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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!

Interactive: Seeming Impossibility

 Interactive Board:  Your ALT-Text here The Seeming Impossibility of it All

October 6, 2005

Dr. Irene, How am going to do this? I have been married to H for the past three and a half years. We have a three year old daughter and a one year old daughter together. I am miserable with him. I want to leave, and here are my last big hurdles.

He makes a lot more money than I do. We live in a 15,000 square foot house, with a gorgeous view out back, in the best suburb of town. Wow! Our preschooler goes to the best private preschool. We have a full time nanny taking care of the one year old and doing some household work. I work full time from home, and take care of all else when I am not working. If I am to leave this man, I have to leave this comfortable lifestyle behind. The best I can afford on my salary is at best a very small townhouse, if that. I have been checking availables on the classifieds, and what I see are just depressing old buildings. Have you consulted with a good attorney? If you are leaving a very comfortable marriage, especially with his kids, it is unlikely that you will have to move to shabby place and have to take your kids out of private schools!  Perhaps moving to a nice two or three bedroom town home is more in line. But - you would have to put up a fight!

I would feel very guilty taking the girls out of this life of material comfort to a small, dark dingy place. I couldn’t possibly afford the private schools and the nanny, and although the husband would have to pay support, knowing him, he will make me beg for it at every single turn, making my life miserable. Not if you get an extremely good lawyer that understand how guys like him operate! An attorney who would insist the town home be purchased in your name with no mortgage, etc. And on top of it, I would feel guilty because the reason I would be leaving him is that he makes me feel invisible, unimportant and disrespected, humiliated. Well, actually, you make yourself feel those things, but certainly having a husband who ignores you makes it real easy for anybody to go there. Is that a good reason to deprive my children of a comfortable lifestyle, because I need love and support? Why not? Do you want to teach your children to be martyrs, like their mom? They learn by watching, you know.  I feel selfish doing it. With this attitude, you won't get anything! Time for an attitude change, don't you think?

What if I am wrong that he is abusive? OK. What if he's not abusive? Does that mean you are happy with him? Then, I would be ruining my children’s lives. Really? I sometimes imagine asking my children now, “are you OK if mama gets her own house, and you come live with mama?” I can hear them begging for things not to change. Of course! Kids don't want anything to change, and they want their mommy and daddy to stay together. That tears me apart. Sounds like the marriage is tearing you apart.

What if there was a way to disengage from him that would allow me to live with him but not get hurt? But he is right in front of me every day. I find it very very difficult to disengage. One of the best books on how to disengage from and handle an abusive partner is The Secret of Overcoming Verbal Abuse: Getting Off the Emotional Roller Coaster and Regaining Control of Your Life by Albert Ellis. On top of that, I don’t want to set an example of a horrible, distant marriage for my daughters. Of course. But, not to mention, I am starved for a healthy, nurturing, supportive companion. Of course!

At night, right after kids go to sleep, he shuts himself up in a spare room and watches TV, never talking to me. Not OK. This is passive aggressive distancing behavior. Sometimes, he even locks the door. To watch something secret? Or just to shut you out more? On the weekends, he has gotten a nanny so he can just go out without feeling guilty that he is leaving me with the two small kids. I don’t remember the last time the four of us went out as a family. Ouchhh! He either wants to spend time with the kids by himself, or wants to go off while I take care of them, but he hardly ever wants to spend time with me. He spends hours on the phone at nights talking to his brothers, and doesn’t let me know much about what’s going on in his life. Again, passive aggressive stuff. He's shut you out. He hardly ever initiates any contact with me, at least never to tell me anything nice. Why? Because he's a *&^(%. Ooops! I didn't mean that.  ;D  Am I that horrible? Nobody is that horrible, It’s always I who initiates. When I tell him I miss him and would like to have his love and attention, he gets angry, and tells me it’s because I complain so much that he is so withdrawn. Wrong. You're just the excuse he's become accustomed to using. By the way, if telling him you miss him and want his love and attention gets you a blaming response, why bother telling him you miss him? In fact, why bother feeling a longing for him? What are you longing for? A side of him who hasn't been around for years?

The other week, after my being back from a weeklong business trip, I came back to find my car floor and one of my daughter’s child seats covered with Viagra pills! !!! Actually, the weekend nanny found a Viagra pill on the seat and handed it to me, not knowing what it was. I told her it was Viagra. Now I was concerned that I had found Viagra in my daughters’ area. One of them could have easily swallowed it - and God forbid! I told him to please keep his pills in a safe place out of the children’s reach. This is the second time I have found loose Viagra in the children’s area. I remember: you had written to me before with the loose Viagra pills. I told him to please keep his Viagra contained, because I am concerned for the children. I did not mention a word to him about how come my car floor is carpeted with Viagra, while last time we had sex was three and a half months ago Good! , because, honestly, I was more outraged at his carelessness. GOOD! His response was that our daughters would not pick that stuff up anyway, and that, according to him, my real concern was the Viagra and not where I found it, and then he tells me: “you found Viagra, now deal with it.” OK, there's a concrete reason for divorce: endangering the health of your children! Make sure you are keeping a list of incidents like this, including dates and times. It is therapeutic, plus your divorce attorney is likely to ask you for such a list when and if the time comes.

If I tell him something hurts my feelings, his response is typically to get angry and outraged, telling me I am always complaining, and that he is tired of dealing with my stuff. So, it is impossible to talk with him. Stop trying to talk with him. He'll only knock you down with it. The other week, I remember having dropped off my oldest daughter at my mother in law’s, and the sister in law was also there. I had my youngest daughter with me, and I was going to take her out, since she is at home all day usually. As soon as I got there, SIL started telling me to not take the youngest one out, to leave her there with SIL, and then to leave myself. She must have told me to leave about five or six times. Now I couldn’t really understand why a person would tell me to just leave, just like that, when I tell them my plan is to spend time with my youngest that day. And where exactly did SIL think I was going to go? Leave, just like that? Husband was there, heard all this, and never said a word. In fact, most of the in laws were there. So why was I being told to just leave? I don't know. The only thing I can think of that may make sense is that she was trying to do you a favor by freeing up your day, not realizing you wanted to take your daughter out. Did you
ask her why she wanted you to leave the child?

Afterwards, I discussed this with husband, and told him I was hurt by SIL’s words, and hurt that he never said a word in my defense. Husband got angry, told me: “I’m tired of your always having problems with my sister! If she tells you to leave, that has nothing to do with me! Your issues with her have been going on for years, and I am not going to get involved. Resolve it yourself! Well, here I agree with him. While it would have been nice to have his support, this was your issue with her. You do need to learn how to assert yourself with the sister - and with him, as well as with everybody else! Being assertive is basic in taking care of the self. You simply have to learn how to do it! My sister was just trying to help you, that’s all!” I’m thinking, if he is not going to get involved, how come he always shuts me down like that, never empathizes, and always defends the sister? Have you guys been in marital counseling, where you could ask him questions like that in a safe environment? For example, "Please explain how she was trying to help me out. I don't get it."

He then tells me that from that point on, I was not allowed to be under the same roof with the sister, ever. Huh? Now how do you suppose that’s going to work out? He has a large family that gets together often. Are they going to tell the sister not to come? Of course not. Effectively, he was trying to shut me out of family functions because his sister is socially inept. His statement makes no sense at all. Are you sure he didn't just say that in anger, not really meaning it for later on?  Or - is he truly that off the wall?

Anyway, these are some of the reasons I want to leave. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that you two have a difficult marriage. I can certainly understand why you are not happy. Somehow, a part of me doesn’t think these are good reasons. They are very good reasons, providing you have asked to check them out. You don't want to leave a marriage based on unsubstantiated assumptions, which may not be correct. If this is the case, you would be wise not to trust your feelings!

However, assuming you are not operating on unsubstantiated assumptions, you simply don't trust your own feelings. This is unfortunate because your feelings are your feelings. They are what is true for you. They are your guides, an important part of your internal navigational system.

People don't trust their feelings for many reasons. For example, Anne may be  codependent and in the habit of looking to others to interpret her feelings for her. Or, Jack, with a history of spousal invalidation, may come to doubt his perceptions because they don't match those of his controlling wife. He gets told his feelings are "wrong" so often, he doubts his own perceptions.

Some part of me is waiting for some big, explosive reason, to justify leaving, like getting a black eye, or concrete evidence of adultery, or concrete evidence of a felony on his part. If I want to articulate to myself why I am wanting to leave, I honestly can’t say it in a sentence. It's important that you try to say it in a sentence. Or even a paragraph. Please begin to work on this now. It’s so much easier to say: “Well, of course, he cheated on me!” or “Well, don’t you know it, he gave me a black eye,” or “I found he was dealing drugs” or something like that. I’m having a hard time justifying leaving the jerk for my own, I guess more subtle reasons. I find my reasons to be subjective Your reasons should be subjective; they are your reasons! and susceptible to attack, and that intimidates me. You would only feel susceptible to attack if you felt the need to explain yourself. What if I told you there was absolutely NO need to explain yourself to anybody! Even if you are wrong! What comments do you have on this? Why would you think I would need an explosive reason like that? Majhora.

You doubt your own feelings so you are looking for "a reason" to leave; a reason that nobody in the world could misunderstand. This way you won't be challenged; you won't have to defend yourself; you won't have to explain yourself. You don't want to be challenged because you don't have the confidence or verbal skills to make your defense hold water. Not that you need defend or explain yourself to anybody - ever, but please consider learning how to trust in yourself and stand up for yourself.

I would love to see you in individual therapy, preferably with an "active" therapist who intervenes and challenges, and who gives you lots of ideas and feedback, someone who won't remain silent while you just sit there. A therapist in the behavioral camps (like I am) is likely to be active like this.

I would love to see you develop the confidence and the assertive skills you will need in order to respect your feelings, and to make decisions based in part on those feelings.

I would love to see you understand there is no need to defend your decisions - whether time reveals that they were good decisions or not.  You have a right to script your life, and hopefully, you do so out of "wise mind."

So, since we've "chatted" before, I'm taking a different tact with you this time: I'm encouraging you to focus on fixing your self - so that you can leave or stay or do whatever you want without being plagued with crippling guilt , self-doubt, and indecision.

Please post your comments and questions Majhora. I'll be back in about a week to reply to you. Hang in there, and may God bless you and yours. Dr. Irene.

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