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Physical & Mental Health Issues Marriage and relationships are difficult by themselves, but coping with physical or mental health problems can make things even more difficult.

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Old 12-26-2012, 10:56 AM   #16 (permalink)
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The thing is, I often catch myself saying "I'm sorry you feel that way..." which is in itself a judgement.
If I may make a suggestion - instead of saying something like "I'm sorry you feel that way", perhaps say something like, "I know you're hurting and I am here to love and help you". You can put your arms around her and hug her while you say this. It's amazing what a difference this feels like, especially when you're upset and wanting reassurance, (speaking from someone who has been emotionally out of control - me).

But DON'T grovel and don't take it too far. This is enough. If she becomes verbally or emotionally abusive, simply tell her (in a loving, strong, but most importantly - a non-condescending way), that name-calling and saying things like, "you should go back to America" are not acceptable. You are to tell her the consequences of breeching this boundary upfront. "If you call me names/throw my stuff/saying hurtful things I will walk away and we will take a time-out".

She may "test" you to see if you're serious and when you have to take that time-out, you tell her why. "Calling me a name is not acceptable, so we are going to take 20 minutes to calm down and think of loving ways to communicate".

If she is emotional, that is okay - as long as she learns to express it in a healthy way. It's okay for her to cry and say things like, "I'm hurting right now" and I would encourage her to keep those lines of communication OPEN and SAFE. She can't say things like, "You are hurting me" because that is not accepting responsibility for her own feelings and blaming them on you instead.

Teach her to make "I" statements. "I feel" followed by an emotion. "I feel sad". "I feel angry", etc. She can't say things like "I feel" followed by "you". She doesn't get to say things like "I feel like you don't love me", because that is HER telling YOU how YOU FEEL, for example.

It's going to take A LOT of work and careful, loving guidance and patience from you, but she does need to see a professional. You can't "fix" her, you can only be there to love and guide her.
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Old 12-26-2012, 02:58 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Big, the behaviors you describe -- e.g., the verbal and physical abuse, temper tantrums, rapid flips between Jekyll and Hyde, and black-white thinking -- are classic traits of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), which my exW has. Of course, only a professional can diagnose BPD (i.e., determine whether her BPD traits meet 100% of the diagnostic criteria for having full-blown BPD).

Yet, even when the traits fall far below that diagnostic level, they still can be strong enough to destroy a marriage and make your life miserable. At issue, then, is whether your W has most BPD traits at a strong level.

Significantly, I don't know the answer to that question. I nonetheless am confident that you can spot such strong traits when you know what traits to look for. There is a world of difference between diagnosing your W (which only professionals can do) and spotting strong occurrences of the traits. There is nothing subtle about BPD traits such as verbal abuse, temper tantrums, and fear of abandonment.
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Life with my wife is like riding an emotional roller coaster. There is no stability whatsoever.
Emotional instability is the key hallmark of BPD because BPDers (i.e., those having strong BPD traits) have great difficulty in regulating their emotions. Indeed, this is why a large share of the psychiatric community have been lobbying for two decades to rename it as "Emotion Regulation Disorder."

The only other disorder that is notorious for producing emotional instability is bipolar disorder. The behaviors you describe, however, are far more consistent with BPD traits than bipolar traits. If you want to know why I say that, please see my description of the differences between those two disorders in my post at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/anxiety...ml#post1175425.

A third possibility, as Satya pointed out, is that your W is suffering from a brain injury or brain tumor. Such brain damage can cause strong BPD traits to suddenly happen. Yet, those occurrences are extremely rare. Hence, if this behavior did not start right after a bad car accident, it is extremely unlikely that is the source. (A fourth possibility -- causing temporary BPD traits -- is a strong hormone change, as can happen during pregnancy or postpartum.)
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Her father died when she was young and she was seriously abused (both physically and emotionally) by her mother and brother.
BPD is strongly associated with abuse or abandonment in early childhood. Indeed, 70% of BPDers report that they were abused or abandoned in childhood. Although most abused children DON'T develop BPD, such abuse GREATLY raises their risk of doing so.
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My wife will become furiously angry over the most seemingly trivial things.
Due to the childhood abuse or abandonment, BPDers carry enormous anger inside throughout their lives (if they don't obtain many years of treatment). The result is that, if your W is a BPDer, you won't have to do a thing to CREATE her anger. Rather, you will only have to say or do some minor thing to TRIGGER the anger that is always there right under her skin. This is why a BPDer can burst into a rage in mere seconds.
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My wife has abandonment and intimacy issues and I am trying to be understanding.
These are the two things that BPDers are so fearful of. Specifically, they greatly fear abandonment and the engulfment caused by intimacy. Like the rest of us, BPDers crave intimacy because they want to be loved. When they get it, however, they cannot tolerate it very long.

The reason is that they have such a weak sense of who they are that, when they are close to someone with a strong personality, they feel suffocated and controlled -- like they are disappearing into thin air and being taken over by your controlling personality. That "engulfment" is a great fear.

Trying to live with such a person is a lose-lose situation because the two fears (abandonment and engulfment) lie at the polar extremes of the VERY SAME spectrum. This means that, as you back away from her to avoid triggering her engulfment fear, you necessarily are drawing closer to triggering her abandonment fear. Importantly, there is no happy midway point where you are not too close and not too far. That Goldilocks position simply does not exist. I know because I spent 15 years in the futile effort of trying to find it.

This is why BPDers typically engage in an endless cycle of push-you-away and pull-you-back. That is, when you are intimate with a BPDer, she will create fights over nothing at all in order to push you away. Then, as you back off to give her breathing space, her abandonment fear will eventually kick in and she will start acting very loving to pull you back into the toxic relationship.
Quote:
Said she felt guilty and ashamed that she would blow up over such a non-issue.
BPDers are filled not only with enormous anger but also with enormous shame and self loathing. It therefore is extremely painful for them to recognize a flaw or mistake that they make. The last thing a BPDer wants to find is one more thing to add to the long list of things she hates about herself.
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She refuses to take any responsibility for her actions and only sees herself as a victim.
To avoid the pain of feeling the intense shame deep inside, a BPDer categorizes everyone (including herself) as "all good" or "all bad." This has the advantage of allowing her to think of herself as "all good," thus avoiding the pain associated with recognizing that she has made a mistake. The disadvantage, of course, is that -- on those rare occasions when she cannot avoid seeing she has made a mistake -- she is utterly demolished because she starts thinking of herself in those moments as "all bad."

This "black-white thinking" is one of the hallmarks of BPDers. Moreover, they will recategorize someone -- in just ten seconds -- from one polar extreme to the other based solely on a minor comment or infraction (real or imagined).
Quote:
It feels like regardless of what's happened or ongoing she has to see herself as a victim.
One of the hallmarks of BPDers is that they are convinced that they are victims, always the victims. As I said, a BPDer has a very fragile, weak sense of who she is. Hence, to the extent a BPDer has a self image at all, it is of being "The Victim." This means that, if your W is a BPDer, you will be allowed to play only two roles if you want to remain married to her -- because both of those roles will "validate" her false self image of being "The Victim."

One role, which you played full time during the courtship, is to be her "Savior." In that capacity, you validated her false self image because the obvious implication of all the saving you were doing was that she must be "The Victim" in need of being saved. But, of course, she only wanted validation. She did not really want to be saved at all. That's why every time you pulled her from the raging seas she would jump right back into the water as soon as you turned around. Sadly, your role as "Savior" evaporated as soon as her infatuation was gone. It will return periodically only during those moments when she is "splitting you white" (i.e., seeing you as "all good"). Those moments will become increasingly farther and farther apart.

The other role you are allowed to play is being "The Perpetrator," i.e., the cause of her every misfortune. Without a "Savior" around to validate her victim status, the only other way to do it is to have a full-time perpetrator who can be blamed for everything. And because the blame usually is placed subconsciously (through projection), her conscious mind will actually believe it is true. This is why it is common for intelligent BPDers to make such outrageous accusations that you will marvel that an adult can say such things while holding a straight face.
Quote:
I've found that if she is able to talk things through -- without me offering any kind of commentary -- this can help to calm her down.
If your W is a BPDer, the childhood damage caused her emotional development to freeze at about age 4. She therefore never learned the more mature ways of defending one's ego. She never learned, for example, how to do self soothing or how to intellectually challenge her intense feelings (instead of accepting them as accurate reflections of reality).

Moreover, as long as you continue being her "soothing object," she will have no incentive to confront her issues and learn how to do those things for herself. Hence, by protecting her from the logical consequences of her own childish behavior, you likely are harming her. You are allowing her to continue behaving like a spoiled four year old -- AND GET AWAY WITH IT.
Quote:
It feels like I'm living with two people, and I never know when my wife's furious alter ego is going to turn up.
A common complaint -- when someone is living with a BPDer -- is that it feels like one is living with a person who is half-way to having a multiple personality disorder (now called "Dissociative Identity Disorder"). As I noted earlier, BPDers are notorious for flipping -- in only ten seconds -- from loving you to devaluing you (even hating you). And they will flip back just as quickly.
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My wife comes from a very controlling family and I honestly have no desire to control her.
If she is a BPDer, she will feel controlled by you whenever you draw close to her. The feeling is so intense that she will feel convinced that it absolutely MUST be true. With BPDers, feelings are so intense that they accept them as facts and do not intellectually challenge them. It therefore usually is impossible to convince them otherwise, no matter how compelling your arguments and evidence are.
Quote:
I want my wife back.
If she is a BPDer, the woman you now see -- flipping between Jekyll and Hyde -- IS YOUR WIFE. What you saw during your courtship period was not representative. During courtship, a BPDer's infatuation holds her two fears at bay because she is convinced you are her savior and are nearly perfect. Yet, as soon as the infatuation starts to evaporate (typically after 3 to 6 months), her fears will return -- with the result that you will start triggering her anger and rage to appear.
Quote:
She's still adamant about not going to counseling.
As I said, the last thing a BPDer wants to find is one more thing to add to the long list of things she hates about herself. BPDers therefore are very resistant to going to therapy. Therapist Shari Schreiber says that you have a better chance flying to the moon strapped to a banana than ever seeing a BPDer stay in therapy long enough to make a difference.
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I don't know what to do and I would appreciate any advice.
If your W has strong BPD traits, MC likely will be a total waste of time -- until she has had several years of IC to learn how to manage her anger and other emotions. The issues you describe go far beyond a simple lack of communication skills.

I therefore suggest that you see a psychologist -- for a visit or two by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you've been dealing with. Because BPD is a possibility, your best chance of obtaining a candid view of your W's issues is to see a professional who is ethically bound to protect YOUR best interests, not hers. Therapists generally are loath to tell a BPDer -- much less her H -- the name of her disorder (for her own protection). This is why I recommend that you see YOUR OWN psychologist to obtain a candid assessment of what you are dealing with.

I further suggest that, while you're waiting for an appointment, you read about BPD traits to see if most sound very familiar. An easy place to start reading is my description of them in Maybe's thread at My list of hell!. If that description rings a bell, I would be glad to discuss it with you and point you to good online resources. Take care, Big.
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Old 12-26-2012, 03:16 PM   #18 (permalink)
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You've gotten some good avice here, but I didn't notice this brought up. Absolutely, positively do not have children with this woman unless she gets help and makes great strides toward improvement. I can tell you from experience that if you think it's bad now when she has relatively little responsibility, it will get many times worse when she has a child. Not just because of the increased responsibility and reduced personal time, but becuase those who were abused as children often suffer a crippling fear that they cannot protect their own child.

Whatever you do, whatever she says, don't think that a child will fill the emptyness inside her or heal her. It won't and then you'll have to worry about the effect her illness has on your child.
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Old 12-27-2012, 04:16 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Dear OP, people with those kind of emotional rage are sometimes in risk to hurt themselves or others without realizing the damage and consequence their doing until its too late,don't have kids for now until you see what is going on and if there is any treatment,we know a relative who face same kind of symptoms ,he would egg someone's car over a parking spot or scratch it,push people from their seats in movie theaters and hits his hand in the wall ,or window glass when angry be careful for your safety,it become more serious good luck
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:42 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Has she ever had help concerning the abuse she suffered? Abuse can cause severe emotional and mental damage dependent on the amount and severity of the trauma she was put through.

There could be Dissociative identity disorder (DID) that may explain the Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde as well as the possibility of the aforementioned borderline personality disorder possibility.

See what possibilities there are for intervention where you live if that is what is called for. Love is doing the right thing for them, you, and those around you sometimes.

I truly hope and pray for total healing and reconnection from this issue.
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:50 AM   #21 (permalink)
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It's just been more of the same the last ten days. If anything, it's gotten worse.

Last night was as bad as it's ever been. She was raging, storming at me. This doesn't make me feel great but I stayed calm. I asked her, "Talk me through what you're feeling." Nothing. It continued to escalate for the better part of an hour before I told her I was going to take 20 minutes to cool off alone in our rec room.

She was absolutely not having it. Literally glue herself to me and kept on with her aggression. She even followed me into the bathroom!

It got bad enough that I spent the night in a hotel. I've told her numerous times that hitting me is a deal breaker. I got hit last night and that was it -- I was out the door for the evening.

Since I've been back today she's clearly depressed and won't get out of bed. I don't know what to do. I'm beyond frustrated. I really don't want to give up on our marriage, but I feel hopeless right now.

Neither of us deserve this kind of life.
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Old 01-06-2013, 04:10 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Big, is this the first time you've tried the time-out and boundary enforcement like this?
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:14 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Last night was as bad as it's ever been. She was raging, storming at me.
Big, I'm sorry to hear you two had another ten days of painful experiences.
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I asked her, "Talk me through what you're feeling." Nothing. It continued to escalate.
Sadly, that behavior is to be expected. If she is a BPDer (i.e., has strong BPD traits), she is not interested in finding solutions or creating compromises. Rather, she is only interested in creating drama so there are always plenty of problems to blame on you. Because she has such a fragile sense of self, her primary need is to obtain daily validation of her false self image of being "The Victim."

Because that likely is the only shred of a self image she has, she will maintain a death grip on it. Hence, if you refuse to validate it by being "Savior" or "Perpetrator," she will leave you. By "leave you," I mean she likely will have you arrested -- if Korean police are as cooperative as the American police -- so she has a permanent validation of being recognized as "The Victim" by the State.
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This doesn't make me feel great but I stayed calm. I asked her, "Talk me through what you're feeling." Nothing.
As I said, if she is a BPDer, she doesn't want a calm discussion. She doesn't want to reach an understanding or compromise. She only wants to create drama. This is the way it is when you are married to a woman having the emotional development of a four year old. Although she is capable of ending the temper tantrum at any time -- just like any four year old is -- she has no incentive to do so as long as you are willing to stay around and tolerate her outrageous behavior.
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She was absolutely not having it. Literally glue herself to me and kept on with her aggression. She even followed me into the bathroom!
Likewise, my BPDer exW would follow me room to room. Because BPDers have little control over their emotions, their feelings quickly become so intense that they are insistent that every argument must be solved RIGHT NOW. But they are not really interested in finding a solution to anything. Instead, they only want to create the drama.
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It got bad enough that I spent the night in a hotel. I've told her numerous times that hitting me is a deal breaker.
That is a mistake. The "deal breaker" should be the emotional and verbal abuse -- as well as the hitting. You should not remain in the home and tolerate such abusive treatment.
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I don't know what to do.... I really don't want to give up on our marriage, but I feel hopeless right now.
If your W has strong BPD traits, you should feel hopeless for the marriage because -- absent many years of therapy (which she is refusing to do) -- it is futile to try to sustain a marriage to a woman with the emotional development of a young child. You do not have a husband/wife relationship. Rather, you have a parent/child relationship that is unsustainable as a "marriage."
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Neither of us deserve this kind of life.
No, you don't. You both deserve better. Your toxic relationship is as harmful to her as it is to you. If she is a BPDer, your enabling behavior is destroying her best opportunity to have to confront her issues and learn how to manage them.
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:33 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Yes, this is the first time I've tried it. I was expecting resistance and that's exactly what I got. Still, I stood firm so I'm hoping this will help in the future?

I honestly don't know. I'm an absolute clinic in frustration and hopelessness right now.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:03 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Hi

Whatever her diagnosis is/might be, perhaps having an inter-cultural marriage could well be a trigger behind her further mental instability/volatility?

It might be worth considering living apart for her to calm down?

Perhaps, she did not realize how "stressful" marriage can be and how much her marriage could adversely affect her mental state?

Stay strong. Take care!
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:18 AM   #26 (permalink)
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It seems like it only goes from bad to worse.

Today when I walked in the door from work my wife went immediately into a rage.

She'd written me an email at a business account (which I check once a day, early in the morning) and was convinced that I'd ignored her as a means to "attack" or "punish" her.

I hadn't even seen the email!

From there it just escalated. No matter what I do her anger only increases. I told her, again and again, that I loved her but I was not about to get on board with her behavior. (I'd been punched, cursed at, told to "go back to America", etc.)

She interpreted this as a personal attack. It is ALWAYS a personal attack with her.

The event culminated in an incredibly harsh thing said which, embarrassingly enough, was enough to cause me to break into tears. The last 48 hours have just been too much.

She apologized. I accepted and told her that I needed some time to myself. That only started her up again. "So you're saying you're done with me?" Etc, etc

Truly, I don't know what to do.

Tonight I told her that she doesn't deserve to feel this way and that I wasn't going to just passively take abuse.

I made it clear that I didn't see any reason to believe this issue would just clear up on its own. I said therapy needs to happen this week.

Nothing.

She just accuses me of saying she's crazy, sick, broken, et al.

I love my wife. This is no way for either of us to live. But I feel like a volcano that is about to erupt from pent up frustration.
Is your wife on any psychiatric meds?
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:26 PM   #27 (permalink)
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...I'm also married to an unstable Korean woman. Very much of her behavior is similar. In terms of hope, I will say that after many rough patches, things are gradually improving. However, there's no real reason for you to stay. PITA remains PITA. Nothing is hopeless, but it will be easier and more reliable to marry someone saner than to make your current marriage livable.

BPD is possible. Mild autism or NPD is also possible. If she's unstable and easily hurt, BPD is more likely - you might look into validation. If she has odd communication issues, autism is more likely - you might try keeping communication simple. If she's hard to hurt and really status conscious - NPD is possible - boundaries, or running, are a good idea.

Speaking unfairly and stereotyping...violent insanity is not that uncommon among Korean women. (In fact, the only DV homicides I could find in the US involved Korean women.) Part of the problem may be somewhat cultural - my wife's family beats her when she rages and she calms down quickly. My wife claims that in Seoul, if a woman shows up with a broken arm, the police send her back to her husband. It is likely true that beating a woman unconscious is fairly easy to talk yourself out of (mutual acquaintance - she apparently kept banging on his door at night...so he beat her until she couldn't stand..they're still mostly friends.) - the woman almost ended up being charged.[I'm not advising that sort of behavior, just observing that the cultural norms are such that DV in Korea often involves permanent hearing loss or hospital stays.] There's also a bit of a cultural presumption that a man should control his wife's behavior physically*....oh...and a tendency towards a lot of subtle backbiting that can result in paranoia.

On the bright side, the Korean police tend to not arrest people - but - given that you're a foreigner...you may be at some risk.

Stuff that can help:
1. Being a good husband and modeling healthy behavior - showing consistent affection.
2. Boundary enforcement. My experience is that it is best if I just remove myself from the living space completely when she starts becoming abusive. Along with planning ahead. I have bathroom supplies and a different place to sleep. Fighting back just reinforces the behavior and staying triggers her.And narrating what you're doing.**
3. Verbalizing and showing emotions. I tend to withdraw when my wife shows strong emotion...she feels abandoned...and picks a fight. Being open when your partner is angry is hard...but sometimes useful.
4. No kids. Seriously. It is harder leaving a house with a wee child - and evil to expose them to that sort of violence. Besides, chiildren of BPDs have increased risk of mental illness.
5. Humiliation works surprisingly well on Koreans. Be subtle. My wife's behavior moderated significantly after she realized I was asking for advice from mutual friends and her family.
6. Repeated MC...after about the 5th therapist, my wife started noticing that the same suggestions kept coming towards her.
7. Remembering that she has no power over you - 'worst' case - she leaves you because of the changes you make. And you're better off. And accepting that you're with a crazy person - that means that she'll occasionally pick violent arguments no matter what - don't worry about it - just part of life.
8. Awareness...it helps to remember that nearly all of her questions are likely to be...'do you still love me'? - and answering 'Yes' is better than getting caught up in her details.

I wouldn't waste time trying to force her into therapy. Assuming you don't just run (a perfectly valid and sensible choice), it would be best to start out with boundary enforcement. She might calm down pretty rapidly - or not. If she doesn't it might be best to move out. You can't change who she is - even if she wanted to, it'd take years - but you can make your life less awful pretty rapidly. After setting up some boundaries, MC might be a decent suggestion. Also, do be careful about false DV charges - Korea isn't as strict on enforcement as the US, but you're a foreigner, so...

--Argyle
*...never expected to be lectured on the proper places to hit a woman by my wife...and my in-laws And insulted when I refused.
**...my wife is quite confused when I walk out instead of screaming back at her...so it is best for her to know that I'm leaving because I choose not to participate in abusive discussions, that I'm not leaving her, and that I'll be back in xx hours. She's still angry - just not as confused and frightened.

Last edited by argyle; 01-11-2013 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 01-12-2013, 03:36 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Hi argyle

Incredible posts...You had lived through all that. My hat's off to you!

Do you think Japanese wives are somewhat similar to Korean wives (not that I am trying to stereotype here..)?

I am a big fan of Korean / Japanese movies and had seen quite a few...I see what you mean about use of violence.

Thank you for the great post full of great insights!

Really hoping that BigInJapan is doing well.
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:32 PM   #29 (permalink)
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...I wouldn't know. Although there was one funny story...we were walking somewhere in Japan...my wife spotted a couple with the wife screaming at the husband in front of the children and waving a high heel shoe at his face. She perked up...and told me that public screaming fits were perfectly normal everywhere - because - see - the Japanese do it too...we walked closer...my wife turned red...and started translating the Korean woman's rant. (You #$%#, my feet hurt, I don't care about your #$%5$# tickets. Call us a #$% taxi. Now. I don't care how much it #@$ costs.) So, um, I'm guessing not.*

...maybe my first point is that...depending on culture...some behaviors that seem indicative of pure insanity may simply indicate mild insanity.

...my second point is that this actually matters a bit. An American woman behaving in that fashion is likely to have serious mental and emotional deficits that are very unlikely to improve appreciably, except over the course of several years. My Korean wife actually improved quite measurably after a discussion regarding the likely consequences to our child if our child mimicked her behavior in the US. And a second one indicating that slaps to the head weren't part of communication that I'd accept. Of course, my wife does have significant deficits, but not to the same sort of degree that you might expect of a woman showing markedly worse behavior than BigInJapan's wife.

--Argyle
*The range of acceptable behaviors is different everywhere, but I believe women everywhere are roughly equivalent PITAS, as are men. F'r instance, my Korean in-laws see Americans as cold-hearted monsters - and there's probably as much truth there as in my perception of a tendency towards violent lunacy in Koreans.
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