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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!

My Wife Ran Off...

My Wife Ran Off-Will The Next?

From: Jason
Sent: Wednesday, August 11, 1999 10:13 PM
Subject: verbal abuse - next spouse/lover?

Dear Dr. Irene,
Dear "Jason,"
You gave little information, so I had to do a lot of guessing, but here goes:

I verbally abused and frequently got angry with my wife (now ex).

My father displayed a lot of this type of behavior, so I may have learned it at home.
Our best guess is 50/50 nature/nurture.

Anyway about 1 month ago my wife of 9 years and two young children left me.  She had an affair with a neighbor and they moved out together.
I'm sorry...

I'm trying to get her back and it is difficult because I make one step forward, and she kind of sort of responds, but then I get angry and
abusive and take three steps back as a result.
You must learn to control your behavior so that your emotions don't get the best of you!

There is just so much in our relationship now to cause tension and anger that it is a Herculean task not to stay put and control myself.
I bet! But you can do it. Don't do it for her, but for yourself. You take the self-control skills you learn with you wherever you go! Think of your current state as though it was a muscle that is out of shape. It's hard to lift heavy things. A consistent exercise and training program will result in improved muscle tone. You'll be able to pick up a heavy weight effortlessly. It does not have to be a "Herculean" task to stay put and control yourself, even with your ex.

In fact, forget it.  She is totally in love with him.
How do you know? What does "she kind of sort of responds" to you mean?  And it is a lost cause.  The two of us just argue and abuse each other too much now and in the past.  It's hopeless. Maybe. Maybe not. Time will tell. It certainly wouldn't hurt if you put the brakes on yourself. (What if she later finds out her dreamboat is no panacea?)


I have resigned myself to meet another lady.
And now I'm a little concerned.  Because a lot of the verbal abuse in my marriage was caused by my frustrations with her No! Your verbal abuse was not caused by your frustration with her. Your verbal abuse was caused by your inability to deal with her and with your inability to control yourself. It is your job to deal with your frustrations! It is not her job to do what you want her to do. and especially her lack of intimacy towards me.  That one particular person was the source? I have no idea about her, though I'm sure she has her problems. Or was it a problem with me? Sounds like you have your problems as well.

So I'm wondering will my anger and abuse will repeat itself in my next relationship?
Probably. What are the odds?  High. Do you find that this problem often spills over into next spouses/lovers also? Yes, in most cases. It may start out great, then the stuff starts. This is true in most cases, but not always. If you find a woman who is angrier and more controlling than you are, the tables may turn. 

I would be interested to know if this is the case.
I guess you'll find out soon enough. Meanwhile, I think you need to spend some time asking yourself what your role was in your wife's lack of intimacy. I'm not trying to blame you for her pulling back, since that was her choice. I am asking you to look at your behavior to see if you can pinpoint why she may have pulled back. Search your sole so you may learn from your mistakes. If you are indeed abusive, my guess is that your mistake was in the area of assuming that it was her job or obligation to meet your (sexual/emotional/etc.) needs. (It is not.) You probably ended up taking her for granted.
If any of this sounds on target, get some help. You may need to learn that the only person who owes you yourself.


Best regards,  -Dr. Irene

From: Jason
Sent: Sunday, August 15, 1999 11:30 PM
Subject: Re: verbal abuse - next spouse/lover?

Dr. Irene

"You take self-control skills you learn with you wherever you go!"  This motivates me more than anything I have heard so far on the topic. Its true! Nobody ever has to get your goat. You don't have to let them. Like building up muscle strength, you know? Look on my reading list for some titles.

She is totally in love with him. "How do you know? What does "she kind of sort of responds" to you mean?" 

How do I know? She tells me (with a gleam in her eye, like romance). Was there a gleam in your eye when you talked about her?

My kid tells me he has to stomp his foot to get them to stop kissing and hugging.  She never ever kissed and hugged me. Did you hug and kiss her?

My kids tell me to give it up and get with the new program. It's obvious she is crazy and nuts for him. Infatuated, at least. Love takes a while. We'll see. But, I think your kids are right. Get with the program and - whatever happens, happens.

She responds to little things I do for her like chocolates and candy, flower in deco vase, I make coffee for her when she drops off the children, I give her to-go lunch boxes when I know she's too busy or hasn't prepared anything for herself. That is very kind. Of course she will respond.

She tried to take it a step further and asked for perfume, Channel No. 5. But I told her that I buy that for women whom I date with.  You assume she is taking advantage of you. Perhaps you should have asked her if you stood a chance rather than make the statement you made. So far I have hit her up every day for a date, and she coldly stops it and says that she is with him and she doesn't intend to change her decision. Let it go. Stop "hitting her up."

It's difficult to say if she responds in a romantic sense, or because she wants us to get along amicably, and accepting gifts from me is a nice platonic gesture in this respect. 

"It certainly wouldn't hurt if you put the brakes on yourself. (What if she later finds out her dreamboat is no panacea?)"

I try, I really do, to show her that the guy is a leach, a parasite, a lowlife.  But whenever we talk about him, it turns into an argument. No, no , no! You cannot tell her anything about the other guy! If he is a leach, she will find out for herself, in time.

It usually goes like this, "If you had half a brain you would see that he's a ...  I can't believe you could make such a dumb move. "  Then she defends him because he's her Svengali. Oh boy...STOP putting her in a position where she has to defend him! Just wish her happiness and let it go.

It's a real bottleneck. You make it. Stop trying to control her; start empathizing with how she feels. At the very least, you need the practice!

I have resigned myself to meet another lady. "Oooof...If you are "resigned" to it, I am glad I am not the new lady! Sounds like she is going to get it! Did you go through a period of mourning?"

Every day.  I hate it.  I just want to get over her and get on with my life. You can't force life; you can't force yourself to feel what you want to feel. I suggest you spend some time getting to know yourself. Let yourself be. Don't impose so much. Make friends with yourself.  But, I know I might as well be talking Chinese now...

"Have you cried your eyes out and turned yourself inside out to figure out what you did to contribute to her leaving?" Uh, I'm a guy.  Men don't cry.  They get angry!  Ding! Boing! Error! Men cry.

What did I do wrong?  I have a lot of time now.  I have given it all a lot of thought.  My blunder is that I married her in the first place.  Maybe. Maybe not.  She came to this country with a mission. To find a husband.  She was 20 for the first time in a foreign land.  She kind of sort of liked me.  But there
was absolutely no intimacy, passion, or desire on her part.  Not enough to go on for a loving marriage. It is too easy to Monday morning quarter back the situation and find a way to blame the other person. Look at yourself first. How were you insensitive to her?

For me she was a fantastic deal.  Young, beautiful, and my ethnic background.  I played the dice in Las Vegas.  I married her and figured that things will work out, maybe. Since when is a wife a "deal?" A marriage is a garden...needs weeding...a husband needs to tend to his wife's emotional stuff...

She got citizenship, then needed a boost getting started. We had kids.  Big mistake. Why? Because you didn't love her? Because she did not like the way you treated her and didn't love you? What would have happened if you treated her like her feelings were the most important thing in the world? Would she have returned the favor? I wanted her to go to school. So then kids and school kept the marriage together.  It
could be said that was the only factors keeping the marriage together.  In May she graduated and got the glamorous job, the RAV4, and cellular.  In June she gave me the "I don't love you any more speech", and "Oh, by the way, I finally found a man I really love". Maybe this would have happened anyway. But, maybe not. I wonder how he treats her?

This was very frustrating to me.  I did not know how to deal with her complete and total lack of intimacy and passion for me.  Intimacy is not about sex. Sex is only a part of it. Intimacy is about sharing and caring and consideration and trust... And I verbally abused her.  But it was an abuser/user
relationship.  What would have happened had you not abused her? Would she love you now? She could have left a long time ago.  But she didn't.  So who was at fault?  In a way we both were. Yes. But, you go nowhere when you dish it out. Even if she was not in love with you, had you treated her with love & kindness, perhaps she would have come to love you.

"Your verbal abuse was not caused by your frustration with her. Your verbal abuse was caused by your inability to deal with her and with your inability to control yourself."

Right.   I felt I didn't have a lot of options.  Really I didn't. You did. You still don't see them. We had a Catholic marriage and children.  It's not like I could do anything short of destroying the family. The family is destroyed anyway. Don't hide behind your religion.  It could be said that the verbal abuse was a form of self destruction. Yes. I wanted the relationship, which was very uncomfortable for me, to fall apart but I didn't have the gumption to break it up.  When we separated, in a way, it was a big relief for me.  Crazy isn't it?  I'm totally in love with her, but relieved that she dumped me.   I had a hard time figuring that one out too. Love & hate... Flip sides of the same coin, for some.

"Assuming I am correct, did you ever find out why she was disinterested?" Maybe she just wasn't ever very interested.

"Think: Did you treat her like an object who owed you sex because she was your wife?" More like the other way around.  Once per month she felt it her job and obligation to do her duty.  Like clockwork. She would say that it's time, and we did it. When was this? My guess is that this happened after she understood that you regarded her an object...

Get this, she haggled with me not to take her clothes off. She said she didn't like it.  Just the minimum necessary to do it and no more.  No foreplay, just hurry up and do it. One time there was a TV on in the room and she asked me to move to the side so she can watch while we were having sex. Why would you want to have sex with her if this is how she felt? Then there was always the humiliating remarks, like "is it done yet?"  And if not "hurry up and finish". Again, why would you want to have sex with her?

Believe it or not one time she said we can have sex but that I can't touch her in the process. You know what I have to say here... Why didn't you take care of yourself and refuse to be with a woman who was doing you a favor?

Often I would go crazy during sex and just verbally abuse her completely or totally.  Any normal healthy human man would have done the same under similar conditions.   A normal, healthy human would not have sex with her. A normal, healthy human would not sell themselves short as you did. Sex with her was demeaning and humiliating.  She made sure of it.

"Or, did you romance her and adore her?" Yeah, I would romance and adore her alright.  It was the worst feeling possible when I did.  I would give her a complement or nice remark and she would remind me of how that's not to be.  For example, "J: You are the love of my life.  B: That's good, because I don't love you."  Then I would go off... I think a more appropriate response for you may have been "If you don't love me, there is no point in continuing this marriage."

Will my anger and abuse will repeat itself in my next relationship? "Probably". What are the odds?  "High."  "It may start out great, then the stuff starts."

I have given everything a lot of thought.  In the future I am going to change what kind of women I
pursue.  No more students in financial need, women who wish to be set up in the U.S., ladies who would like a job in the company you work in, and these kinds of user relationships.  They are corrosive and promote verbal abuse in my opinion. Listen Jason, there are user students, loving non-user students; user wanna bes in your company, loving non-user wanna bes.

My problem in my marriage was that I expected her to live up to the contract and have intimacy and romance and passion for me. The problem in your marriage is that you did not look out for yourself. You believed that just because she married you, she was obligated to love you. You wanted to believe that she loved you, when perhaps she did not.  I was frustrated that this was not happening.  In fact the opposite occurred.  I resorted to verbal abuse in my distress. Next time, cough up your self-respect and leave her. Watch what happens.

"Meanwhile, I think you need to spend some time asking yourself what your role was in your wife's lack of intimacy." Again, one has to ask whether or not there was any intimacy to begin with.  Look at one of those Russian mail order bride catalogs and ask yourself "what was your role in your wife's lack of intimacy" Hello??? If she is so incapable of love & intimacy, how can she be so taken by the current beau?

O.K. I'll answer that one.  This was science not intimacy.  These ladies are given "how to" manuals
which describe the absolute minimum amount of sex and intimacy necessary to keep a marriage alive
as long as is needed.  And my wife didn't even live up to that requirement:(  I didn't have a mail order bride, I met her through her relatives, but close to it.  She came to America to set herself up. This is not a crime.

"I am asking you to look at your behavior to see if you can pinpoint why she may have pulled back." Again, I ask you to examine the exact same thing." Maybe if I didn't verbally abuse her, she wouldn't have fallen in love with "him".  Then again, maybe not. Difficult to say if there was ever a point where it went bad.  After the second baby, our relationship  went from "kind of sort of like each other, but not really" to "I want out" on her part. Then the abuse/lack of intimacy phenomenon built and escalated on each other after that.

"Search your sole so you may learn from your mistakes." My mistake was that during our wedding ceremony when it was time for us to kiss, she didn't want to,  and I got upset.  I should have never gotten into this situation.  But I did unfortunately.  That was my mistake.  This relationship should have never made it to the altar. Perhaps you are right. Perhaps she did not love you and would not, no matter what you did. Then, my question goes back to, how could you marry a woman you did not love you? Why would you do that to yourself?

"If you are indeed abusive, my guess is that your mistake was in the area of assuming that it was her job or obligation to meet your (sexual/emotional/etc.) needs." Exactly. Nope. Don't work that way.

"You probably ended up taking her for granted." She took me for granted more than I her.  I cared about
her and let her know it a lot lot more than the other way around.

"You may need to learn that the only person who owes you yourself." Well that's all that is left now anyway.  This weekend my family and "him" went out of town for vacation without me.  My family is gone, destroyed, devastated. I'm back to square one and learning to get ladies numbers in clubs again.  Hey, don't laugh, I happen to be good at that.  Better than at choosing wives for everyday living at least.

Jason (Friday 13)

Stop being so morose. Nobody is perfect. You screwed up. You can't change the past, but you can learn from it. You married a woman who had all the superficial qualities you wanted, but apparently did not love you. Perhaps she never would have loved you, even had you treated her like gold...but you'll never know. I think you have to stop being so self-absorbed that you see a woman as a commodity who exists to supply you with love and intimacy. Love and intimacy are earned. They are cultivated and marriage is not an  entitlement. Your story is a good example of the codependency of the abusive person... You did not take care of yourself! Your expectations of her as object and your desire for that object were greater than how much you care for yourself. Never, ever allow another person to trample over your self-esteem. Learn to cherish not only the person you love, but yourself.

All my best, -Dr. Irene