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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

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

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1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

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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!

No Win Situation

No Win Situation

From: Norma
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 1999 12:17 AM
Subject: E-Mail Advice

Dear Dr. Irene,
First, I'd like to say that this is the best site I've come across dealing with verbal/emotional abuse.  Thanks! I visit it quite frequently to just read things over and over helps me to stay strong!!! Good!

I was going to write about my entire history my marriage up until now, but it would just take too long.  So, I'd like to hear your thoughts on a few of the things that I've had to deal with.  Sometimes I know that this is abuse but other times I wonder if I have brought on some of these things myself.  What I will tell you is that I've realized that I want out of this relationship because I am afraid of the cycle continuing and things escalating to worse things.  We have a 4 year old daughter and I believe that if we didn't have her, that we wouldn't even be married (we married when she was a month old-got pregnant after only knowing each other for 4 months).

The abuse has gotten progressively worse ever since I voiced the fact that I was unhappy in this marriage and I didn't even think counseling would help at this point because I'm not even interested in working things out.  The reason I am still here is because we moved far away from our home town a few years ago for my husband's job.  I am a stay at home mom with no source of income at this point in time.  We are having a battle of interests here trying to figure out what the best thing to do is for our daughter. 

I feel at this point that it would be best for me to go back to our home town where my family and friends are for support to help me get on my feet financially.  There are so many people that would be willing to help me out with babysitting at an affordable rate and a place for me to stay until I have enough money to get a place of my own.  He is furious with me for thinking that I can just take "HIS daughter" with me. 

So these are some of the things that have happened in the last year:

-"You're a selfish bitch."  (in front of our daughter) Yuk.
-"You are such a pathetic baby."  (also in front of our daughter) Yuk.
-Telling me that I am acting immature every time I don't agree with him. Ignore him.
-Saying that if it weren't for him, that I would have had an abortion (not true....I believe I made the decision on my own even though he did badger me). Don't defend yourself.
-After outbreaks of anger, he acts as if nothing happened and keeps planning our future together. Classic anger stuff.
-When I say "no" to cuddling, lovemaking, etc. is usually when the outbreaks time said, "if you withhold sex from me, I am going to start withholding things from you and make your life miserable until you can't take it anymore and leave." If you do not want to give yourself, don't. A man who is loving and not angry would not want you if you didn't want him!
-Swearing in front of our daughter. Yuk.
-Picks fights with me in front of her and then accuses me of giving him the silent treatment. (I refuse to fight with him in her presence.) Good for you!
-Makes me feel as though I "owe" it to him to have sex with him even though I don't want to...pressures me and pressures me to......makes me feel guilty if I won't, but says that I am the one making him feel guilty for wanting to have it......"why can't I just sacrifice something for once? I do things for you
all the time that I don't want to." Tell him to stop "sacrificing," and walk away. Don't buy into his attempts to guilt you. If he wants to feel guilty, that's his problem, not yours.
-"I'm attention to me" (while I'm in the middle of doing my own project). Yuk.
-Reads my email. Which is why I am not sending this reply; hope you discover it on line.
-Will only go to counseling if we are going to "work on the marriage".  I wanted to go so we could at least become friends and be civil to each other because we still have to be parents to our daughter.  He accused me of wanting to go so the counselor would convince him that it was okay for me to go back home with her. I think you should go to counseling alone.
-Says I need to get a job because we're short on money (I hardly ever buy anything for myself but he spends plenty on his stuff. After daycare, it's not worth it for me to be away from her all day. Good for you! We need more stay-at-home mom's.
-Has accused me of having affairs ( I have "accidentally" seen him looking at romance classifieds on the computer, however, I don't think he would actually do anything.....he seems obsessed with me). Poor guy. Too bad he's not interested in helping himself.
-Went back home for a visit a while back and left a note for him because he  wouldn't let me go with our daughter and I didn't want a confrontation. While we were gone, he filed for divorce/sole custody, closed the account, and threatened that if I didn't' come back ASAP, that I would lose our daughter.  He has lightened up a bit since then, but I am still terrified of the legal system and his nastiness and his "go for the throat" lawyer.  I want to be able to work something out civilly. I don't want things to get ugly for the sake of our daughter. It will probably get ugly.

I am at a loss right now because I feel like I am trapped.  He doesn't want me to go with her back home.  I can't just leave her here.  If I do leave, he'll say I kidnapped her.  I can't afford to hire an expensive attorney.  He acts so charming when I don't voice my opinion or feelings.  He's like Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde.  And what kills me is that I KNOW that all of these behaviors are abusive.  I have even had him come look at this site.  He looked at the "recognizing verbal abuse" section and said.....this is Bulls@$T because you've done some of these things to me too. 

One day he'll say he hates me and the next he says he doesn't want a divorce. He drives me insane.  I don't know if he's using our daughter to keep me here or if he really is so obsessed or "whatever" it is with me that he just can't let go.  And I am really sick of trying to figure him out.  Good. I don't want to figure him out anymore, because I'd like to get away from the unhealthy thinking and behavior. OK. I have enough things to figure out with myself and what I want to do with my life.  I feel like I am just an object. I feel I have lost my identity completely. Actually, you haven't. You are pretty grounded in who you are and what you want. I am so much healthier when I am not around him. I am sure you are.

Well....I know that I have to get away from him but I just am at a point where I don't know how to without messing up my daughter too much. Of course. I know that divorce is not easy for anyone but this is much worse I feel.  I just need the strength to know that I don't deserve to be treated this way and that I have the right to my feelings, including the feeling that I am not in love with him and that I don't want to work on the marriage. 

HELP!!!!!  What can I do??????

"In a no win situation"

Dear "No-Win",
The next time he starts swearing in front of your child, ask yourself if his swearing could be damaging to her. Ask yourself how bearing witness to a marriage of foes is likely to affect her. Or, what she is likely to learn from a marriage where her mom does not love her dad. What do you think all that will do to your child? Your child will be affected if you remain married; she will be affected if you divorce. It is  unlikely you can prevent him from making it ugly. You don't have to make it uglier.
I cannot tell you what to do legally or otherwise.  My advice is always along the lines of listen to your inner self and do what you have to do. With most people, I help them listen. You on the other hand are clear on what you want to do. So, you know my advice: get out. But that's my opinion. Ask "Dr. Laura" (Schlessinger) on the radio, and she may advise you to stay because you already had your chance - though she may advise you to leave because of the abuse..
Did you bring this mess on? To the extent that you got pregnant and married a stranger, yes. But that's six of one and a half dozen of the other. No point worrying about how much of this is your responsibility. Monday morning quarterback later, once you are feeling more settled. Right now, I think you need to spend your energy deciding on how you are going to handle your situation. 

Also, never forget that without this man, your child would not exist...

What should you do? You are the only one who can decide. If I were in your shoes, I'd be out in a flash with my kid - come hell or high water. But that is what would be OK for me. It may or may not be OK for you.
Do you have the right to your feelings? You bet! They are YOUR feelings, right or wrong, like 'em or not! You can't make yourself love a person you do not love. However, you can choose to behave lovingly in situations that do not compromise yourself. Or, you can choose to behave lovingly and compromise yourself. Or, you can behave un-lovingly and compromise yourself. The point is that feeling something is one thing; behaving is another. How you behave will affect your sense of self. Make your choice and execute it, behaving as lovingly as possible without compromising yourself.
Do you have the right not to want to work on your marriage? You bet! It is your life and you feel how you feel. You will make choices that take those feelings into account.  You will choose how you behave given the fact that you do not want to work on your marriage. You are the one who will live with all the consequences of your choices. Such is life, but you already know that.
This reply may not be too helpful, but it should stimulate thinking. You need to decide what you are going to do and how you are going to go about it.
My very best wishes,
Dr. Irene