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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

How much Time Should I Give Him?

How much Time Should I Give Him?

From: Linda
Sent: Sunday, September 26, 1999 11:11 PM
Subject: E-Mail Advice

Dear Dr Irene,
    My name is Linda and I have been married for almost 24 years.  My husband has been severely emotionally abusive (withholding mostly), verbally abusive: sabotage, insults, etc., and occasionally physically abusive:  mostly pushing & shoving. 
      We have managed to have a few good memories in between all this, as well as three beautiful and intelligent kids ages 20, 15 and 12.  The 20-year old is away at college.  We have also been in and out of counseling several times for the past 20 years. Recently when we both began Abuse Counseling through the local Abuse Counseling center.  He joined a men's group for a 29-week program and I go for individual counseling and also a women's group to understand what's going on better.
      The problem now is, the more "enlightened" I get, the angrier I get, as well as completely intolerant of absolutely any abusive treatment he gives me, which is literally daily in one form or another. 

        I've been reading almost everything on your site - and thanking God for you by the way - and it has really been a God send!  I'm still very confused about my feelings, however. Of course you are!  All indications are he will probably never change - not much at least.  Along with his men's group he also joined a generic Christians in Recovery 12 Step group plus he still sees the counselor we used to see together every other week.  (I've been advised not to continue couples counseling.) Sure. You each have to pull it together individually before there can be a healthy union.

       However, it seems he is just "going through the motions" for show, as his words and actions show little goodwill towards me.  I feel totally disrespected most of the time.  I told him I feel I am "disposable" to him and he said that's not true.    He knows I am at a point where I no longer want to hear insincere apologies or empty promises so he's not saying anything.
Better you get no apologies than empty ones. As far as him going through the motions for show, let it go. It won't help to judge him; you don't know where he is. Even if he is making real progress, don't expect his old tendencies to drop out so fast. Just remain focused on your own experience, specifically, the experience you bring up now, of being disrespected. That is not OK. If you feel "disrespected," tell him. If you feel "disposable," tell him. Also tell him that he is in no position to tell you whether or not your experience is true. Tell him, if he is interested in his own recovery, that he needs to ask you how it is that you feel disrespected or disposable!  Tell him that his recovery as well as any hope for a future together rests on his ability to be able to come out of his own self long enough to be a partner. If he doesn't get it or remains abusive, tell him and just walk away. No sense getting upset. You can bring a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

    The email you have posted regarding "Keeper of the Truth" really hit home with me, as I have been pushing hard with the attitude your other guest was expressing.  Your reply has made me think, however.
Of course. You are at such an angry place in your life right now... But, don't get confused with advice given to an angry person.

         I get so confused between standing up to him and holding him accountable for his disrespectful words and actions and just walking away or ignoring him.  I have read the books by Patricia Evans and right now I feel totally overwhelmed by it all.  I am devastated by the loss of my "dream", knowing now that's all it ever was, even though he would say he wanted it too...(happy, Godly family). If I am reading you correctly, you are asking whether or not you should tell him the truth about how you feel at the expense of hurting his feelings. Yes, sort of. Yes because you have been his victim all your married life and yes because you have always been too concerned about his feelings, at your own expense. Sort of, because you do yourself a dis-service just to mouth off angrily the way he has. I think the best solution, is to be assertive:  1. Recognize exactly what your feelings are and what you are so angry at, 2. Do Nothing until you calm down and have had time to think about what you want to say, and 3. Tell him. Be straight, to the point, without anger. Note: Your concern is not his feelings; your concern is for your own self-respect. (How good do you feel about yourself after you've blown a fuse?) Read some books on assertion training to speed things

You can't go wrong being assertive whether you are the victim or the abuser...assertive behavior (i.e., honest but respectful) is be the goal for both!

          I guess I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on how much time I should be willing to give him now that he can no longer hide (as much) from the real truth of how he's treated me.  He's had a huge dose of reality in the past few months and I can't tell which way the pendulum is swinging, if you know what I mean.  I'm not sure I know what you mean. But it doesn't matter, and I do have thoughts. The fact is that you are angry at his past and present abuse. I am glad you are waking up. However, in the heat of emotion and confusion, now is not a good time to make "big" decisions. I suggest you wait until you chill out a bit, no longer feel overwhelmed with all that you are learning, and have begun to be assertive with him before you decide what you should do. After all, you are separated! Meanwhile, don't take any abuse when you see him. Call it for what it is, then walk away. Don't expect an instant positive reaction. If he is to have one, he will need time to consider what you have said.
    Again, I am truly grateful for all the information you have painstakingly put together on this site.  God Bless you for "being there". Sincerely - Linda

Thank you and God Bless you too Linda,   Dr. Irene