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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm a 40 year old man in a common law relationship with a wonderful, beautiful woman of a similar age. The problem we have is that she is constantly angry with me, generally refuses to have sex with me, and yet also refuses to discuss topics that involve our relationship (and my dissatisfaction thereof) or seek professional help to improve our relationship.

Long story short: we did at one point see a psychologist for several months together. After many sessions discussing our past, his assessment was that my upbringing, although not perfect was "normal", and hers anything BUT normal. She experienced issues of abuse, bullying and parents who, although good people, did not provide the appropriate love and support she deserved as she grew up. The sessions were very tough for her, because as we discussed issues in our relationship that seemed to force her to acknowledge responsibility for her actions, she would get irate, defensive and shut down. At the birth of our second daughter, she (quite reasonably under that circumstance) removed herself from sessions, and has since refused to go back or even discuss going back. I continued going for about 8-9 months on my own before giving up, tired of doing it alone. Our daughter just turned three.

I believe (as does the psychologist) that her past is driving much of her current behaviour. that helps me hang on to the hope that this can be fixed, and I remind myself of this when I need to be strong and patient when I feel her behaviour is inappropriate or unsupportive.

Our sex life has IMPROVED last summer to approx once per month (up from 3-6 times per year). I find her extremely attractive, and I'm interested in sex with her daily - quite a disconnect! She has made it clear that she will not allow me to initiate. She loves a nice romantic evening, but no amount of romance, flattery, massage, etc. seems to put her in the mood.

She is angry with me daily - she has incredibly high standards and expectations, to which she tells me I fail constantly. This, she tells me, is why she is so angry, and she has no patience for my suggestion that her expectations are frequently unreasonable. She screams and swears at me and calls me horrible, frequently profane names. I do my best not to respond in kind. I do not call her names (but have on occasion described her behaviour with horrible names). I pick my battles, but get in trouble for things I can't imagine other couples fight about (not wringing out the kitchen cloth enough, rolling over in bed, etc).

We do have great moments, and they are wonderful. We can have great laughs together. it's not all horrible, but we do have extremely trying moments most days. She rarely apologizes to me, but if she does it is only after I've apologized first.

I know, that's a lot. Our relationship started as an affair 8 years ago - I left my unhappy marriage several months after our affair started, and we started seeing each other officially several months after I moved out (I divorced years ago). Interestingly during our affair we had a tremendous amount of incredible passion and never argued.

I just want us to get help, and I have no idea how to get help when she won't talk to me about our problems and refuses to get professional help.

Any suggestions?
 

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So she was sexually abused and probably has borderline personality disorder based on what you've written.

Validating her without caving to her is a HUGE key to finding peace. It's tough to learn how to set boundaries and be loving when you're feeling defensive all the time.

Please take a look at Borderline Personality Disorder and Relationships for more information about BPD, its signs and symptoms, and what kind of therapy can help. (Many traditional counselors do not employ methods that prove helpful for BPD patients.)
 

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End it.

If she isn't going to seek help with her issues, and you don't want the rest of your life with her to be an endless barrage of anger, tell her you are willing to spend money on a therapist or divorce attorney, and the choice is hers.
 

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Mike, I agree with Kathy that the behaviors you describe -- temper tantrums, verbal abuse, anger that is triggered in seconds, always being "The Victim," and creating arguments over nothing at all -- are some of the classic traits of BPD.

Of course, only a professional can determine whether your partner's traits are so severe that they constitute full-blown BPD. It nonetheless will not be difficult for you to spot the red flags for BPD if you take time to learn the warning signs (i.e., symptoms) to look for. There is nothing subtle about traits such as verbal abuse and frequent temper tantrums.
She experienced issues of abuse, bullying and parents who, although good people, did not provide the appropriate love and support she deserved as she grew up.
Most abused children do not develop BPD. The abuse nonetheless GREATLY raises the risk of their doing so. A recent large-scale study, for example, found that 70% of the BPDers reported that they had been abused or abandoned by a parent in childhood.
Interestingly during our affair we had a tremendous amount of incredible passion and never argued.
A relationship with a BPDer typically is extremely passionate and intense during the courtship period. And, because a BPDer typically has a fragile self image, she will mirror your personality so perfectly that you both will be convinced you've met your "soul mate." But, sadly, the sex and affection usually go off a cliff a few months after the wedding.

The reason for this radical change is that, during the courtship, the BPDer's infatuation over you will hold her two great fears (abandonment and engulfment) at bay. As soon as the infatuation evaporates, however, those fears return -- with the result that you will start triggering her fears and anger.
I believe (as does the psychologist) that her past is driving much of her current behaviour. that helps me hang on to the hope that this can be fixed....
If her emotional damage did occur in early childhood -- as is believed to be true for BPD -- that should give you LESS hope for change, not more. The further in the past the trauma occurred, the greater the damage because it was able to disrupt her emotional development at a very young age. If she has strong BPD traits, for example, her emotional development likely is stuck at about the level of a four year old.
I just want us to get help, and I have no idea how to get help when she won't talk to me about our problems and refuses to get professional help.
You are trying to do the impossible. If she has strong BPD traits, there is absolutely nothing you can do to fix it. She is the only one who can learn to manage her BPD traits and better control her emotions. Toward that end, there are many excellent treatment programs available in all developed countries.

It nonetheless is rare for a high functioning BPDer to have the self awareness and ego strength necessary to be willing to take advantage of those therapy programs, which require weekly sessions of hard work for several years at a minimum. Therapist Shari Schreiber is not exaggerating much when she says you have a better chance flying to the moon while strapped to a banana than you ever do seeing a BPDer stay in therapy long enough to make a difference.
I continued going for about 8-9 months on my own before giving up, tired of doing it alone.
Has your psychologist mentioned the likelihood of BPD or another personality disorder? If not, I suggest you obtain a second opinion from a psychologist who has not seen or treated your W.

I mention this because psychologists generally are loath to tell a high functioning BPDer -- much less her husband -- the name of her disorder (for the protection of the BPDer). It therefore is important to see a professional who is ethically bound to protect only YOUR best interests, not hers.
Any suggestions?
If you have not already done so, I suggest you read Kathy's excellent overview of BPD behavior (at the link she provides above). I also suggest you read my description of BPD traits at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/33734-my-list-hell.html#post473522. If either of those descriptions rings a bell, there are a number of members here -- including Kathy and me -- who would be glad to discuss it with you.

Importantly, I don't know whether your partner has most BPD traits at a strong level. I nonetheless am confident you are capable of learning how to identify any and all BPD traits she is strongly exhibiting. After living with the lady for 8 years, you would have to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to spot BPD traits such as strong verbal abuse, low self esteem, and temper tantrums. Take care, Mike.
 
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