How to get Dr. Irene's Advice: Look here!

Ask The Doc Board Archives

The CatBox Archives

Stories Archives


Below is an Interactive Board sampler. A fuller listing is found in the "Stories" menu above.

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!

My 30-Year Marriage

My 30-Year Marriage

February 14, 2000

Thank you so much for your web-site. I've been reading it for the last few days. It's taken my breath away because I can identify completely with it. I'm glad you know you are not alone!

I am a 52 yr. old woman who has been married to a 53 yr. old man for nearly 30 years. We had 2 kids, one is who 28 and the other one, who would have been 25, but whom we tragically lost almost 7 years ago. I'm so sorry...

When the children were very small, he was a great husband and father.  However, as the girls entered their teen-age years and I took work outside the home, he gradually became a temperamental, controlling person. He felt out of control as the kids became their own people and, no doubt, you empathized with them... In his opinion, his screaming and criticism were meant to motivate us to do better. He had absolutely no clue as to how to deal with teen-age girls, especially the younger one. He would throw her clothing and belongings on the front lawn to show her he was the King of the House. Ugh. He was arrested twice for chasing her down the street. The older one kept her distance from him. Our home was in a constant state of turmoil. He'd stay out late after work with his fellow co-workers sitting in taverns, then come home angry and argumentative. The characters he hung out with had bad attitudes too. Needless to say, I did everything possible to keep my children safe.

His abuse with me started by calling me the "old lady", making me the butt of his jokes. I have always been a dedicated wife and mother, but I worked part-time, went to school part-time, spent time taking the girls
to ballet, gym, activities. I was always there for them. Perhaps he felt guilty about not being involved, which was his decision, but he started belittling all my interests, accomplishments, etc. Perhaps. Also, perhaps he felt he was losing control of you too... Our younger daughter, whom we lost, moved out right after high school graduation. The other one finished college and moved 100 miles away.

With just the two of us, I felt a real void, but pulled myself together after our tragic loss. Good for you! Everything I read about the abuser is so true. He blamed me for everything that went wrong, even things that he did. Over the last 2 years, he has been arrested several times for creating a public disturbance. He has a problem with anger management, and little self-control. I've seen his mood change from even keel to explosive over very trivial things. What really hurts is how he uses things I told him about my past, my problems, my personal thoughts, as ammunition to hurt me. He denies, justifies, and manipulates the truth to make himself look like the victim. His mind games are so exhausting. Sometimes I can't say anything back to him because I can't find it in myself to be so mean. Of course, he takes this as a sign that I know he's right. That's OK because you know better. And, you are not confused. Good!

There are times when I am so emotionally-drained that I feel like an empty shell, a palette with no color. There's little we can discuss because he has to be right. Now, he is embroiled with court cases for his arrests. They've ordered him to undergo psychological tests and other testing because they know he has a problem. He's angry with me because I don't believe that he's innocent in his arrests. I've finally put my foot down. He has never hit any of us, but the very thought that he's never done this, and is proud of it, shows how important this idea of control is to him. He has no sense of humor and seems very upset when I'm enjoying a conversation with other people. He seems little concerned about my needs, although he accuses me of the very things he says and does. Of course, other people think he's a really great guy. I could go on and on, but I don't want to dwell on this. 

I don't want a divorce because it would create more problems for me. However, I realize that I don't deserve any of this, that I am a valuable, productive person, and I won't try to minimize his behavior and actions. Good! One thing society doesn't realize that the verbal abuser has the same intent as the one who uses his fists. The intent is to hurt. Some yes, some no. Some want to inflict real, lasting pain while others want to hurt you only momentarily, while they are raging. I think of the years we laughed at Archie Bunker's verbal abuse of his family. I never did because I thought it was downright mean and shallow. I can certainly understand why. My husband is like that in the sense that he feels entitled to things because of his race and gender.

I'm sorry your marriage has turned out the way it has. But, you retain your sanity very well - and that is no small undertaking. Thirty years of abuse and your husband has not managed to make you doubt your reality. Good for you! You also seem to know to pick your battles. That minimizes his antics. Seems to me you are making the best of a bad situation. Think about joining one of the site's support lists if you haven't already. You'll find lots of sympathetic people who know exactly what you are talking about.

Perhaps the legal stuff will force him to get some help.

My thoughts are with you. Dr. Irene