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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

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7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

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Doc@DrIrene.com

You Cannot Dance Alone

You Cannot Dance Alone

    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. 

  Things got 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

Dear 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 peace.

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