Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife - Page 4 - Talk About Marriage
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post #46 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 09:12 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

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Originally Posted by Uptown View Post
Yes, but keep in mind that the "demoralizing and degrading" is not something SHE is doing to you. Rather, it is something you BOTH are doing to each other. After all, a toxic relationship cannot be sustained for nearly 20 years without two willing participants.
Granted, her role in this toxicity -- i.e., her abuse and neglect of you -- is very easy to see. What is much harder to see is the role you have played in the toxicity. While she has been harming you for many years, you have been harming her too.
You've been an "enabler," i.e., a person who enables her to behave like a spoiled four-year-old for many years -- and KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH IT. She's been able to do this only because you protect her from having to experience the logical consequences of her own bad behavior.
Thanks for the advice, it really helps me to understand what is going on better. I am shocked at the similarities I am seeing with reading up on BPD and NPD and the experiences you are sharing.

You are correct, sadly I have enabled her and allowed her to continue acting this way and I have developed some bad habits over the years. I eventually became very defensive when the verbal abuse would start up which made the situation worse than it needed to be.
The first five years or so she really steam rolled over me as much as I hate to admit it, I had no idea what was going on and just thought it was my fault most of the time and I was doing something wrong. The middle 10 I started to put my foot down on some things like the physical abuse but I developed a bad habit of becoming defensive when the verbal abuse would start up. Every now and then she will pick something up and act like she is going to throw it at me and I have to remind her she cannot do that and I will NOT put up with it. I can see how defensive I became and have done much better in the last 5 or so years over time.

I can see that I will need to see a psychiatrist weather we get divorced or not even for my own benefit and understanding of the situation and how it has affected me over the years. I grew up in a loving family, never abused in any way, so you can imagine how much of a contrast it is living with someone verbally and emotionally abusive.

At this point do you think it would help to get separated as a way of letting her know I canít put up with verbal abuse anymore or is that a futile effort at this point if she does not see any problem with how she acts? Would it help to say either we see a psychiatrist to help deal with these issues or I will file for a divorce? I can see now the importance of actually following through with it if I make any statements like this to her, I have made similar statements in the past but never followed through.

This morning she accused me again of saying that I said I would force her to move out for the 3 month cooling off period. I informed her that is not what I said but she continued to accuse me and blame me for saying it. Then while I was preparing breakfast for myself she came up and tried to hug me and be sweet to me, which is not normal behavior at all for her unless I initiate it first and even then it is more of a reciprocal hug or kiss etc. I let her know the situation is more serious than she realizes and stepped away. This makes me think she really doesnít understand how I feel right now and thinks she can smooth it over. How do you convey what is going on to someone that is a perpetual victim and will have a hard time accepting that their behavior needs to change?
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post #47 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 09:38 AM
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

She is going to blame you, manipulate you, and be the victim even if you do the best job conveying the seriousness of her issues. That's what these people do.

You know yourself best and your wife best. So whether or not you should go for the D right away or separate is best answered by you.

Separation- may give her a chance to change. But it may also give her more change to lie and manipulate to try to get back in.
Divorce- is like ripping the bandaid off. It will be hard and painful but both of you can start the recovering process sooner.
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post #48 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 09:40 AM
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

You can't. You can point her to a doctor or family member. All you can do is be consistent with whatever it is you've decided and let her come to her own conclusions. If she's BPD, she won't be hearing anything from you anyway; she's in a tailspin.
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post #49 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 07:19 PM
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

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I can see that I will need to see a psychiatrist weather we get divorced or not even for my own benefit and understanding of the situation and how it has affected me over the years.
Jon, given that you're seeking an "understanding," not medication, I suggest you start with a psychologist. That likely will cut your office charge in half because a psychologist has only a PhD in psychology. With a psychiatrist, the fee about doubles because you're paying for that PhD in psychology together with an MD degree.

Generally, you will want to see a psychiatrist only if you need medication for treating a mental disorder (e.g., bipolar, ADHD, or schizophrenia). Yet, if you only need something like Zoloft for two months to help you deal with temporary mild anxiety or mild depression, you likely can get a prescription for that from your general medical doctor.

My experience is that psychologists and psychiatrists are about equally good at diagnosing a mental disorder. And, because psychiatrists spend much of their time writing prescriptions and assessing the need for a medication change, psychologists usually are the ones who are more experienced at providing actual therapy. If a psychologist believes medication will help, he/she will refer you to a psychiatrist.

As to the diagnosis itself, the psychologist will be able to diagnose your issues but not those of your W. A formal diagnosis cannot be made without seeing the patient. The irony is that, if a psychologist does see your W and determine she has full-blown BPD, he likely will NOT tell her. Nor is he likely to tell you the name of her diagnosis if it is BPD or NPD. I explain the reasons for this withholding of information at Loath to Diagnose.

Hence, when BPD and NPD may be involved, your best chance of obtaining a candid professional opinion (not a formal diagnosis) on your W's issues is to see a psychologist who has not treated or even seen your W. That way, you are assured he is ethically bound to protect YOUR best interests, not hers. Although he won't be able to give you a diagnosis, he can say something like, "It sounds to me like she may be suffering from ...."

He can do that based on your recollection of nearly 20 years of dysfunctional behaviors. Keep in mind that a therapist seeing your W may have to see her for two or three years before he sees any of the abusive behaviors you see all week long.

Relying on your W's psychologist for a candid opinion during the marriage would be as foolish as relying on your W's attorney for advice during the divorce. Like the attorney, her psychologist is ethically bound to protect her best interests.

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How do you convey what is going on to someone that is a perpetual victim and will have a hard time accepting that their behavior needs to change?
You convey it by saying it once and then showing it in your actions. As you know all to well, it is pointless to try to argue or reason with a BPDer. The only thing that is likely to motivate her -- and there is very little chance of it actually working -- is to allow her to suffer the logical consequences of her own choices.

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At this point do you think it would help to get separated as a way of letting her know I can’t put up with verbal abuse anymore or is that a futile effort at this point if she does not see any problem with how she acts?
If she does not have sufficient self awareness to see the problem with her own behavior, there is no way she is going to spend several years working on a problem she cannot see. Even if she does see the problem and has great self awareness, it is still unlikely she will do the hard work it takes to improve. I've not seen any figures on it but I would guess that perhaps 1/5 of the self-aware BPDers have sufficient ego strength to stay in therapy long enough to make a difference.

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Would it help to say either we see a psychiatrist to help deal with these issues or I will file for a divorce?
No, that's the mistake I made. To preserve the marriage, my BPDer exW readily agreed to weekly therapy and proceeded to play mind games with the therapists. Over 15 years, she was "treated" by six of them and 3 MCs. Of course, it cost me a small fortune and did not make a dent in her BPD traits. Not one dent.

As I said earlier, therapy only works if she has a strong desire to do it on her own without being forced into it. Even then, there is absolutely no guarantee that she will do the work necessary to improve. Moreover, how would you really KNOW when she has made a lasting substantial improvement?

Like the many smokers who are always quitting and throwing away their "last pack" periodically, a BPDer typically will be seen making great improvements every two months or so. So how can you possibly know you are seeing a lasting improvement in a woman who is greatly improving half the time? Remember, even a roller coaster moves upward half the time.

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I informed her that is not what I said but she continued to accuse me and blame me for saying it.
Why are you discussing this with her again? As you know, even in the unlikely event she would agree with you, that agreement almost certainly would be ignored or forgotten in a few days. If she is a BPDer, you are dealing with an intelligent, highly educated woman having the emotional development of a four year old. Hence, as with a young child, you explain the situation and your personal boundary once. No arguments. Then you start enforcing that boundary as soon as it is violated.

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Then while I was preparing breakfast for myself she came up and tried to hug me and be sweet to me, which is not normal behavior at all for her....
Like I said earlier, she almost certainly has a great fear of abandonment if she is a BPDer. This means that, once she sees you establishing personal boundaries and enforcing them, you are going to scare the ****ens out of her.

Once she realizes that the love bombing and manipulation no longer work, you likely will start seeing a rage and vindictiveness that you never even imagined she was capable of (even when she was trying to stab you). My BPDer exW, for example, was so convinced I was going to leave her when I started enforcing boundaries that she became frantic and furious.

She chased me around our home from room to room. When I pushed her away from a bedroom door she was trying to destroy, she tripped when stepping backward and fell down. That's all it took for her to call the police and have me arrested for "brutalizing" her.

When I got out of jail 3 days later, I learned that she had obtained a R/O barring me from returning to my own home. So I had to rent an apartment for 18 months until the divorce was finalized. For a BPDer, having her partner arrested is the height of success in establishing her own self identity.

It is the equivalent of being given a Harvard Ph.D. in Victimhood. She may even want to hang your arrest record on her wall. I therefore suggest you start preparing by reading the book, Splitting: Protecting Yourself while Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist.
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post #50 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 09:06 PM
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

Sounds like a Narcissistic Sociopath, and there are far more female ones then you would care to believe.
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post #51 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

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Jon, given that you're seeking an "understanding," not medication, I suggest you start with a psychologist. That likely will cut your office charge in half because a psychologist has only a PhD in psychology. With a psychiatrist, the fee about doubles because you're paying for that PhD in psychology together with an MD degree.
Very interesting I didn’t know the difference between the two terms.


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Hence, when BPD and NPD may be involved, your best chance of obtaining a candid professional opinion (not a formal diagnosis) on your W's issues is to see a psychologist who has not treated or even seen your W. That way, you are assured he is ethically bound to protect YOUR best interests, not hers. Although he won't be able to give you a diagnosis, he can say something like, "It sounds to me like she may be suffering from ...."
So the main benefit in reference to dealing with my wife’s issues is they could help me understand how severe or serious it might be in order to determine what the best long term decision is.


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You convey it by saying it once and then showing it in your actions. As you know all to well, it is pointless to try to argue or reason with a BPDer. The only thing that is likely to motivate her -- and there is very little chance of it actually working -- is to allow her to suffer the logical consequences of her own choices.
When you say suffer the logical consequences of her own choices how would I go about doing that? Or are you saying do it by ending it permanently since she won’t change or continue to deal with the same problems as long as you are together?


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If she does not have sufficient self awareness to see the problem with her own behavior, there is no way she is going to spend several years working on a problem she cannot see. Even if she does see the problem and has great self awareness, it is still unlikely she will do the hard work it takes to improve. I've not seen any figures on it but I would guess that perhaps 1/5 of the self-aware BPDers have sufficient ego strength to stay in therapy long enough to make a difference.
It’s really sad but it doesn’t sound like there is much hope a BPD’er overcoming the tendencies they have. If we were to stay together is the only option with me learning how to ignore or deal with it when issues come up?

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Why are you discussing this with her again? As you know, even in the unlikely event she would agree with you, that agreement almost certainly would be ignored or forgotten in a few days. If she is a BPDer, you are dealing with an intelligent, highly educated woman having the emotional development of a four year old. Hence, as with a young child, you explain the situation and your personal boundary once. No arguments. Then you start enforcing that boundary as soon as it is violated.
It was a much shorter conversation than usual, after I made that comment I didn’t say much more and left the room. Something I need to really work on and figure out how to do it to set the boundary and then enforce it.


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Like I said earlier, she almost certainly has a great fear of abandonment if she is a BPDer. This means that, once she sees you establishing personal boundaries and enforcing them, you are going to scare the ****ens out of her.
Once she realizes that the love bombing and manipulation no longer work, you likely will start seeing a rage and vindictiveness that you never even imagined she was capable of (even when she was trying to stab you).
I’ve seen this happen on a smaller scale, something happens and she blows up, rips in to me, I don’t apologize or make up for several days, she starts to try to act like nothing happen, I don’t bite then she rips into me again. I can imagine it is much worse when you get to the point that they realize you ARE getting divorced.

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She chased me around our home from room to room. When I pushed her away from a bedroom door she was trying to destroy, she tripped when stepping backward and fell down. That's all it took for her to call the police and have me arrested for "brutalizing" her.
Its crazy. My wife has threatened to call the police before when I got so fed up I yelled at her, not even in a threatening way just ignorantly responding to something she said to hurt me.

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I therefore suggest you start preparing by reading the book, Splitting: Protecting Yourself while Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist.
That’s good to know, thanks.




Here is the really crazy part about all of this. I feel sorry for her.

She has never worked full time, not that she isn’t capable of it but I think she may be a hypochondriac also and she did recover from thyroid cancer about 9 years ago but nothing that would keep her from working but she always says she doesn’t have energy and isn’t healthy and can't work etc. (for 20 years not just after recovering from cancer), I think she got this from her mother who always claimed to be sick and would never work and then held it against her husband for not having enough money, she also coddled her kids that way and only one of them works full time on a regular basis. She finally started working 15 hours a week recently to try to help out with the debt but if this happens she will not have a choice but to work full time at low wages to be able to provide money to live on… and I feel sorry for her, a metric ton of reality is going to come crashing down on her head when she realizes we are going separate ways (I realize this is the wrong way to look at it and I would never tell her that I feel that way). Not that it would prevent me from getting a divorce but this is difficult because I do love her and it hurts me to think of her feeling abandoned and being in this situation, it breaks my heart.

This probably has something to do with why it is difficult to think of going through with a divorce. She is the first and only woman I have ever been with, dated, kissed romantically, had sex with…

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post #52 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-05-2017, 08:30 AM
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

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So the main benefit in reference to dealing with my wifeís issues is they could help me understand how severe or serious it might be in order to determine what the best long term decision is.
Yes. But keep in mind the limitations imposed on psychologists. They cannot do a true diagnosis of any PD -- not in the sense that term is used in every medical field and throughout the rest of society. That is, psychologists cannot tell you the underlying CAUSE of the PD.

Instead, they are only able to tell you whether the behavioral symptoms are sufficiently severe and persistent as to IMPLY that some (unproven) disorder exists. For the purpose of deciding whether to remain married to someone, finding out that a professional considers her traits to be at 80% of the diagnostic threshold (thus "not having BPD") or at 100% (thus "having BPD") is pretty useless. A person at 80% will be nearly as painful to live with as one at 100%.

I mention this so you understand that, because BPD and NPD traits are only behavioral symptoms, you already are the world's expert on your W's behavioral symptoms. You've been observing them for nearly 20 years. Whereas the professionals are experts on true diagnosis, laymen are the experts on recognizing symptoms. By definition, symptoms are something that laymen can spot on their own.

This is why, when the layman cannot spot the effects of a disorder, it is said to be "asymptomatic," i.e., having no symptoms. Hence, when you go to a medical doctor, the first thing he will ask you is what symptoms you are seeing, how severe they are, and how long you've been seeing those symptoms.

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When you say suffer the logical consequences of her own choices how would I go about doing that?
A year ago, @Turnera gave you specific examples of how to do this in post #26 above. She wrote, "If you raise your voice at me, I will leave the room for 20 minutes; we'll try to discuss this later when we can do it without raising voices. And then LEAVE THE ROOM. If she tries to pick up where she left off when you return, turn right back around and leave for an hour. If she does it again, leave the house and go for a walk or a drive. If she does it again, go stay somewhere else for the night. If she does it again the next day, go stay somewhere else for TWO nights. Then three. Then four."

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Or are you saying do it by ending it permanently since she wonít change or continue to deal with the same problems as long as you are together?
That is a decision you have to make on your own. When I was confronted with the same predicament after 15 years of abuse, I decided to divorce my exW -- a woman who had been my first love and whom I had known for several decades. If your W does exhibit strong and persistent BPD traits, I would be surprised if there is more than a 1% chance she will substantially improve even if you do force her to see a psychologist.

A few recent published studies seem to contradict my conclusion. They find that, as BPDers age beyond the late 40's, a substantial portion of them no longer have the disorder. Yet, this finding of "improvement" is not what it seems. It does not mean that the BPDers are cured of anything.

Rather, it is simply an artifact of the absurd "diagnosis" procedure that psychologists have been using since 1980 -- wherein a person satisfying 80% or 90% of the diagnostic criteria is said to "not have the disorder." As I noted above, a person exhibiting strong PD traits will be very difficult to live with regardless of whether they are slightly above or below that diagnostic threshold.

This binary approach to "diagnosis" for a spectrum disorder is as ridiculous as declaring everyone above 6' 6" to be "tall" and everyone below that height to be "short." This is why the American psychiatric is in the process of revising its diagnostic manual to replace this outdated binary approach with a graduated (i.e., dimensional) approach.

If my experience is any guide, your W's behavior may well get much worse. What I found was that, as the years go by, a BPDer's fear of abandonment grows as she sees her body aging. And her resentment grows as she sees, year after year, that you continue to fail at making her happy -- an impossible task.

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Itís really sad but it doesnít sound like there is much hope a BPDíer overcoming the tendencies they have. If we were to stay together is the only option with me learning how to ignore or deal with it when issues come up?
Yes, that was my experience. If your W exhibits only mild to moderate BPD traits, you can substantially improve your R/S by learning validation techniques. Yet, if she exhibits strong traits, my experience is that all the validation in the world won't make a significant difference.

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Its crazy. My wife has threatened to call the police before when I got so fed up I yelled at her, not even in a threatening way just ignorantly responding to something she said to hurt me.
Like I said, getting you arrested will make her feel like she's walking onto stage at a university graduation ceremony. It's like being handed a Harvard PhD in victimhood. The ultimate "validation" of her false self image of being "The Victim."

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Here is the really crazy part about all of this. I feel sorry for her.
That's how nearly all of the abused partners feel. It feels like you're walking away from a sick, young child who desperately needs you. This is why the abused partners typically go through numerous breakups over a period of years before they are able to break free of the toxic relationship.

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I do love her and it hurts me to think of her feeling abandoned and being in this situation, it breaks my heart.
Likewise, I still love my BPDer exW. It took me 15 years to finally understand that, when a person is unable to trust, she can turn on you at any time -- and she certainly will do so many times. This means, of course, you can never really trust her. Absent trust, there is no foundation on which to build a lasting adult relationship.
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post #53 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-05-2017, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

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"If you raise your voice at me, I will leave the room for 20 minutes; we'll try to discuss this later when we can do it without raising voices. And then LEAVE THE ROOM. If she tries to pick up where she left off when you return, turn right back around and leave for an hour. If she does it again, leave the house and go for a walk or a drive. If she does it again, go stay somewhere else for the night. If she does it again the next day, go stay somewhere else for TWO nights. Then three. Then four."
That is something I will have to try and do and work on. I usually like to resolve issues when they come up, which never works with my wife, so maybe this approach will help if I don’t leave soon.


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If my experience is any guide, your W's behavior may well get much worse. What I found was that, as the years go by, a BPDer's fear of abandonment grows as she sees her body aging. And her resentment grows as she sees, year after year, that you continue to fail at making her happy -- an impossible task.
I’m sure I am stretching here but in some ways she is slightly better than the first 5 years of marriage in frequency and intensity, much less physical violence, BUT the big blow ups still happen regularly and verbal abuse and blame every time an occurrence comes up. Is it unrealistic to think she may not have the most severe symptoms based on seeing even a small improvement after the first 5 years? Or if they were not as severe would she have progressed much more by now?

On the down side, ultimatums helped to reduce certain things like the violence but hasn't helped much with the verbal abuse. My problem up to this point is not following through.


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Likewise, I still love my BPDer exW. It took me 15 years to finally understand that, when a person is unable to trust, she can turn on you at any time -- and she certainly will do so many times. This means, of course, you can never really trust her. Absent trust, there is no foundation on which to build a lasting adult relationship.
This is definitely a problem. The accusations and blame shock me on a regular basis that she would accuse me of such and such.


I am planning on reading the book you suggested about how to prepare for a divorce with someone with BPD.

I am still seriously thinking about getting separated before divorcing even just to give myself some peace and really think about the situation.

I’m so tired emotionally, the constant ups and downs are very difficult to deal with and I feel like something must change one way or the other. A few days ago I was a monster and everything was all my fault and now she is nice the last day or two which usually only happens immediately after a blow up and make up, then the cycle of neglect and blow ups continue... As much as it hurts to think about leaving her the thought of a more static peaceful life style seems like a dream.
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post #54 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-05-2017, 05:53 PM
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

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Is it unrealistic to think she may not have the most severe symptoms based on seeing even a small improvement after the first 5 years? Or if they were not as severe would she have progressed much more by now?
Jon, I don't know what will happen in your specific case. The two recent studies I mentioned suggest that, for full-blown BPDers, there is at least a 50% chance a BPDer will mellow a little -- i.e., will drop below the diagnostic threshold and thus no longer "have BPD." As I discussed, however, that vague finding offers little comfort to anyone married to a BPDer because the studies provide no information on whether "dropping below the 100% threshold" means they dropped on average to 70% or, rather, to 95%.

Anecdotally, nearly all the reports from TAM members living a long time with BPDers report that behavior did not improve. But, granted, that proves nothing because, if things had improved, they likely would not have shown up here on TAM talking about it. My personal experience, as you know, was that things got so bad my exW had me thrown in jail.

Yet, regardless of whether your W mellows a bit, what you can expect is that -- when you stop walking on eggshells and start establishing strong personal boundaries -- she will interpret it as a sure sign you are planning on divorcing her. Initially, she may do the love bombing and caring behavior you've seen in the past.

As you remain steadfast with the boundaries, however, she likely will eventually be so frightened by it -- and so resentful that you are not validating her self image of being "The Victim" -- she will start lashing out with rage and fury. That, at least, is what my exW did when I started standing up for myself.

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I am planning on reading the book you suggested.
You may also benefit from reading some online articles written by professionals. I recommend two BPDfamily articles: Surviving a Breakup with Someone Suffering with BPD and Leaving a Partner with BPD. I also recommend Divorcing a Narcissist. These three articles describe what it's like to leave high-conflict spouses and give some tips that may be useful.
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

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Yet, regardless of whether your W mellows a bit, what you can expect is that -- when you stop walking on eggshells…..

You may also benefit from reading some online articles written by professionals. I recommend two BPDfamily articles: Surviving a Breakup with Someone Suffering with BPD and Leaving a Partner with BPD. I also recommend Divorcing a Narcissist. These three articles describe what it's like to leave high-conflict spouses and give some tips that may be useful.
Thank you I will read those articles also. As far as leaning how to set boundaries and how to enforce them are the books Stop Walking on Eggshells and I Hate You, Don't Leave Me the best place to start?

You mentioned this in a earlier post.
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Moreover, your W's severe abandonment fear also is likely the reason that "She does not like to even visit with my extended family that I am close to." Similarly, my BPDer exW absolutely hated my adult foster son and rarely would go with me to visit my mother or other family members.
I think I already know the answer to this but is there any hope of this situation (visiting family out of state) getting better with learning more about how to interact with someone with BDP? If we were to stay together then maybe the best bet is more of a live separate lives approach about certain things since she no longer tried to keep me from visiting, usually.


Before making any permanent decisions I am reading the two books and asking my primary doctor for psychologist recommendations to talk to alone just with me and explain what is going on and see what I can learn about myself and my wife the last 20 years and see what they say or what approach they recommend.

The one thing I know for sure is something has to change.
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post #56 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-06-2017, 02:37 PM
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

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There doesn't seem to be a lot of threads on verbally abusive wife's and not a lot of info online.

This was interesting and discouraging to read
Your Verbally Abusive Wife, What Can You Do? - HealthyPlace

I have not been on the forum long but have read some good stuff, especially about the fitness testing.

So I am curious what you all have to say about dealing with a verbally abusive wife.

In my situation about half the time my wife is very cold natured and abrupt, abrasive about things. If we are talking about something that we need to decide on and she wants to do one thing and I want to do another I can try to explain why it is a good idea to do one thing and about 75% of the time she will start to get very cold and abrasive pushing what she wants to do and won't give me a chance to even explain my perspective. I think this is a manipulation tactic and I find it very irritating.
When logic and collaboration are denied, emotion and force will always win. Whatever she wants, she gets. Sounds like she has you trained pretty well to accept that she is in charge.

I have read that, despite modern egalitarian notions of marriage, equal power in a marriage rarely seems to work according to some studies--one spouse or the other has to take more of a lead role. But that leadership comes with the responsibility of being benevolent. If that power is just a selfish tool to get what they want, it is a problem that will always make you unhappy. You will have to suck up for your whole life, or do something about it and I have to tell you there are no easy ways to shift the balance of power in a relationship.

SE

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post #57 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-06-2017, 03:17 PM
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

Posting this so I can find it later...

"The ecologist is continually having to look at the aspects of nature with which he is unfamiliar and perforce must be an amateur for much of his working time.... professionals may carp at omissions, misconstructions, or even downright errors in these pages. perhaps ultimately they may forgive them for the sake of the overall vision that only the amateur, or the ecologist, blithely sets out to experience."G. Evelyn Hutchinson
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post #58 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-06-2017, 03:37 PM
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

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Originally Posted by Jonny Be Confused View Post
As far as leaning how to set boundaries and how to enforce them are the books Stop Walking on Eggshells and I Hate You, Don't Leave Me the best place to start?
The Eggshells and Hate You books offer advice on establishing boundaries but a lot of the focus is on explaining BPD behavior, much of which you already are able to spot. You therefore might get more benefit from Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist by Margalis Fjelstad. I suggest going to BigRiver and reading the customer reviews to see if that would be more helpful.

As you already realize, your contribution to the marriage toxicity is your overly strong desire to be needed (for what you can do) -- which far exceeds your desire to be loved for the man you already are. This problem is well covered in the well-known book, Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. Like Fjelstad, Beattie does a good job discussing how to build strong boundaries and thus you may want to consider reading her book.

I tend to favor Fjelstad because -- unlike Beattie -- she doesn't make the unsupported claim that we excessive caregivers all want to control our partners. My experience is that most excessive caregivers just want to be needed and to have a beneficial impact on their partners' lives without wanting to control them and without wanting to keep them dependent.

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Is there any hope of this situation (visiting family out of state) getting better with learning more about how to interact with someone with BDP?
Because anything is possible, there is always some hope the situation might improve. Yet, counting on possibilities and "might be's" is a very low standard on which to base your decisions. I say this because, if your W exhibits strong and persistent BPD traits, she likely has the emotional development of a four year old.

If so, you've been in a parent/child relationship -- not a husband/wife relationship -- for nearly 20 years. I therefore believe you are very wise to be seeking -- from a psychologist recommended by your doctor -- a candid professional opinion on what it is you're dealing with.
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post #59 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-06-2017, 10:17 PM
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

Sounds a lot like me and my wife...

Several years ago, that was us. I'll let her describe how I responded to her when things started changing for the better.

If you are dealing with a low emotional maturity, you will have to make your spouse feel safe before she will work with you and cooperate. Things that will make her feel safe may not look like you think it should. You CAN enforce boundaries while providing her with the safety and security to open up.

But you will have to enforce boundaries from a position of compassion. Which means they must be rock solid.

Anyway, @Akinaura , care to chime in?

"The ecologist is continually having to look at the aspects of nature with which he is unfamiliar and perforce must be an amateur for much of his working time.... professionals may carp at omissions, misconstructions, or even downright errors in these pages. perhaps ultimately they may forgive them for the sake of the overall vision that only the amateur, or the ecologist, blithely sets out to experience."G. Evelyn Hutchinson
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post #60 of 73 (permalink) Old 01-06-2017, 10:58 PM
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Re: Verbally and Emotionally Abusive Wife

Boundaries are going to be your friend, so don't make idle ones or ones you can't enforce.

For example, I have quite the acidic tongue. I can be brutal, as my husband can attest. What he chose to do was enforce a simple rules "no assuming what I'm feeling or thinking"...over the years it's been shortened to "no one is a mind reader", lol. If I assumed what he was thinking or feeling I got one warning of "you assumed, do it again, I'm leaving the room for x minutes, after the time is up, I will be back." At first, I was terrified he was gonna leave the room and not come back, so of course I got even worse. But after a few weeks of the same behavior, I began to feel safe...I can began to rely on my knowledge he had come back every time before so him walking away wasn't that night of an issue. That turned into better monitoring what I said so I could talk about what was going on instead of driving him away.

Another boundary he enforced was something you've experienced, which is the "flip-flop" as I call it. I did many of the same behaviors as your wife. What my husband did was to enforce a personal space around himself that I wasn't to encroach on. Again, it made me upset he would "seal" himself off like that, but what he was doing was teaching me self-soothing and it made so that after a fight, we both could approach each other relaxed instead of on edge. It was also my husband's way of ensuring the conflict was over and I wasn't blaming him for behavior that was my decision and not his. He wanted me to recognize myself which behavior was out of line, so the next time I could do better at controlling myself.

Basically it comes down to small consequences that are easily repeated, that show "you can only go so far" and not the nuke option of "I'm leaving and you'll never see me again". Remember you are dealing with a severe fear, borderline phobia of abandonment. Giving something the bpder can grasp on to, something that they can quantify, will make things easier. But also remember you're gonna have some more intense blowups on the road to the bpder learning they are safe.

Oh, and lastly, carry a VAR. A lot of times, when a bpder is at full meltdown, it's hard for them to remember what they have said, this is a way for you to remind her if she swears up and down she never said something. Also, it will help if she decides to be stupid and do something vindictive.
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