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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been married going on 20 years. I was 19, he was 22. Our one and only child is almost 15. My husband is an emotional vampire. He is very self-focused on his needs. He behaves as though he has a right to have his needs met 100% of the time, and that I should automatically anticipate his every need. He behaves this way subconsciously for the most part. He has little capacity to understand and acknowledge that I have emotional needs that may differ from his. Basically, if he's happy, everyone ought to be happy. If he's unhappy, he sees to it that I share the burden with him. His problems become mine.

He is a good husband in that he works full time, good at what he does, he doesn't smoke, drink, do drugs, never in trouble with the law, etc. He does help with some of the housework. He's ok as a dad as far as being consistent and wanting to teach our son proper morals and values. Beyond that, he doesn't engage our son, play with him, or try to just be silly and have fun. He acts more as a disciplinarian.

I work full time. In fact, I make more money than he does, but I never draw attention to that to him or try to make him feel "inadequate" about it. I love my job, but somehow he makes me feel like I shouldn't. As though I place more importance on my job than it deserves.

I have made the terrible mistake over the years of enabling this behavior. I have allowed him to dismiss my feelings and needs when they weren't in line with his. I've allowed him to make major life decisions for both of us that I don't like or agree with, because the guilt and pouting and blaming that I've gotten for having an opinion contrary to his have taught me that my feelings don't matter.

I'm resentful at him, but even more at myself for allowing him to treat me this way. I realize that my entire "marriage" has been more like the relationship between a boss and his assistant. My "job" is to carry out his decisions.

I'm "waking up to life" recently, feeling like I've robbed myself of pursuing my own happiness and fulfillment for the sake of his. I've become so accustomed to "grinning and bearing it" to avoid the emotional wringer that to him, we have a decent marriage. It serves his needs (although I know he can't be 100% happy). To me, I feel like an animal trapped in a cage...an animal who is fed well, kept clean, given toys to play with, but never petted or talked to or shown true affection. That's how I feel.

I did tell him 2 weeks ago that I wanted to go to counseling by myself to work on some feelings of depression I've been having. His reaction was NOT: what are you depressed about? Do you want to talk about it? I'm sorry you're feeling depressed... No, his reaction was "Do you realize how angry that makes me?? They'll just tell you to get a divorce! Maybe you need to learn to appreciate how nice you have things, then you wouldn't be depressed!"...storms off and goes to bed 3 hours early...

So, how do even begin to tell my husband how unhappy I am when this is how communication goes between us when we're discussing something that isn't about HIS needs? I'm at a loss...

(By the way, I went to a counselor anyway unbeknownst to him. Only been once but going back again soon. Don't know how many times I can afford to pay for it without him knowing though, at $115 per session.)
 

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Going to the counselor is a very good thing. You sound like you really need it.

We teach others how to treat us. Through years of timidity and not being properly assertive you have taught your husband that his behavior is just fine.

It's really not fair for you to hold this against him now. There is a huge chance that you can fix this marriage and even make it better and more passionate than it ever has been.

Both of you will need to change to meet each other's needs. But the change will most likely have to start from unilateral action. This means that you have to do the work necessary to make real changes in yourself that will cause real changes in your marriage. It sounds like a lot of the anger in your marriage stems from the both of you being very frustrated and not sure how to get your marriage on track.


Here is a list of books that can help you. Often times I find that one good self-help book is worth hours, months, even years of counseling. All of the suggested books are available through Amazon.com and other book sellers and on the web sites of the authors. I suggest that he not see these books nor see you reading them. Otherwise he will get the idea that you are making temporary changes. This is not about temporary changes just to achieve some goal.


Start with this book as it does a very good job of explaining how to use unilateral action/changes to improve/save your marriage… Divorce Busting: A Step-by-Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again, Michele Weiner Davis - great for communication, and for taking responsibility and action to improve your quality of life.


Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship without Blowing Up or Giving In, Laurie Puhn. - Ways to tackle problems in a common sense way, and open direct, honest communication in areas of conflict.


Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship without Blowing Up or Giving In


The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert, John Gottman. - Ideas and activities to go through to understand each other more and strengthen your bond together.


“His Needs, Her Needs” and “Love Busters”, Dr. Harley… good guides for how to meet each other needs and rebuild to a passionate marriage.

That's a good pile to start with. If you start to change the dynamic for the better, your husband cannot help but change too. You might be surprised how easy it is, once you have some constructive goals and direction!

Divorce generally does not solve problems.. it just creates more of them and you left living on a lot less. It also seriously damages the children.

I suggest that you give your marriage 6-12 months.. then re-evaluate it. When you go through this process and work to improve yourself, either the marriage will turn around or you will come to a place where you are much stronger and more able to make the decisions/moves you need to make.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. You are right that I have taught him that it's ok to treat me this way. That's why I resent myself as much as I resent him for allowing myself to be a doormat. But, starting a marriage at 19 years old, I didn't have enough experience in life to know what I should consider normal marriage vs. major communication issues.

As time went on, I kept thinking that if I did everything I could to please him, anticipate what he needs, help him out as much as I could, he'd grow to appreciate me and respect me for being a supportive wife and a good person. In a way, he does appreciate me for what I contribute to the marriage in ways that he benefits from. But I don't feel that he loves me for ME as an individual person. I feel like his approval of me is always based on his assessment of how well I do as a wife and mom according to his preconceived expectations.

I'm at a point now where I honestly don't know if I want to save my marriage. I feel as though I've been trying so hard to be the perfect wife for so long (I know that I'm NOT perfect) but never measuring up, I'm tired of trying. I don't want to impress him anymore. I don't really want to be impressed by him. I just want to feel like I am my own person and make my own decisions without them being judged, belittled, or criticized. I'm just in a very difficult place right now.
 

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Seeing a counselor and making changes is for you, not for him.

Chances are that unless he were to make huge, permanent changes in himself.. you would leave him because of the positive changes in yourself.... it will make you stronger.

So don't give up on those things.
 

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Sorry to hear that WUTL. I faced many similar problems with my STBXW. I could never, ever say no to her without her flying into a rage or getting overly emotional to the point that I would give in.

Lately, I've been a lot firmer with my beliefs when I reached the stage that I wouldn't put up with it anymore. Guess what? We're getting divorced.

I would suggest writing down EXACTLY what your boundaries are. Communicate them to your husband. Stay firm with your boundaries. If your husband crosses them, then it's quite obvious he has no regard for your feelings and you should seriously consider divorce.

All the best ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This is what I need to sort out in counseling. I've been programmed to focus everything I do or even think on how it would affect HIM and HIS needs, I honestly don't even know what my needs really are or should be. I don't know what's reasonable for me to expect as far as getting my needs met, vs what's considered being a "high maintenance wife".

Seriously, can anyone help me out and list some things that they feel are important needs for a wife to have met? (Besides the basic physical needs like having a place to live, food, etc)
 

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I'm so sorry that you're going through this and have had to handle this for 20 years. I want to bring a child's perspective into this.

What you describe is exactly.my.parents.marriage. It's all about my father, his needs and mom giving into it every time even to her detriment and dissatisfaction. Her needs aren't at the top of his list. She's physically fine what more can she want? So her psychological and emotional well being is inconsequential to him.

When we were still maturing teens I think we lost a bit of respect for mom because she was so passive and gave into him all the time to avoid/halt conflict. It was annoying for us because 'why doesn't she just stand up for herself and deal with it?' She's educated, intelligent- more than him- successful, attractive, makes her own money etc so why pander to a bully (which is essentially what it is isn't it? He bullies you to take decisions that you're totally opposed to, runs rough shod over your needs). You enable this behavior and it becomes normal.

Don't get me wrong, Dad's a great father in terms of providing, stability, respected, doesn't smoke, drink, go to bars, always goes home etc. But as a husband? Not so great. And the first place children learn relationship behavior is their parents marriage. Often times parents think the children don't notice or aren't effected by their relationship, that it's really "none of your business not your relationship so never mind and don't butt your nose in." That's UTTERLY false.

My brothers learnt that it's okay to be this way with their gf/wives. They learnt to communicate ineffectively with their spouses, they're unable to resolve conflicts fairly and amicably nor meet the needs of their spouses successfully, its all about them. They become passive aggressive, selfish emotional bullies.

Us girls learnt that being treated this way from a man is normal because mom takes it. We learn to avoid conflict at our own expense rather than stare it in the face, stand up for ourselves and stick to our resolves and decisions. We don't learn that though you should put your spouse first there's a limit to that that once exceeded, you come first no matter what- It's better for you and your children. We gravitate towards men that are like dad who are emotionally abusive and bullies but don't even realize it for what it is because mom put up with it, didn't call it out/stop it so it must be the norm.

Now we're older, mature, educated in this and know better and as a consequence have changed our way of thinking (in time!) but the psychological and emotional impact in seeing moms needs ignored, squashed, forgotten and just plain not even acknowledged, being manipulated or bullied to comply while she sits back and allows it in order to keep peace and keep the family together is still something we internalize and struggle with everyday.

Just wanted you to know this not to add more to your pain but to encourage you to continue your journey of waking up and taking the necessary decisions and actions. See, this awakening of yourself and realization of your true self worth and right will be labeled as selfish and ungrateful, of being a bad mother and ignoring your child's well- being and needs. That's why it's crucial you realize no matter what he says you're NOT selfish, you DON'T have to contend yourself with physical things while your emotional and psyc suffers. You have a right and deserve to be truly happy, have your needs met, be emotionally fulfilled, shown care and concern, feel loved and appreciated. Feeling this right, accepting it, owning them, standing up fr yourself is NOT being selfish but is better for- and beneficial to- your child and you.

TQ
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wow, thank you so much for that! I do worry about how this impacts my teenage son. He's very sweet and has always been close to me, but he's also very discerning. I'm sure he at least subconsciously picks up on the dynamics between us. In fact, one time he actually did say "why do you always have to worry about what Dad would say? Why can't you just make a decision without him?" I am perfectly capable of making decisions on my own, but he's trained me so well to 2nd guess everything that he didn't get direct input in, I've become accustomed to deferring to him. My son picked up on that, and it opened my eyes a bit to how he perceives our marriage. Lots of food for thought.
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In addition to the great advice already given here, I'd suggest to keep in mind that the process is to work on yourself first - clarify what you want, build your faith in yourself and in your own self esteem.
Your world will only change when you change so that is the place to work on.
 

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So, how do even begin to tell my husband how unhappy I am
You *DID* tell your husband how unhappy you are...and he basically told you to STFU!

What more do you need to hear? 20 MORE years of his incessant selfishness? When YOU decide ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, then you'll require change...from yourself, from your spouse.

Look up traits for narcissism; your husband's insistance that EVERYTHING revolve around him and HIS wants/desires (not even 'needs', just 'wants') are CLASSIC signs. If he does have it, he WON'T CHANGE. You can continue to live with it or not.

Good luck.
 

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Seriously, can anyone help me out and list some things that they feel are important needs for a wife to have met? (Besides the basic physical needs like having a place to live, food, etc)
The NUMBER ONE need to have met is the need to be respected as your husband's partner, as his equal. If he TRULY gets this, then he will KNOW how to treat you correctly. And he'll do it.

Think of a 50/50 partner in a business setting; would one partner expect the other to fetch coffee, answer all the phones, do the boring/difficult/laborious work so the other wouldn't have to? NO! That is an office 'boy' or a lackey.

Would one partner spend $10,000 without consulting the other partner? NO! It is both of their investment.

Would one partner decide to move the business to another state without consulting the other partner?

Would one partner be jealous if the other partner landed a big account (or, like you, enjoyed their job)? NO! He would realize that they both WIN when the business (the marriage) does well!

While I respect EleGirl's right to her own opinion, I totally disagree with it!

1.) Check online for traits of narcissism. I believe your husband has it. It is a personality disorder, he can't "fix" it (and he won't WANT to).
Both of you will need to change to meet each other's needs.
THAT is the flaw in her advice; he WON'T change; he won't WANT to change. He's perfectly happy now; he thinks he's ALWAYS right; if you're unhappy with his perfectly happy life, that just proves you're stupid (he'll try to educate you) OR you're just being stubborn thus his ANGER at your depression. This is the way narcissists think.

2.) Divorce DOES solve problems when you're living with people who have mental diseases or personality disorders. If there are no 'cures', no 'fixes', then you either suck it up forever (at risk to YOUR mental/emotional stability) OR you get out.
Divorce generally does not solve problems.. it just creates more of them and you left living on a lot less. It also seriously damages the children.
The following problems of yours WILL be solved by divorcing him:
  • problem of being treated disrespectfully by someone who cannot mentally grasp that it is disrespectful
  • living with someone who does not comprehend that YOU have 'real' feelings and that those feelings matter JUST AS MUCH as his
  • H modeling INAPPROPRIATE male behavior on how to be a man and how to be a husband
  • You modeling INAPPROPRIATE female behavior on how to be a woman and an equal-partner wife
  • Financially you'll be fine as you make MORE money than he does and he WILL have to pay child support for your son
  • Your son must hurt to see the mother he loves treated so disrespectfully, and he must wonder about his mother who accepts such treatment
I know whereof I speak. My STBXH is a narcissist whom I left in May 2012 after 19yrs of marriage, 22yrs together and a 14yo child.

My life has NEVER been better in the last two decades! I am now treated respectfully, listened to, helped with work, inquired about, shared with, allowed to lead/follow, treated as intelligent, fun, competent. In short, I am enjoyed by family & friends as an adult worth respecting and enjoying. I am no longer in his servitude. I truly wish THE SAME for YOU and your son!
 

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I suggest you sit down firmly and let your husband know everything that you told us here.

In a relationship, if one person just takes and takes and the other does not fight back, in the end what you will get is your dynamic with your husband. You should have let your husband know exactly how you were feeling earlier and see if he could maybe change instead of silently suffering and grinning and bearing i as you call it.

That is his inherent personality and he probably saw no wrong as being the man of the house and he probably has insecurity that you are making more money than him and that causes him to overcompensate other behaviors.

You need to make drastic and very apparent changes now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I don't think he qualifies as a true narcissistic personality. He doesn't like being the center of attention, except at home; he's not charming or outgoing, he doesn't think highly of his physical appearance, he doesn't lie to get people to give him what he wants, etc.

He does have a mild form of Bipolar type 2, which he isn't treating because he says the meds don't help anyway and make him "fat". He's been on and off meds for 10 years, off for the past 7 months, and I can't say any of them changed things for the good that much, honestly.

I'd say he's just more egocentric and/or emotionally immature, maybe passive aggressive. Whatever the case, I'm tired of trying to diagnose him and find ways to explain or excuse his behavior. I've been super supportive of him when he has tried to do things to take better care of himself, like dieting, taking medications, getting a c-pap machine, etc. All of which he has failed to follow through on and has given up on. He says only by "some miracle" will his health ever change for the better. He stopped going to counseling for his Bipolar symptoms after a few sessions because he started feeling like he was "getting blamed" for things by the therapist that he didn't agree with.

I believe he truly operates emotionally like a child does: they want their way NOW and have no ability to have emotional empathy for others. All kids do this, until they grow up and learn to have to consider others' feelings and needs, not just their own. My husband never fully matured emotionally. People on the outside see him as intelligent, professional, responsible, kind, etc. And he is...but no one sees him on the emotional level that I do.
 

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I don't think he qualifies as a true narcissistic personality. He doesn't like being the center of attention, except at home; he's not charming or outgoing, he doesn't think highly of his physical appearance, he doesn't lie to get people to give him what he wants, etc.
Waking, I agree with Slowly that you may be describing moderate to strong traits of a personality disorder. I also agree with her that you are describing some narcissistic traits. I nonetheless agree with you that you do not seem to be describing a narcissist. I say this primarily based on information you revealed after Slowly made her comment, which drew more info out of you. Specifically, you describe your H as exhibiting the following behaviors:

  • Verbal abuse;
  • Temper tantrums;
  • Very controlling nature;
  • Black-white thinking, wherein he categorizes everyone as "all good" or "all bad;"
  • Rapid flips between loving you and devaluing you;
  • "Behaves as though he has a right to have his needs met 100% of the time, and that I should automatically anticipate his every need;"
  • Lack of impulse control;
  • "emotionally immature" -- "operates emotionally like a child does: they want their way NOW;" and
  • Has "no ability to have emotional empathy for others."
Significantly, these are classic traits of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), which my exW has. The hallmark of BPD traits is having a stunted emotional development that leaves one with poor control over his emotions. This is not to say, however, that he cannot control his actions. Even a four year old can control his actions when he chooses to do so, i.e., when he has an incentive to do so.
He does have a mild form of Bipolar type 2
A recent study of nearly 35,000 American adults found that 47% -- almost half -- of the men exhibiting bipolar-2 traits in the past 12 months ALSO suffer from full-blown BPD. See Table 2 at Prevalence, Correlates, Disability, and Comorbidity of DSM-IV Borderline Personality Disorder: Results from the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.
I'm walking on eggshells around him [from your "Chronic Anger" thread].
It is important to stop doing that. There is a reason that the #1 best-selling BPD book (targeted to abused spouses like you) is called Stop Walking on Eggshells.
Is seen outside the family as being "intelligent, professional, responsible, kind, etc. And he is...but no one sees him on the emotional level that I do.
The vast majority of BPDers are "high functioning," which means they typically get along just fine with casual friends, business associates, neighbors, and total strangers. Importantly, NONE of those people pose a threat to the HF BPDer's two great fears: abandonment and engulfment. There is no close relationship that can be abandoned and no intimacy that can cause engulfment. That all changes, of course, if they make the mistake of trying to draw close to him. This is why BPDers typically have no close long-term friends (unless they live a long distance away).
But I don't feel that he loves me for ME as an individual person. I feel like his approval of me is always based on his assessment of how well I do as a wife and mom according to his preconceived expectations.
Whereas a narcissist or sociopath is incapable of loving, a BPDer is able to love you -- albeit in the immature way that young children are able to love, where "I love you" largely means "I desperately need you to love me." Moreover, despite their ability to love you, BPDers cannot consistently remain in touch with that love. Instead, they will flip back and forth between loving you and devaluing you -- sometimes splitting you white and sometimes black.

As to his not loving you as "an individual person," I believe it would be more accurate to say a BPDer likely does love aspects of the real you but, like a four year old, is incapable of doing so consistently or in a mature manner. Further, as you well know, your H cannot stand to be around you very long if you behave true to yourself. This is why you've been walking on eggshells -- not being your true self -- for so many years that you may have forgotten who the "real you" is.
I'm tired of trying to diagnose him.
You shouldn't even try. Only a professional can diagnose BPD (i.e., determine whether his BPD traits meet 100% of the diagnostic criteria for having full-blown BPD). Yet, even when the traits fall far below that diagnostic level, they still can be strong enough to destroy a marriage and make your life miserable.

At issue, then, is whether your H has most BPD traits at a moderate to strong level -- i.e., traits that are sufficiently strong to be undermining your marriage. Significantly, I don't know the answer to that question. I've never even met the man.

I nonetheless am confident that you can spot such strong traits when you know what traits to look for. There is a world of difference between diagnosing your H (which only professionals can do) and spotting red flags, i.e., recognizing strong occurrences of the traits. There is nothing subtle about BPD traits such as verbal abuse, temper tantrums, and fear of abandonment.

The reason that such traits are so easy to spot is that we all know what they look like from both the inside and outside. Every adult on the planet occasionally exhibits all nine of the basic BPD traits, albeit at a low level if the person is healthy. This is why BPD is called a "spectrum disorder," which means everyone has all of the traits to some degree. These traits arise from primitive ego defenses that we all need to survive childhood -- and continue to occasionally need throughout adulthood.

At issue, then, is NOT whether your H has BPD traits. Of course he does. We ALL do. Instead, as I noted above, the issue is whether he has them at a moderate to strong level, which would interfere with his ability to sustain close LTRs like a marriage.
I'm tired of trying to... find ways to explain or excuse his behavior.
Finding out whether he has strong BPD traits will do absolutely nothing to EXCUSE his bad behaviors. As I noted earlier, even a four year old is able to control his temper tantrums when he wants to do so, i.e., when he has an incentive to do so. Hence, if your H has moderate to strong BPD traits, it is important -- for his own welfare -- that he be allowed to suffer the logical consequences of his own bad actions. This means that the walking on eggshells you've been doing is harmful to him. It is enabling him to continue behaving like a four year old -- and GET AWAY WITH IT.

As to your claim that you no longer need to EXPLAIN his behavior to yourself, I strongly disagree. For one thing, understanding what it is you are dealing with will go a LONG WAYS to helping you get rid of the crippling guilt that is keeping you mired in a toxic relationship. Once you understand that all your efforts to sooth and calm him are actually harming him by enabling his behavior to continue, the guilt of leaving will be greatly reduced.

Another reason for understanding him is that, if you've been living with a BPDer for 16 years, you almost certainly are an excessive caregiver (i.e., "codependent") like me. You therefore are at risk of running away from your H right into the arms of another man just like him -- if you don't understand what you are dealing with.

The most important reason for obtaining an explanation, however, is your 14 year old son. As you concede, "I do worry about how this impacts my teenage son." Although it is unlikely your H has passed his issues -- whatever they are -- onto your son, it nonetheless is a possibility. BPD traits, for example, typically do not start showing strongly until the early- or mid-teens. And bipolar mood swings typically do not start until the late teens.

I therefore suggest that you see a psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you and your son have been dealing with. Because strong BPD traits are a possibility, your best chance of obtaining a candid view of your H's issues is to see a professional who is ethically bound to protect YOUR best interests, not his. Therapists generally are loath to tell a BPDer -- much less his W -- the name of his disorder (for her own protection). This is why I recommend that you see YOUR OWN psychologist to obtain a candid assessment of what you are dealing with. Hopefully, the counselor you have already seen once is a psychologist (i.e., has a PhD in the field).

I further suggest that, while you're waiting for your next appointment, you read about BPD traits to see if most sound very familiar. An easy place to start reading is my description of them in Maybe's thread at My list of hell!. If that description rings a bell, I would be glad to discuss it with you and point you to good online resources. Take care, Waking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Uptown - thank you for your extremely insightful post. Actually I have wondered on occasion if my H fits the BPD description. I plan to do more reading on it tonight. But your explainations make perfect sense. Your point about his two greatest fears, abandonment and engulfment, is spot-on. He has a great fear of abandonment, and no matter what I have done to try to reassure him that I want to support him, help him, I'm on his side, etc, he still manages to turn things around on me that make it seem like I don't support him, I don't care about him, I don't value his needs. Honestly that couldn't be farther from the truth, and the fact that he behaves that way sometimes is frustrating beyond words. But it makes sense based on your description of the abandonment issue.

The thing about having no close friends is absolutely true. I have made the concious realization that at in one way or another, most of his relationships with his family and friends have failed. He became really good friends with a nice man who shared a similar interest. At first they talked on the phone for hours every week (his wife and I would joke that they were like teenagers in love!). Then, as it always happens, they got into some argument about something my H assumed was his friend trying to tell him what to do or use him for something. My H was way out of line. Eventually, they started talking again (thank goodness this friend is forgiving), but they've never been as close since. And he does live 1 1/2 hours away, so that is in line with the "unless they live a long distance away" comment. He has also managed to nearly alienate all of his 4 brothers and their wives in the past over my H blowing up at them for some perceived shortcoming or failure on their part. I like his family more than he does, and honestly if it weren't for me and our son, they would've probably just written him off a long time ago.

I will get a copy of the book you suggested. Thanks for giving me some direction. Everything you said really helps me to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together and gives me hope that I can figure out how to handle our relationship better, or to make the decision to remove myself and my son from this currently toxic relationship. Either way, hopefully I can find the peace of mind I've been desperately searching for.
 

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Everything you said really helps me to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together and gives me hope that I can figure out how to handle our relationship better, or to make the decision to remove myself and my son from this currently toxic relationship.
Waking, I'm glad to hear you found the information useful. In the age of Google and the Internet, knowing the name of a common set of dysfunctional behaviors unlocks a world of online resources and support groups. Given that you believe your H exhibits strong BPD traits, I offer several more suggestions:

As an initial matter, I recommend that you NOT tell him. If he does have strong BPD traits, he almost certainly will project the accusation right back onto you, believing YOU to be the BPDer. And, because projection works entirely at the subconscious level, he will genuinely be convinced you have the strong BPD traits.

Instead of telling him of your suspicions, simply encourage him to see a good psychologist (not a MC) and let the psych decide what to tell him. Sadly, there is little chance he will go and, if he does, there is little chance he will stay in therapy long enough to make a difference.

Second, if you ever decide to divorce him, I suggest you read Splitting: Protecting Yourself when Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist. It is written by the same author of the Stop Walking on Eggshells book.

Third, I suggest you start participating (or at least lurking) at BPDfamily.com -- the largest and most active BPD forum I've found that is devoted fully to the spouses and family members of BPDers. This issue is such an enormous problem that that website is growing by 20 new members every day. The result is that it offers eight separate message boards on various BPD issues. The ones that likely will be most helpful to you are the "Staying" board, "Leaving" board, and "Raising a Child when One Parent Has BPD" board.

Fourth, while you are at BPDfamily.com, I suggest you read the excellent articles in their resources section. My favorite is "Surviving a Breakup with Someone with BPD" at T9 Surviving a Break-up with Someone Suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder - Columbia University, New York.

Finally, please don't forget those of us on this TAM forum. We want to keep trying to answer your questions and providing emotional support as long as you find our shared experiences helpful. Moreover, by sharing your own experiences here, you likely are helping many other members and lurkers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
He saw a psych many years ago after I urged him to do SOMETHING to address his anger/depression. At first, the only thing I could get him to do was to go to the family doctor. He tried a few meds, but they had terrible side effects. So I again suggested a psych (meaning I researched who to go to, made sure our insurance covered it, made the appointment for him), and he did go. On his initial visit he was dx'd with Bipolar 2, based mostly on the lengthy questionnaire he filled out according to H. He started him on medication and my H went back a few times for medication follow ups. Then the psych moved out of town. My H was referred to another psych, whom my H did NOT like at all, as he constantly pressured my H to "try to find his faith in God". So eventually he just returned to his primary care doctor to keep refilling the same med that the initial psych started him on. No one since that initial visit with the 1st psych has ever bothered to re-evaluate my H's symptoms and confirm the initial dx of Bipolar 2. He was referred to a psychologist by the 2nd psychiatrist. He went a few times, then quit going because he felt like the therapist was blaming him for things that weren't his fault. Eventually he quit the meds too, saying they don't help much anyway (I have to agree).

So, now, how to bring up the idea of his seeing yet another psych...I feel defeated already.
 

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So, now, how to bring up the idea of his seeing yet another psych...I feel defeated already.
If your H has strong BPD traits, a team of psychologists won't make a bit of difference if he doesn't have a very strong desire to obtain therapy. Some low functioning BPDers are so utterly miserable and in such pain that they desperately want to find out what is wrong with them.

The vast majority of BPDers, however, are high functioning. With them, it is rare for a BPDer to be willing to stay in therapy. Therapist Shari Schreiber says you have a better chance flying to the moon strapped to a banana than ever seeing a BPDer stay in therapy long enough to make a difference.

Moreover, even when you persuade them to stay in weekly therapy -- as I did with my exW for 15 years with 6 psychologists -- they likely will only play mind games with the therapists. Therapy is so uncomfortable and painful for BPDers that it is rare for a BPDer to have the self awareness and ego strength to confront his own issues and work hard on learning how to manage them.

Toward that end, I spent over $200,000 on weekly therapy visits and medications for my BPDer exW, all to no avail. Indeed, she actually got worse because, as the years went by, she became increasingly resentful of my inability to make her happy.

So, yes, if your H is a BPDer and your objective is to persuade him to fix himself, you likely are "defeated already." You have absolutely no control over him and he has shown no interest in remaining in therapy. I therefore strongly suggest you change your objective to healing yourself and protecting your son.
 
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