Had a talk with my BPD wife last night
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Had a talk with my BPD wife last night

So I spent last night religiously trawling through Uptown's posts on this forum. It was downright eerie seeing him list all (and I mean ALL) of my wife's dysfunctional behavioural traits as symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Reading further I came to the realization that I've spent the last 10 years as a verbally, emotionally and at times (only a handful) physically abused husband. I looked through the list of Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships (middle of page) and said yes to 18 of the 24 questions posed. It was scary for me to realize what I've been through and that I've rationalized it over the years with thoughts like "Maybe all wives are like that too", "Just hormonal maybe, she'll get better", "It's not that bad, we do have good times together".

So we decided to have a talk and I told her my realization that I've been abused throughout our marriage. Within a matter of seconds, she expertly flips the topic back to her claiming that SHE'S the victim in our relationship, going through a whole list of things she's not happy with (mostly my fault) and filled with "You always ..." and "You never ...". Some things I agreed with and apologized (yes, I'm not perfect), some things completely illogical and unreasonable.

So once I thought she was done with her "Things I'm not happy about" rant, I decided once again to try to communicate to her my sadness at having been through what I believe was abuse from her for the last 10 years. She then immediately calls me selfish for only wanting to talk about myself. Errr, didn't we just spend the last 15-20 minutes going through your list of things you're not happy about. Why can't we focus on what I believe to be a huge issue in our marriage, i.e. the fact that her regular temper tantrums and verbal abuse is not something I want to put up with anymore?

So I decide to press on with my issue of having been abused. It's definitely an arduous process and she continues to try to switch the topic back to HER being the victim. When she does talk about her abuse of me, her reasoning is, "Well, you should know me by now. That's just how I react when I'm upset. You should know I say things I don't mean." I don't get it. Am I supposed to allow myself to be verbally abused for the rest of my marriage because my wife "doesn't mean it"? Is that the best she can do?

As I said prior, while she was going through her "I'm not happy" list, I admitted to being wrong if I felt that I was, in fact, wrong. What struck me was that during our conversation while I was putting across my point of view, she did not once acknowledge any wrongdoing on her part. I don't know if she honestly thinks her behaviour is acceptable.

I got the distinct impression that she's not even going to try to change anymore (not that I even think she's capable of change). Now, if she's not going to change what I believe will be a fundamental flaw in the happiness of our marriage moving forward, why the heck should I even continue being in this marriage. I cannot live the rest of my life like this. This marriage has just been an entirely emotionally draining experience for me. I look back on my marriage and there were happy/peaceful times but they never ever lasted more than a few weeks before another terrifying, vicious outburst. If not at me, then causing an embarrassing scene at someone else in a public place (in fact, this just happened a couple of days ago).

What I can't figure out is if she's so unhappy about me and it seems I can never make her happy, why does she still want to stay married? Is she happy being unhappy? I guess that's not such a crazy suggestion when it comes to people with BPD.

At this stage, my mind is made up about leaving. I just hope I find the strength to see this through. Because of this marriage, I have realized that I have been a person with extreme empathy, completely to my detriment. I seem to care about the happiness of my wife more than my own. Like I'm willing to drive myself completely insane just to continue to try to make her happy (apparently an impossible task with BPDers). As Uptown and other posters have pointed out, the average person would have left years ago, but I stayed.

Uptown, you have been a tremendous resource in this forum for spouses of BPDers. I'd be most appreciative if you could give me your thoughts on my post. Many thanks.
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Had a talk with my BPD wife last night

I hope things work out for you. I really appreciate hearing your story. Now I am starting to understand my wife better. Thanks to stories like yours.
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Had a talk with my BPD wife last night

Get therapy for her BPD and try to see a MC. She doesn't want to do it even if you push it? Then leave. Logically simple. Can't handle the emotional burden? Then stay and suffer. Your choice.
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Had a talk with my BPD wife last night

As strange as it sounds, some people aren't happy unless they are unhappy. The problem is between her ears. You could raise the dead and turn water into wine and she'd still be unhappy. That's why it's called a "disorder". If it didn't adversely impact relationships, it could be called Borderline Personality Blessing.
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Had a talk with my BPD wife last night

BPD'ers can't admit mistakes or wrongdoings because to them it means punishment is coming. Talks like this are pointless. The best you can do is set some seriously high boundaries about what you will and won't tolerate or leave.
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The best you can do is set some seriously high boundaries about what you will and won't tolerate or leave.
And if those boundaries are violated?
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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And if those boundaries are violated?
Well??? What do you think? If those boundaries are broken. You leave. Or you want to continue being a doormat?
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well??? What do you think? If those boundaries are broken. You leave. Or you want to continue being a doormat?
Well, I agree. But it was a semi-rhetorical question. I know it's actually pointless setting boundaries, especially high boundaries, since I know for a fact that they will be crossed.
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well, I agree. But it was a semi-rhetorical question. I know it's actually pointless setting boundaries, especially high boundaries, since I know for a fact that they will be crossed.
Honestly, a huge part of your suffering is your fault. You are not a stupid man but made a stupid mistake. I'm sure it didn't take 10 whole effing years for you to see how the relationship was. Yet, you continue to let it happen. You LET the bad things happen to you. Now you wasted all these years and can only say you suffered. Just do it. Leave. Stop hurting yourself.
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:43 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Why can't we focus on what I believe to be a huge issue in our marriage, i.e. the fact that her regular temper tantrums and verbal abuse is not something I want to put up with anymore?
T10, if your W has strong BPD traits, she has a weak fragile sense of who she is. She therefore is not focused on finding solutions and compromises. Rather, she is focused on creating sufficient drama to "validate" her false self image of always being "The Victim." Although that self image is false, it likely is the closest thing to a self image that she has. She therefore keeps a death grip on it, always looking for continual validation. This, at least, is my understanding.
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Am I supposed to allow myself to be verbally abused for the rest of my marriage because my wife "doesn't mean it"? Is that the best she can do?
No, it is the best she CHOOSES TO DO. If she has strong BPD traits, as you suspect, she likely has the emotional development of a four year old. This means that, like a young child, she is capable of stopping her temper tantrums whenever she has an incentive to do so. This is why it is important, for her well being as well as your own, to allow her to suffer the logical consequences of her own bad behavior and foolish choices. Having a stunted emotional development does not give one a free pass to abuse other people.
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I don't know if she honestly thinks her behavior is acceptable.
Generally, BPDers are filled with so much shame and self loathing that the last thing they want to do is find one more item to add to the long list of things they hate about themselves. A BPDer therefore relies heavily on her subconscious to protect her fragile ego from seeing too much of reality. The ego defense that is used most frequently usually is projection. Because it occurs subconsciously, the conscious mind believes it reflects reality. If your W is a BPDer, she therefore likely "honestly thinks" that much of her outrageous behavior and false allegations are justified -- because that is what her ego defenses allow her to see.

Importantly, this does not imply that she has no control over this process. Unlike narcissists, BPDers typically have a vague awareness that something is wrong with them (even though they are loath to admit it and don't know what it is). Moreover, BPDers can get "moments of clarity" when a loved one stands up to their abuse and bullying and threatens to leave.

Hence, BPDers typically have numerous opportunities to choose to seek therapy and learn how to manage their issues. Yet, because of their general lack of self awareness and their weak egos, nearly all of them choose instead to ignore those opportunities.
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What I can't figure out is if she's so unhappy about me and it seems I can never make her happy, why does she still want to stay married?
This paradox -- of desperately wanting to stay with someone whom you often despise -- is reflected in the title of the #2 best-selling BPD book: I Hate You, Don't Leave Me. Because BPDers have such unstable, fragile egos, they typically hate to live alone. They have a strong need to find someone with a strong personality who can center and ground them -- thus providing a sense of purpose and direction.

Yet, as soon as they get exactly that, they will feel dominated and controlled by that person's strong personality. They escape this suffocating feeling by creating a fight -- over absolutely nothing -- to push the partner away. In that way, they get the partner to stop triggering their engulfment fear.

But, sadly, the engulfment fear and abandonment fear both lie at opposite ends of the very same spectrum. This means that, as the partner backs away from triggering one fear, he necessarily is drawing closer to triggering the other. This is why the BPDer will periodically flip from hating you (i.e., splitting you black) to loving you (i.e., splitting you white and pulling you back into the relationship). The result is that a BPDer typically engages in a cycle of push-you-away and pull-you-back. As you say, she becomes unhappy with nearly everything you do but doesn't want you to leave.
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Is she happy being unhappy?
No, she is unhappy. But being unhappy, at least, does not frighten her. Happiness is frightening for several reasons. One is that, when things are going great and the two of you are very close, her weak ego cannot tolerate the closeness for very long. Although she craves intimacy like everyone else, she cannot handle it. Hence, to get the engulfment fear to subside, she pushes you away by destroying the happiness. This is why, with BPDers, the very WORST fights typically follow immediately on the heels of the very BEST of times.

Another reason that happiness is so scary for BPDers is that the vast majority of them experienced abuse or abandonment during childhood. They therefore came to think of true love as something that a parent holds just out of reach and, when it is enjoyed, it is quickly withdrawn. This seems to be the main reason BPDers have such difficulty in forming a lasting, stable bond to loved ones.
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At this stage, my mind is made up about leaving. I just hope I find the strength to see this through.
If your W exhibits strong BPD traits and refuses to seek treatment, I agree that you should walk away. It nonetheless would be prudent to see YOUR OWN psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you're dealing with.

Even if you walk out tomorrow, seeing a psychologist likely will help you deal with the guilt and help you decide whether to stay the course with a D. After all, the D process likely will take at least a year -- a lot of time in which you may change your mind.

T10, I also suggest you read Splitting: Protecting Yourself when Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist. A good online article is T9 Surviving a Break-up with Someone Suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder - Columbia University, New York. Finally, I suggest that, while you are at the BPDfamily.com website, you check out the "Leaving a Borderline" message board for tips from a hundred other men who've been there and done that.
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Old 12-05-2012, 10:04 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Uptown,

Your information is great. I may not understand what's going on in my wife's mind, but you described her words and actions for the last several months exactly. It is nice to read your information and find that others, like the original post, have issues similar to mine.
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Old 12-06-2012, 05:28 AM   #12 (permalink)
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This is why it is important, for her well being as well as your own, to allow her to suffer the logical consequences of her own bad behavior and foolish choices.
Yes, but what point is it for her to suffer the consequences of her behaviour if she does not accept responsibility for it anyway. As you have said, in her mind, it is not her fault, it is mine. I am responsible for her unhappiness.
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:06 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Yes, but what point is it for her to suffer the consequences of her behaviour if she does not accept responsibility for it anyway.
You are essentially asking why, when a four year old is throwing a temper tantrum, there is any point to allowing her to suffer the logical consequences of her own behavior. If a parent fails to do that, the child grows up to be self centered and spoiled.

It therefore is not in the child's best interests for the parent to walk on eggshells around her -- which is what you've been doing with your W. I mention this because, if your W has been throwing hissy fits and rages every two or three weeks for ten years, you have a parent/child relationship with her, not a husband/wife relationship.
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As you have said, in her mind, it is not her fault, it is mine.
Yes, and it is very unlikely that will change. So, as you've already surmised, the likely outcome of your allowing her to suffer the logical consequences will be HER deciding to leave you.

That's exactly what happened when I started enforcing my personal boundaries and my exW
decided to leave me. By "leave me," I mean she flew into a rage and called the police, having me arrested on a bogus charge of "brutalizing her."

Hence, when I say that allowing her to suffer the logical consequences is in her best interests too, I mean that it likely will be her best opportunity to confront her issues and learn how to manage them. If you continue walking on eggshells, you are destroying that opportunity. But, importantly, I am NOT saying she will take advantage of the opportunity and stay in therapy for several years. That outcome is very unlikely. I nonetheless believe she deserves to have the opportunity presented to her and you deserve to be treated with respect.
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Had a talk with my BPD wife last night
I caution that you likely will NEVER know whether your W "has BPD." Only professionals can make that determination and, even when the client has full-blown BPD, they are loath to tell the client -- much less her husband -- the name of the disorder (for her own protection).

This is why I refer to people as "having strong BPD traits." And I define "BPDers" as "having strong BPD traits." When you've been living with someone for ten years, identifying strong traits (i.e., spotting the red flags) is not difficult at all. Before you graduated high school, T10, you already could identify the selfish and very grandiose classmates -- without knowing how to diagnose Narcissistic PD. You could identify the class drama queen -- without being able to diagnose Histrionic PD.

You also could spot the kids having no respect for laws or other peoples' property or feelings -- without diagnosing Antisocial PD. And you could recognize the very shy and over-sensitive classmates -- without diagnosing Avoidant PD. Similarly, you will be able to spot strong BPD traits when they occur. There is nothing subtle about traits such as verbal abuse, temper tantrums, and distrustfulness.
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:18 AM   #14 (permalink)
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If you are willing to tolerate any kind of behavior, a better question would be, "why"? The natural result of setting any standard is that someone might transgress and you'll either be forced to deal with it or your standard will be exposed as a fraud. If you don't set a standard you must be content for a mentally ill person to determine how you will be treated.
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:32 AM   #15 (permalink)
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If you are willing to tolerate any kind of behavior, a better question would be, "why"? The natural result of setting any standard is that someone might transgress and you'll either be forced to deal with it or your standard will be exposed as a fraud. If you don't set a standard you must be content for a mentally ill person to determine how you will be treated.
Very profound that. An excellent way of looking at and understanding personal boundaries.
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