I've been married for 18 years to a man who has emotionally abused me and
I in response have done the same to him. I am ashamed to admit that, but
it is true. I am finally at the point where I don't want to try
anymore on this relationship, yet fear ending it because of the loss of
financial security. He has made every effort he was capable of to
mend things over the years. I realized shortly after the marriage
that it was a mistake due to his nagging and harsh attitudes, but by that
time I was pregnant, and so stayed.
somewhat workable, and not wanting to lightly jump out of a marriage
without sincere effort, I went into counseling. He had a typical
attitude that it was not for him and was worthless, ridiculing me for
going. When I discovered I was pregnant again, I stopped
counseling---seemed like I had made a decision about the
relationship----things were hopeful again with a new life on the way, but
his controlling behaviors persisted---didn't take a lot to control a woman
with 4 children under the age of 8. (his, mine, and ours) I
resisted, don't get me wrong, and the battle ensued which has persisted
until a few months ago when I refused to participate anymore in fights
that never resolved anything---they could go into the wee hours of the
morning, or take up a whole Sunday, regardless of whether our children had
company or not. I choose now to walk away, take a drive, take a
walk, whatever will avoid conflict. Life is so very much more
peaceful, but without a chance for emotional intimacy. It is a
relief that the children don't have to have us fighting, but we can't
discuss even the simplest things that might cause conflict, such as
finances or other concerns.
Yes, we have been in counseling in times past after I left him due to the
emotional and mental stress. He tried--I tried, but we just can't
seem to be happy with each other. I am having a terrible time
accepting the meaning of the fact that I don't have a desire or drive to
put much into our relationship, and I haven't done so for years. I
feel like it is my duty to go through the motions of caring and nurturing
no matter how I feel, and I can't and haven't. What is so easy to do
with my children, I am not willing to do for my husband. I felt that
with consistent kindness and stability I could love this man and I don't
know whether we are both just too unstable or if I'm the stumbling block.
How does a person sort out such a mass of confusion? Kimberly
There is nothing to
be confused about. You entered into your marriage with good faith, good
intentions, and hope. You took your vows seriously.
Early enough you
realized that things were not right, but you did what was expected of a
marital partner. You tried to resolve your difficulties. You could
not/cannot/will not leave for economic reasons as well as for reasons
concerning the children. You had periods where you were fed up and acted
out. You tried again. You stopped. On and on.
Don't you see,
while you may be far from perfect, you have the ability to give. You do
not provoke the distress. You do not seek conflict; it is not
"fun" for you. You give to your children, and it is easy because
they do not block it. Your husband blocks it.
You are tired of
fighting. Good for you that you have disengaged. At least you have found
So, how is it you?
I am not suggesting that your husband has not tried in good faith as well.
I am suggesting that for whatever reason, your husband has been unable to
conduct himself as a partner, and who instead seeks to provoke. Though
from your letter I doubt that battle is his conscious intent,
apparently he cannot help but create distance and conflict. I take it
you've read the Abuser pages
to get a glimpse into his psyche...
You want emotional
closeness. He has blocked it. There is nothing you can do to make him
behave other than the way he behaves. You are frustrated and angry. Trust
your feelings. Why should you feel otherwise? Why do you think it is your
duty to continue caring? If you care, you care. If you no longer care, you
no longer care. You are allowed to no longer care. At this point,
you seem to be burnt-out and reacting to the collective disappointments in
your marriage. Who can blame you? Stop blaming yourself. Stop trying to
take responsibility for the two of you.
It takes two to
Tango? Why do you think you can dance alone? No matter how expert you are,
if your partner has two left feet, he will eventually step on yours and
you will stumble - as you have. You cannot dance alone.
My very best
wishes, Dr. Irene