Thank you for your continued empathy, support, and advice. I was blind to many aspects of a successful, long-term marriage, but now my eyes and heart are wide open. What that means is that almost everyday, I see more and more of what is wrong with not only our relationship, but my wife. And because my heart is so much more open, I feel so much more pain, and yet love for her.
Basically, she is in desparate need of help. No one else in her life, including herself, can see her destructive behavior for what it is. Her parents hardly know her. She just reconnected with her father after he left her and her mother 15 years ago. She has had a strained, superficial relationship with her mother for years. Her "friends" simply tell her to follow her heart and they will support her no matter what. While that sounds nice and is exactly what she wants to hear. Not one of them is willing to really look at her behavior and tell her that it is self destructive. Part of the problem is that they have only known her for a few years and they only talk about what she wants to talk about.
I am the only one who has seen her and talked to her and loved her every single day for the past 10 years. She makes and drops "best friends" like they are seasonal coats.
It comes down to the fact that she has no idea what it means to be in a real two way relationship. She grew up in a household where her parents never communicated. Then, when she was 13 (talk about terrible timing), her parents divorced. She became a trouble maker, smoking, drinking, irresponsible sex with a total jerk. When she met me in college, she fell deeply in love with the kind, gentle, funny, and smart man that I am. I am not tooting my own horn, but that is the kind of man I have always tried to be, and through my current ordeal, I have found that I really am that man.
At any rate, she cleaned up a little. She stopped smoking, she started to drink less, and she basically gave up being a wild child. Now, looking back, she probably didn't do that because she saw how self destructive it was, but because she thought that is what I want.
Jesus, the more I think about her behavior in the past, I get the sinking feeling that she will never be happy. Anytime someone (usually only me) points out something that she is doing wrong, or even something she could improve on, she gets defensive and lashes out. She cannot properly process guilt or feelings of responsibility so she shuts down emotionally or places the blame on someone else's shoulders (usually me). For instance, if I ask her to not be so defensive towards me, she responds by saying she wouldn't be if I wasn't always trying to change her. She doesn't see that she doesn't need to be defensive. She believes that no matter how destructive she is, no matter how self-loathing she becomes, no matter how badly she treats people, that that is just who she is. She doesn't think anyone should want her to change. And if they ask her to change, then they don't really love her. Never mind that she really needs help.
I am so scared that she will never see that the reason she has never been happy has nothing to do with me, the other guy, her friends, her job, her family, or anything else. She can't be happy because she won't let herself be. It is too easy and appealing for her to make excuses, blame other people, or simply run away and move on to new people.
I understand now that my marriage to her has no hope. I have been trying my best for the last 10 years to get her to stop hating herself and to start helping herself. She has never been able to love me the way I want or deserve because she has no idea how to do it. She has no idea about how to love herself so she has no idea how to love me. And that frustrates her and even makes her resent me. She recognizes that I am smart, funny, committed, loving, and genuine, but she can't love me back and that frustrates her. At first she told herself that there was something wrong with her, but she couldn't figure it out, so she placed the blame on me. Once this other guy came along and told her everything she wanted to hear, she "fell in love" with him and then said she couldn't love me the way I want because she didn't really love me. While in the end, yes she didn't love me because she couldn't love herself, she definitely doesn't love him. He puts on a front for her, and she for him, and they both tell each other and themselves that they finally found someone who understands them and allows them to be themselves. Nevermind that once they stop fronting, or even get married, their relationship and roles will change.
My wife has no concept of what it means to be a spouse. She instinctively cannot care for another person unless she is getting something back. Love, attention, validation, etc. Also, she doesn't understand commitment so someone or something other than herself. She sees marriage only through her own eyes. She rejects the responsibilities that come with being an adult in a committed relationship. When you are married, lives are joined and the marriage becomes something more than the sum of two people. She doesn't want to share in the responsibilities of maintaining a home. I never asked to do all of anything, but I have asked for her help in cleaning the house, cooking, finances, etc. But she usually half asses it. She has viewed marriage as simply picking someone who you do stuff with exclusively. So if we are not doing something fun or exciting, she thinks there is something wrong with the relationship and wants to move on.
I think her head understands some of this, but she is unable to come to terms with this, take the responsibility for her life and make true, deep, personal changes. It is easier to find new people who will accept her for who she is (since she can't do that for herself). So she goes from friend to friend, situation to situation, and apparently spouse to spouse to find that approval. Everyone knows that in the beginning of any relationship, there is that honeymoon period, where the excitement and newness of it all hides any problems. If a guys is trying to get with her, he will tell her only what she wants to hear. Show her only what he wants to show. Same with her. Once that is over, and it always ends, she will still be the same, self absorbed, self-pitying, approval seeking woman who cannot love another person. He will be whoever he is, and she will once again be unhappy.
No one can see the cycle. And if they do, they just say that that is how she is and we should just love her, or that she has to find her own way. Do people really have to shoot themselves to realize a gun is dangerous? Does a child have to get hit by a car before looking both ways before crossing a street? If you see someone you claim to care about doing bad things to herself and other people over and over again, do you just sit idly by?
I have never been able to. But maybe this time, I need to. I feel no one else in her life can see the problems or care enough to help her. I can't talk to her therapist and tell him all this, because it wouldn't be from her. She won't talk about these core issues because she doesn't really recognize them and certainly won't admit that she needs to change. She only talks about how she is unhappy, how it is other people's fault, and she is always looking for excuses. She has the perfect shrink, because he has already provided her with great excuses for why our marriage was doomed from the start. That makes her feel better, and I think made it easier for her to continue her affair.
She and I have such a fragile relationship right now and she isn't receptive to any kind of input from me. It has taken all of her willpower to ask the other guy for space. She has done it in the past, but he has not respected that, nor has she really tried to call him on it. She was here last night, just trying to be. She thinks a couple weeks alone might help her out. Problem is, I can leave her alone for several weeks by moving out, but she works with this guy. She can't avoid him, and if he knows that I am out of the picture, you can better believe he will be sending out reminders of what he wants to give her.
And spending a couple weeks alone does nothing if she doesn't spend it actively thinking, introspecting, and really looking at the causes of all the problems in her life. She has never been able to do that in her entire 30 year life. Will she really be able to do that now? Usually she gets just far enough into her head to blame someone or something else, or she blames herself, can't deal with the stress, and then shuts down.
I want so badly to help her. To save her from herself, but she has shut me out. She thinks everyone else loves her because they tell her what she wants to hear. She thinks I don't love her or have a hidden agenda when I tell her what she doesn't want to hear. She thinks that I am selfishly trying to change her.
I think the only way now to convince her of my sincerity is to leave her. If I dissassociate myself from her compeletly in the name of helping her, then maybe she will see how much I mean all of this.
Or maybe she just needs to keep going through life, hurting herself and the ones she loves until she is too old and hurt to try anymore. I am just so afraid that she will hurt or maybe even kill herself someday if she can't break out of this cycle. She is already on medication for anxiety, and now she is starting to become manic depressive. Super highs like when she is with the other guy, and super lows when she is not. Instead of seeing this as a problem, she sees this as a sign of her love for him.
She has become delusional and I don't know how to shake her out of this. No one but me is willing to help. And it is killing me. I want her to be happy. I want her to be happy with me. And I want to be happy. I want a wife who likes herself and can love me.
Would it be too selfish to walk away and hope she finds her way? Will I ever be able to live with the guilt that I am the only one who cares and can see the problems, but I walked away so I could find my own happiness?
Do we have purposes in life? Is mine to give up my happiness so she can find hers? Am I suppose to save her?
My friends and family have been telling me to leave her. She can't change, she won't change, I need to think of myself.
Her friends tell her there must be something wrong with me or at least her marriage to me so she should leave and find what makes her happy.
Her parents don't even know her anymore, and certainly if they showed any concern, she would think that they don't love her anymore.
I don't know what to do. I am honestly scared to leave her because I feel I am the only one that can help her. If I walk away, that means I am condemning the woman I love to a life of misery just so I can be happy. I don't know what I can do. Do I keep being miserable hoping that she one day hears me? Actually, if I can't break through to her in the next couple of days/weeks, she will probably leave me for him. I think she honestly wants to live on her own and learn about herself, but I know that she cannot be alone. She has to have someone loving her, and if she has someone at work who is willing, why bother being alone? Marriage is too constricting, but having a coworker shower with attention and poetry (and sex), would be nice for awhile until she figures things out.
Should I stay or should I go? She doesn't know or like herself enough right now to make a good decision for herself. Do I give up? Do I let her hurt me again before I finally give up?
SImple answer to your question, no. You can not save another person from themselves. My wife is going for her psychology major and I help her study all the time. The best suggestions is to ask questions to let the person find the answers themselves.
As for others around her think this way. They are damned either way. If they point out what she is doing wrong they loss a friend. If they go along with it they let her hurt herself. I had many friends that were just that way and finally I stopped hanging around them for fear they'd drag me down.
Now more to the point is does she really need to be saved and would it be better for her or just you. If she felt no love in the relationship she might have built up enough resentment that nothing can fix it and you will always be to blame where her new bf is a clean slate.
Her quitting smoking etc while good physically may also cause her stress again blamed on you.
It is never worth trying to save someone because only they can do it for themselves and really they might not want your saving. Behavior is much like religion. How would you feel if some religious person wanted to save your soul for you when you didn't even believe in the principles of there religion?
your words are quite penetrating. and the thing is, there were no signs of problems until about 4 months ago when there casual friendship at work started turning into something more. there was definitely love. maybe not as perfect as we all want it, but we laughed, we danced, we kissed, we held hands. we told each other we loved each other and we were planning to start a family later this year. no one can say there was no love left. it was only at that point that she started realizing that there might be a problem with our marriage. I understand that he represented everything that she was looking for, but it had none of what we have already built. of course it looked like a fresh start for her. but if she didn't know what was wrong with our relationship, and if she didn't try to fix it, how fresh a start would she have been making. don't you need to close a chapter before writing a new one?
my question to you is, does a child need to get hit by a car before they know not to play in the street? does a person need to shoot themselves in the face before learning that a gun is dangerous?
my wife got so confused by her feelings for this guy that she lost herself. she is a person who has always claimed the utmost integrity. she is wracked with guilt if she gets extra change and keeps it. she has multiple top secret clearances with the government. she is paid well and trusted by all americans to be morally incorruptible. she was so proud of her ability to be trustworthy that she would never tell me the first thing about her work because she shouldn't. even though other people in her office would talk about their work with their significant others. she compromised all that with this guy. she started lying. she started cheating. she started to cause others pain with no remorse, no regret. people get fired from the government for having affairs because they are viewed as a form of corruption. if you would lie, cheat, and hurt a marriage all for some love poetry, what would you do with our nation's secrets should someone with some money or blackmail come along? they put people through 2 day lie detector tests to find out what kind of character they have. She compromised it all. If she has another polygraph exam, she may lose her clearances.
yes, he represented a clean slate, but if everyone just kept putting themselves in bad situations and then running away each time, there would be no love, no marriage, no happiness for anyone. at some point shouldn't someone take a stand?
draconis, i lost my chance at happiness with my wife the day she i found out she cheated on me. at first i wanted another chance for myself. but then as i saw how far down the rabbit hole she was falling, i knew i had no shot, but i also could see right through this guy. she was starting a pattern of destruction again that she had done previously in her life. she can't break out of the cycle of love and hate with herself. i love her, i can't stand idly by while she destroys her life and her chances at happiness. no one but me could or would see all this and tell her that if she constantly runs away from problems that she causes, and constantly chases the quick fixes, and the false pleasures, then she will never be right with herself, she will never be able to lay the foundation for true love and a happiness that will last. a love and a happiness that can withstand temptation and trouble.
do i believe in something that cannot be? what hope for me is there that i will find happiness if no one, especially my wife of 8 years, my best friend, can throw it all out the window the first time something else comes along (not even better) are all people like this out there? does everyone just make excuses and think about nobody but themselves? will i always be alone because there are no more good people left?
I know. I felt some peace last night after talking to my wife's mother for several hours. My wife has struggled with depression and anxiety since she was a child. In the past when she lashed out or hit bottom, I was able to be there to pick her up and help her get on her feet. This time, though, she lashed out in the worst way. It wasn't just the affair, it was how deeply and completely she let him into her heart. She let him in so far that there was no longer room for me. If she really had wanted a new life, she could have had one. Did she really have to destroy the one she had in order to do it? She burned the bridge that she was on as she crossed it even though she had no idea where it would take her.
At this point I have finally accepted that she and I have no shot at reconciliation. Last night she finally called me first (I always have to call if I want to talk), and told me that she is finally starting to understand how badly she hurt me. She will never truly understand the pain she has caused, but it was good to hear that she is finally able to feel again. She also is beginning to understand just how destructive she has been to herself. Instead of making justifications for what she has done (when she really had no idea what she was doing), she is finally starting to see just how much and completely she has destroyed her life. All for what? Some passion and some poetry?
Of course, I cry for myself and everything that I needlessly lost, and of course, I am terrified to be alone for the first time in my life, but my soul cries even more for her. She needs so much help. Emotional, spritual, and most likely psychiatric help. Will she ever see that? Will anyone else in her life ever see that? Only her mother and I see the total history of her unhappiness. Her friends sit idly by encouraging her to follow her heart, not knowing that it is defective. Not only has she thrown away her 8 year marriage and the foundations of a family that she so desperately wants, but she may have thrown away her career. The one thing that brought her solace through this all. The rumor mill is quite powerful in the government, and once it gets out that she had an affair with a coworker, she could get fired. Being trustworthy and having personal integrity is a huge deal in the department of defense. She has proven that she would compromise those qualities for some poetry. How can she be trusted with some of the nation's most important secrets?
I fear that if I don't help her find herself that she will have nothing left. She isn't strong. I fear she would really hurt herself. She has threatened to in the past.
Or maybe, she will wake up today, feeling nothing. She will go through her day and arbitrarily pick the path that she wants to walk, consequences be damned. She has it in her.
I have given up on my hopes of a happy marriage with her, but it is so, so hard to give up on her.
There is alot in your story that could have been written by my husband only a few years ago. Your wife sounds like she is manic depressive bigtime. She needs serious help, and especially if she is in a sensitive job as you say, if she can't /won't get the help for herself, then her superiors need to require it of her.
Back a few years ago I was treated for anxiety and depression, but no one but my husband recognized I had slipped back into bipolar behavior. I didn't believe it myself. I still feel such guilt for all the years I hurt him and for him being basically left alone, but he tells me it was worth it. If she won't do it for herself or you, then her superiors need to know, now.
Yeah BrokenFrag, I completely feel your pain. My Wife has not yet been diagnosed with bi-polar or anything like that, because like yours she sees nothing wrong with her behavior, EVER!
It does run in her family, although I've got to admit I don't know much about the disorder. I too have had long meaningful talks about her behavior with her Mom and Grandma and it also makes me feel good for a little while, but there is never a lasting happiness between us and so I feel constantly in the dumps because of her flip-flopping from nice to a total selfish B...
Just remember be good to yourself if no one else will, ok...
SOme people are so self destructive that they bring the people around them down with them.
I feel like this needs to be repeated again. I had friends similar to your wife years ago. No matter how much effort was put into helping them it never helped. They won't change until they decide to.
No one can force the caterpillar into a butterfly. It has to make the transformation itself.
My JAW dropped reading your story. Put my husband in your wife's shoes and you have my situation. I have been in psychotherapy for 7 months now. My therapist told me you unfortunately can't make anyone see anything. They have to discover it for themselves. Good therapists are trained and schooled to find abnormal patterns of behaviour and guide people through the process of SELF ACTUALIZATION. I thought the same thing about my soon to be ex husband. He got the emotional abuse of a father that used to tell him he would never amount to anything when he grew up. He died when my ex was 13 all the unresolved issues died with him. My ex shoved it all down and started smoking, drinking and hanging with losers. When I met him when we were 18 I guess I saw through all the B.S. and realized deep down he was a great person. He changed, went back to school , became responsible, more stable. Well flash forward to last year when he too met a woman through work who in his words "makes me feel important." Carried on with her many text messages, late night phone calls, weekend trips to see her. Then he told me he wanted a divorce 6 months ago and moved away to be with her. Sent me separation papers 2 weeks before Christmas.
I guess part of me still loves him but I know I was partly responsible for the downfall of our marriage with the nagging, controlling behaviour I had. Thank god I found therapy and have come to the realization yes, I would do A LOT of things differently but as much as I still hurt now I can't make him change or make him see the light. Eventually my therapist says he probably will realize HE IS THE PROBLEM and needs help. Until then as much as you hurt and still love her you need to LOVE yourself more and move on with your life. I do think about if he were to come back what would I do? But then I think I'd have a better chance of winning the lottery. Good Luck you.