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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 to Cope?

 Interactive Board:  Your ALT-Text here How to Cope?

June 10, 2004

Dr. Irene,

I spoke to you about 4 years ago. I am from Australia and was married to an abusive man. Typical in divorce from a controlling person, it has taken me four and half years to get through the court system to settle. After a huge amount of money and mishaps, I was awarded alimony. I have my daughter living with me who is only 13 years, so you can see that I am still tied to him via alimony and children. Yes.

The problem I have, is that he is still litigating me. My children and I have suffered enormously and my health is deteriorating. I can’t stop the court cases, I have tried representing myself but as I am so stressed and depressed I get things wrong. When I go to court I have to pay solicitors! How can I stop him?

He has remarried; has a beautiful daughter, and another baby on the way. Two years ago he had a massive stroke, which has left him with little use of his left arm and HE limps with his left leg. He still works in his high-powered position as a very senior partner in a large international firm.

You told me he would to get at me even at the risk of his children. My daughter doesn’t see him much. My son lives with him now since I could not cope with him living with me anymore. My children understand why I left him but they are sick of the arguments between us. What are the arguments about? What does he want?

We never speak, only email. His emails are abusive and I don’t care! The slightest reason he can find, he will take it to court. Also I worry about a family trust we had where he put all the liabilities in my name! I worry one day this will become an issue even though he has stated that he will be responsible for this and the court has also stated that he is to take responsibility for the money owed by the trust. If the court said this, you can probably put your mind at rest. Sometimes even though you have these things in place to protect you, you still have to justify to the court why you are not responsible.

I need strategies to know how to cope. I don’t want the rest of my life under threat by him. It’s just like when I lived with him, always depressed not knowing what to do. Thanks, Vivi.

I needed more information and asked Vivi to write about what it is he wants. This is what she wrote: I asked him what he wants and called his solicitor to put it in writing! I have not heard back. My belief is it’s revenge; he blames me for everything that has gone wrong. He takes me to court over any issue or makes me take legal action against him by not paying alimony or withholding other money. As our family court system here is in crisis and it takes months to get a hearing, so it drags on! Also, I have been to court 3 times where I have had a barrister and a lawyer prepared, then to be told after several hours we do not have a judge. This costs me about US$10,000.00 for the day, which I cannot recoup. My ex does not negotiate. I tried to negotiate with him over alimony by taking a lump sum, which was considerably less than what he eventually was ordered to pay by the court. He wanted to have this money in a joint account and have control over what I received each week! I refused! He refuses to give me documents relating to our finances, which ended costing me US$140,000 to hire an investigating accountant. Even today my new Superannuation Fund called me, as he had not given them the appropriate details which may cause me to obtain them with a court order.

Over the years I have became so fearful of what he might do financially. He convinces lawyers that he will go to all lengths to get at me! I have became a nervous wreak! Of course.

My son was happy to leave; he didn’t like to see me upset. But now he sees his father get very angry. My ex is always angry and criticizes me to other people constantly. I am sure his new wife is tired of all of this and would like to get on with their lives.

He is still trying to control me! But in the last few days I have had to think I cannot let him dominate my life by all this confusion. It’s like the confusion when you live with them you can’t understand what is really happening! I am thinking that I have to be structured in only allocating a certain amount of thinking time to this instead of making it my main focus. What do you think? Yes! I fully agree! Keep reading.

Dear Vivi, The very first thing that struck me about your letter is how overwhelmed and tired and powerless you sound. You've dealt with a lot over a four-year period, and that's enough to send anybody reeling! Bottom line: you sound depressed, so of course you are asking how to cope!

First of all, I hope you are in therapy or a support group. If not, get there. Please, seriously consider evaluation for antidepressant medications until this is over. Medication may be extremely important if you are indeed as depressed as you sound.

The next thing that stuck me: Bondage. You are in emotional bondage.

Vivi, you're not going to like this, but I'm going to say it anyway: this guy has you over a barrel because you insist on getting what's right and what's fair. Your ex is such a lunatic, the price for getting what's right and fair may be too high. You need to re-examine your objectives and decide what you want to do. You said it yourself when you talked about this as your main focus.

I am reminded of the stereotypic high powered executive: the one who despite doctor's orders won't give up the fast pace - despite the risk of a stroke or heart attack. Sounds a lot like your ex, huh? Your ex is in bondage to the money, power and glory his job confers. He chooses to risk his physical health because the payoff is worth it.

Aren't you doing the same thing? By insisting you get your fair share, your physical and emotional health is suffering. You are in bondage to your fair share, and your ex knows it. He knows what you want, and he will make certain you will pay for it. Vivi, is it worth it?

Going against what is PC, I suggest you ask yourself just how much you need to live. Is what you are fighting for worth the price? You may want to shift your mindset from fighting for your fair share.

Your ex chooses to remain in bondage to his position - despite health risks - given the goodies he gets. I am asking you to make a conscious choice about your "position in his firm" - given the price you are paying emotionally in your quest for your "fair share." Only you can decide because the reality is that you're unlikely to have it both ways. Knowing he's "got you" must be very satisfying for your ex, motivating him for more.

Consider re-thinking the War Plan. Consider shifting your focus, shifting your lifestyle to save your sanity. What if you were this concerned about a new business? A new career path? We're talking about making choices given the present reality. You need not be in bondage. You decide.

I'll be back by the end of next week to reply to your comments. God bless you. Dr. Irene

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