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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First time posting to a forum like this. I hope I can do an adequate job of explaining my situation.

I've been married almost 15 years and have two children. My wife and I both have our issues, and we've been through a lot of stress.

My wife has continually said she's unhappy with our marriage and that she feels that she's not being listened to. She often erupts in fury at me and one of our children. I have tried, I really have, to listen to her and help her, but it seems that nothing works. She says that my words are empty and that there's no point talking any more, that nothing changes.

Her demands are not unreasonable. She wants help with keeping the house clean, dealing with the kids, etc. I feel that I do a lot--I take the kids to school, do the dishes, etc. But if I ever slack off, and of course that happens, she starts to feel abused and abandoned. Eventually, she always explodes. I can just never do enough, it seems.

I am probably not the easiest person to live with--I try, but I have certain health problems that reduce my quality of life, and I'm quite frustrated with my career. Still, I have never wanted to be the kind of person that takes other people for granted and have really made efforts to meet her half way. But nothing is every good enough. She's very depressed, resents me, and says she wants to leave me and the child she gets mad at.

Whenever I try to talk to her, she gets angry, says I'm a hypocrite and brushes me off. I'm simply unable to communicate with her.
I can live with the lack of affection, maybe. But the yelling is just too much.

We're going (if she doesn't bail) to see a marriage counselor in a couple of days. I hope that helps. But the fundamental question I'm wrestling with is: how can I tell if it's worth it trying to work on this marriage? How can I tell what's my responsibility and what's not? She's usually a sweet person, but she creates tremendous stress for herself, and this causes her to become angry, depressed, and to blame others.

Help!
 

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The questions you're asking can't really be answered without knowing more about your wife's perspective, how frequent these outbursts are, and how motivated you both are. It sounds like she's not very motivated, but this could change with counseling, too. I'd recommend giving it a month of counseling to see how each of you feels before trying to ask if it's worth doing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your reply. Just being able to vent feels good.

I guess the devil's in the details. I think my wife feels hopeless more than unmotivated. She'd be motivated if she had hope. She's also very skeptical about therapy--it was hard to get her to agree to go in the first place.

But we'll soon see what happens.
 

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Your wife isn't angry with only you. She apparently is hostile to at least one of her own children, too. Erupting in fury is not a rational response to everyday stress. She doesn't wish to leave. You can tell because her body and all her stuff is still there. The threats to leave, then, are just another way to express hostility. I doubt you could ever clean enough, cook enough, or run enough errands to calm her. Without knowing any other information, I'd suspect she could benefit from talking to mental health professionals. If you live with another human being, you could turn water into wine and raise the dead and sometimes they are going to be frustrated with you. You are going to occasionally be frustrated with them. That's called "life". If you have teens, frustration is a pretty normal state to be in. Her explosive displays of "fury" aren't your responsibility. That's her choice and her responsibility. Her choice to withdraw from the marriage and sulk around without making any effort to stay or leave is, again, her choice. Do those things you know are clearly in your lane and do them without being nagged. Beyond that, expect decent and respectful treatment and tolerate no other kind. You may concede that you aren't a perfect being because they don't exist. If the world ever could produce a perfect man, why would your wife imagine she would deserve him? Sounds like she's hateful and indifferent to the one she has. Your home is where two married partners and a couple kids live. She's not a partner and she's not a kid, so she needs to get with the program or get out. It should not be on her terms or on her timetable but on your's. She's the one refusing to be the wife she promised to be. From what you describe she's not adding much to your life. Out of respect for 15 years, I'd give her a reasonable chance to get her head screwed back on and return to the human race. If my kid actually earned her mother's (reasonable) hostility, I'd step up and square the kid away. If mom's behavior to my child was unreasonable and abusive, I couldn't tolerate it. If I did, it would be the same as me abusing my own kid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

Yes, my wife is depressed and needs help. She had an abortion about 5 years ago and things haven't been the same since.

It isn't as if she doesn't love our son (the one she yells at). He has trouble concentrating, which I don't think is his fault--it's just a problem he has at this point in his life. She spends huge amounts of time and effort trying to help him, but he can never do as she wishes. Most of the effort is unnecessary--I would rather just give him a break, but she's (maybe) neurotic. She creates the stress for herself through trying to help, then she gets angry.

She always says she wants to leave but doesn't have enough money and worries about the children. This morning, she packed an overnight bag with extra clothes, so maybe she's finally moving out.

I realize I'm probably making her out to seem a monster. But she could post something similar, from her perspective, about me.

We had tremendous stress for many years. She went back to graduate school with 2 small kids, and the work was overwhelming. I helped her a tremendous amount. While we were under this stress, we fought more than usual. She remembers the fighting but not the cause of the fighting, or that she was part of it. It seems that she just wants to start over from scratch.

If we were just dating, or even married without children, I'd understand this. But with children, it's different. Getting divorced would be devastating to me. But staying together is unendurable.

It's a difficult decision to make, and I don't want to make a mistake.
 

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This is not quite a stab in the dark, but close...

I get the feeling she is putting a LOT of pressure on herself to be a good mom. However, between the abortion and the way she's experiencing that she cannot control her son, she's feeling extremely disappointed and hostile toward herself. She can't take it out on herself, though, because that would be too raw. She is projecting it instead.

This is more of an IC issue than a marriage issue, but one thing you might try is heaping admiration on her for how much she cares about your children. Even when the two of you are in disagreement and she's being difficult with your son, let her know that she has done plenty and that you appreciate how much she cares as you give her permission to be gentle with herself when it comes to him.
 

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Dear OP, I think your wife need some medication to help her,she might be depressed or maybe she have anxiety which put her under so much stress ,she have to except not everything has to be perfect all time especially with your teen age one,but I bet she will refuse to see a mental health cuz that's mean labeling her with the problem,maybe the counselor can see that and suggest to her meds.I feel bad for you and your family stay strong and dont give up on your marrage ,we all go through ups and downs .she definitely need help from doctors .
Good luck and let us know if counseling helped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This is not quite a stab in the dark, but close...

I get the feeling she is putting a LOT of pressure on herself to be a good mom. However, between the abortion and the way she's experiencing that she cannot control her son, she's feeling extremely disappointed and hostile toward herself. She can't take it out on herself, though, because that would be too raw. She is projecting it instead.
This is 100% correct. She has a very cold and rejecting mother, and she's always had issues compensating. I first noticed it years ago when she was working every day until midnight on some long-forgotten project. Eventually it turned out that no one cared at all about this project--she just felt compelled by her overactive sense of responsibility to do it. She stopped, and nothing happened either way.

When we go on trips, she spends hours and hours and hours packing everything we could possibly need. By the time we leave, she's stressed out, and so is everyone else. She almost always has a tantrum/fit of silent anger during vacations.

When the children and I don't act in the same hyper-vigilent way, she gets frustrated. In fact, I often feel guilty just relaxing in the house, since she always, always seems to be doing something. She starts talking about how she's the only one doing work around the house.

Now I would say that I do have my limitations. I am often tired due to ongoing health issues and just don't have the energy to clean the bathrooms every week. I've tried, but I've failed every time to continue consistently. I've always, always, tried to find compromises, but they get rejected. (For years, she said she didn't want to hire cleaners--finally, last week, we did, and it worked out fine.)

I'm not sure what "IC" means in this context.

I've tried to complement her, but it doesn't seem to work well. First, I can't act impartially--basically, every day when I come home from work, I'm desperately hoping that she won't be yelling at my son. That stress adds up and makes me feel like I'm living in a war zone. So it's hard to act the way I want to act. The way it plays out is that some of the time, I'm complementing her, but other times, I'm arguing with her. Then she starts talking about my being on a roller coaster, which, of course, she can't stand.

Thanks for the suggestion, though. You do seem to be able to understand my situation to some extent, and I'm grateful for that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Dear OP, I think your wife need some medication to help her,she might be depressed or maybe she have anxiety which put her under so much stress ,she have to except not everything has to be perfect all time especially with your teen age one,but I bet she will refuse to see a mental health cuz that's mean labeling her with the problem,maybe the counselor can see that and suggest to her meds.I feel bad for you and your family stay strong and dont give up on your marrage ,we all go through ups and downs .she definitely need help from doctors .
Good luck and let us know if counseling helped.
Thanks! I appreciate your warm wishes. Yes, I do believe that some kind of medication could help. But, just as you said, she refuses to accept the validity of taking medications for mental health issues. Just getting her to agree to see a therapist was really difficult, and she says she's just doing it because I mentioned it.

It's true, though: my secret hope is that the therapist will see what's going on and make some kind of suggestions to try and help her. My fear is that she'll either be able to hide her anger (she's incredibly sweet when she's not angry) or will dismiss him as just another con man.

(BTW, my children are 8 and 10.)
 

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A good counselor will elicit the anger on purpose. Anger is a doorway to the therapeutic process.

"IC" is individual counseling.

You can be supportive and complementary without being in agreement. "I can see that you work so hard to be a good mom. I admire you because it means so much to you. I hope you'll give yourself permission to be a good friend to your son, too."

You can't change her or what she does. You can only offer reasons that she might adopt as being reasons for herself to want changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
A good counselor will elicit the anger on purpose. Anger is a doorway to the therapeutic process.

"IC" is individual counseling.

You can be supportive and complementary without being in agreement. "I can see that you work so hard to be a good mom. I admire you because it means so much to you. I hope you'll give yourself permission to be a good friend to your son, too."

You can't change her or what she does. You can only offer reasons that she might adopt as being reasons for herself to want changes.
Thanks for the clarification. Other people have mentioned this as well. The problem is that at this point, she just ends up rejecting everything.

I realize from reading other threads here that I've been a bit of a doormat. I would not say that I've done a good job of sticking up for myself and distinguishing her problems (of which there are many) from my problems (of which there are many).

But learning to stand up for myself in a calm and non-judgemental way is not easy. If I could do so, I'd feel that I'd at least gotten something from this marriage.
 

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"She has a very cold and rejecting mother" This is unfortunate because basically everything she knows about being a mother and a wife, she learned from her mother. It isn't a parent's job to create kids who do exactly as we expect or demand. Our job is to make them be the best they can be. She's miserable and so is her husband and child, so training a child to follow precisely in her footsteps doesn't sound like a great idea. Though not at all trained in the mental health professions, she dismisses the "validity" of anti-depressants and other mental health medications. Feeling as oneself is always right and everyone else is wrong is not healthy, normal, or rational.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
"She has a very cold and rejecting mother" This is unfortunate because basically everything she knows about being a mother and a wife, she learned from her mother. It isn't a parent's job to create kids who do exactly as we expect or demand. Our job is to make them be the best they can be. She's miserable and so is her husband and child, so training a child to follow precisely in her footsteps doesn't sound like a great idea. Though not at all trained in the mental health professions, she dismisses the "validity" of anti-depressants and other mental health medications. Feeling as oneself is always right and everyone else is wrong is not healthy, normal, or rational.
You're absolutely right. Everyone here seems to be understanding our issues pretty clearly.

So I tried and tried to make things work. She's depressed and taking it out on everyone; I'm quite worried about my son.

I'll try the counseling (if she even goes--it's scheduled for 2 days from now, but she might bail). If that fails, what?

Are you suggesting that I should then get divorced? Is there anything I could do before reaching that point?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So here's the thing: my wife says that she's only asking me to do simple things like turn out the lights, keep the place clean, etc. I feel that I do a so-so job of this, not good, but not terrible. One could argue that I'm worse than so-so, I guess, although I'm far from disgusting. But she claims that I never try, that I'm all talk.

The thing is, I've found that trying to do as she wishes never works. It gets to be too much, she never acknowledges my efforts, and everything eventually fails. My instinct is to try and compromise, but it just means nothing to her.

She really can't stand the house the way it is, and is always, always talking about how miserable she is.

I know she's got her own issues. But can anyone give me guidance as to how much of this is my responsibility? I'm talking mostly about things like leaving papers out, having a lot of clutter, things like that. In an ideal world, I would do more, but managing this is really hard for me.
 

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Her complaints are not what she's angry about. It's important that you understand that.

I would recommend practicing the 180 if you've been pretty passive in the past, especially if she bails on counseling. (Keep going yourself, though!) This will help you learn to set boundaries and not get hooked into these power struggles. Even though it's designed for betrayed spouses, you can use it to get some distance and clarity when she's getting emotionally abusive.
The Healing Heart: The 180
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Her complaints are not what she's angry about. It's important that you understand that.
Are you sure about that? I just don't know; I can't get any perspective. Isn't it legitimate to be upset if you feel you're doing all the housework and the other person isn't doing enough? Am I just blind?

Yes, I'm trying to practice the 180; I've definitely been pretty beta in the past, and it hasn't worked at all. But the problem is that I can't detach when she's yelling at the kid. I work all day; I can't come home after school to protect him. I get home and there's stress and turmoil and I can't stay out of it.

She always tries to pull me into arguments, which are basically always her attacking me and saying she's frustrated. I did a somewhat better job than usual today. As I knew she would, she bailed on the couples therapy.
 

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Possibly bipolar or BPD. Hopefully member "Uptown" will chime in about BPD. Only a professional can dx.

As for you, you need to get her to stop raging at your children ASAP!
It is your JOB to protect them especially with a Mother that is possibly abusing them.
 
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