My husband and I have been separated for 4 months now. I was the one that left. We have a 4 year old son together, I brought him with me when I left because the night I left my stbx was violent and threatening to harm himself with a weapon. He had done such things before in our 8 year marriage, I had always tolerated previous self harm threats from him, but something clicked in me that night that said, it was not right to be accepting of such things, especially in the presence of our child.
Our marriage has always been turbulent from the get go - it was a cycle of things would build up to being bad, then a outburst(from him), then a make up period, then it would seem better, then build up to being bad again (usually over the same issues). We got married after 3 short months of knowing each other. I felt very pressured to marry him, pressured by him... he had just settled his divorce from a previous marriage. The day I married him, he dared me to marry him, saying that if I truly loved him, I would marry him instead of wasting his time. We went straight to the courthouse that day and married ourselves by signing the papers. Immediately after I signed, I thought to myself, I was not making the right choice, but never said anything about it to anyone because I thought I should just see if I could do it. (I know this choice was mine, and I should have said something)
My stbx has a daughter from his previous marriage, and the custody arrangements did not sit well with him. His ex was very controlling and mean. I felt very bad for him. For the first 3 years of our marriage, he was very depressed about the custody arrangements, and it consumed our life trying to alter it. It was difficult. Then I became pregnant, and he seemed to not be as depressed, but he was still telling his daughter that she should tell her mom that she wanted to come live with us. It was hard for me to hear him say such things because I saw how it affected his little girl to have to be put in a situation such as that. Her grades at school dropped, and she became more reluctant to speak with him on the phone, or request additional time with her father.
Then the birth of our son. A total blessing. We both love him so very much. My stbx insisted I stay home for the first 2 years of our son's life, and he would work. I was most thankful. Financially we were struggling. It seemed that every job he landed with a good paying company, it would end because of too much drama at his work, bosses that didn't understand him, or in a couple of cases, because of a hot drug test. He was very good at his job, but seemed to have like some sort of destructive behavior. I saw that him working and me staying home was taking a toll on him - on all of us. Not to mention that he physically was not doing well. He was using more of his prescriptions, loosing weight, and spending more nights away from his family to clear his head. He also started hanging out with the wrong sort of people. I grew concerned. I suggested counseling, I suggested that I work, I suggested as much as I could. He did not want any of it, which I think came from him thinking all or any of those things would make him weak. The cycles of our relationship became more quick, more intense... then the self harm threats. We moved a lot, dodged landlords and bills because we didn't have money to pay for such things because we were mostly focused on buying his expensive prescriptions so he could function at work. Which I saw that an addiction was forming, which I tried to help him see, but I only received anger and threats when I brought up such things.
The night we left, I felt horrible to just leave him alone. I did not call police or suicide prevention because he said if I did, he would kill himself.
I filed for divorce a month later - while we were still separated. He lost the home, lost his job, lost his car, went to jail for DUI and for making threats to people. I still kept in contact with him, because I was concerned for him. I managed to find work, find a great daycare provider, find a home, and maintain the a home, and maintain transportation. I felt guilty that I did those things when he was not doing so well.
In keeping contact with him, he was very angry at me. I never denied him seeing our son, except on days when he expressed he was very very angry or threatening self harm.
Now, he is homeless, jobless, hopeless, depressed... but he is expressing wanting to make our marriage work. I know that I can easily let him come stay with me to help him, but our relationship has not changed much. The same issues would still be there. It's like we just conflict in personality. I feel so torn. The divorce is set to be final this month, and I feel so bad for him. I would like for the marriage to work, but it is going to take so very much to set it right... and he seems stubborn in understanding that just love and respect is not enough, that we need to seriously work through all the issues that caused us to get to this point before we reconcile. My gut, and head tell me that divorce is the best choice, but my heart hurts so bad for how he feels. I am so confused. Do I step in and save him? He is 39 years old - and many people have saved him - it's like he has never taken care of himself - actually he never has because he was either with his mom or married to someone that would take care of him. I just don't know how to help him. I know that our son is doing much better without all the daily drama in his life, without seeing us argue, he is eating better, growing more confident in himself. I personally function a lot better without this man's drama in my life too. And lately, I am not doing very well because I am letting the drama get to me.
You cannot save him, and you have a responsibility to provide your son with a safe living environment. Good for you for taking the steps you have! Now, stick with it. Feeling guilty is normal, we women are programmed to do that, but just wait for it to pass.
No. Do not save him. You've run this far, just keep on running until the divorce is final. You know it's the right thing. Hang in there!
Don't save him unless you wish to undo everything you've done to create a good life for you and your son. Please don't do it! He's had help before and it didn't make him see the err of his ways. For the sake of your child's well being and your sanity DON'T DO IT!
I hear everything you guys are saying, and I agree that I if I help him, our son and I will hurt too. I agree with everyone here. Sometimes I think that the way I think/feel is wrong - but it's my gut feeling, my own thoughts - so to hear others also agree that it is better with divorce, better for the child vs living in a semi-chaotic state - it helps me tremendously to know that I'm not crazy for thinking this way.
It is very painful to see him go through this - often I think about how I would feel if I were in his shoes. I too would be angry, hurt, lost, feel hopeless. But then again, I also feel that I'm not the type of person that would let this sort of thing happen to begin with- or allow it to become worse. I don't blame others for my downfall - when a negative result happens in my life, I look at myself to see why that happened - I learn. It hurts too that he blames me for all of his circumstances (if I had not left none of it would have happened, which in a way is true) - or he blames it on others, no one gave him a chance - or no one allows him to explain himself - that there is no understanding in the world.
I would like for our family to work out, but I'm just so exhausted. I've been exhausted for years in trying to figure out how to make the marriage work. I don't have the strength right now to try to make it work while raising our son, working, and just taking care of everything in life... not to mention, find a little bit of time for myself.
I've reached a point where enough is enough - time to break the cycle - our son does not deserve to learn such behavior... to think that it's acceptable and normal to have relationships that are so very complicated, muddy, and confusing.
Never, ever, ever thought I would say that divorce is a good option in my life... yet here I am. I know divorce is causing some scars right now... just hope we all will heal and find peace.
Our marriage has always been turbulent from the get go - it was a cycle of things would build up to being bad, then a outburst(from him), then a make up period, then it would seem better, then build up to being bad again (usually over the same issues).
Do you know what Borderline Personality Disorder is?
Take a look at this link and see if your husband matches most of the traits:
What he does is abusive...the rush to marriage, the insisting you stay home the threats to hurt himself. You got out....he is trying to get back in...don't do it...the abuse cycle will start again and most likely escalate to include other types of abuse..physical, sexual. Contact your local library and request a copy of "Why does he do that? Inside the minds of angry and controlling men" written by Lundy Bancroft...you can also buy it from Amazon for less than $15. I guarantee that you will no longer feel bad for him after reading just a chapter or two.
So many abuse victims sit around and wait for a punch in the face before they are convinced they are being abused. Mine did not physically abuse me until the 9th year of marriage and there was no build up...he went straight for the kill...I was lucky that he stopped when I fought back.
Synthetic, thank you for the link. Looking at the list in regards to his behavior, he matches 6 possibly 7. I say possibly 7 because I'm not sure of his anger - just because there are so varying degrees of his anger - sometimes he gets upset over the most mundane things - I can remember one time when he told me on Monday that he would be doing his own laundry for the week because I had accidentally splashed about a dime size amount of bleach on one of his work shirts I apologized, paid for a new one and agreed of the new laundry schedule. At the beginning of the next week, he woke up and was throwing things around the house, kicking chairs and cussing because he didn't have any clean work shirts - all the while saying that life sucks, no one understands, and he will never amount to anything in life. He left for work in a very bad mood, then called me around noon to apologize. He took me out to dinner that night. So, I'm not sure if that classifies him as having anger issues - he had reason to be upset. But I also don't know what it means if he matches 6 on the list... what does that mean for him? for me? for our child? Thank you for the info!
Set Me Free, thank you for the suggested reading. I Googled excerpts from the book... Excerpts from “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” | Escape Abuse! and WOW. I can relate to so VERY much! I have found myself saying those exact things about him... "He's had a very hard life... He's scared me a few times, but would never hurt the children, he's a good father..." I relate to not telling anyone about how things are at home. My family has brought this to my attention in saying that since I've been separated from him, I smile a lot more, talk with them a lot more... they say they can tell when I am in contact with him on a regular basis because they don't hear from me for days sometimes weeks. And it's true! It's like I just get sucked into his world and his world becomes all I can focus on... his life, his issues have to be taken care of first: he gets so angry when I don't answer the phone because I'm on the other line with my sister, or if I don't answer the phone because I am taking a rare soak in the bath at 10:00 pm (I'm not joking about the bath).
“Because of the distorted perceptions that the abuser has of rights and responsibilities in relationships, he considers himself to be the victim. Acts of self-defense on the part of the battered woman or the children, or efforts they make to stand up for their rights, he defines as aggression against him. He is often highly skilled at twisting his descriptions of events to create the convincing impression that he has been victimized." This part is where he and I are at now.... he is saying that I am the abuser. He claims abuse because I shut down after he has pushed my buttons, hurts me emotionally, and instead of me fighting back, or trying to rationally speak with him, I clam up because I am hurt so badly and don't want to speak so not to hurt him, or to provide him with further fuel for the fire. For many months now, I have changed my perception - started to think that I really was a bad person (which he has told me many, many times). And I know I'm not perfect, and I know that I must have something wrong with me that is creating all these problems... but it could just be manipulation from him. I am the type of person who trusts those who are close to me... I think we all are - we take things that people who are close to us say, and accept them (for the most part).
I have difficulty saying that he is an abuser- mostly because wouldn't he know that he is being abusive - or that his behavior is not acceptable? I examine myself and find that I don't say horrible things to people because I know it hurts, and I can find a better way of communicating - other than anger and ugly words - except when I can't find the strength to respond back when he says horrible things to me and I shut down. Maybe he is an abuser... if he is, I don't think he knows it. Is that possible? I see that his behavior is very very similar to what is described... AND the cycle of abuse The Cycle of Abuse | Domestic Violence Wheel | Emotionally Battered Men fits exactly to our relationship then and now - but only now the cycle happens much more quickly and can cycle within one day. Thank you Set Me Free for the info I am going to look into this much more. A few people in my life have suggested to me to contact the domestic violence shelter in my city, but I never really understood why they would suggest such a thing - but now I understand that they maybe saw something I didn't consider.
First let me say I admire your passion and kindness. It's what this world needs a lot more of.
Please understand that your relationship with your husband will always be troublesome and you will always have to play the role of a "caretaker" for him because:
Your husband suffers from at least one form of personality disorder. Whether he's diagnosable or not is a technical mystery that may never be possible to answer. You're not here for that anyway.
The important thing is for you to recognize the traits he's consistently showing and how they have crippled your personal level of sanity and peace.
The best thing for you to gain your self-confidence, sanity and peace back is limiting contact with him. By limiting I actually mean "cutting", but that's not always possible when there are children in the middle.
You need to do a bit of reading, thinking and understanding on why as an individual you were initially attracted to such a person and more importantly why you stayed and married him. Your own childhood history and personality played a huge role in the dynamics of the toxic relationship you had with him.
You should definitely address the obvious traits of "codependency" and "rescuer/fixer" addictions in you, or else you will end up in a relationship with very similar dynamics in the future.
I'm dealing with a separation with a possibly disordered personality myself and it's very painful. I actually understood the 'caretaker' role I would have to play for the rest of my life and accepted it, but my wife decided to walk away.
Synthetic, You are so very right. I see where my "fixer" issues are. I just never given much thought that it was playing out in this relationship - they never had played out before in any of my other relationships - they didn't need too - my partners always took care of themselves, which I can kick myself in the arse for marrying this guy, and not the other ones.
Why did I marry him? Honestly, it was very rushed, and he was going through a very hard time in his life. Honestly, I have always felt we got married under all the wrong reasons. I think he was hurting, and reached to me for help, I responded, helped, allowed myself to get sucked in to help him, and have been helping him the entire time. Really, the ENTIRE relationship was always about whatever crisis was going on in his life, which there were far too many to keep track of, but they all resembled each other... All the problems never seemed to get solved, no matter what approach - no solution ever sat well with him, until it was exactly as he wanted it. Does that make any sense?
You have really helped me open my eyes - I recognize so much of my relationship with my parent with my relationship with him... and NO, not healthy, not normal, and your use of the word "toxic" fits perfectly. I worked so hard to regain my life after my parent died - I had very healthy relationships - one I was going to marry - but then he died, then I met my stbx. I see so much. Thank you! And you are spot on! Do you think it possible that the relationship we have is abusive? If he may have a personality disorder, could that cause an abusive relationship? I think the sort of codependency/fixer relationship I had with my parent was a sort of form of abuse - granted the emotional harm was not as severe as it is now with stbx - but my parent was very good at using guilt to get what was needed out of me, saying that if I didn't help I was a bad person. OMG, there it is! Look, my parent said the exact same thing as the stbx in the exact same way! WOW! Learning new things all the time! THANK YOU!
Synthetic, I admire that you accepted being the "caretaker" and were willing to continue the relationship. That is not an easy thing to do, that takes much love, understanding, effort, and balance. You were willing - I was willing up to a point, gun point to be exact. It just got to be too much for me and felt like I was living in a completely different world than the world that was outside of my house door. I didn't know how bad our relationship had developed until I was outside, saw the world I once loved, understood, enjoyed - I like it outside... I LOVE it out here. And you are right, I need to shut that door, and install a shutter to filter out, to restrict certain interactions with him. It hurts to do that, because I know how it will hurt him to be cut off from me... but if our son is to have any sense of normalcy/peace, if I am to have any sense of normalcy/peace then it must be done.
As the others have said, you cannot save him. This is especially true since he needs to be saved from himself.
If you let him back in your life he will only pull you and your son down with him.
You are a compassionate woman. That is admirable. But you have to think of you and your child first. There are other things available for your husband besides you. Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom before they will fix themselves. So times even after hitting rock bottom they simply choose to stay there.
Has your husband ever been in the military? I ask because there is VA housing assitance for vets in your husband's situation?
If he can get a diagnosis for some kind of mental issue that makes it so that he cannot keep a job, he can get on SSD (Social Security Disability). He might be able to get SSI (Supplemental Security Income). They have programs that can help people get back on their feet.
Who else in his life can help him? Does he have an extended family?
Love your posts. Not sure why they read so nice to my eyes. It's very soothing to see someone other than myself understand the huge revelations that only a few paragraphs can cause.
Your parents are the main reason for your "rescuer/fixer" traits. They offered love in return for your sacrifices. A hugely undermined form of abuse that a large percentage of people on earth are subject to.
Your relationship with your husband was definitely abusive on both parties. It's hard to admit for us codependent fixers that we've been abusive spouses when we seem to have gotten the poopy end of the stick at the end, but it's true nevertheless. You enabled your husband's abusive behavior and further progressed his negative personality disorder traits. Unfortunately in the overwhelming majority of the situations you were only 'reacting' to the situation which lessens the guilt on you.
Your husband on the other hand has had an abusive personality since childhood and is actually aware of it for the most part. He just doesn't have the strength, will power and intelligence to do something about it. You on the other hand DO.