My wife and I have been married for just barely 6 years now. No kids. We have been together since I finished college, dated 2.5 years before marriage. No cheating (I have never cheated on anybody ever and would walk before doing it) involved.
I feel that my wife may have a problem with "mood swings." A major problem is that I did not realize they were an/the issue until the past couple years --- I felt like garbage/depressed and didn't know why. The problem is this has happened since a couple months into us dating.
I was a VERY lucky kid. My parents argued but they did it civilly. We were taught to not shout or use our words in a hurtful fashion - I only recall them yelling at each other once and they have been together for almost 40 years of marriage.
Her childhood was different. Her mother likely is mentally ill - she is extremely religious to the point where she has visions, believes the end is imminently near, talks to God, etc. She is socially awkward and has little sense of boundaries or social rules. Her kids wonder why my wife's father (who is awesome) has not left her yet. She will severely insult her children in private & public on a frequent basis - for example, she has repeatedly told her adult children (in front of THEIR children) that she can't wait until her grandchildren grow up to hate them so that she can laugh at her own children. I refuse to speak to her because I feel she is (at a minimum) psychologically and emotionally abusive. My wife will oscillate between acknowledging that her mother has problems and sometimes making excuses for her or claiming to not have heard/seen the things her mom did (despite being there at the time her mom does this stuff). It has to be embarrassing for my wife and I feel bad for her.
So my wife has these "mood swings" wherein she will suddenly and without warning become angry when something happens. These are almost always verbal in nature (she has only thrown things at me 3 times, and this was a couple years ago). The really outrageous ones follow the same general pattern - something happens, yelling/screaming/insults/swearing, followed by her usually fleeing to a bedroom or someplace private and crying inconsolably and possibly silent treatment. Then the next day she acts like nothing happened or sometimes would text or leave a voicemail saying she was sorry. Of course, these would have serious impacts on my emotional health - I would often be crying in the shower the next morning after she left or barely able to keep it together at work. These events would happen about once or twice a month on average, sometimes a couple months would go by, sometimes they would happen twice a week. These happen even when life was stress free - every fancy international vacation we went on except one had at least one of these attacks.
While she hasn't had one of these really outrageous mood swings in a while (close to a year), she's had a more than a few "moderate" mood swings which I still consider unacceptable. She'll get sarcastic, make insults, etc but without the explosion described above. For example, the other day we left visiting relatives in another state a little later than expected which put her about 15 minutes late for an appointment. The whole drive home I got sarcastic comments about my driving, insults (for example, I got the silent treatment the whole way home except for F word statements asking if I knew how to drive at random points), being told she didn't want to see me. She stormed out of the house to get in her car when she left and then later left an angry voicemail demanding to know why I didn't go outside to see her off - my answer was that I wanted to descalate things and was listening to her previous guidance that she wanted me out of her way.
The thing that's terrible about this is 98% of the time she's fine. She's happy and loving. A completely different woman. Then once in a while the explosion happens or a mood swing happens and it hits me again. I realized that the depression I felt the first few years of the relationship was likely due to these mood swings but I always kept making excuses for her - obviously it was my fault since she was so awesome. I would apologize, do anything to appease her, etc. Then I started thinking - I dated some women before her, and none of them ever had these mood swings. None of them ever screamed at me or threw stuff. None of them ever would have these bizarre attacks as described above. I was so blind the first few years of marriage - I even went to a therapist for one appointment and denied there was any problems with our marriage -- the therapist told me that my depression was normal and due to the newness of marriage and that my wife and I needed to get socially integrated more or something.
Finances are excellent, we have tons of cash, stable job prospects and good careers. None of the usual stressors that exist in a typical marriage are present in ours. She's smart and holds down a professional career (she actually made a career change a couple years ago at my behest since I thought she should get away from stress), although I wonder if she has self image problems since she put on about 80 lbs since we got married. Which is what worries me, if her attacks are exacerbated by stress then what happens if she ever runs into problems in her career or we ever have children (her and I both don't want them for another 3-5 years so we're okay there for now)? I don't ever want my kids to see a parent act like that, plus I think it's probably mentally damaging.
However, this brings us to the rub. The other day after the car incident I talked to her about it. She stated that these would be something I would have to live with because "mood swings" are normal in women, but it was something she could try to work on, but it was normal for any woman and not anything to expect any different from her in the future. I couldn't believe what I was hearing - I think she's in denial or embarassed.
These mood swings are almost always in private between her and I (although I now know she has had them with at least one exboyfriend, her family in the past and one terrible incident where she lost it on a salesman at the department store in the first year of marriage and I had to nearly drag her out). So I doubt anybody else suspects there is a problem. I did tell one of my friends a few months ago and he didn't know what to say. She's great otherwise (if you look at all of the other attributes between us we're probably a 90%+ match in compatibility), but I am at the end of my rope. The memories of some of the worst mood swings run constantly in my head, sometimes I can't sleep because I keep hearing them over and over again.
So even though the frequency and severity of the "mood swings" has dropped over the past year or two they still happen. I travel frequently for work so the chance for her to flip at me is a lot lower. The thing that bothers me is that even if they were completely halted tomorrow, I still have the bad memories in my head. I can't deal with yelling - I once quit a job because the boss yelled at people and this was 1000x worse because this is swearing/screaming/etc from a person I care about more than anything. And I have the flashbacks of her going off on me popping in my head from time to time. Not good.
So I'm ready to walk. I don't know if my wife knows it. I think what has kept me in this relationship (I know I would have been gone a long time ago if we didn't have rings on our hands) is I really really care about her. I probably still love her.
But has anybody had this happen to them? Is my wife correct in her assertion that these "mood swings" are normal in women? That floored me. I only have a limited experience with my parents marriage and my past girlfriends. If this is normal then I'm pretty sure I won't get married ever again :-D.
My husband has the same problem and the one thing I try to remind him is that just because he has the ability to just forget about it doesnt mean I can. They dont understand that years from now those words will still cut deep even though that much time has passed. Sounds to me like she is bipolar and may need medicated. Be careful if you raise this issue though, she likely wont take it well. My husband also has a parent that was verbally abusive in childhood (physically as well though I think the verbal abuse leaves behind more damage for the child as they go into adulthood). Keep your head up and do what you have to do to keep your own mental health in balance.
Ok, time for a real eye opener... Time to man up. If you can't take a woman yelling at you 2% of the time, then you need a roommate not a spouse. While yes, she may have some psycho genes floating around, she sounds nothing like her mother. It sounds like you have lived a sheltered life, & research is showing that more & more adults who lived sheltered childhoods are growing up unable to cope. I'm sure there is research the other way too, but in your case it's obvious. You, are unable to cope with controversy & arguing, you run away from it (You quit your job rather than burying it & having a beer at the end of a long day & now you are thinking of ending your marriage over it) Hell, I can't remember the last mean thing my wife called me, but it was probably yesterday as she is still asleep today
While I'm certain you are a probably a normal middle class guy, you need individual counseling to help you cope better. You want flashbacks? Think about the sex you won't be having if you can't cope. Basically what you need to realize is that she isn't yelling at you because she disrespects you or doesn't love you, she is yelling at you because love is an emotion sometimes masked by anger. Would she ever yell at me like that? No, I'm a stranger. She loves you. Love her back.
Grow a pair, & let this go. Her mother is a real gem though. I wouldn't talk to that b@&$ either. As for your sheltered life, congrats, but see what it has done to you? As parents we have to let our children experience some real life, not fully sheltered ones... This doesn't mean let them see you throw pots & pans at each other, but find a healthy balance.
As for the bipolar comment from the previous poster, she (the previous poster) has much worse issues with her own spouse & arguments daily. She obviously didn't read about the frequency of your spats. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder requires so many manic episodes in a certain timeframe & both of those variables at always controversial. If it is as infrequent as you say, then I see no problem with your wife. Go to her & tell her that you have a coping problem & want counseling. This will get her to go to MC together & then you'll hopefully get the adjustment you need to deal with real life & she may get an SSRI to help her deal with mood swings. Best of luck!
A couple of words come to my mind when I read your story,
Boundaries and Balance
1) People treat you the way you LET them treat you. And you teach them how to respond to you.
2) Healthy emotions need to be balanced
Learn how to argue, disagree, and make up. And learn how to let it go when it doesn't go perfectly.
Go to counselling, even if by yourself.
A more balanced approach to all of this?
Learn how to accept her apology, and follow it up with a suggestion on how she should treat you, and react. Redirect when she throws insults. Tell her you will NOT be spoken to in that manner, and walk away. Tell her she can discuss it when she is willing to be respectful. Does she have a role model on how to behave in life? As her husband, is that role model to be you, or should she seek counselling?
And her past, and your past, isn't an excuse that is good for the rest of your life for behaving poorly. It's just... a challenge.
I do hope you seek help with this, instead of running away. You don't know if you can overcome this unless you try. You would only win, I would think.
I feel that my wife may have a problem with "mood swings."
NewEngland, the two most common causes of long term mood problems are bipolar disorder and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). I agree with Nod that you are NOT describing bipolar behaviors. Instead, the behaviors you describe -- i.e., the temper tantrums, lack of impulse control, blame-shifting, sudden Jekyll-Hyde transformations, and refusal to accept responsibility -- are classic traits of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), which my exW has.
Significantly, I am not saying she has the full blown disorder -- only a professional can determine that. Rather, I'm only saying you are describing a woman who may have moderate to strong traits of BPD. If so, it is a serious problem because, even when such traits fall well short of the diagnostic threshold, they still can be strong enough to make your life miserable and undermine a marriage.
I am not a psychologist but I did live with a BPDer exW for 15 years and I've taken care of a bipolar foster son for longer than that. Moreover, I took both of them to a long series of psychologists for 15 years. Based on those experiences, I have found nine 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've mentioned nothing about mania. Instead, you've described a W who flips 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 a week. The latter therefore is consistent with your description of numerous temper tantrums ("two a month on average," you say).
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 are consistent with with the brief tantrums and hissy fits 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. Significantly, the behavior you describe is consistent with these event-triggered outbursts. As you say, the bad mood does not slowly develop but, rather, "she will suddenly and without warning become angry when something happens." Like I said, the tantrum is event-triggered.
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. As you are clearly aware, the source of your W's damage likely is her mother and the damage likely occurred in early childhood.
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 don't have to do anything to CREATE the anger. Rather, you only have to say or do some minor thing to TRIGGER the anger that is already there -- which is consistent with your description.
An eight difference is that a bipolar sufferer typically is capable of tolerating intimacy when she 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 is consistent with your observation that her tantrums even when there is no stress.
Indeed, you say her outbursts have occurred on all but one of your very expensive vacations. I had the same problem with my BPDer exW. She was ruining so many $4,000 vacations that I stopped taking her on lavish vacations. If I was going to have to put up with a tantrum, I could do that at home and avoid spending $500/day.
Finally, a ninth 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. Interestingly, you mention nothing about her having trust issues. If she has strong BPD traits, she almost certainly has trust issues. Until she learns to love and trust herself, she will be unable to consistently trust others.
The problem is this has happened since a couple months into us dating.
If she has strong BPD traits, they likely would have completely vanished for 3 to 6 months during the courtship. Her infatuation over you would have held her two great fears (abandonment and engulfment) at bay for that long. She had no reason to fear you because, for that brief period, she perceived of you as perfect and flawless. Yet, as soon as the infatuation evaporated, you would have started seeing the red flags.
Her childhood was different. Her mother likely is mentally ill.
Most abused children do NOT develop BPD (probably because it is genetic to a large extent). But such abuse GREATLY raises the risk of doing so. Indeed, a 2008 study found that 70% of BPDers report that they were abandoned or abused (or had emotionally unavailable mothers) in childhood.
These would have serious impacts on my emotional health - I would often be crying in the shower the next morning after she left or barely able to keep it together at work.
If you have only been crying in the shower, consider yourself lucky if you've been living with a BPDer for 6 years. Many spouses of BPDers become so disoriented by the rapid Jekyll-Hyde transformations that they feel like they are going crazy. Indeed, of the several dozen mental disorders in the DSM-IV, BPD is the only one that is notorious for making the partner feel like he may be losing his mind.
She's smart and holds down a professional career.... These mood swings are almost always in private between her and I.
Most BPDers -- even those with the full blown disorder -- are "high functioning," which means that they interact very well with casual friends, business associates, and total strangers. None of those people pose a threat to their two great fears. There is no close relationship that can be abandoned. And there is no intimacy to trigger engulfment. Lord help those folks, however, if they make the mistake of drawing real close to the BPDer. The result is that many BPDers can excel in very demanding professions, e.g., becoming nurses, social workers, police officers, physicians, and psychologists. This is why it is common for a BPDer to be caring and generous all day long with total strangers -- and then go home at night to verbally abuse the very people who love her.
So I doubt anybody else suspects there is a problem.
With high functioning BPDers, the casual friends don't have a clue. Hence, if you decide to divorce your W and she is a BPDer, you can expect to lose most of the friends you have in common with her. Typically, BPDers are very nasty and vindictive when you try to leave them.
I wonder if she has self image problems since she put on about 80 lbs since we got married.
If she has strong BPD traits, she almost certainly has a weak, fragile sense of who she really is. The image problem, then, would go far beyond a body-image problem. I nonetheless note, however, that my exW started eating like a truck driver right after we were married. Like your W, she put on about 80 pounds.
What happens if she ever runs into problems in her career or we ever have children?
Another risk, if she has strong BPD traits, is the chance of her passing a predisposition to mental illness on to your children through genetics. Like the other PDs, BPD is believed to be partly the result of heredity and partly due to childhood environment. Hence, before having children with her, I strongly encourage you to see a clinical psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you are dealing with.
The memories of some of the worst mood swings run constantly in my head, sometimes I can't sleep because I keep hearing them over and over again.
Like you, I had great trouble getting rid of the images I had in my mind after the tantrums died down. The look of utter disgust and hatred seen on my exW's face would stay with me. In contrast, my exW would be ready to jump into bed and make love to me right after her tantrum. BPDers can do that because they are so intolerant of mixed feelings that they "split off" one set of feelings (hating you) while experiencing another set (loving you).
Does anybody have any thoughts?
My thought is that, while you are waiting for an appointment with a psychologist, you may profit from reading more about BPD traits -- to see if most sound very familiar. An easy place to start reading is my description of such traits in Maybe's thread at My list of hell!. If that description rings a bell, I would be glad to discuss it with you and point you to excellent online resources. Take care, NewEngland.
Uptown is the local expert, and I was going to refer you to him b/c what you describe sounds a lot like borderline personality disorder.
She needs to get into counseling to address the way she handles her emotions. Taking it out on the person who loves her most is NOT the answer. My daughter has those tendencies (she was adopted and has abandonement/attachment issues), and they are really only noticeable if she is tired or hungry--she can handle disappointment fine at other times. Still, abusive language is never, ever acceptable. She is in counseling for it.
All PEOPLE have occasional mood changes, but that does not mean that everyone loses it on a regular basis. I have never had a screaming argument with a significant other, ever. I have never said things just out of anger. I'm actually a fairly impulsive person, but somehow "fighting fair" as in communicating feelings appropriately has always been my mode. Now, after being ignored when "fighting fair," I have tried other tactics (with my ex) when he didn't respond to the needs I expressed, but even then, I never, ever cursed at him or called names or yelled. That's just childish.
NewEngland, the two most common causes of long term mood problems are bipolar disorder and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). I agree with Nod that you are NOT describing bipolar behaviors. Instead, the behaviors you describe -- i.e., the temper tantrums, lack of impulse control, blame-shifting, sudden Jekyll-Hyde transformations, and refusal to accept responsibility -- are classic traits of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), which my exW has. .... Take care, NewEngland.
Thanks for a great post. It's interesting you suggested Borderline. I agree she's definitely not bipolar - I had a good friend who has bipolar and she's absolutely nothing like the wife.
You mentioned trust issues - she does not have these. Although at the earlier parts of the marriage she claimed she had a dream where I cheated on her with a woman. She demanded repeatedly over a period of several days to know if I knew anybody of the same 1st name. When I realized I had a coworker in a distant office by the same first name, who I never spoke with anyway, she demanded that I never talk to her and would periodically question as to if I had any interaction with her (I did not). Ever since then trust has been fine.
The parts about the explosions occurring during happy times ring true - one of the worst ones occurred just after a family wedding where she was at one point screaming and crying so much because I had been called on the phone and asked to pick up the bride's next day dress and drop it off at the hotel that she didn't notice she turned down the wrong side of a divided highway at a traffic light. Thankfully it was at night. That was bad. And scary.
The part about developing fast connections was a bit eery. A month or so after dating she wanted me to promise her I would be there for her "forever." Then within 6 months of us dating she actually had me ask my parents what they thought about us being married someday. It got to the point that she would not leave a visit with the parents until I asked them. I kept putting it off, thinking it was weird, until she physically drove the car away while we were saying goodbyes to "go get gas" and then came back 15 minutes later.
I wonder if these symptoms can be in remission. Maybe time separated from her insane mother helps. Does this happen? Like I said before, the frequency and severity of the outbursts has decreased. However, it may be due to the fact that we have been living apart a lot while I'm traveling for work. When we talk on the phone everything is just peachy.
However, even if they are in remission I realize that the past incidents are stuck in my head. I don't want to be tormented for life --- I also don't want to face horrible regret or long term emotional pain by leaving. Even worse is reading about these behaviors being partially genetic. I don't think I could ever forgive myself if I had a kid that exhibited these problems due to genetics.
I know I sound delusional, but I guess my current plan is to give everything I have to the marriage as it is, forgive and forget as best I can for now, and the next time she blows up (which is hopefully never) probably have an immediate discussion with her (although I guess I do that the day after a lot of these explosions) take time out for a trial separation/move out and get into some counseling. It's really hard because she is completely normal, supportive and loving the overwhelming majority of the time. Then out of nowhere it's on.
If you don't mind me asking you, how far apart where the explosions/mood swings with your exW? Was it normal for there to be intervals of a couple weeks/months between them? Did my descriptions of the bad ones sound similar to yours?
How far apart where the explosions/mood swings with your exW? Was it normal for there to be intervals of a couple weeks/months between them?
Yes, that is the way it was with my exW. When we were doing long-distance dating for a year, there were no problems. Moreover, there were no problems during the first several months of her moving here to live with me.
When the red flags started appearing, it took the form of irrational jealousy and her being offended by actions that would not offend normal people. She felt disrespected, for example, if I was walking a few steps ahead of her on the sidewalk -- and she would sometimes deliberately slow down to see if I would immediately match her pace.
Our heated arguments did not occur every week only because I quickly started enabling her behavior by walking on eggshells. At the time, my view was to not sweat the small stuff and let it pass. So, with me being the doormat, her temper tantrums and rages only occurred every two or three weeks -- sometimes not for two or three months. Things got worse later in our marriage, however, when I started enforcing stronger personal boundaries.
Did my descriptions of the bad ones sound similar to yours?
Yes, but about once every three years my exW's temper tantrum would get so bad that she would turn her anger inward on herself, becoming very depressed. And, at the end of our marriage, she had a temper tantrum in which she called the police and had me arrested on a bogus charge -- something I earlier did not think she was capable of doing.
You mentioned trust issues - she does not have these.... trust has been fine.
If so, I don't believe you are describing a strong pattern of BPD traits. I rather suspect, however, that I've been unclear in describing what I mean by a "lack of trust." My BPDer exW, for example, would be quick to tell people that she trusted me and, for at least 90% of the time, that would seem true. Yet, whenever her two fears (abandonment and engulfment) would be triggered, she would become verbally abusive and accuse me of outrageous things. Importantly, when I would explain my true intentions and motivations in a calm logical manner, she was unable to trust me enough to believe me. In the 15 years, I never was able to convince her that I truly loved her and would not abandon her -- but she did appear to believe it occasionally.
If your W truly is able to trust you, why doesn't she believe your logical explanations when she is having a temper tantrum? Why, for example, did she not believe your explanations about your picking up the bride's dress before the wedding? Why wouldn't she believe you about the coworker? If she trusts your answers, why does she sometimes devalue you so severely that you end up "crying in the shower the next morning"?
I caution, NewEngland, that every adult on the planet occasionally exhibits all nine of the BPD traits. These traits become a problem -- as may have happened with your W -- only when they become so strong that they distort the person's perception of a loved one's intentions and motivations, thereby undermining the relationship. The issue, then, is not whether your W has BPD traits. Of course she does. We all do. Rather, the issue is whether she has most of them at a moderate to strong level.
Does anybody have any thoughts?
I have several suggestions that may be helpful. As an initial matter, if you suspect your W has strong BPD traits, I recommend that you NOT tell her. If she does have strong traits, she almost certainly will project the accusation right back onto you, believing YOU to be the one having strong traits. Instead, simply encourage her to see a psychologist (not a MC) and let the psych decide what to tell her.
Third, I suggest you get Stop Walking on Eggshells, the best-selling BPD book targeted to the partners and spouses. If your W has strong BPD traits, you likely will find that this book reads like a story of her life.
Fourth, if those descriptions of BPD traits sound like they apply to your W's behavior, I suggest you start participating (or at least lurking) at BPDfamily.com -- the largest and most active BPD forum I've found that is devoted fully to the spouses and family members of BPDers. This issue is such a large problem that that website is growing by 20 new members every day. The result is that it offers eight separate message boards on various BPD issues. The ones that likely will be most helpful to you are the "Staying" board and "Leaving" board.
Sixth, I again suggest you see a clinical psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you are dealing with. Finally, please don't forget those of us on this TAM forum. We want to keep trying to answer your questions and providing emotional support as long as you find our shared experiences helpful.
I was going through all the posts in detail, especially the detailed replies & analysis from "Uptown". I have a similar situation but quite different in many of the aspects. Will share some background here and would highly appreciate if I can get perspectives
* Married for 8 years, 2 lovely kids. Both our parents are very lovable, they have brought us up well, they have been married for more than 30 years and absolutely no issues there
*Lot of love, trust, affection,fun, frolic, sex - everything is there and perfect.
etc etc ( net-nett all great except for one small issue - MIL).
* Mother-in-law :very well educated, loves her daughter ( my wife) and brought her up in a strict way. I have noticed some traits of OCD ( related to cleanliness or manners etc ). My wife & she do not have an emotional connection ( so this is the issue I see). and my wife has always been concerned about the lack of this connection
1. an argument starts on a contentious topic ( sometimes as trivial as who should wash / fold clothes)
2. in a matter of minutes she starts raising her voice and I feel a barrel of adrenalin gets pumped inside her system
3. She then has a severe intensity of anger, suicidal thoughts, lack of control in thinking, aggression, violent behaviour, hits me, throws things around ( all in a matter of minutes)
4. This usually lasts for 10-15 minutes
5. regretting the behaviour
6. And then she goes into the other exteme - deep remorse for the way she behaved, insecurity of losing husband & kids , afraid for her & family’s safety and Inconsolable crying
7. The crying goes on for at least 2 hours.
8. she then wants me to console her, hug her and treat her like as though nothing happened
9. And in few hours everything is back to normal
Steps 1 to 9 above is pretty consistent but the frequency is at times once in 2 months or sometimes even 4-5 months.
So we do argue a lot - on several topics ( serious & trivial) but something like this happens out of the blue and unexpected !
We have seen several doctors - both Psychologists & Psychiatrists ( in US & India). All of them have consistently talked about counseling only ( no medication )
I am really at a loss - just dont understand where is the issue.
Hubby, welcome to the TAM forum. I'm so sorry to hear that you and your W are having such painful fights.
Originally Posted by confused_hubby
We have seen several doctors - both Psychologists & Psychiatrists ( in US & India). All of them have consistently talked about counseling only (no medication).
That means they have ruled out bipolar disorder, which usually is very successfully treated with medication. If so, and if she is not experiencing hormone changes or drug abuse, the most likely cause of such rapid, violent mood changes is BPD. In rare cases, it also can be caused by a brain tumor or brain injury. This, at least, is my understanding, Hubby.
As counter-intuitive as it seems, your best chance of obtaining a candid therapist's assessment on whether your W has strong BPD traits is to see a psychologist who has not seen or treated her. The reason is that therapists generally are loath to tell a BPDer -- much less her H -- the name of the disorder. There are several reasons for withholding that information (to protect the patient).
I explain them in my post at It's official, I'm getting divorced. Remember, your W's therapist is not your friend. Hence, trusting her therapist for accurate information during the marriage is as foolish as trusting her attorney during the divorce. It is important you see a professional who is ethically bound to protect YOUR interests, not hers.
Both our parents are very lovable, they have brought us up well, they have been married for more than 30 years and absolutely no issues there
Having loving parents does not rule out BPD. In a recent large-scale study, 30% of the BPDers could not recall experiencing any abuse or abandonment in childhood. What is concerning, however, is the lack of an emotional connection between your W and her mother. Being raised by an emotionally unavailable mother -- if that is what happened -- constitutes emotional abuse and is believed to greatly raise the risk of the child developing BPD.
Lot of love, trust, affection,fun, frolic, sex - everything is there and perfect.
The vast majority of BPDers (i.e., those with strong traits) are high functioning, which means they usually get along fine with people outside the family and, with loved ones, sometimes exhibit all those behaviors you mention (i.e., the love, trust, affection, and sex). Yet, because they are emotionally unstable, they cannot do so consistently.
I therefore ask whether you are saying your W can be very intimate for extended periods. Specifically, can she be intimate, loving, and close with you for several months straight without creating a fight (over absolutely nothing at all) to push you away? I ask because, if she is a BPDer, you should be seeing the very WORST outbursts occurring immediately after the very BEST of times, e.g., after a wonderful weekend or vacation spent together or after an intimate evening together.
Steps 1 to 9 above is pretty consistent but the frequency is at times once in 2 months or sometimes even 4-5 months.
I cannot tell you whether your W exhibits strong BPD traits. I've never met the lady. I can say, however, that the unstable behavior you describe is consistent with BPD traits. As you describe, BPDers will suddenly flip, in a few seconds, from loving you to devaluing you (even hating you) -- and then will flip back just as quickly. The tantrums and hissy fits typically last several hours (only rarely as long as 36 hours). With my exW, for example, the tantrums usually occurred about every 2 to 4 weeks. And, if I was careful to walk on eggshells, I sometimes could go for several months without a full-blown tantrum.
In a matter of minutes she starts raising her voice ...
She then has a severe intensity of anger, suicidal thoughts, lack of control in thinking, aggression, violent behavior, hits me, throws things around ( all in a matter of minutes).... And then she goes into the other extreme - deep remorse for the way she behaved, insecurity of losing husband & kids.
The vast majority of BPDers (perhaps 90%) act out against the loved one when releasing their anger. A small portion of them, however, usually do not act out. Instead, they "act in," i.e., turn the anger inwards on themselves, at which time their self loathing becomes readily apparent. This does not mean you escape punishment. Rather, it means you will be punished with sulking, passive-aggressive snide remarks, and icy withdrawal.
I mention this because it is common for all BPDers to slip from one state to the other occasionally. Hence, although my exW was a "loud BPDer" during nearly all of her outbursts, she occasionally would turn her anger inward onto herself -- saying how loathsome and terrible she was. That happened maybe 5 times during our 15 year marriage -- during serious fights in which I was so angry that she feared I would leave her.
With the "loud BPDers," those moments are rare and are usually called "moments of clarity" because the BPDer will acknowledge that she has done wrong (but it will be totally disavowed within a day or two). If this behavior sounds familiar, I suggest you read Schreiber's description of quiet BPDers at BORDERLINE WAIFS AND UNSUNG HEROES; Rescuing The Woman Who Doesn't Want To Be Saved.. She calls them "waif borderlines."
So we do argue a lot - on several topics ( serious & trivial) but something like this happens out of the blue and unexpected !
With BPDers, many of the outbursts typically are very unpredictable. With my exW and her two sisters, for example, I could tease them and produce much laughter on 9 of 10 occasions. Then, on the tenth occurrence, they would take great offense at the same joke they had been laughing at many times.
Some of the tantrums, however, usually are very predictable. If a woman has strong BPD traits, there typically are a whole host of sensitive issues that, if you try to discuss them, will trigger the anger very quickly. That is, BPDers tend to be thin-skinned and overly sensitive nearly all the time (but it will be worse, of course, if she is going through lots of stress or a hormone change).
I therefore ask whether you are saying that you can argue with her on SENSITIVE issues and reach a mutual understanding or compromise most of the time -- and she will explode only every two months or so? That is, are you saying she is very thick-skinned for 2 or 3 months and then, "out of the blue," she will be extremely thin-skinned?
Very detailed reply. Thank you for taking the time , effort and interest in analyzing the situation.
Replying to your last paragraph
" That is, are you saying she is very thick-skinned for 2 or 3 months and then, "out of the blue," she will be extremely thin-skinned? "
Yes, that indeed is the case, not just 2-3 months, at times, it is almost 5 months.
Also to answer to your other point
" I ask because, if she is a BPDer, you should be seeing the very WORST outbursts occurring immediately after the very BEST of times, e.g., after a wonderful weekend or vacation spent together or after an intimate evening together."
Yes - she is very intimate, loving , caring for extended periods. In fact she also cautiously ensures and exercises control all the time ( especially during her monthly periods since the hormone imbalance is maximum at that time )
Also, she shows this behavior only with me - no one else !
I have suspected thyroid , harmone and other issues - have pretty much got all the tests carried out but all of them turned out to be -ve.
I am suspecting that there is indeed some minor chemical imbalance but have not been able to pin-point what are the triggers - the triggers have varied in the last 8 years.
Hubby, that doesn't sound like the behavior of any BPDers I know. The fears and anger do not just vanish for 5 months at a time, except for the 6 month honeymoon period. But you typically get only ONE honeymoon period.