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I feel that my marriage of 4 years is coming to an end. I’ve tried to be the best husband I can, but I feel that I can no longer put up with the anger directed at me from my wife. She has always been a stressed person, but I feel that as the relationship has progressed, she more and more unfairly directs it at me. It’s hard to explain in words, so perhaps I can provide the most recent example. We recently changed cable providers (to save $$$ since she wants to stay home) and within one day the wireless wasn’t working correctly and the picture on the TV was pixelated. While I was angry with this as well, when the sales rep called me back he set up a service visit for the very next day to swap out all the equipment and fix the problem. I was more than happy with this solution, since usually they take 1+week to get out to us. However, when she saw I wasn’t yelling at the guy, she called me a *****. Then when I looked visibly upset, she made a mocking face at me and “are you going to yell, you’re on the phone” then stormed off. This type of interaction is almost present on a daily basis. It’s humiliating.

Further, I feel that in the 4 years I’ve been with her I’m not the same person. I’ve lost friends, I’m not as close with my family, I no longer enjoy hobbies and I’m no longer as interested in my health. I’m not blaming her for these things – I (now) realize that the only person responsible for me is me. However, I do think our personalities may not mesh. I’m someone who wants to please others, and she’s someone who is never satisfied with anything. Those extremes, as extremes tend to be, are not healthy in and of themselves, but when combined it’s especially bad. I am constantly walking on eggshells around her. I never know what she wants. The other day we got into an argument in which she told me to leave. When I left the room, she yelled at me for leaving. I just had to laugh.

There’s also one case of a physical altercation where we got into an argument (I don’t remember at this time what is was about), she made the comment she’s going to get laid somewhere else (the argument was not about sex – she was saying this just to anger me), upon which I tried to leave out the front door to cool off and she physically tried to stop me. She claims she didn’t hit me, but there was definitely inappropriate physical contact.

Before I go any further, I know failure in relationships always rests on BOTH parties. I’m not the perfect spouse. Do I forget to do things? Sometimes. Do I leave my sneakers out? Of course. But when I am imperfect as a husband I don’t expect to be treated with such disrespect, and I certainly don’t expect to be blamed for things that I have nothing to do with. I can say I’m perfect in one respect – I always treat my wife with the respect she deserves.

With all that said (sorry it got a little long winded), I’m now faced with the prospect of divorce. The one thing I didn’t mention that we have the most beautiful, adorable 17 month old daughter. I love her so much. My concern is that I’m not going to be as big of a part of her life as if we stayed married. On top of that, my wife is already completely a control freak with her, and I can only imagine how she’s going to be when she’s with me. My wife is also going to be angry with me since she planned on staying home in the next 6 months with her and now I’ll be taking that away from her (in her mind). While she too loves our daughter very much, I can definitely see her trying to alienate me from her. My wife’s father and mother were divorced at 7 and she hasn’t seen/spoken to him since she was 10. While I in no way will abandon my daughter, I can see her trying to take that pain out on me.

How do I find the strength to move on? While the situation I am in is so unbearable for me, feel like the situation after divorce will be just as bad, if not worse.

I appreciate you reading my post and providing your thoughts.
 

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I think you can find strength from your daughter. I grew up in a house with parents who were very different and had a destructive and unhappy relationship which ultimately ended in divorce. They stayed together for a significant portion of my childhood, which they did out of love for me, but it was the wrong thing to do.

It will not be a nice environment for your little girl to grow up in unless the two of you can find a way to communicate and be happy together. You don't want your daughter to see her mother behave in an unpleasant way to her father, or to see you unhappy. That is what you have to keep in mind- so whether you choose to fix your relationship or divorce, be motivated by what you know will be best for her.
 

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RollTide – That’s a good question, and something I’ll need to figure out for myself before I make the same mistake again. I will say it hasn’t always been that bad – but like the frog in the gradually heat pot of water, I didn’t realize it was happening before it was too late. Let me ask you – if you were that person, what prompted you to change? How can I get through to her of what this is doing to me and our relationship? I’ve tried talking to her, but I get branded as oversensitive.

Sadmanch – Thanks for your words. I have tried to tell myself that, but haven’t grown up in a relatively normal household myself, sometimes I doubt it. It definitely helps to hear from someone who’s been through it, thought.
 

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Curtis,
You must stand up for yourself. You can be assertive without being aggressive. Example:

W: You are such a b!tch! What is wrong with you?

H: Honey, I am not sure why you are so upset, but please do not speak to me like that again. I am your husband, not some random person.

When she does it again:

"Honey, we have discussed this in the past and you will not talk that way to me, please stop."

And again,

"Honey, you WILL NOT talk that way to me again or I will consider leaving this relationship."

If it happens again after that, offer to go to marriage counseling or inform her you will be contacting an attorney to get the D process started. You have to be tough to women that treat you poorly. Something in her past has led her to believe it's okay to treat men this way. That needs to be corrected. Since you can't control her, you can offer her the chance to fix the problem herself or remove yourself and your daughter from the relationship.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Good suggestions. I've tried the stay calm in the face of insanity approach, which seems to only anger her more. I have mentioned counseling before, but not in that setting. Of course we don't have time and, I quote, "they're probably going to tell me how everything is my fault". I've mentioned the D word before and she say "fine, you know where the door is". I read that as an obvious bluff on her part, which is supported by the fact that the time I actually tried to leave she physically restrained me. I hate to play armchair psychologist, but I know this is somehow related to her father abandoning her. I understand that must be scarring, but am tired of being the one to pay for it .

What are your thoughts about discussing counseling with her Mom first? The only person who is ever able to calm her down and get through to her about anything is her mom. Because of her childhood she developed an extremely tight bond with her. Her mom is outstanding and understands my wife's tempermant and the stress it plays on our relationship.

On the one hand, I think that would be the only chance of getting us into therapy. On the other, how can a relationship function when a 3rd party needs to get constantly involved to resolve disputes? Realistically, if we stay married our relationship will outlive her Mom.
 

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I hate to play armchair psychologist, but I know this is somehow related to her father abandoning her. I understand that must be scarring, but am tired of being the one to pay for it .
Stop enabling her
I kept my first post short because I wanted you to understand that it's not about her reasons, it's about your reaction and how you will deal with it.
I suspect she dumps all over you because she is so bitter and scarred and you are a good dutiful target. Rather than catering to it, you have to break her. Break her down until she faces the fact that you love her and will not abandon her (in this case, I'd say threatening D is about the worst move). This break down process is not yelling and demeaning but more of the holding and convincing and emotional gut spilling.

It takes a while. But decide soon if you can maintain your feelings for her and not swap it around if she changes. That is you may resent her so much for this later, that it's already doomed.

Meanwhile, dont put up with her bossiness and get some balls.
Is she physically stronger than you?
 

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My W is like this in many ways. Like you, I tried to walk on eggshells around her to keep the peace. That resulted in nothing but FAIL. Don't divorce her just yet.

You need to buy the No More Mr. Nice Guy book, and read it ASAP. Read it again, and do the exercises in the book. Go get individual marriage counseling. You MIGHT be able to turn this around, but it doesn't look good. Either way, you'll know that you've given the marriage your best shot + you'll have reattached your sack.

The next time she starts yelling insults in your face, tell her in a calm/neutral tone to go F**K herself, and then walk away. The conversation is over. You'll only speak to her if she can behave like a big girl. You have taught her for years that it's okay for her to treat you like a doormat. Time to change that mindset.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The book looks interesting, I'll have to buy.

I'm not quite sure what being phyically stronger than her means. Yes, I could squash her like a bug. Are you inferring I should use my physicality to threaten her?

As for "reattaching my sack" or "getting some balls", go F*ck yourselves.

(is that assertive enought? Oh, wait, i'm not supposed to ask that)
 

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The book looks interesting, I'll have to buy.

As for "reattaching my sack" or "getting some balls", go F*ck yourselves.
While you're buying books, get When I Say No, I Feel Guilty. That book will give you the mindset and words to use to deal with a verbal abuser like your W.

On your 2nd comment above, nice start. :smthumbup:
 

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I'm not quite sure what being phyically stronger than her means. Yes, I could squash her like a bug. Are you inferring I should use my physicality to threaten her?

As for "reattaching my sack" or "getting some balls", go F*ck yourselves.

(is that assertive enought? Oh, wait, i'm not supposed to ask that)
There is a big gap between threatening her and letting her block your exit.
I began to think you might be scared of her. If you can squash her like a bug, simply moving her out of your way should be no problem.

And I'm not your problem. Being tough on the internet is not your issue.
 

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I began to think you might be scared of her. If you can squash her like a bug, simply moving her out of your way should be no problem.
NO NO NO. Do not move your W out of the way. Don't ever put your hands on her, or you may end up in the back of a cop car like my neighbor. If she blocks your exit, find another one, or wait until she calms down. It's not worth it.
 

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Thunderstruck is EXACTLY right. NEVER place your hands on your wife for ANY reason. I know you probably know that but I just wanted to make sure. One arrest by the cops for DV and you will face:

1. A restraining order evicting you from your home.
2. Little to no contact with your daughter.
3. Mandatory DV "treatment"
4. A lifetime criminal record which can NEVER be removed.
5. Loss of your rights to own firearms FOR LIFE.
6. Mandatory spousal and child support via the restraining order.
7. Loss of your property rights in the ensuring divorce due to DV.

Need I go on? NEVER "move her out of the way".
 

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gosh
So someone can just trap you in your home because you think all of that would happen ? I'm not advocating hitting, or shoving, or tight clinching.

True or not, I'm glad I dont live with that fear of the law
You wont convince me I should
 

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Curtis, welcome to the TAM forum.
I hate to play armchair psychologist, but I know this is somehow related to her father abandoning her.
Curtis, I agree that you are not capable of diagnosing your W's issues. Only professionals can do that. This does not mean, however, that you cannot spot the red flags (i.e., symptoms) for various mental disorders. Indeed, it is important that you be able to do so. This is why hundreds of the leading hospitals and health centers are providing the lay public with symptoms information on their websites for all types of mental disorders.

They do not do so because they want the lay public to try to diagnose their loved ones. Rather, they do so because studies show that the more educated people are about mental disorder symptoms, the more likely they are to seek help from a mental health professional when a problem occurs -- because they are able to recognize the potential for a serious problem when it presents itself.

I don't know what is wrong with your W. Yet, because you are describing very angry and abusive behavior, I strongly encourage you to see a psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid, professional opinion on what it is you and your daughter are dealing with.

I also suggest that, while you're waiting for an appointment, you start reading about mental disorders so you know how to identify the red flags. IMO, the place to start reading is descriptions of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), which my exW has. I mention BPD as a good starting point because many of the behaviors you describe are classic BPD traits. These include the following:

Pent up anger.
This is suggested by your statement that "I can no longer put up with the anger directed at me from my wife." If she has strong BPD traits, she has been carrying tremendous anger inside since early childhood.

Event-triggered rages.
This is reflected in your comment that "she called me a *****....then stormed off. This type of interaction is almost present on a daily basis. It’s humiliating." If she is a BPDer (i.e., has strong traits), you don't have to do a thing to CREATE the anger. As I said, it has been there since childhood. Hence, you only have to say or do some minor thing (e.g., not yelling at the cable man) that TRIGGERS the anger that is already there.

Feelings are "facts."
If your W has strong BPD traits, she has little control over her emotions. The result is that she frequently experiences feelings that are so intense that she is convinced they MUST be true. BPDers therefore are notorious for refusing to intellectually challenge their intense feelings. Instead, they simply accept those feelings as self-evident "facts." This is done by splitting off the logical adult part of the mind, putting it out of reach of the conscious mind.

This means that, whenever a BPDer is angry, you are left trying to reason with the intuitive, childlike part of her mind. And, because a BPDer is always just ten seconds away from being angry, it is nearly impossible to ever be able to have a calm, rational discussion about any sensitive matter. This, then, may explain why you conclude, "I've tried the stay calm in the face of insanity approach, which seems to only anger her more."

Strong fear of abandonment. BPDers have two great fears, one of which is the fear of abandonment. You indicate that your W may have such a fear in your statement that, "My wife’s father and mother were divorced at 7 and she hasn’t seen/spoken to him since she was 10. While I in no way will abandon my daughter, I can see her trying to take that pain out on me."

Very controlling behavior. Due to the abandonment fear, it is common for a BPDer to try to control nearly every aspect of her spouse's private life -- to ensure that he does not walk away. It also is common, for the same reason, for a BPDer to engage in "triangulating behavior," wherein she plays one member of the family (e.g., child) off against the other (e.g., father). Sometimes one member is favored and the other is harshly criticised and then, months later, she will reverse the treatment. The purpose is to play one person off against the other and thus be sought after by both. This may explain why you say "I can definitely see her trying to alienate me from [our daughter]. That is, she may be far more fearful of your abandoning HER than (as you suspect) your daughter.

The abandonment fear also would be evident in controlling behavior that is intended to isolate you from all friends and family members. The purpose, of course, is to prevent them from competing for your attention/affection and to prevent them from supporting you (which would undermine her control over you). I mention this because you say that, since being married, "I’ve lost friends, I’m not as close with my family."

Always "The Victim." A BPDer has such a weak, fragile sense of who she is that she maintains a death grip on the notion of her always being "The Victim." Because she is afraid to let go of that false self image, she is continually seeking validation of it. During the courtship, she achieves that validation by perceiving of her BF as "The Savior." After the marriage, she achieves the same thing by perceiving of him as "The Perpetrator," i.e., the cause of every misfortune. Importantly, it doesn't much matter whether she is a victim because (a) he is saving her or (b) because he is neglecting her. Either way, it is a win-win for her because her status of being "The Victim" is validated both ways.

The result is that a BPDer typically has little or no interest in finding solutions or creating harmony. Instead, a BPDer wants to create DRAMA, not solutions. This is why it is common for a BPDer to plead for you to do something and then, after you've done exactly that, she will completely "rewrite history" and claim she never wanted it at all. My exW, for example, would plead for me to buy her things and, on receiving them, she would be thrilled -- for one or two weeks. Then it was the wrong size, wrong color, or wrong style. And, of course, it was MY fault.

In that way, I bought her $5,000 worth of fabric and $6,000 worth of sewing machines and surgers -- NONE of which she used. When pressed for an explanation, she always claimed I had forced her into buying a machine that wouldn't work. Never mind that she had picked it out herself. She always explained that, although she had chosen it, she had deliberately picked out a cheap one because she knew I would be angry if she spent more. In that way, every purchase was MY fault.

I therefore understand what you mean when you say "I never know what she wants" and "she’s someone who is never satisfied with anything." If she is a BPDer, it is impossible to please her or make her happy. It's like trying to fill up the Grand Canyon with a squirt gun. Moreover, given her insatiable need for validation as "The Victim," every outcome is a lose-lose for you no matter what you choose to do. You lose if you do and you lose if you don't. Or, as you say, "The other day we got into an argument in which she told me to leave. When I left the room, she yelled at me for leaving. I just had to laugh."
I am constantly walking on eggshells around her.
You should STOP doing that. It is harmful to both of you. This is why the #1 best-selling BPD book (targeted to abused spouses) is called Stop Walking on Eggshells.
I've mentioned the D word before and she say "fine, you know where the door is".... but the time I actually tried to leave she physically restrained me.
This contradictory behavior (of hating you but not wanting you to leave) is why the #2 best-selling BPD book is called I Hate You, Don't Leave Me.
There’s also one case of a physical altercation where we got into an argument (I don’t remember at this time what is was about)
BPDers create arguments not only to create drama but also to push the spouse away, thus giving them breathing space. I describe this process in Maybe's thread at the link provided below. Here I will simply observe that, because the purpose of most fights is to push you away and stop the suffocating feeling of engulfment, a BPDer will create the arguments over nothing at all. They are manufactured out of thin air. This is why, a few days later, neither the BPDer nor her spouse will remember what most of the heated arguments were about.
I tried to leave out the front door to cool off and she physically tried to stop me.
Because BPDers have an emotional development that was frozen at about age four, they never learned how to regulate their emotions and do self soothing. One result of this limitation is that, when a BPDer is angry, she feels the matter must be resolved RIGHT NOW. The need for a resolution is so urgent because she lacks the skills to do self calming, which would allow her to revisit it calmly at a latter time. A BPDer therefore usually does not view "cooling off" as an option.
I know failure in relationships always rests on BOTH parties.
Yes, if you've been in a toxic relationship for four years, the toxicity is not something that SHE is doing to you. Rather, it is something that you BOTH are doing to each other. Of course, her contribution to the toxicity (e.g., verbal abuse) is easy to see. Yours is harder to see because, as an excessive caregiver, you appear to only be "trying to help." The problem is that, by trying to save a woman who doesn't really want to be saved (she wants drama), and by trying to fix a woman who doesn't want to be fixed, you've become an enabler. That is, you are hurting her by enabling her to continue behaving like a spoiled four year old -- and GET AWAY WITH IT. In that way, you are destroying her only opportunities to confront her issues and learn how to manage them. This is why it is important that she be allowed to suffer the logical consequences of her own bad choices and dysfunctional behavior.
She has always been a stressed person, but I feel that as the relationship has progressed, she more and more unfairly directs it at me.
If she is a high functioning BPDer, her anger will usually be directed at you. HF BPDers typically interact very well with casual friends, business associates, and strangers. None of those folks pose a threat to her two great fears. There is no close relationship to be abandoned and there is no intimacy to trigger the suffocating feeling of engulfment. This is why HF BPDers often will be seen being generous and caring all day long to complete strangers -- and then will go home at night to abuse the very people who love them.
The only person who is ever able to calm her down and get through to her about anything is her mom.
As I said, it is important that she learn the skill of self soothing. As for you, you should aspire to be far more than a "soothing object" for a woman who refuses to take responsibility for herself. You deserve a husband/wife relationship, not the parent/child relationship you seem to be describing.
She has always been a stressed person.
Always? I ask because an important issue -- if she has many strong BPD traits -- is whether they have been persistent since about age14. Significantly, every adult on the planet occasionally exhibits all nine of the BPD traits, albeit at a low level if the person is emotionally healthy. These traits become a problem only when they are so strong and persistent that they undermine one's perception of other peoples' intentions, thereby sabotaging the close LTRs.

I caution that, even for us nonBPDers, our BPD traits can temporarily flair up for several months or years due to a brain injury, brain tumor, drug abuse, or a pronounced hormone change (as occurs during puberty, pregnancy, and postpartum). I mention this because postpartum hormone changes can last two years -- well beyond the 17 months since your D was born. An important issue, then, is whether your W has strong BPD traits and, if so, whether they have been PERSISTENT.

With BPDers (those having lasting traits), the strong BPD traits do not vanish for a year or two. Rather, they typically only disappear during the courtship, a period that usually lasts 3 to 6 months. During that period, the BPDer's infatuation convinces her that her lover is the nearly perfect man, her soul mate. For this reason, the infatuation holds her two great fears (abandonment and engulfment) at bay. As soon as the infatuation evaporates, however, the fears return and the traits start showing themselves again.
How do I find the strength to move on?
You likely don't need it. I believe you already have far more strength than you need. If you are an excessive caregiver like me, your problem is not weakness but, rather, nagging guilt. For us caregivers, the notion of walking away from a hurting loved one is anathema. It goes against our religion, our family values, our ideals of commitment -- indeed, against every fiber of our being. Yet, if your W has strong BPD traits and is unwilling to work hard on them in therapy (for several years at least), walking away may be exactly what you need to do.

To deal with that misguided sense of guilt, I again suggest you see a psychologist -- by yourself for a visit or two -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what you and your daughter are having to deal with. I don't know whether your W has most BPD traits at a strong and persistent level, but I believe you are capable of learning how to spot any and all red flags that exist. There is nothing subtle or nuanced about BPD traits such as verbal abuse, temper tantrums, and fear of abandonment.

I therefore also suggest you start reading about BPD traits to see if most of them sound very familiar. An easy place to begin, here on TAM, is my description of BPD traits in Maybe's thread at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/33734-my-list-hell.html#post473522. If that description rings lots of bells, I would be glad to discuss them with you and point you to good online resources. Take care, Curtis.
 

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Roll,
Not looking to instill fear of the law, just showing you what I have seen happen to many a sailor who decided it was easier to deal with their wife by putting hands on her, even on a low level pushing and shoving basis. All those things I listed above happened to two sailors (separate cases) that committed DV that way. They WERE arrested, TRIED, and CONVICTED of DV on the wife's word alone. All those consequences, plus mandatory separation from the military, were imposed. You need to understand how serious DV charges are before you find yourself on the business end of them.

To prevent that:

Carry a VAR with you if you suspect your wife will try to block your path again. When she does, simply state that you are leaving your house and that blocking you is against the law and you intend to phone the police if she does not get out of the way. The VAR is your witness that you did not yell at her and no signs of a struggle on the recording is your witness that you did not place your hands on her either.
 
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