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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Married 4 years, no infidelity, no big issues...

It just seems like any mistake I have ever made has not been forgiven. Maybe I'm not properly addressing this, but there is this underlying anger and resentment that my wife has that just infuriates her anytime she thinks back to fights.

Its getting to the point where we were out celebrating our anniversary tonight and she became furious about a batchelor party two years ago where one of my friends got a little inappropriate with a stripper. I didn't tell my wife what he did until one of my friends slipped a few weeks later and then I told her. We had a huge fight about it, and then it just comes up over and over again every once in awhile and turns into a huge fight.

How many times does someone need to apologize for a mistake they made?

There's plenty of other things too, just anything and everything that made her mad in the past always comes back to haunt me and turns out just as big of a fight as it did when it happened. Its not just once or twice...it just adds to the lust she keeps yof my mistakes that she feels the need to bring up and get furious about. Then out of the blue she's screaming and I'm sleeping on the couch.

Should I just expect this? I know she doesn't want to get hurt again but when do you give up on getting someones trust back? Again, the story above is about as bad as these mistakes get...

A few more

-times I've drank too much
-falling asleep when she is out late traveling and missing a 3am phone call
-drugs from my past (way before her)
-girls I've dated
-spending too much time working
 

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This is a boundary problem. She's dumping life's frustrations onto you and using your past mistakes to get you to go along with it. What you're not seeing is this is emotional abuse. She has no reason to be screaming at you over something you did 2 years ago. That's just nuts.

What you need to do is learn some skills. Boundary setting, how to deal with angry people, how to stand up for yourself, something but I promise this has NOTHING to do with your past mistakes.
 

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I agree with Mavash.

On a related note, people who have PTSD have difficulty assimilating new information. They simply do not adjust to a new reality that is better, but instead will cling to the negative one. I don't know how to explain this well, as a psychiatrist I worked with described it once during a continuing ed session I attended, but I never worked directly with this. The way I understood it, some people are unable to recognize that the "now" is separate from the "then."

Are either of you in any kind of counseling where you might be able to find out whether this may be the case and if it's treatable?
 

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I completely relate to this post. I know several people who are like your wife, including myself. My mother, and many other members of my family, don't let go of past grudges. For example, my mom and dad have been divorced 15+ years...barely speak to each other...she'll still bring up things that he did to her over 15 years ago.

One of my boyfriend's complaints about his ex-wife, and one of his closest friends, was that they held grudges and never forgave or forgot, even minor wrongs against them, and they have lost many relationships and friends because of that.

Not surprisingly, the they all seem to share many personality traits and characteristics. Unfortunately what people who do this, don't realize, is that their behavior ends up driving people away, and they don't understand why.

I've been guilty of this too, doing what your wife does, to my SO. I forgive, but it's very hard for me to let things go sometimes, if that makes sense. Through some self-help and reading of this forum, I realized that's very unhealthy and destructive behavior; that what people did back then isn't what they are doing now. It's hard, but I've been trying to drive past resentments from my mind, at least, those that we've discussed, and resolved. Sometimes when we have disagreements, I have to try very hard (not always successfully, but I am trying) to not bring past incidents into it and try to focus on the topic / issue at hand.

Have you tried talking to your wife about this and how it's making you feel? If that doesn't work, are you guys willing to consider going into counseling?
 

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I've been guilty of this too, doing what your wife does, to my SO. I forgive, but it's very hard for me to let things go sometimes, if that makes sense. Through some self-help and reading of this forum, I realized that's very unhealthy and destructive behavior; that what people did back then isn't what they are doing now. It's hard, but I've been trying to drive past resentments from my mind, at least, those that we've discussed, and resolved.
I struggle with this too, but I think my problem is that we never resolve anything, it's all rug-swept. I don't think we even know how to.

OP, do you think you and your wife resolve issues as they happen? Or is she bringing things up because they're still open wounds? I have no idea how to tell which is the case in my own life so I can't advise you here, but I'm sure someone more knowledgeable can.
 

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My ex was queen of holding grudges for years over trivial miscues. One time when she was a girl she didn't speak to her mother for a year over some silly argument. There's a person who never lets go. It sounds like she and your wife never feel closure and are comfortable going to bed angry at their SO.

A big reason why she is now my EX instead of my SO ;)

I don't have any advice for you. People like that rarely change :(
 

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hi sevenhills, you say it's not a big issue but it is a big issue. This is dysfunctional, twisted, warped, and sick. She's got a big big problem and now it's your problem to deal with over and over and over and over again. And you end up on the couch for an indiscretion before you even met or years ago?

She's got the problem, but you're accomodating her problem and enabling her problem. Not that you have a psychology degree or anything to know how to deal with this, but you need to either 1) learn how to deal with her outbursts in a more constructive way without getting sucked into it, although your natural inclination will be to defend yourself or diffuse the situation, or 2) accept that you cannot change her behavior, and keep this destructive cycle going for the rest of your marriage, putting your future kids at risk for an out-of-control mother, 3) tell her that you love her and she has to get help or that you have to leave.

There are too many sad stories here at TAM of spouses that are punching bags for out of control spouses.
 

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I can so relate to this. I have been married 25 years and I can tell you it doesn't get better. It can happen anytime and for really no reason.

She will be grumpy about something and I will find out it is related to something that happened as long as 28 years ago (when we met). The longer you are married, the more ammunition she will build up.

We have intimacy issues and I think it is tied to this resentment she feels. Now whenever she feels like we might be getting close, she can pull out some memory and cause herself to be mad. It puts distance between us and results in us not being intimate.

I wish I had good advice for you. All I can say, is try to get her to do some counseling, because left alone, it won't get better.

For what it is worth, everyone thinks we have a great life. We have three good kids, a big house, lots of money, neither of us have been unfaithful. It is little things that happen over the years that she just can't get over. If we are out in public and some little thing happens (ie. I can't find my key in my coat for a few minutes) then everyone laughs about it (including her). But when we get in the car, I get told how useless and unorganized I am and that I never know where anything is.

Also, it is a complete double standard. If she makes a mistake (gets lost when driving, forgets to pay a bill, forgets a kids appointment, etc.) it is no big deal. She will laugh and make fun of it. But if I do the same thing, I am a loser and totally incompetent.

The thing I hate is that she has things sitting at the edge of her brain and can pull out these negative memories without even having to think. And I am sitting there thinking, "Damn, I know she did something similar or worse, but what the hell was it."

I remember the good things and forget the bad. She is the opposite.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks everyone for answering my post. We've been married for 4 years and there is very little that she has ever truly forgiven me for.

She is a chronic "overreactor". She over-reacts at me, her family, my family, work, friends, everything is ALWAYS a huge deal. Everything is always a fight. She grew up the child of an alcoholic and I think this is a big part of it. It's so bad that everyone in her life is afraid to tell her things, because chances are she will fly of the handle and into a rage.

Through our 4 years of marriage I've experienced this so many times that I've become afraid of telling her things. Somethings might not even get her mad, but I'm so afraid they will, I don't say anything. The problem is, that sometimes she finds out later...and then breeds the problem of her not thinking I am honest.

So there's been a few details I've left out of the past, and she's like a sleuth finding these things out. I've tried to be better about this and get to a better place where I am more confident to take the abuse and maybe it won't be as bad.

But it CONTINUES to be bad...

It's like I don't tell her, she finds out and she gets mad...then brings it up for years and years and doesn't trust me.

or I DO tell her, and she flips out, worries about it, and is all over me about whatever happened for years and years.

Seems like lose lose to me.

We've tried couples therapy and it only made things worse. I've been seeing someone and now she's agreed to as well.

But man, she's made her fair share of mistakes, and always let her apologize and it's over. And if I bring them up again or have a hard time letting go, she gets so mad at me, that I stop.

The list just keeps building and building on her end...I think she got some new ammo today which was absolutely ridiculous. (she's mad i didn't share there was a strip club across the street from one of my customers, which I told her today out of the blue...I didn't think it mattered, I had never been there!)

I'm literally steps away from a divorce but I'm scared what I'm going to do.
 

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I read this and don't know where to begin. It's all in the ey of the beholder.

I sometimes think that my fiance purposely baits me with things. For example, last week I was trying to help him recover his costs from having ordered items from a retailer that is now in receivership. So he surmised that they may be stuck with the Royal Mail. Ok, so that reminded me of an incident that involved the Royal Mail and a few years ago. But then he stops me and says, oh you've told me this story before.

Ok, on one level, he may not be aware. My exH was very cutting should I make the mistake of repeating something even once. Even though he could look on to a couple of other women with loving attentive eyes, even laughing on each occasion was MEANT to be funny (even if it wasn't). I did tell him last week that I had this problem with my ExH, so he does know now.

But it also triggered me on the level with him. How many times have I told him this story? The last time more than a year ago. And with his EA, how many times did he put up with her reminding him about how OLD I am (I am 21 years older than she) ....... He once used the expression: "she kept asking me what did I see in a 50 yo woman......." So how many times would that represent in a 3 month window?

I have certainly learned to identify trigger words and phrases with loved ones. With my older sister, I know to stay from topics related to weight management and hair care....... she may not be as bossy with other people but she is with me...... So the question is, why can't he?

I'm just wondering, sevenhills, are yo sure that you not purposely baiting her? Has she ever explained why she might be hypersensitive to one or another topic? Or do you use the her self-disclosures as a stick to beat her with?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
No, I think you missed my post.

My wife has a list of 5 or 6 things I've done in the past that she just can't get over. No cheating, no EA, no flirting, just mistakes or white lies, or details I left out of my past.

She brings things from this list up all the time...and gets mad about each one of the items like it just happened. The list has grown, sometimes its one thing, sometimes two, Friday night she brought up every single thing...it is driving me out of the marriage. I can't take it anymore.

Move on or end it! I just don't see why she will pretend to forgive but never forget... ALL of these things are over a year old, some of them 3+, or even 5+. She still gets mad at me for waiting to call her or three weeks after I got her number when we first met!!!!!!!

Its a serious issue. I am begging her to see a councilor but she is usually too busy telling me that I am the problem to even take ownership of any of the fighting
 

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I once dated a guy and I remember he made an issue out of a couple of things that didn't make sense to me.

1. After 8 months of dating him, I made a reference to a part time internship that I had 20 years ago. It's not on my resume these days. and I can't think of a single question that he may asked him in which not mentioning that job could be construed as lying.

2. A friend of mine organised a picnic. He and I went together and I also invited a guy I knew from way back with whom I had recently connected. I told my dating partner that I had invited this guy. turns out they spoke to each other at the picnic. My dating partner later mentioned that he said that he and I had met at a creative writing course 10 years ago. I told him that that was true. My dating partner then asked how I think he should feel about that.

I think what may have been playing in the background is, that despite this guy being late 40s at the time, he did not have a lot of relationship experience. And I really felt that he resented my having a life before he met me. But both men and women need to get over that.

My feeling is that my problem is the exact opposite..... that is, maybe I have TOO much relationship experience.

So Sevenhills, let me be your IC for the evening. You wrote:



-times I've drank too much -- Is this often? And are you violent when you drink? Getting a bit tipsy at the end of the evening is not a problem for me, but I accept that it could be for others.
-falling asleep when she is out late traveling and missing a 3am phone call -- Was she in a significantly different time zone? Or was she checking up on you?

-drugs from my past (way before her) Could she be fearful that you are sussceptible to drug addiction? If not, she may have the same problem as that guy I dated above.
-girls I've dated Have you given TMI about your past exploits....oh, I mean dates. If so, then remember some things are better left unsaid/
-spending too much time working My mother complained that my father worked too much. In the 70s, he did work 6 days a week. On Sundays, he was either drugged up on sleeping pills; dragging us to church to make his father happy; or going into his office (he was a doctor) to see patients who had the balls to call him on Sunday. He was listed in the white pages for all his life. Am I btw describing you as well Sevenhills or do you feel that you manage the demands of your job and its rewards in a proportional manner that your wife should understand that in this recessionary period, you're doing rather well.

Well, hope I gave not just food for thought, but actually, a veritable feast. I wish you the best.
 

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SevenHills, the behaviors you describe include the inability to trust, always being "The Victim," blameshifting, a strong fear of abandonment, irrational jealousy, verbal abuse, intimacy issues, and anger that is triggered in several seconds into temper tantrums. Significantly, these are some of the classic traits of a well-known personality disorder (PD). Yet, if your W has moderate to strong traits of that particular PD, you also should be seeing most of the following behavioral traits:
  • 1. Black-white thinking, wherein she categorizes everyone as "all good" or "all bad" and will recategorize someone -- in just a few seconds -- from one polar extreme to the other based on a minor infraction;
  • 2. Frequent use of all-or-nothing expressions like "you always" and "you never;"
  • 3. Irrational jealousy and controlling behavior that tries to isolate you away from close friends or family members;
  • 4. A strong sense of entitlement that prevents her from appreciating your sacrifices, resulting in a "what have you done for me lately?" attitude;
  • 5. Flipping, on a dime, between adoring you and devaluing you,;
  • 6. Frequently creating drama over issues so minor that neither of you can recall what the fight was about two days later;
  • 7. Low self esteem;
  • 8. Verbal abuse and anger that is easily triggered, in seconds, by a minor thing you say or do (real or imagined), resulting in temper tantrums that typically last several hours;
  • 9. Fear of abandonment or being alone;
  • 10. Always being "The Victim," a false self image she validates by blaming you for every misfortune;
  • 11. Lack of impulse control, wherein she does reckless things without considering the consequences (e.g., binge eating or spending);
  • 12. Complaining that all her previous BFs were abusive and claiming (during your courtship) that you are the only one who has treated her well;
  • 13. Mirroring your personality and preferences so perfectly during the courtship period (e.g., enjoying everything and everyone you like) that you were convinced you had met your "soul mate;"
  • 14. Relying on you to center and ground her, giving her a sense of direction because her goals otherwise keep changing every few months;
  • 15. Relying on you to sooth her and calm her down, when she is stressed, because she has so little ability to do self soothing;
  • 16. Having many casual friends but not any close long-term friends (unless they live a long distance away);
  • 17. Taking on the personality of whatever person she is talking to, thereby acting quite differently around different types of people; and
  • 18. Always convinced that her intense feelings accurately reflect reality -- to the point that she regards her own feelings as self-evident facts, despite her inability to support them with any hard evidence.
SevenHills, if your W does not exhibit most of these traits at a strong and persistent level, please ignore the list. On the other hand, if most of them do apply to her, it would be very helpful if you would tell us which ones she exhibits strongly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My wife exhibits every single one of those items. Absolutely every single one. Its uncanny reading that list.

I have read up a lot on the children of alcoholics and found a lot of those items on that list as well. I have attributed many of her faults to her upbringing with a violent alcoholic father.
 

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My wife exhibits every single one of those items. Absolutely every single one.
SevenHills, the behaviors you describe -- i.e., the inability to trust, always being "The Victim," blameshifting, fear of abandonment, irrational jealousy, verbal abuse, intimacy issues, and temper tantrums -- are classic traits of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), which my exW has. Likewise, the 18 behaviors listed above are typical BPD traits.

Keep in mind, however, that BPD is a "spectrum disorder," which means it affects us all to some degree. That is, every adult on the planet will occasionally exhibit all 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 distort one's perception of other peoples' intentions, thereby undermining one's ability to form close attachments and maintain them for a long time. At issue, then, is NOT whether your W exhibits all 18 traits. Of course she does. We ALL do to some degree. Rather, at issue is whether she exhibits them at a strong and persistent level.
I have attributed many of her faults to her upbringing with a violent alcoholic father.
Sounds like a wise decision to me. Significantly, 70% of BPDers report that they were abused or abandoned in early childhood. Hence, if your W has strong BPD traits, it is not surprising to hear that she was raised by an abusive alcoholic father.
We've been married for 4 years and there is very little that she has ever truly forgiven me for.
BPDers typically have such fragile egos that, to the extent they have any stable self image at all, it is one of being "The Victim," always "The Victim." They therefore have a strong need to keep validating that false self image nearly every day. This is why, following the wedding, you must become "The Perpetrator," the man on whom every misfortune and bad thought must be blamed.

Indeed, even the bad thoughts originating in the BPDer's mind will be projected (at a subconscious level) onto you. The BPDer therefore will consciously believe nearly all of the outrageous accusations coming out of her mouth. The result is that, during nearly every argument -- no matter how trivial -- the BPDer will bring out her long list of accusations going all the way back to the beginning of your relationship. That list, after all, is her proof of always being "The Victim."
It's so bad that everyone in her life is afraid to tell her things....I've become afraid of telling her things.
Your enabling behavior is called "walking on eggshells." It is harmful to your W as well as to you. This is why the #1 best-selling BPD book (targeted to the abused spouses) is called Stop Walking on Eggshells.
We've tried couples therapy and it only made things worse. I've been seeing someone and now she's agreed to as well.
If your W has strong BPD traits, MC likely will be a total waste of time because her issues go far beyond a simple lack of communication skills. Indeed, teaching a BPDer better communication skills can make things worse by making her better at manipulation. MC likely will be inappropriate until a BPDer has had several years of intensive IC to learn how to manage her issues.

I therefore suggest that you see a clinical psychologist -- all by yourself for a visit or two -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you are dealing with. Importantly, your W's therapist is NOT YOUR FRIEND. He is ethically bound -- just like an attorney -- to protect her best interests. You therefore cannot rely on your W's therapist to tell you her full diagnosis if she is a BPDer (i.e., has strong traits). Therapists generally are loath to tell a BPDer -- much less her H -- the name of the disorder (to protect the BPDer client). There are several reasons for this and, if you are interested, you will find an explanation in my post at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/genera...-official-im-getting-divorced.html#post811909.

I also suggest that, while you are waiting for an appointment with YOUR OWN psychologist, you read about BPD traits so you will know how to spot the red flags. Although you will not be able to make a diagnosis (only professionals can do that), spotting the warning signs is not difficult. There is nothing subtle about traits such as verbal abuse, temper tantrums, always being "The Victim," and verbal abuse.

An easy place to begin reading about BPD traits is my description of them in my post in Maybe's thread at My list of hell!. If that description rings a bell, I will be glad to discuss it with you and point you to good online resources. Take care, SevenHills.
 
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