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Hard time deciding to divorce unstable wife


Separation and Divorce Considering ending your marriage? Going through a divorce? Let us know!

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Old 30th November 2017, 12:58 PM   #16
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I was married for 26 years (and together for almost 30). We were codependent, she was like an addiction really. I thought we would be married forever. I agonized over divorce for a few years. I know now that I could never have been happy with her again. Just too much water under the bridge that was bad and too hard to change old ingrained habits for both of us. I am an improved version now and she probably is too (6 years after divorce). Divorce was very hard but worth it. It was very unhealthy for us - both physically and mentally to stay together. I read much of the same things in what you write. Fear - of change, failure, etc is what keeps many people together. Honestly, I just don't see how a guy can go from being physically and mentally unwell around his wife (even due to his own reactions) to being happy with her in a reasonable amount of time. Life is short. I'm afraid you are prolonging your pain. In either case, make a decision one way or another, commit to it, and execute it to the best of your abilities. Best wishes for sure.

Your wife has been spoiled for many years. You have enabled that. Even if you stop enabling her, she won't change easily. It may not even be possible for her to. Most people can't change such ingrained habits without something very forceful (like divorce). Again, life is short. I hope you find happiness. It will be difficult either way. Decide if it is possible with her. It definitely is without her though it is a tough road.
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Old 30th November 2017, 1:04 PM   #17
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Thank you notbroken for sharing your personal story. I take it to heart.
Glad to hear it worked out for you and probably your x for the best.
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Old 30th November 2017, 2:03 PM   #18
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SoundMan...

SoundMan...

Been there done that, please divorce.

You have no idea how much happier you can be with out this in your life.

Please believe me. Again, been there done that...
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Old 30th November 2017, 3:13 PM   #19
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If you decide that you can't do it anymore, it's perfectly acceptable to break your month by month agreement. To be honest, if you're that far gone, you shouldn't be making any agreements at all!!

With your current strategy, your wife will not change. I can say this confidently because she's not showing any signs of *wanting* to change.

Cut your losses and get out of there.
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Old 30th November 2017, 9:24 PM   #20
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Boy oh boy. That sounds like quite a frustrating situation. I read that you have been in counseling, and you two have tried counseling together. I didn't see anywhere in your post that she has tried counseling. Perhaps that might be a good idea? It seems to me that she has some serious issues she needs to work out with someone.

Since you wrote that you still have feelings for her, maybe helping her get help might provide a tiny path that over time could lead to reconciliation and a healed marriage.
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Old 30th November 2017, 10:36 PM   #21
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Yeah on the other hand , l agree too with pete .
l mean if you'd rather save your marriage if only, and still love her , you could see what happens for awhile.
With this hanging over her head maybe it wakes things up a bit.
Would she'd admit to any problems and agree to see someone, do you think she'd be capable of working on it and improving, or want too.
Maybe she starts to acknowledge things and tries some help , maybe she wants to improve once she realizes.
But l know from experience if not , then l just never saw a way to win the battle myself.
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Old 30th November 2017, 11:58 PM   #22
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Soundman, I agree with Steve that you are describing many of the classic warning signs for BPD. Specifically, the suicide threats, controlling actions, temper tantrums, impulsiveness (binge spending), being "emotionally volatile," always being "The Victim," and rapid flips between Jekyll (adoring you) and Hyde (devaluing you) -- are classic warning signs for BPD. Importantly, I'm not suggesting that your W exhibits full-blown BPD (only a professional can determine that). Rather, I suggesting that she may be exhibiting moderate to strong traits of BPD.

Quote:
If it's a spectrum sort of thing, then maybe she's on it somewhere.
You are correct. BPD is not something -- like chickenpox -- that a person either "has" or "doesn't have." Instead, it is a spectrum disorder, which means every adult on the planet occasionally exhibits all BPD traits to some degree (albeit at a low level if the person is healthy). At issue, then, is not whether your ex fiancť exhibits BPD traits. Of course she does. We all do.

Rather, at issue is whether she exhibits those traits at a strong and persistent level (i.e., is on the upper third of the BPD spectrum). Not having met her, I cannot answer that question. I nonetheless believe you can spot any strong BPD warning signs that are present if you take a little time to learn which behaviors are on the list. They are easy to spot because there is nothing subtle about behaviors such as always being "The Victim," verbal abuse, cold withdrawal, and temper tantrums.

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Originally Posted by Soundman View Post
Re: BPD... Some of it relates to my situation but I've been reluctant to go down that path of diagnosing her with such a disorder.
There is a world of difference between making a diagnosis (the province of professionals) and simply spotting warning signs (the province of laymen). By definition, a behavioral symptom is something that laymen are able to spot whenever that symptom is strong.

This is why, when laymen are unable to spot the symptoms of a disease or mental disorder, that disorder is said to be "asymptomatic," i.e., "without symptoms." And this is why hundreds of mental health facilities post the symptoms for BPD on their public websites to tell the lay public which warning signs to look for.

Before you graduated high school, you already could identify the selfish and very grandiose classmates -- without knowing how to diagnose Narcissistic PD. You could identify the class drama queen -- without being able to diagnose Histrionic PD. You could spot the kids having no respect for laws or other peoples' property or feelings -- without diagnosing Antisocial PD. And you could recognize the very shy and over-sensitive classmates -- without diagnosing Avoidant PD. Similarly, you will be able to spot strong BPD traits when they occur if you learn what warning signs to look for.

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...ripping her clothes and scratching herself intensely, rare but occasional threats of suicide....
"Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats" is one of the 9 defining symptoms for BPD. Because that trait also includes "self harming behavior, such as cutting," you might want to check her arms/legs for razor scars. You will find the complete list of BPD symptoms at 9 BPD Traits at NIMH.

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I was willing to re-engage in counseling with her.
If she is a BPDer, marriage counseling likely will be a total waste of time until she has had several years of intensive therapy to acquire the emotional skills she had no opportunity to learn in childhood. Although MCs generally are very good at teaching basic communication skills, a BPDer's issues are far more serious.

A BPDer needs to learn, for example, how to do self soothing, how to regulate all of her emotions, how to avoid black-white thinking by tolerating strong mixed feelings, how to trust, how to intellectually challenge intense feelings instead of accepting them as self-evident "facts," how to control impulses instead of doing binge spending, and how to stay aware of the present instead of escaping through daydreams into the past and future. Absent those skills, she must continue to rely on the primitive ego defenses used by young children: projection, denial, temper tantrums, magical thinking, and black-white thinking.

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Any feedback or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Soundman, I suggest you consult with a psychologist -- for a visit or two all by yourself -- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is that you are dealing with. I also suggest that, while you're looking for a good psychologist, you take another look at the red flags for BPD.

As I cautioned above, learning to spot these warning signs will not enable you to diagnose your W's issues. Although strong BPD symptoms are easy to spot, only a professional can determine whether they are so severe as to constitute full-blown BPD. Yet, like learning warning signs for a stroke or heart attack, learning those for BPD may help you avoid a very painful situation -- e.g., avoid remaining in a toxic marriage and avoid running into the arms of another woman just like her.

I therefore suggest you take a quick look at my list of 18 BPD Warning Signs to see if most sound very familiar. If so, I would suggest you also read my more detailed description of them at my posts in Rebel's Thread. And Sal provides a concise and insightful account of what it's like to live with a BPDer for 23 years in his 3/16 post. If those descriptions ring many bells and raise questions, I would be glad to join Steve and the other respondents in discussing them with you. Take care, Soundman.
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Old 3rd December 2017, 11:35 AM   #23
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Downtown, thank you for your reply and concern about possible BPD with my wife and your suggestion to look into this possibility more thoroughly.
I read Walking on Eggshells some years ago and in the end concluded that although I could relate to some of it, not all of it, and even that which I related to was not strong. I went through your list of warning signs three times since I've read your message, and each and every time come up with the same takeaway. There are really only two on the list that I identify with rather strongly, #10, her tendency to play the victim and hold me responsible for the problems with our relationship and to some extent, mostly since I left the house, for the problems she now appears to be struggling with in her life (because I left). The other is #18, which is more about simply her thinking her experience is factual truth, that she seems to have a hard time seeing that truth can be relative and that it's possible we can each have our own truth and that not one is any more "right" than the other. To be honest, I have some difficulty with this one too sometimes, but at least I'm willing to look at it and ultimately except it. There are a few others that I relate to somewhat but still not very much, such as #'s 1, 2, 14, 15. This leaves me with, yeah, she appears to exhibit some BPD traits, but not enough of them nor strong enough for me to believe this is the predominate issue or disorder I am dealing with. BPD light perhaps.

I also read your responses in the Rebel thread and did relate to aspects of what you shared regarding the challenges of separating and letting go of your W. Namely your sharing of your story of healing around your inner child work: My inner child, I suddenly realized, is the sole judge of what is fun and what is not fun. That decision is all powerful. The adult part of my mind will nearly always conclude that it makes no sense -- indeed, would be preposterous -- to do something, go somewhere, or date someone I do not enjoy. My adult logic thus nearly always has to end up in the lap of my inner child.

This is why learning about my exW's problem (BPD) and my problem (codependency) is the easy part. What is difficult is internalizing that understanding, i.e., transforming that knowledge into wisdom, which requires that my feelings catch up with my intellectual thoughts. Simply stated, I had to persuade my child that my adult views of my ex's illness and my own codependency are correct. Had I failed in that effort, I would have remain stuck in a destructive pattern -- repeating my past mistakes over and over, because my child will be calling nearly all the shots.


This I wish to understand more. I believe I have a pretty strong intellectual understanding of what's been going on, particularly regarding my own work around codependency (I've been sitting in Codependency Anonymous groups for the past 7 months). What I'm having a hard time doing is bringing my feelings in line with my intellectual knowledge. My therapist began talking about inner child work in my last session and I am going to request we make this the focus of our work moving forward. I did some personal work around this some months ago from a book where I tried writing where my adult self would dialog with my little self. I was never able to get past the idea that if and when my little self spoke, so to speak, that it was simply my mind making that up from the same adult self. I couldn't trust it was truly my inner child speaking, just wishful thinking on my part.

Finally, I met with my wife for the first time yesterday in a public place to review a few nuts and bolts things that she needed some help with. In deciding whether not to meet her, I found a way to make it about me by setting up a time limit and subject matter boundary, that if and when either of those felt threatened, I would politely leave. The nuts and bolts meeting went well and on schedule, then she asked, well she didn't really ask, to speak a little bit about furthering our therapy appointments, as our last session was a wreck and she felt the MC did not steward the session appropriately, which I agree with. I allowed that to happen discussion to happen. I ended up giving her a name of another person who comes highly recommended from some trusted friends and she said she would give her a call.

What happened from there was just what I didn't want to happen. I allowed the conversation to veer into relationship talk and found myself becoming increasing angry with myself for letting it happen. At the same time, because the talk didn't really feel like an argument, and I kept telling myself maybe we can make some progress here, I talked myself into staying with the conversation. I became stuck in a tug of war between wanting to stay talking and wanting to leave. The old familiar feeling of feeling somewhat weak around her (versus any time during the rest of my life anywhere else in my life) came back, even though I was able to assert my feelings and needs here and there.

One particular experience I seemed to be able to get across is that I tend to lose myself in her presence (mostly when we are in conflict) and that's very troubling to me, and I'm working hard to regain my personal strength in therapy and group. She seemed to be able to hear that and honor that. Her personality, energy, and ability to express herself is stronger than mine. It's very difficult for me not to feel somehow inferior or weak in comparison and this really bothers me. Why am I having such a hard time feeling "equal" to her when I don't have this problem anywhere else in my life? If there is ever a disagreement between us, she seems to have the upper hand.

After about an hour or so, I found a way to leave, but we didn't really end on a good note. The conversation continued on the phone and I found my anger (something I have had a very hard time accessing and expressing) coming up strong and allowed myself to express myself from this place. I had to raise my voice loudly, yelling really, that I can no longer tolerate her talking about me (this is one of my greatest frustrations - her tendency to think she knows me and what's best for me better than I do and insistence on letting me know). I told her I have had enough of this and that if I heard anything like that again, I'm done.

What happened after that was impressive: in a very calm and articulate way she spent the next 5 minutes talking about her feelings and impressions of what is going on with us, that she's concerned we are simply in very different places, and that we may just need to accept this and move on, although she's not convinced this is the case in total. On two occasions she started to slightly veer into "you" territory, and quickly caught herself and turned it back to herself. When she was done I thanked her for sharing in a way that truly worked for me.

The best little takeaway for me from this was that I was able to access my anger and assert myself in such a way that she actually changed, for a moment anyway, and expressed herself appropriately. I don't like yelling - it doesn't feel right, but curiously enough she seems comfortable with that style of fighting - to her it's working things out - so maybe I need to accept that perhaps at times it might be appropriate.

Anyway, progress? Probably not really, but maybe a little.
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Old 3rd December 2017, 12:25 PM   #24
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Downtown, I went through your list of warning signs three times since I've read your message, and each and every time come up with the same takeaway. There are really only two on the list that I identify with rather strongly.
That's great news, Soundman. BPD is a painful condition that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. If your W had been exhibiting a pattern of strong BPD symptoms for 27 years, you would have seen them repeatedly. Indeed, you would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to be able to spot these symptoms.

Quote:
This leaves me with, yeah, she appears to exhibit some BPD traits.
As I noted earlier, we all exhibit the nine BPD symptoms to some degree. These behaviors generally are ego defenses we need for survival. They become a problem only when they are so strong and persistent that they undermine our relationships with others.

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What I'm having a hard time doing is bringing my feelings in line with my intellectual knowledge.... I tried writing where my adult self would dialog with my little self.
I had the same problem, as I noted. My personal experience is that my "inner child" (i.e., the intuitive part of my mind) learns little or nothing from hearing abstract concepts, well-reasoned arguments, or logical information. The child seems to learn, instead, from emotional experiences. And the more emotionally intense an experience is, the faster it is able to learn.

Hence, what seemed to most effective in helping my inner child catch up with the intellectual understanding of my adult mind was to talk and write about my issues with anybody who would talk or write back. By carrying on a dialogue with others, I was in touch with my emotions while discussing the logical thoughts. In this way, my mind learned to associate the intellectual thoughts with actual feelings, i.e., with the emotions that are the basis of learning for the intuitive mind.

Of course, your friends' eyes will glaze over -- and their minds will wander -- after you talk with them for only a few hours. This is one reason I highly recommend an online relationship forum like LoveShack, which serves many valuable purposes.
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Old 3rd December 2017, 12:26 PM   #25
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You have a backbone and that is so good to see. Congrats on getting away from this situation and your willingness to give up material things for the sake of your sanity. Stay strong and stay the course. Don't give into her ploys. She is ill and needs to get strong on her own without you.
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Old 3rd December 2017, 12:34 PM   #26
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Listen for a second...

Listen for a second...

I would like for you to understand a few things, and I don't know if it will help you or not.

When you, at your core, truly love a woman, deeply love a woman, you can loose yourself in many ways.

We don't really see reality, we can never see what is actually going on. But there comes a time when we actually need to understand, for your own benefit. There comes a time when you have to realize that what is going on, and that there is no way for you to fix it.

You must be more codependent than I ever was because it took me a few months to understand how silly it was for me to put everyone's needs, particularly my STBXW's, before mine.

Once I got it, wow what a change in life. For once in my life I was able to let her and others have their issues, and I could have mine.

Understand, that I spent 26 years, 1/2 half of my life, taking care of someone and loving someone that never ever loved me.

Please don't allow yourself to waste anymore of your time loving or caring for someone, that does not feel the same way or that treats you poorly.

If you could look down the road a year into the future, you would not believe how much better you will feel if you just stop worrying about everyone else and understand that you matter too.

You are just as important as anyone else and you deserve to be happy, which if you are anything like I was.... You don't really understand what being happy is all about...
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Old 3rd December 2017, 12:46 PM   #27
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.
We've been together for 27 years. Much of that time was fine, sometimes very enjoyable, warm, and easy-going. Other times, and for me I now realize, too much of the time, it was not. I allowed it and it became a habit between us.
You have known her for a very long time. almost 30 years. Was she always strong willed and head strong, even 30 years ago? If so, and you are the opposite, then that's what you liked about her and that's why you married her. She isn't going to change in her 60s if she's been like that all her life.
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Old 3rd December 2017, 12:49 PM   #28
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You are just as important as anyone else and you deserve to be happy, which if you are anything like I was.... You don't really understand what being happy is all about...
Yes, you just nailed it. It makes me sad to see people stuck like this.
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Old 3rd December 2017, 1:34 PM   #29
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I'm really appreciating everyone's input. I'm going to keep writing when I can to help me progress.

Yes, she has always been like this, even when we met. And yes, I do believe this is something I was attracted to from the start. I am attracted to people I believe to be "strong," whether simply in personality or true self confidence. I have also come to believe this is due to my own dis-owned personal strength, and therefore I project that on others, hence my attraction to strength in others. I also realize that not all seemingly strong people are internally strong and healthy, and unfortunately my wife falls to some extent into this category. But she's a complicated woman, and has some very positive self confident strengths too that I admire. And she has a strong energy as a personality - I believe she was born that way, neither good or bad - and there is nothing I can do to change that, nor do I want to really, even though I wish she was more gentle sometimes.

I'm trying to learn how to own my own inner strong. I've been working on that for the past couple of years, but much more so since leaving the house several months ago. I view that as an act of self love. Creating boundaries and sticking to them is another way to take care of myself. This is new stuff for me and it's been really hard to do that, sometimes I've been successful, sometimes not. I do get frustrated sometimes with how slow the progress is moving for me. I appear to be dealing with a heavy handed inner critic also.

I'm so close to pulling the trigger on this. For whatever reason I'm just not yet ready. Maybe it's just all fear that is getting the best of me. I don't know. I have to trust that if and when the time comes, I will know and will find the strength to do it.

I do know I won't go back to the way it was. Of that I'm confident. I guess I'm still not convinced that a combination of me getting stronger and less codependent, and her owning at least some of her destructive behaviors and working on her making some changes regarding those, that we might be able to still work things out.

Although the pull is still there to caretake her feelings, I have not been doing that for some months now. Unfortunately, it has had little effect on how she is behaving other than to escalate in an effort to get her needs met.

Life for me was not miserable when we lived together for the past 27 years. This is part of what has made this whole process so difficult for me.
I miss the positive sides of what we had together tremendously. However, I have not been satisfied and will no longer settle for what has been happening between us. I'm getting into the last chapter of my life. I do not want to die accepting a less than satisfactory marriage.

Thanks again folks. It's heartening to know people care and I'm grateful I found this forum for added support moving forward on my path.
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Old 13th December 2017, 12:40 PM   #30
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Ditto!

Soundman, your story is mine. 27 years too.
Please look up my profile and read my original threads about my wife.
My wife will be devastated when I leave...

I eventually left (after years of deliberation) and she is still EXACTLY the same as she was, after 4 years of separation!
I fear these people just cannot change, even though we wish it.

Last edited by dangerous; 13th December 2017 at 1:12 PM..
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