his
insurance or his
paycheck - since his behavior
is the seat of your misery. Open your mouth and dump
the shame. There is no reason to keep his abusive secret. What
have you got to lose? You had an affair. Fine. It's over. What
about him: 23 years of hell? Take your power and insist he behave
like a human being.
I am now only 42 years old - I probably have another 42 ahead of
me. I want to share them with him, I
want to grow old with him..... but...but...but....but.....
He is making it very hard for you.
Thank GOD! I’m now 45 years old … and I love
riding bikes on quiet trails, hiking mountains and
paddling our kayak with my peaceful husband that shows me how I
was supposed to be loved….. Thank GOD I didn’t waste any more days
of my life!
Do you see any potential for recovery here?
There is always
potential for recovery.
He is still a very angry man…and still directs his anger to me….
It kills him that he doesn’t have control of me anymore. I hope
he can recover someday….I’m thankful I don’t have to be a part of
(Unfortunately, "potential" rarely is met in most cases.)
I am so afraid to face life without him - I know of nothing else.
Are there others who regret the decision to leave?
Yes. One or two emails here do. But, I will create a board so
others can answer your question directly.
I have never regretted my decision to leave. When we finally
separated the last time – he left in an angry rage (as usual)…. I
knew that about 10 days later he would come knocking at the door
in tears… promising me he would never hurt me again. The hardest
thing I have ever done in my life was telling him he could not
come back home. I had re-gained ME…. And I was NOT going to let
him take me away again. It was a fabulous feeling when I turned
him away – I was in love with ME… I also knew that my oldest
daughter had followed the legacy and was in a
severly abusive marriage. She had left her husband just
after I left her father. If I would have let him come back… she
would have done the same thing. My blessed Grandson’s destiny was
at stake. This legacy had to stop – I always said that my biggest
regret was that I had allowed my girls to believe the abusive
behavior was acceptable. It wasn’t acceptable and this was my
chance to make it right –
My life was going to move on!
He will blame me - and make me look ugly....can I recover from
He will try to blame you and you must be assertive enough and sure
enough of yourself enough that you do not permit it.
He still blames me and continues to try hard to make me look ugly…
I know better!
We live a very comfortable lifestyle and I will have to
made significant changes - however my
income is not an issue in supporting myself. Will I be happy with
Only you can know the answer to this question...
The changes are certainly a transition to adjust to…. And I
wouldn’t change any of it! Life is so much simpler now!
Will our friends abandon me - because of my affair without
knowledge of his abuse?
If they abandon you, they were not truly your friends. But, how
can you expect them to make clear decisions if you hide the abuse?
Never, ever hide abuse. You hurt only yourself and enable your
This is so true…. The real friends are still there – and there are
those that were not real friends….and I don’t miss them at all!
Will he get better....after we are apart and he gives the part of
him that is so good to someone else?
For a while, he probably will be better. Then his stuff will start
again. He'll give her
that other part too. Promise.
Why can't he get better for me?
He can. But, he has to want
to. Right now, you want him to get better more than he
does. When are you going to realize you have no control over
another person? If you disengage, he may just wake up.
I have been living on this fence for years
with this decision. My life feels like one of those flip page
calendars in an old movie....it's going so quick....and I'm not
You will make your move when and if you are ready. That is the
only time you should move.
I made the move 14 months after this original post…. and I am the
happiest woman in the world! No looking back now…..
only happiness ahead of me now! (My
daughter also was successful with her divorce and she now has a
wonderful loving fiancÚ in her life and happiness is her story now
Thanks for your time!!
Good luck and may God bless you & yours. Dr. Irene
Thank you so
much Dr. Irene…. It was the advice and support and resource
recommendations on this site that gave me the strength to pursue
the counseling… and have the strength to finally move on – and to
really recognize the abuse as ABUSE…. If one woman makes a
decision to be free because of my post – then my story was worth
….Thank you…. Thank you!
thank you, thank YOU Megan! It's so good that you took the trubble
to communicate the wonderful outcome to your story; doubtless, you
will inspire many in a similar situation now. I'm so glad you
contacted me again. Wonderful things happen when one trusts one's
inner voice and overcomes their fear... Wishing you continued
for Megan gang? Please press "Submit" just once.
I want to
read the posts.