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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I've posted elsewhere on this forum about coping with my wife's rage. When she gets angry -- and this happens with increasing frequency -- she's like a different person.

The typical routine goes something like this: yelling and screaming, threats, trashing my stuff (computer, clothing, gifts she's given me, etc), and, often, punching or kicking me. It's pretty nasty stuff.

I've never considered myself a "doormat" and this is the first time I've ever experienced anything like this in a relationship.

Needless to say, it's unbelievably stressful.

Over the years I've read some excellent books on managing yourself in stressful interpersonal situations. To that end, I will ask my wife "Talk to me about what you're feeling." I avoid making "You..." statements in favor of "I don't feel great when you yell at me."

That's been moderately effective. But it doesn't seem to help much anymore.

Here's what I don't get: During our calm moments we've set boundaries/expectations for each other. For example, I won't use any kind of accusatory or blaming language when we're upset and my wife isn't allowed to hit me or trash my stuff.

Only problem is, my stuff is still getting trashed and I'm still getting hit.

We agreed that the consequences of violating these shared boundaries/expectations would be taking 20 minutes to cool off separately or, in the the event of physical abuse, leaving the house.

When I try to honor those consequences my wife goes from bad to worse: accuses me of neglecting and abandoning her, threatening self-harm, putting our pets in dangerous situations. It's awful.

I know there's nothing I can do to "make" my wife observe our boundaries. That's her choice.

And although there has been no formal diagnosis my wife does seem to display BPD traits -- which may or may not be playing a part here.

For those of you who have gone through similar situations -- either on the giving or receiving end of things -- does it get any better? If I consistently observe the consequences of violating our boundaries is there a chance that can help to get us on the right path?

I am just so frustrated. I feel as though I've been robbed and cheated out of the life and marriage my wife and I deserve.
 

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The consequence for her trashing your belongings is to take 20 minutes to cool off separately or leaving the house for physical violence? What a deal for her!

The only way she will stop trashing your things and the physcial violence is if you call 911 and she is arrested and charged with domestic violence. When she is charged with domestic violence she should be made to take classes in anger management. This is the only way it might get better.

Personally... I think you should divorce her. I cannot advise anyone to stay in a situation where there is violence... and breaking things is violence.

I know a woman who was like this. She 'accidently' killed her husband by hiting him in the head with a telephone (land line type). She went to prison for murder.
 

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Yes..I have to agree.
It sounds more like a domestic violence doesn't it?

If it is then, they do say that things would normally get worse over time. Essentially, you are her emotional punch bag so long as you live in the same place as she does. Does she really love you?

If she decided to marry you for any other reasons than loving you then that may/might explain why she seems so profoundly unhappy? I do not believe there's a quick fix for violent behavior. I realize that marriage is not easy for anyone and if someone is very immature, then it simply does not work...

I hear Korean women are very strong willed and they are very proud. Perhaps, she's unhappy but is too proud to tell you..?

Good luck and stay safe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for you responses, EleGirl and Omegaa.

It's been a challenging first year of marriage, that's for sure. There are some cultural aspects at play here. For example, it's not uncommon for Koreans to physically hit each other in jest or out of frustration.

That said, I've made it EXPLICITLY clear that I give no one the right to use physical violence against me. I have not and would not so much as raise my hand in anger at my wife.

What bothers me most is just the utter lack of respect I feel she shows for me when she gets angry. And then this inability or refusal to honor our agreement re: boundaries and consequences.

I don't know. Lord knows I'm not perfect but I also don't believe that I, or anyone else, should be treated this way.

I'm also a big enough boy to know that marriage isn't going to be all fun all the time. It takes work. I get that. I just hate the fact that at only 12 months in I'm worried that the work I put into our marriage has become an exercise in diminishing returns.

I do love my wife. And not in some co-dependant "What will I do without you???" sort of way. I'm trying to actively love her.

But it's not easy. And I worry that it will only grow more difficult moving forward.
 

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I don't understand why you even consider staying with your wife. You know she is abusing you on so many levels. She is not going to stop. You are in a very bad situation and really do need to get out of it.

Don't you see this?
 

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Your boundaries AND their consequences are all wrong.

A boundary is like this: You won't trash my computer.

A consequence is like this: If you trash my computer, I'm taking your computer and giving it to Aunt Nelda.

The consequences have to actually MATTER to her.

When it comes to physical assault, you need to start calling the cops and let THEM deal with her anger. THAT will get her attention.

You're dealing with a two year old. Do you let your two year old get away with destroying your stuff or hitting you?
 

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That said, I've made it EXPLICITLY clear that I give no one the right to use physical violence against me.
What bothers me most is just the utter lack of respect I feel she shows for me when she gets angry.
:rofl:

Why on earth should she even listen to you?

You 'say' that you give no one the right...but she just went and TOOK THE RIGHT, didn't she? Your words are meaningless.

And she knows it.

She's waiting for you to man up and stop accepting it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Although I appreciate the comments I have to take exception with this idea of "manning up".

I believe first and foremost a man honors his commitments. I made a commitment to my wife and I'm doing the best I can to honor it.

Do I see what she's doing?

I'm not blind. I see what she's doing. And it fills me with dread. Am I going to sit around and take it for years? No, I am not. But I don't want to just bail after the first twelve months either.

Maybe my boundaries and consequences are all wrong. I've never dealt with anything like this before and I'm navigating it to the best of my ability. I'm doing the best I can.

It's a rotten place to find our marriage.

Involving the police is an option although in Korean culture that is far more difficult than it would be in America. Again, different cultural norms. Not to mention how emasculating it feels as a man to complain about domestic violence.

Beyond involving the authorities, are there any other suggestions for setting and observing boundaries?

Thanks again for all of your responses.
 

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Beyond involving the authorities, are there any other suggestions for setting and observing boundaries?
Hi It's understandable that you'd rather "mend" this problem and move forward with her..

I'm not sure if you are aware of what you are "really" up and against yet..you may be too involved to "see" this clearly. Love makes you blind somewhat..

Obviously, you do not want to be another "statistic" for D and you would not take D lightly AFTER you made that commitment?

I'm not sure how old you two are (sorry if I missed this before), there are problems in life no one can solve no matter what you do and how well intended you really are (I believe you are)...something is telling me that what you have got is one of these things....She has a major issue. It may be best if you do not try to solve it yourself.

Perhaps, you might be worried about her reaction if she finds out you might be leaving her. If you decide to go, leave when she's not around to avoid unnecessary drama. This is for your own safety as well... Gather important paperwork, belongings so that she won't destroy them. Make exit plans whilst you try a little longer with her by all means.

Good luck and stay well,
 

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A good first boundary for you would be this: "Wife, I will not be yelled at. If you yell anyway, I will leave the room and you will be left alone." If she does, and you do leave the room, and she follows you to the next room, you turn and say "Wife, I told you I won't be yelled at; I'm leaving the house and I'll be back later. I hope you'll decide to stop yelling by the time I get back." And you leave. When you come back if she's just waiting for you so she can start up again, you go and fill a bag with clothes and toiletries, and you say "Wife, I told you I will not be yelled at. I'm going to a hotel for the night. I need to be away from you." And you then leave for the night. Rinse and repeat.
 

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A good first boundary for you would be this: "Wife, I will not be yelled at. If you yell anyway, I will leave the room and you will be left alone." If she does, and you do leave the room, and she follows you to the next room, you turn and say "Wife, I told you I won't be yelled at; I'm leaving the house and I'll be back later. I hope you'll decide to stop yelling by the time I get back." And you leave. When you come back if she's just waiting for you so she can start up again, you go and fill a bag with clothes and toiletries, and you say "Wife, I told you I will not be yelled at. I'm going to a hotel for the night. I need to be away from you." And you then leave for the night. Rinse and repeat.
I really liked this when I first read it, but then I realized that she is threatening self-harm. From what I've learned with research on my wife's matters, any threat of self-harm should not be taken lightly. In a lot of cases, its enough to commit to a mandatory 72 hour hospitalization.

Leaving for the night could have permanent consequences - on his wife, kids, pets, or a combination thereof. If any of those are a concern, I don't think you can leave her alone.

My wife and I are going through a rough time at the moment, and I'm struggling to get her into a psych due to scheduling. She is exhibiting BPD symptoms in the worst way.

Hope you find your solution. Whenever this happens, it might help for you to seriously ask yourself, "Why am I putting up with this?"
 

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Tunera had a good suggestion above. What she says to do has to be done at when she first raises her voice and/or uses violence. I used this technique successfully on my son's father who was verbally and pyscially abusive. It took about 6 months for him to vealize that I was really not going to stick around for his angry outbursts any more.

I also told him before starting to use this that I was going to leave when he got out of hand. And that it's his responsibility to calm himself down.

There are good books on anger management. Maybe you could get some of them and work with her on it. I know that amazon.com has many books on the topic. They should have books for both the abuser and the abused.
 

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I really liked this when I first read it, but then I realized that she is threatening self-harm. From what I've learned with research on my wife's matters, any threat of self-harm should not be taken lightly. In a lot of cases, its enough to commit to a mandatory 72 hour hospitalization.
There is only ONE way to deal with a person who threatens self-harm - whether it's a real threat OR a manipulation: CALL THE AUTHORITIES and let them deal with her. EVERY TIME. That way, she'll be documented and a real risk can be dealt with, and if it's not real, she'll be facing her very own consequence of having to explain to authorities and will learn soon enough to stop doing it.
 

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It can help to plan ahead. One question - are you on good terms with your in-laws?

Your wife does sound like she has BPD tendencies and a tendency towards abusive behavior. I would guess that she is accustomed to boundaries along the lines of:
'If you hit/yell at me, I will hit/yell at you and eventually beat you unconscious.' - adapting to different boundaries will be challenging for her - particularly because leaving confrontations feels like abandonment. My own experience with my Korean wife is that her father beating her to the ground left her far less shaken than me walking out of the house.* Those boundaries are tempting for some women because they can avoid being responsible for their own emotional control.

So, the problems are emotional abuse, property damage, physical abuse, self-harm, and danger to pets.

Emotional abuse and physical abuse are pretty easily dealt with by leaving - possibly for extended periods. You will most likely need a nearby place to stay to minimize disruption. If she is a consistent danger to the pets, my inclination would be to set up a second apartment and move the pets there. Similar for any valuable personal property. It will help to clearly communicate - beforehand and while leaving - a schedule and reassurance that you are not divorcing her, just leaving for the good of the R/S.

Self-harm is tricky - and I would be inclined to call the authorities or, possibly, her parents. Korea has fairly co-dependent expectations of care, so this is tricky - the culture encourages a fair amount of unhealthy behavior - she'll have a legitimate complaint from her perspective if you walk out on her. Your in-laws are potentially quite helpful - as my FIL explained, first, that they wouldn't take my wife back, and, second, that any normal Korean man would simply have killed or crippled her. (DV statistics in Korea are scary...most reported DV involves hospitalization or permanent injury (well, according to a DV thesis I checked out once).)

If she wants you to move back, you can negotiate behavior and milestones. If she doesn't, well, the thing is that if you have real boundaries you can't stay in a R/S with someone who consistently violates your core boundaries - even if you love her. And, from her perspective, living with a man who deals with violent confrontation by walking away may not be worth adapting to.

OTOH, running really quickly would also be a perfectly sane option - your R/S is fairly toxic - independent of who is at fault. Personally, I've given things a shot and they're improving - quickly at first and more gradually now - but the only guarantee is a lot of unpleasantness and hard work - more work than it'd take to start over with someone else.

--Argyle
*Guess which consequence was followed by a level-voiced apology for her behavior and which one was followed by incoherent sobbing and screams of terror...and several days of extreme clutchiness and begging for mercy. And, actually, begging for a punch instead of abandonment next time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks to everyone for their comments. And a special thanks to Argyle for adding his two cents.

I think that unless you have lived in another culture it is difficult to fully appreciate just pronounced cultural differences can be.

What sounds absolutely bonkers to an American might just be Tuesday evening here in Korea. The inverse applies as well.

That said, I believe there are things that are universally right and wrong -- regardless of one's native culture. Domestic violence is a prime example.

Alas, the majority of Koreans (at least the ones I've had any experience with) don't tend to take that view. Domestic violence of all stripes is sadly routine.

Although my wife gets it intellectually that hitting me is wrong she is working through three decades of cultural programming that says there's nothing wrong with smacking another person in anger.

I don't expect other people to get this. Hell, as an American I don't get this.

But I married ALL of my wife -- even the parts I don't like. That doesn't mean I turn a blind eye for the rest of our lives together every time she does something that violates a core boundary.

But I am trusting her to be the best wife she can be. Just as she is trusting me to be the best husband I can be.

I hope and pray that our trust is well-founded. Time will tell.
 

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Well then, good luck with that. I hope you can convince her that her behavior it out of hand.

What matters in your marriage is what you and she feel is ok in your own home. Her cultural upbringing should have no more precedence than yours does. She is treating you in a way that you find unacceptable. Thus you are within your rights to tell her that she must stop or you will leave her.

The fact that you will not retaliate in kind leaves you wide up to more abuse. Often time in cultures that allow more physical violence, a passive man is seen as weak. He’s not seen as a kind loving man. You are probably dealing with this in her. She and her violent anger has free reign since you will not put a stop to it.

(I’m not a typical American as I spent a good part of my youth living in a culture that is very violent. I get what you are talking about. In such societies men usually rule in their own home and set the rules.)
 

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Hi, I was with someone like this for the last 4 years. He would just blow a fuse over nothing, storm out, trash something etc.. then get all emotional and blackmail me.

We did see a counselor and it was even worse.

I eventually went to a women's shelter for a few sessions and was told that marriage counselling is not advised in these situations (not sure if true or not)..
Depending on which day you ask my soon stbx he is either totally to blame and has anger issues or he was just stressed etc. Meaning can't take full responsibility.
BTW I married an American born Muslim, so I get the culture thing... but it will get old, and fast..
Trust me.

Things will happen in your life that will cause you a lot of stress (illness, death of parent, children).. what is she going to do then?

Your wife needs to go to counselling alone IMO or it won't work. You are not her counselor and should not be responsible for constantly talking her down.

As for the 20 min cool off.. that is what the counselor told us to do, never worked.
I stayed in this for 4 years and developed a terrible self image, even got bullied into quitting my job, I am now having to deal with his emotions and erratic financial behavior (and hire a lawyer Monday).

So ask HER to get help, or get out. Seriously.
 

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...problem with marriage counseling and DV is that counseling is stressful and usually triggers episodes. Definitely true. More problematic when the male is the abuser.

'Emotionally Abusive Relationship'
and
'High Conflict Couple'

are decent R/S books.

This is probably not applicable to you, but might be - and I'd have liked to hear it a few years back... Also, seriously, (because this surprised me) consider Aspergers in addition to BPD. My wife started out with a BPD diagnosis (which probably was accurate) - but definitely has strong Aspie traits. I'm not qualified to diagnose, but did observe that (a) she had an awful lot in common with diagnosed Aspies and that (b) several diagnosed Aspies ended up giving her social skills and empathy advice.

Overall, I haven't found a consequence more effective than walking out. Consequential humiliation is also useful. (Eg, the part where her next door neighbor, family, in-laws, or best friend watches the pets while she's raging.)

--Argyle
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hello all,

As always, thanks for offering support and advice.

We had a great week and then without warning everything fell apart Sunday evening. That's typically how it goes, sadly, and I've learned to temper my hope with caution and moderate expectations.

This most recent episode was an opportunity to honor some boundaries I'd communicated to her a few weeks back.

It wasn't easy. My wife seems to resent these boundaries (taking 20 minutes alone to cool off, or leaving the house altogether) as she views them as manipulative, neglectful, and abusive.

She seems unwilling or unable at this point to understand that boundaries are not something I impose on HER, but rather a way for ME to honor MYSELF.

Given her personal history and Korean culture I can empathize with her struggles to see where I'm coming from.

Although my wife has not been diagnosed with BPD she does seem to display strong BPD traits. The book "Stop Walking on Eggshells" has been a source of encouragement over the last couple of weeks.

I am far from a perfect husband -- or person. I make mistakes. Sometimes my behavior is unlovable. I take ownership of that. However, I don't feel that I'm the engine driving our routine conflict. I think my wife is working through (or not as the case may be) serious issues from an abusive childhood.

Until she chooses to address these issues -- either through therapy, counselling, books, or a combination of these -- I don't expect our marriage to be consistently stable. The roller coaster will roll on.

As far as I know I'm not a masochist. I don't enjoy drama. And while I would LOVE to be able to vanquish whatever demons plague my wife I know I'm not her knight in shining armor.

My wife is the only one who can "fix" whatever ails her. I'll cheer her on, offer support and encouragement, and do what I can to help -- I recognize my responsibilities...and limitations.

For now life will be lived in "dream deferred" mode. I want kids. Clearly, that would be more than irresponsible right now -- it would be cruel. I would like to be able to make long term plans together without this aching, gnawing fear that we won't make it to the weekend -- let alone a few years -- without some major, relationship destroying incident.

But that's not reality right now.

Why stay together? It's a good question and one I revisit regularly. I choose to stay with my wife because I love her, I want to honor my commitment to her, and I believe in her.

But I'm not blind. We are not in a sustainable relationship. If things show no signs of change what good would persisting like this do?

We'll see what the future brings. For now I want to do the best that I can to be a good husband to her.

Again, thanks to everyone for chiming in.
 
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