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Discussion Starter #1
Here's my story:

I met my wife at age 20, she was 33, recently seperated, and had two kids. I am now her third husband and we have a three year old toghether in addition to the older kids who are now young teens. She comes from a family of dominant women and her mother is also on her third husband.

When we first moved toghether she was working and i was in school. She paid all the bills and pretty much ran the roost at home. Through the years, the balance of income changed up until about three years years ago where she ended up working two days a week and i'm gone two weeks solid per month.

Now i'm 29 and she is going on 42. I have changed alot in the last few years and have gone from being a young man/kid to a grown up. I bought our house, I provide for all of us except for the groceries and electric bill. My wife also contributes to the house hold in addition to being an excellent mom.

Here's where the chain falls off for me: My wife is still trying to rule the roost, and is disrepectful. I find myself in constant competition with her about all sorts of petty things. She will try to pull rank, tell me what to do, and then check up on my work later to then criticize it. Her cover is "well it needs to be done this way, why can't you help me".

Adittionally, she will go from the happy end of the spectrum to narcisistic and even beligerant in less than five minutes. She is incredibly moody. When she is moody she constantly tries to find things to get upset about.

I don't put up with it. I tell her that I disagree after which she falls into this narcisistic spiral where she talk to herself out loud about how terrible her life is and how unsupportive a husband she has. I have the attitude of "whatever she does I must do the right thing". So i spend time on the kids I cook and occasionally help her clean the house. In adittion I do all the "man stuff" such as housework, construction and fixing our cars.

My occupation is listed as the one of the most dangerous and stressfull jobs in the country but I have not been asked once about it recent memory. Conversation is allways about how I can help her with her tasks at home and how stressful her life is and for the most part I oblige. I understand the relentnessness nature of being at home with the kids but I don't get the resentment and disrespect from her side.

The worst part though is the disrespect. Last time at home we were having an argument, in summary it went like this:

Wife: (pissed) you are selfish, I worked today and you didn't even make dinner...

Me: I offered to make dinner but you said the kids were fine and that you didn't wan't any yourself.

Wife: well, I didn't want to feed the kids that non-organic crap chicken and rice dish you usually make.

Me: (pissed) You are about to feed them buttered ravioli for the third night in a row and you are knocking home cooked chicken with whole graine rice and peas!?!

Wife: (beligerant) I do a damn good job of taking care of my kids. They like cheese ravioli!

Me: (pissed) they like pop-tarts too but that doesn't mean we should feed them that!

Wife: **** YOU!!! (now screaming in my face so close that i could feel her teath on my nose) I HATE YOU!!!

Me: Silent.

All this happened in front of my three year old. I know i could have been more sensitive and beat around the bush but the fact is that she cannot handle it when i disagree with her ways. Her way is the right way and I better do it like she does, and when I do it isn't good enough.

I'm thinking that one problem could be the age difference she often pulls rank on subjects because of her age. Even though she may not have much knowledge on the subject she will claim that due to hear age and empirical experience she knows best.


If I push hard enough on a subject ,and provided that i'm right, she settles down and will adopt my idea. But I don't want to go through life with a combative, ultra-testy, explosive spouse. I'm not enjoying this and I have one foot out the door. We have gone to counseling for three sessions but all the MC did was to take notes. I don't know if thats normal but neither of us have the time for three sessions of no help or pointers.

I have had a talk with her about how important it is for a man to feel respected. How I value traditional family dynamics of a man of the house (not a tyrant but a leader and provider), A mother and kids. How I feel that those roles are equal but different. I think that she likes the feminist way though. I may not be man enough to change that around. I don't know if anyone is.
 

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3 sessions might not be enough. To me respect is the most important thing in a marriage. You have to learn to communicate better. It seems this is something she might not have learned in the 3 marriages. At therapy let it all out. Be 100% honest. You need a wife, she's not your mother.
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She is incredibly moody. When she is moody she constantly tries to find things to get upset about....But I don't want to go through life with a combative, ultra-testy, explosive spouse. ...I think that she likes the feminist way though.
Aeirum, I believe the "feminist way" is not your problem. Given that your W has no drug problem, the two most likely causes for being "incredibly moody" are strong traits of either bipolar disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I therefore suggest you see a psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you and your kids are dealing with.

I am not a psychologist but I do have experiences I can share with you. I lived with a BPDer exW for 15 years and took care of a bipolar foster son for longer than that. Moreover, I took both of them to a series of psychologists for 15 years. Based on those experiences, I have found ten clear differences between the two disorders.

One difference is that the mood swings are on two separate spectra having very different polar extremes. Whereas a bipolar sufferer swings between mania and depression, a BPDer flips back and forth between loving you and hating you. Significantly, you mention nothing about mania but you do mention her alternating between loving you and hating you.

A second difference is seen in the frequency of mood changes. Bipolar mood swings are very slow because they are caused by gradual changes in body chemistry. They are considered rapid if as many as four occur in a year. In contrast, four BPD mood changes can easily occur in four days, or even one day. The latter therefore seems consistent with your description of numerous temper tantrums.

A third difference is seen in duration. Whereas bipolar moods typically last a week or two, BPD rages typically last only a few hours (and rarely as long as 36 hours). Again, these short-duration rages seem consistent with with the tantrums you describe.

A fourth difference is seen in the speed with which the mood change develops. Whereas a bipolar change typically will build slowly over two weeks, a BPD change typically occurs in less than a minute -- often in only 10 seconds -- because it is event-triggered by some innocent comment or action. These event-triggered outbursts seem consistent with your statement that "she will go from the happy end of the spectrum to narcissistic and even beligerant in less than five minutes."

A fifth difference is that, whereas bipolar can be treated very successfully in at least 80% of victims by swallowing a pill, BPD cannot be managed by medication because it arises from childhood damage to the emotional core -- not from a change in body chemistry.

A sixth difference is that, whereas bipolar disorder can cause people to be irritable and obnoxious during the manic phase, it does not rise to the level of meanness and vindictiveness you see when a BPDer is splitting you black. That difference is HUGE: while a manic person may regard you as an irritation, a BPDer can perceive you as Hitler and will treat you accordingly. This seems consistent with your description of very hateful, spiteful behavior.

A seventh difference is that, whereas a bipolar sufferer is not usually angry, a BPDer is filled with anger that has been carried inside since early childhood. You only have to say or do some minor thing to trigger a sudden release of that anger -- which seems consistent with your description.

An eight difference is that a bipolar sufferer typically is capable of tolerating intimacy when he is not experiencing strong mania or depression. In contrast, BPDers have such a weak and unstable self image that (except for the brief infatuation period) they cannot tolerate intimacy for long before feeling engulfed and suffocated by your personality.

BPDers therefore will create arguments over nothing as a way to push you away and give them breathing room. Hence, it is not surprising that they tend to create the very worst arguments immediately following the very best of times, i.e., right after an intimate evening or a great weekend spent together. This need to get breathing room by creating arguments out of thin air seems consistent with your statement that "she constantly tries to find things to get upset about."

A ninth difference is that the thinking and behavior of a BPDer includes more mental departures from reality (called "dissociation") wherein "feelings create facts." That is, BPDers typically do not intellectually challenge their intense feelings. Instead, they accept them as accurately reflecting your intentions and motivations. In contrast, bipolar disorder tends to be more neurotic in that the mood swings tend to be based more on extreme exaggerations of fact, not the creation of "fact" out of thin air based solely on feelings. You mention nothing about this particular distinction, however.

Finally, a tenth difference is that a bipolar sufferer -- whether depressed or manic -- usually is able to trust you if he or she knows you well. Untreated BPDers, however, are unable to trust for an extended period. Before they can trust others, they must first learn how to trust and love themselves.

Although you do describe a W who doesn't trust your judgment, you say nothing about her not being able to trust your love and commitment. If she has strong BPD traits, she would have a strong fear of abandonment which usually shows up in unreasonable jealousy and controlling behavior. It also would show up in her trying to isolate you away from friends and family members, thus making it easier to control you. You mention nothing about that, however.

If most of this discussion about BPD traits rings a bell, you may want to look at my experiences with such traits in Maybe's thread. My post there is at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/33734-my-list-hell.html#post473522. If that description sounds very familiar, I would be glad to discuss it with you and point you to good online resources. Take care, Aeirum.
 

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Aeirum, I believe the "feminist way" is not your problem. Given that your W has no drug problem, the two most likely causes for being "incredibly moody" are strong traits of either bipolar disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I therefore suggest you see a psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you and your kids are dealing with.

I am not a psychologist but I do have experiences I can share with you. I lived with a BPDer exW for 15 years and took care of a bipolar foster son for longer than that. Moreover, I took both of them to a series of psychologists for 15 years. Based on those experiences, I have found ten clear differences between the two disorders.

One difference is that the mood swings are on two separate spectra having very different polar extremes. Whereas a bipolar sufferer swings between mania and depression, a BPDer flips back and forth between loving you and hating you. Significantly, you mention nothing about mania but you do mention her alternating between loving you and hating you.

A second difference is seen in the frequency of mood changes. Bipolar mood swings are very slow because they are caused by gradual changes in body chemistry. They are considered rapid if as many as four occur in a year. In contrast, four BPD mood changes can easily occur in four days, or even one day. The latter therefore seems consistent with your description of numerous temper tantrums.

A third difference is seen in duration. Whereas bipolar moods typically last a week or two, BPD rages typically last only a few hours (and rarely as long as 36 hours). Again, these short-duration rages seem consistent with with the tantrums you describe.

A fourth difference is seen in the speed with which the mood change develops. Whereas a bipolar change typically will build slowly over two weeks, a BPD change typically occurs in less than a minute -- often in only 10 seconds -- because it is event-triggered by some innocent comment or action. These event-triggered outbursts seem consistent with your statement that "she will go from the happy end of the spectrum to narcissistic and even beligerant in less than five minutes."

A fifth difference is that, whereas bipolar can be treated very successfully in at least 80% of victims by swallowing a pill, BPD cannot be managed by medication because it arises from childhood damage to the emotional core -- not from a change in body chemistry.

A sixth difference is that, whereas bipolar disorder can cause people to be irritable and obnoxious during the manic phase, it does not rise to the level of meanness and vindictiveness you see when a BPDer is splitting you black. That difference is HUGE: while a manic person may regard you as an irritation, a BPDer can perceive you as Hitler and will treat you accordingly. This seems consistent with your description of very hateful, spiteful behavior.

A seventh difference is that, whereas a bipolar sufferer is not usually angry, a BPDer is filled with anger that has been carried inside since early childhood. You only have to say or do some minor thing to trigger a sudden release of that anger -- which seems consistent with your description.

An eight difference is that a bipolar sufferer typically is capable of tolerating intimacy when he is not experiencing strong mania or depression. In contrast, BPDers have such a weak and unstable self image that (except for the brief infatuation period) they cannot tolerate intimacy for long before feeling engulfed and suffocated by your personality.

BPDers therefore will create arguments over nothing as a way to push you away and give them breathing room. Hence, it is not surprising that they tend to create the very worst arguments immediately following the very best of times, i.e., right after an intimate evening or a great weekend spent together. This need to get breathing room by creating arguments out of thin air seems consistent with your statement that "she constantly tries to find things to get upset about."

A ninth difference is that the thinking and behavior of a BPDer includes more mental departures from reality (called "dissociation") wherein "feelings create facts." That is, BPDers typically do not intellectually challenge their intense feelings. Instead, they accept them as accurately reflecting your intentions and motivations. In contrast, bipolar disorder tends to be more neurotic in that the mood swings tend to be based more on extreme exaggerations of fact, not the creation of "fact" out of thin air based solely on feelings. You mention nothing about this particular distinction, however.

Finally, a tenth difference is that a bipolar sufferer -- whether depressed or manic -- usually is able to trust you if he or she knows you well. Untreated BPDers, however, are unable to trust for an extended period. Before they can trust others, they must first learn how to trust and love themselves.

Although you do describe a W who doesn't trust your judgment, you say nothing about her not being able to trust your love and commitment. If she has strong BPD traits, she would have a strong fear of abandonment which usually shows up in unreasonable jealousy and controlling behavior. It also would show up in her trying to isolate you away from friends and family members, thus making it easier to control you. You mention nothing about that, however.

If most of this discussion about BPD traits rings a bell, you may want to look at my experiences with such traits in Maybe's thread. My post there is at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/33734-my-list-hell.html#post473522. If that description sounds very familiar, I would be glad to discuss it with you and point you to good online resources. Take care, Aeirum.
Thank you very much for taking the time to write this elaborate description. I must admit i have thought about the idea of a personality disorder. The thing that lead me away was the fact that the mood swings were almost exclusively directed at me. Whith the kids she is able to maintain a relatively even keel.

Is there such a thing as a selective personality disorder?
 

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The mood swings were almost exclusively directed at me. With the kids she is able to maintain a relatively even keel. Is there such a thing as a selective personality disorder?
Yes and No. My experience is that, no, the PD itself is not selective. Rather, it is the underlying FEAR that is selective. High functioning BPDers, for example, interact very well with casual friends, business associates, and total strangers. None of those people pose a threat to the BPDers' two great fears: abandonment and engulfment. There is no close LTR that can be abandoned and no intimacy to cause the suffocating feeling of engulfment.

This is why it is common for a HF BPDer to be considerate and caring all day long with total strangers and then go home at night to abuse the very people who love her. And this is why BPDers typically have no close long-term friends (unless they live a long distance away). When the casual friends try to draw close, they start triggering one of those two fears. The BPDer therefore eventually will push them away.

As to children, my experience is that HF BPDers usually do very well with young children -- but have much difficulty with the kids when they reach the rebellious age in the teens.

As to the "mood swings," such swings are characteristic of bipolar, as I discussed above. That's because bipolar moods typically change gradually in response to body chemistry swings. BPDers, however, do not exhibit such "swings" (unless they also have bipolar). Instead, BPDers flip suddenly. These mood "flips" are event triggered. Because a BPDer always has anger inside that has been carried from childhood, you don't have to do a thing to CREATE the anger. Rather, you only have to say or do some trivial thing that TRIGGERS the anger that is always there.

Aeirum, I caution that I am NOT trying to persuade you that your W has strong BPD traits. I don't know that she does. Indeed, I' ve never even met her. I am only trying to point you to resources that will help you spot any red flags that do exist for bipolar or BPD. Your safest course of action, of course, is to consult with a professional.
 

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Yes and No. My experience is that, no, the PD itself is not selective. Rather, it is the underlying FEAR that is selective. High functioning BPDers, for example, interact very well with casual friends, business associates, and total strangers. None of those people pose a threat to the BPDers' two great fears: abandonment and engulfment. There is no close LTR that can be abandoned and no intimacy to cause the suffocating feeling of engulfment. This is why it is common for a HF BPDer to be considerate and caring all day long with total strangers and then go home at night to abuse the very people who love her. And this is why BPDers typically have no close long-term friends (unless they live a long distance away). When the casual friends try to draw close, they start triggering one of those two fears. The BPDer therefore eventually will push them away.


As to children, my experience is that HF BPDers usually do very well with young children -- but have much difficulty with the kids when they reach the rebellious age in the teens.

Aeirum, I caution that I am NOT trying to persuade you that your W has strong BPD traits. I don't know that she does. Indeed, I' ve never even met her. I am only trying to point you to resources that will help you spot any red flags that do exist for bipolar or BPD. Your safest course of action, of course, is to consult with a professional.

Many of the things you said were very familiar to me. I think i may need to look into this more. If she had fear of abandonment, would'nt she throw a fit when i leave for a week at a time for work?
 

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If she had fear of abandonment, would'nt she throw a fit when i leave for a week at a time for work?
Not necessarily. Remember, a BPDer's two great fears lie at opposite ends of the VERY SAME SPECTRUM. This means that, as you back away from her to avoid her engulfment fear, you will necessarily be drawing closer to triggering her abandonment fear. Importantly, there is no Goldilocks position in the middle where you can avoid triggering both fears. I know because I spent 15 years looking for it -- to no avail.

This means a BPDer will often create fights to push you away because she needs "vacations" away from the intimacy that makes her feel engulfed. The result is that a BPDer could be very pleased with an arrangement where you periodically disappear for a week or two at a time.

At some point, of course, her abandonment fear would kick back in and she would start pulling you back into the relationship. (Although she cannot handle intimacy for very long, a BPDer nonetheless craves it just like everyone else does.)

Finally, I note that BPDers typically have difficulty with maintaining a sense of "object constancy." That is, they have difficulty realizing that they are still an important part of your life when you've been out of sight for very long. Because BPDers are emotionally unstable and they do so much flip flopping themselves, they don't realize that most peoples' feelings and personalities remain quite constant from day to day and week to week. I mention this because it is common, with BPDers, for them to sometimes sound distant and different on the phone when you are out of town.
 

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Here is another idea,

Why would a 35 year old woman want to marry a 22 year old unless she wanted a sub?

In therapy, when asked why she married me, she said I was this sweet person she fell in love with. However, she says i have grown hard and mean. I'll take that as no longer easily permeable and submisive...


Maybe that is the reason her first two marriages didn't work because the other guys wouldn't put up with her ****.

Her mom was the same way!
 

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She learned everything she *IS* from watching her mother's marriages. Really! That is the example of a 'wife' that she has had: critical, angry, belligerent, bullying. Alright, she doesn't know any better, BUT SHE SHOULD.

You need to tell her bluntly that she LEARNED how to be a WIFE from watching her mother interact with HER husbands - and THAT is NOT necessarily a good thing. She could only blame her mother for so long, then it's all on your wife. She needs to get into therapy and learn HOW TO DEAL WITH MEN in a respectful, honest way. If she's NOT interested in doing so, then NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

The ONLY reason a 35 yo marries a 22 yo is so that the 35yo can boss/bully/push-around the 22 yo who has a LOT less experience with relationships.

You're not that 22yo any more. Get YOURSELF some IC to decide what YOUR goals in life are, your dreams, your ambitions. Decide HOW (or *if*) this marriage fits into it.

Good luck, and let us know how it's going.
 

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Why would a 35 year old woman want to marry a 22 year old unless she wanted a sub?
You are only saying she is very controlling. If you are satisfied with that observation, then walk away and never give it another thought. You'll never be able to fix her anyway.

Yet, if you want a better understanding of the woman who is raising your three children, you likely can increase your understanding a hundred fold by combining that single characterisistc -- the controlling nature -- with other traits (e.g., the temper tantrums, bullying, always being "The Victim," always "right," and vindictiveness). In that way, a well-known pattern will emerge for the red flags you are seeing.

There is a reason why your W is in the process of pushing away her THIRD husband. If that reason is strong traits of a personality disorder, the MC you have started likely will be a total waste of time -- until she has had several years of IC to address her underlying issues. You are describing issues that seem to go well beyond a simple lack of communication skills.

I therefore suggest you see a psychologist -- for a visit or two all by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional view of what it is you are dealing with. And, if you've not already done so, I suggest you check out my post at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/33734-my-list-hell.html#post473522 to see if those BPD traits sound very familiar.
 

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I'm not sure that i'm prepared to go through years of psych sessions to find out that she may or may not be cured. I feel more like cutting my losses and starting over fresh at 29.

I'm prepared to live with someone 13 years older. This is inspite of when i retire at 65 and want to live my golden years she will be allmost 80.

I'm prepared to settle for one biological child even though i allways dreamt of more.

I'm not prepared to settle if this already compromised journey is going to be an attempt to repair a broken personality that may or may not come around. I deserve to be happy!
 

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I'm not sure that i'm prepared to go through years of psych sessions
No need for YEARS of therapy.

4-6 sessions should help you

  • determine what is important to YOU.
  • determine how to prioritize your own goals and ambitions.
  • learn how to best move forward (whether that's with/without your wife) for yourself and for your child.
In 4-6 weeks, you will have a CLEARER understanding of yourself and a better MAP of how to get where YOU WANT TO GO.
 

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I'm not sure that i'm prepared to go through years of psych sessions to find out that she may or may not be cured.
As Slowly says, we are not talking about years of therapy. Rather, we are encouraging you to see a clinical psychologist to find out what you are dealing with. Indeed, I've suggested only one or two visits devoted to that issue. If you decide to go 4 to 6 times as Slowly suggests, that could prove to be helpful too. Given that your W will be sharing custody of your young child, you CANNOT AFFORD to remain in the dark on such an important matter.

If the psychologist tells you that you likely are dealing with a woman having only simple communication issues, you may be able to salvage your M by continuing to see the MC. However, if he tells you that it is a personality disorder like BPD or NPD, you will know that MC likely will be useless and, although IC could be very beneficial to her, there is little chance she would remain in therapy long enough to make a difference.

Another reason for knowing whether a PD is likely is that such disorders are believed to have a strong genetic component that may have been passed on to your child. A third reason for knowing is to get a better understanding of how to deal with a woman who will be raising your young child even after you divorce her.

A fourth reason is that the knowledge opens up a whole world of information that is available free online. If your W has strong traits of BPD, for example, there is a very active forum at BPDfamily.com devoted to "Raising a Child when One Parent Has BPD."
 

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She learned everything she *IS* from watching her mother's marriages. Really! That is the example of a 'wife' that she has had: critical, angry, belligerent, bullying. Alright, she doesn't know any better, BUT SHE SHOULD.

You need to tell her bluntly that she LEARNED how to be a WIFE from watching her mother interact with HER husbands - and THAT is NOT necessarily a good thing. She could only blame her mother for so long, then it's all on your wife. She needs to get into therapy and learn HOW TO DEAL WITH MEN in a respectful, honest way. If she's NOT interested in doing so, then NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

The ONLY reason a 35 yo marries a 22 yo is so that the 35yo can boss/bully/push-around the 22 yo who has a LOT less experience with relationships.

You're not that 22yo any more. Get YOURSELF some IC to decide what YOUR goals in life are, your dreams, your ambitions. Decide HOW (or *if*) this marriage fits into it.

Good luck, and let us know how it's going.
I think this is the issue rather than a chemical imbalance. She is very manipulative. I just came home after being at work for a week. Iv'e been home for an hour. all she has said was "hi" and later "turn the light off in the laundryroom" to wich I responded i'll be back there shortly.

I'm getting the silent treatment but i'm not saying anything myself so i guess i'm equally guilty. I've taken care of my own laundry and getting ready to go work out.

Interestingly my three year old went to the fridge and said "daddy i want to show you something". She showed me icing supposedly for my birthday cake. Adittionally The fridge had all the things in it I usually have to ask for.

So now, she is giving me the silent treatment but she stocked the fridge for me.
 

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Cut your losses friend.
You can't fix what you aren't responsible for.
3rd marriage? You made an error there.
You can and will have better.
Mind you, you will be paying, what she probably wanted in the first place.
Alimony is a *****! But her Mom knows all about that...if you like being a sub stick with it..can't imagine why...
It's your life...live it.
 
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