January 22, 2000
Dear Dr. Irene
I got married 22 years ago at the age of 21. Since that time I've
strayed outside of my marriage for love that I feel I'm missing. To
say my wife is unloving would be unfair but suffice it to say that she
doesn't show me the way I need to be shown.
I have left my wife three times for the "other woman". The
latest time was for the same woman, never actually having ended the
relationship with her.
This woman made me feel like a king. She was very loving and
provided all the touching, caressing, and caring that I needed. I
felt that I couldn't live without her in my life, and moved in with her
and her son. Shortly after moving in, I began to have second
thoughts about what I had done. She sensed this and began
questioning me about my feelings and intentions. I lied, telling her
that I loved her and obviously wanted to be there with her because I kept
coming home to her. Truth is, I did want to be with her, I think I
was just having problems letting go and taking a drop in financial
stability at the same time. Why couldn't you say
Well, her pleading became demanding, and I admit I dug my heels in.
She stopped caring for me as much (never withholding her love though), and
I refused to get on with my life with her.
We would fight into the early hours
of the morning, each of us blaming the other for what was happening.
She would blame everything on my inability to close doors and I would
counter that the problem was that I couldn't concentrate on anything other
than fighting with her because these fights would go on for days and stop
for one or two then start up again.
Eventually, things became so
miserable for the two of us that I suggested counseling. The counselor
suggested that I was an abuser and we should get away from each other.
Eventually I gathered up the courage to leave and moved back home.
She called and called. Begged me to come back and threatened me
physically, emotionally and financially.
About a month later, I decided that I was not comfortable at home and my
marriage was not worth an attempt at salvation. I moved back into
the relationship. Within two months, the same thing happened and I'm
home again, wishing I could be with her.
I'm at a loss, Doctor. My heart truly is with her but for some
reason my head won't let me go. I keep getting pulled back home, not
able to close doors with my wife. I don't like the label
"abuser" but can see definite traits that would lead to that
conclusion. I'd like to think that my actions were caused by a
reaction to my girlfriend to my cold feet but know that it's actually her
that was responding to my actions.
Where do I go from here? I want a happy, fulfilling life. One
full of tenderness and love. How do I break this habit. My
wife feels that I go through a two year cycle, sometimes I can be
satisfied by material things (car, truck, boat), sometimes I need another
woman. I've got to stop this behavior, it's killing me, my wife and
any other person I get involved with. I find myself alone with no
friends because I'm ashamed of what I've done and cut myself off from
everyone, family included.
If I get move back with my girlfriend, will I be doomed to the same
Probably yes. In
fact I would bet on it. The grass will always be greener... The problem is
not about who you pick: wife or girlfriend, because the answer is neither.
(And I'm not even going to get into a lecture on commitment here, but if
you stayed with the one you married, you'd at least have the opportunity
to deal with your stuff as it comes up - over and over and over again,
until you've learned the lesson.)
The only person who
can give you the internal stuff you are so desperately looking for is
yourself. You don't need another woman; in fact, you don't need a
woman at all. Or a boat, or a car. No woman, no thing can do it for you; only
you can do it for yourself.
wonderful early on in relationships. When there is no pressure of day to
day life, the other person can be their wonderful self and you can be your
wonderful self. But as reality's frustrations set in,
and each person's own stuff prevents them from being able to meet their
partner's expectations, things get difficult. Things can be especially
difficult when both partners have expectations at
the same time: anger and resentment may result. "How dare you! You
stopped meeting my needs!"
In your case, when
you get fed up with the one you're with, the other one looks better. There
is little solace in bouncing around. While you can always find a new person or a
new toy to distract you and help you feel good, the latest fix will work for a
very short time.
by reading all the articles in the verbally
abusive partner pages. For example, Codependency
of the Angry Person is about underlying, irrational expectations that
another person can give you what you need. Note that the central
expectation throughout the all the abuser articles is: " My
Partner Must Take Care Of Me."
Sez who? Even
though in 99% of cases, the abuser's partner wants to do it for
them, they simply can't. Its a Law of Nature.
Start focusing on
yourself. Read Burney's book. (And more books on the bookshelf.) Take a look at recovery from love addiction. Get into your own therapy and stay
there. Always remember: what you look for is inside - and nowhere