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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!

Update: 3 Yrs Later

Updated Interactive! 3 Years Later...

"May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your home."
- George Carlin

April 14,2003

Over 3 years ago I'd answered Megan's letter. Well, guess what overjoyed lady I heard from recently? Yep, Megan! The black and blue writing is from 2000. The red is what Megan added Now! Wow! Doc

January 25, 2000


Dear Dr. Irene,

I'm that is one you haven't heard before !  I've been married for 23 years.  We were not high school sweethearts, but we were always very close friends.  After a 6 month courtship - we married.  I was 17 and he was 21.

I finally found the courage to leave… my divorce was final just 30 days before our 25th anniversary.

I've worked with my counselor to determine my earliest memories of the abuse. It started with a violent temper that his mother warned me of, however I had not ever been witness to it.  After about 3 months of marriage - I remember he threw a window air-conditioner out of a window (but I cannot remember what he was mad about).

Of course – the abuse escalated  - and became very physical.  The local state police tried very hard to get me to press charges because of physical injuries he was responsible for – typical abused women… I declined to press charges and even stayed with him the same night!  The physical abuse continued – and was not isolated with this episode.

The story is familiar - years passed.  I was a stay at home mother - frequently criticized for my parenting, housekeeping and lack of assistance with family finances - although it was a joint decision for me to stay home with our two daughters.....and of course there were happy times too.

After 10 years of marriage - we moved into a house that took us a year to build (I am sure you can only imagine the incidents this stressful situation encouraged).  We lived in the house for 5 years - while I was working on my graduate degree in a competitive field.  The school was 1 1/2 hours from our home.  My husband was very supportive of my education and took on much responsibility of our home and children at that time......

Then the explosion -- a whirlwind of transitions......



I graduated with honors - came out of school with a career that provided me with an income that more than doubled his (remember, I was the stay at home Mom before school). 



His best friend was hit by a car and killed.



 He received a promotion that allowed him to work in our hometown rather than a small community 20 miles from home (however, he loved the previous position and has really never been happy with his promoted responsibilities).



 We sold our new home and bought our dream home - an old Victorian (money-time pit) that we had always admired.....and then the real bombshell.....



He was arrested at local state park for public indecency.  My husband is a prominent local businessman.  It was a real scandal -- he was innocent, but the papers made it sound as if he were involved in homosexual activity.  I am certain of his innocence but the ramifications of the 6 month ordeal nearly killed us both. 


I can’t believe I was so certain of his innocence…. 3 months after our divorce was final – he disclosed his gay sexuality. I know there is no excuse for abuse – but it sure did answer a lot of questions about his anger.

All of these transitions occurred in a period of less than one year. Ouch! But, there is no excuse for abuse!

His verbal abuse began to really escalate at this time.  He would keep me awake at night - threaten to leave me if we didn't have sex, even if we had had sex as recently as the night before. Character assassinations accompanied increasing episodes of violence toward objects in our home. 
Oh boy...

It never did stop – and actually…he still continues with the character assassinations today – WHO CARES!

There were occasional episodes of physical violence between my oldest daughter (19) and him - but he was never physical toward me.  YET!  The first physical episode was just a few months after my original letter in January 2000.

The ugliness - name calling - threatening violence and rage became a whirlwind spiral.  Police were called more than once for domestic self-esteem continued to dwindle - although I continued to try to soften things and assume that I must have done something wrong to make him so mad - while hiding the fact that this was going on to others and to myself.  We were upstanding - he was president of the governing board of our church, we were very involved socially and in community activities. And then I began to fade. 

I dropped out of all organizations, my contact with friends ceased
(my friends and family are so happy to have me “back”) and I was at home at night for 2 years while he spent the time working on a vintage car with his father. I have a history of eating disorders - my weight has fluctuated forever.  I had ballooned to 250 pounds .I decided to use the time available to me and I joined a gym - and lost the weight. 


I became reacquainted with someone I dated before I became engaged to my husband.  This person told me he had always loved me and didn't date anyone for 7 years after our last date.  His compassion and kindness gave me the safety I was dying for.  I made the worst decision of my life - I had an affair.  I own that decision - I am responsible for what I did - and I truly am sorry to have done something so hurtful to my husband who already had so many trust and self-esteem issues - but I am also sorry that I let my husband off the hook.  My affair took away his responsibility for what was wrong with us. Exactly. Don't let him do this. Having an affair is never "right," but before we get all wrapped up with making you into the bad guy, recognize that professionals understand that an affair is a symptom of underlying problems in a marriage. Your marriage sure has its share of problems; you even know what they are! 

I have completely stopped all contact with the other man - pledge my faith and love to my husband and completely changed my lifestyle to attempt to earn back his trust.
Wait a minute... All this is fine, but, what about you? Why doesn't he have to earn your trust? Once he stops behaving like a looney, that is. You must insist that he do so and stop cutting him the benefit of the doubt time and time again. It has been 7 months of persecution, punishment and hell.  I don't think he will ever get over it - he is so suspicious and paranoid.  He refuses to get help and he continues to perseverate on details of my affair. He never gave up on the suspicion – he would NOT let go of it…and his constant persecution was only a daily reminder of the love the other man gave to me. He can refuse help, but his decision should not influence you. You need to get help. Now! As a family therapist, I often start with one partner, usually the wife, who wants to drag hubby in - but he won't come. I tell her, "No problem. We'll work alone. Watch how quickly he gets curious!" Besides, there is plenty of work to do without him.

We ended up seeing separate therapists…. BUT they were married to each other.  On occasion – all four of us (husband and wife team) and my ex-husband and I met for sessions.  It was intense…but they were the FIRST therapists of many that we saw that didn’t paint a false picture of what could be…. They made me realize – he probably was never going to get better. I learned he had also been sexually abused as a child…. Probably was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder…

And life with him – would not only continue the way it was…. But probably would end up getting worse.  

Okay – here is the big kicker that the Dr. probably won’t agree with – It is true – I did commit to ceasing all contact with the other man.  I did not look him in the face for nearly two years.  After my divorce I dated someone else for a few months – but my heart was with the true love of my life – the man I had dated as a teen and later had an affair with. (2003: And don't you have a nice, clear conscience now that you did things the way you did them?)

He left his wife while I was dating the other man.  We were meant to be – We have just celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I didn’t know life was supposed to be peaceful.  I didn’t know what love really was.  What a wonderful feeling to lay in the arms of a man that loves me…and wouldn’t hurt me if his life depended on it.

I desperately want to be happy with my husband - but a single day doesn't go by without abuse and conflict.  It is such a roller coaster.  He is often remorseful and in tears and says he can't live without me - and nearly the next breath he is calling me a whore.
Not OK, but you already know that. He is out-of-control and you must put a stop to his antics.

We have such a deep history.  We have two daughters now 17 & 22.  We have a brand-new grandchild.  I desperately want my dreams to be true with this man - but I cannot keep living with this roller coaster and hazardous behavior toward me. He refuses to go back to counseling with me and has told me if I go I am NOT to turn it in on our insurance, which is his coverage.
And, you are intimidated. Time to stop. I hope you are still in counseling. If you are not, go for help and don't apologize for it; he doesn't have to like it. Tell him his choices are his insurance or his paycheck - since his behavior is the seat of your misery. Open your mouth and dump the shame. There is no reason to keep his abusive secret. What have you got to lose? You had an affair. Fine. It's over. What about him: 23 years of hell? Take your power and insist he behave like a human being.
I am now only 42 years old - I probably have another 42 ahead of me.  I want to share them with him, I want to grow old with him..... but...but...but....but.....
He is making it very hard for you.

Thank GOD!  I’m now 45 years old … and I love riding  bikes on quiet trails, hiking mountains and paddling our kayak with my peaceful husband that shows me how I was supposed to be loved….. Thank GOD I didn’t waste any more days of my life!

My questions:


Do you see any potential for recovery here? There is always potential for recovery.  He is still a very angry man…and still directs his anger to me…. It kills him that he doesn’t have control of me anymore.  I hope he can recover someday….I’m thankful I don’t have to be a part of it anymore. (Unfortunately, "potential" rarely is met in most cases.)



I am so afraid to face life without him - I know of nothing else.  Are there others who regret the decision to leave? Yes. One or two emails here do. But, I will create a board so others can answer your question directly.  I have never regretted my decision to leave.  When we finally separated the last time – he left in an angry rage (as usual)…. I knew that about 10 days later he would come knocking at the door in tears… promising me he would never hurt me again.  The hardest thing I have ever done in my life was telling him he could not come back home.  I had re-gained ME…. And I was NOT going to let him take me away again.  It was a fabulous feeling when I turned him away – I was in love with ME… I also knew that my oldest daughter had followed the legacy and was in a severly abusive marriage.  She had left her husband just after I left her father.  If I would have let him come back… she would have done the same thing.  My blessed Grandson’s destiny was at stake.  This legacy had to stop – I always said that my biggest regret was that I had allowed my girls to believe the abusive behavior was acceptable.  It wasn’t acceptable and this was my chance to make it right –

 My life was going to move on! 


He will blame me - and make me look ugly....can I recover from that? He will try to blame you and you must be assertive enough and sure enough of yourself enough that you do not permit it. He still blames me and continues to try hard to make me look ugly… I know better!


We live a very comfortable lifestyle and I will have to made significant changes - however my income is not an issue in supporting myself. Will I be happy with those changes? Only you can know the answer to this question...

The changes are certainly a transition to adjust to…. And I wouldn’t change any of it!  Life is so much simpler now!


Will our friends abandon me - because of my affair without knowledge of his abuse? If they abandon you, they were not truly your friends. But, how can you expect them to make clear decisions if you hide the abuse? Never, ever hide abuse. You hurt only yourself and enable your partner.  This is so true…. The real friends are still there – and there are those that were not real friends….and I don’t miss them at all!


Will he get better....after we are apart and he gives the part of him that is so good to someone else? For a while, he probably will be better. Then his stuff will start again. He'll give her (him) that other part too. Promise.  Why can't he get better for me? He can. But, he has to want to. Right now, you want him to get better more than he does. When are you going to realize you have no control over another person? If you disengage, he may just wake up.

I have been living on this fence for  years with this decision.  My life feels like one of those flip page calendars in an old's going so quick....and I'm not changing anything....
You will make your move when and if you are ready. That is the only time you should move.  I made the move 14 months after this original post…. and I am the happiest woman in the world!  No looking back now….. only happiness ahead of me now!  (My daughter also was successful with her divorce and she now has a wonderful loving fiancÚ in her life and happiness is her story now too.

Thanks for your time!! Good luck and may God bless you & yours. Dr. Irene

Thank you so much Dr. Irene…. It was the advice and support and resource recommendations on this site that gave me the strength to pursue the counseling… and have the strength to finally move on – and to really recognize the abuse as ABUSE…. If one woman makes a decision to be free because of my post – then my story was worth sharing.

Thank you ….Thank you…. Thank you!

Thank you, thank you, thank YOU Megan! It's so good that you took the trubble to communicate the wonderful outcome to your story; doubtless, you will inspire many in a similar situation now. I'm so glad you contacted me again. Wonderful things happen when one trusts one's inner voice and overcomes their fear... Wishing you continued success, Doc

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