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!

The Doc Answers 9

The Doc's Answers 9


Tuesday August 13, 2002

Hello! My husband & I have been together 12 1/2 years since Feb. 1990 & we had met at work. We lived together the same year we met as "roommates/boyfriend & girlfriend" in separate rooms. When I felt tension and wanted a sanity break, I would sleep in my own room/my own space. Other times we slept together in his room. I had really liked him. He was very nice and seemed to some show remorse when he was mean to me. He shouldn't have been mean to you... I forgave the things he did. Over and over and over? Why? Back then I was slim, 12 years younger and single (different now :) and hadn't been together as long as we are now). Now I am 158 pounds 5'5'', been stay at home mother since we had our son. Why do you think your added weight is not OK? Just a little more of you to love! Over time, remorse was less and less to none at all and and verbal putting me down became more and more even to the point of me asking him to apologize. He would say "apology" without seeming to mean it, with a smirk smile on his face. Bad attitude on his part. Our problems increased & got worse. He didn't want to work things out like I did. He was the instigator; he saw the problems, told me what I needed to do. (One-side in that way.) It didn't happen every day, but when it did, the mean things he did hurt me more - to the point I would intentionally try to forget them and go on as if they didn't happen. It's not OK to ignore your feelings. They're telling you that something needs your attention. I remember I had a problem with marrying him for the reason that we didn't work out our problems better - and the problems went on as if they hadn't happened.  Actions were not accounted for and could/would happen as if they had. He would put me down and not show remorse, showing no empathy/true concern and caring towards my emotional needs. I went against my better judgment thinking that if worse came to worse, we could "go to counseling" and things would work out better if we needed to. He was always nice to me after he put me down, so he must love me, I must be good? -- mixed messages. Lots of denial on your part. Wishful thinking. Also, you are confusing things: You thought that if you were "good" and he approved, you were OK. Here's some news for you: You are OK whether he - or anybody else - thinks so or not! Understand that! As long as I was good, things would be great. I just would keep things fine. Sometimes I did see irrationality in his behavior and thought he was being a bit neurotic. No one is perfect, but no matter what, he would always find something wrong, even if it was a spot in the carpet. He would make sure to point it out and let me know it was there - and that I needed to clean it. I thought when push came to shove, that he would care about me - why get married just to get get divorced (that attitude)? We got married in 1994. We still had those darn same problems of not working out our problems, and I would still sleep in another room  because of "tension/sanity" reasons. It was my refuge. See, your body was telling you that this relationship was difficult/stressful for you... Then after my son was born, and I breastfed him, I would sleep with my baby. It helped me to breastfeed. I started enjoying sleeping with the baby alot more than with my spouse. Sure. Your baby didn't find fault with you. My son finally slept on his own pretty much. Oh yeah, when I came home from the hospital with our son, my spouse was very mean, cold and horrible to me. Yuk! Shame on him! I had worked full time up until I had my son and then was a full-time mom (being full time mom was best job I had The best job in the world!). On the negative side, even though we could afford it, my husband kept letting me know that I was never doing enough and "using him" and was "fat, lazy, stupid, dumb." Shame on him! He seemed at times to favor my staying home, and other times not. I took some classes here and there, worked a few times part- time. This year our son is in first grade (6 years old). This was going to be time that I now went to work "full-time" or working "part-time & taking classes at Community College - my intentions all along since our son is in school and my husband is making good money. Eight months ago, my spouse said for first time "I don't love you and never have, it was mistake for me to marry you, I knew that then, and know it now." We went to counseling 2 times and things seemed better. Again, 2 months ago, it happened a second time. We went to a counselor and he said, "Not interested in working things out, want a divorce, and don't want to work things out right now."  My spouse said I socially embarrass him and he feels he has outgrown me and is above me. Yuk! I have talked to him about a divorce, and he says he is not ready yet to do so. What's he waiting for? A secure relationship with a new girlfriend? He never wants to talk about working our relationship out, but only wants to talk about dissolving it with a "divorce." His way of working things out is to work out a divorce. Like a kid wanting a cookie. He has moved in with his mom and dad, who are taking care of him while he pays them $100 a week (4 weeks ago). Had 3 women's names on post-it notes in wallet, and stopped wearing his wedding ring. Comes over my house looking for things to find fault with or criticize, even if he has to invent things (I know it's to justify his guilt by blaming me for everything he can, even if he has to invent it or exaggerate the truths to convince him of things). I told him he doesn't live here anymore. Good for you! He says the house is his too. Our son is great, we have a beautiful home. I feel I am a good person who deserves to be treated better. YES! At times, I feel guilty that everything is my fault. NO! "How could this have happened to me" syndrome, & the "Maybe I could have been better". Stop! We ALL could be "better," but we are all worthwhile, precious and unique human beings! I feel I need to improve on myself because those are things I would want to do anyhow. Would I want myself right now? Not until I find a good job, lose 30-50 pounds and make it on my own independently, without anyone. Well, those are all worthwhile goals, but not having reached them yet does not make you un-OK!!! No, I am not happy with the way I am and would like to work more on myself, and don't think I am all that bad either right now :). Yippeeee! Then at same time I was trying to see if there was anything worth holding onto, and would I want it if I could . We had been together as long as we have been, have a kid, are married, have a house, and really I wasn't all that miserable in the past considering the ups and downs. Yes room for improvement, definitely. Always. For all of us. To me that was alot just "walk away" from and leave behind as if it is over and done with. I always thought that I would know what to do to make things better if I got in a situation like this. "Things would get worked out." I didn't think a divorce/separation was going to happen so soon, not until at least a few more years at the soonest! Oh well. He says we had problems before and didn't want to go to counseling. I don't love anyone who doesn't love me. I feel that I might have been able to love him if he could have at least been willing to appreciate what he has in me, love, respect, etc. Yes! Your husband has been - a creep. He does not deserve your love! My friend says it is not about me, it is about him. Your friend is correct! I hope you know that from the bottom of your heart. I ask her, "Do you think it's my fault?" NO!!! She thinks he is unhappy within himself and doesn't now how to make himself happy within. Correct. She thinks he is projecting his negativity onto me as a mirror-image. Yes. She feels until he goes to his own counseling and figures out that he is "very controlling" and knows he has been wrong in the way he has treated me" he will be the same, not change and would I want him back just the same. The answer is "no". What do you think? :) sbc824  I think you don't value yourSelf enough! I think you deserve love and respect, despite not being perfect! I think your husband has problems and that you owe it to yourSelf not to put up with anybody's critical, fault-finding behavior - regardless of why they are critical! Getting on your own two feet will be good for you. You will realize you don't need anybody. If there is a man in your life, let him be there because he adds joy - not misery and pain. You deserve no less. Be good to yourself. Go to counseling. Your self-esteem is shot. Rebuild it - and learn to never, ever allow anyone to treat you yukky again! And should hubby have a change of heart and want you back, I hope you approach him with great trepidation. He needs to prove his good intentions - over a long period of time. All he has demonstrated so far - is very ill will. My very warmest regards, Dr. Irene


Saturday August 17, 2002

I have read your site and think codependency issues are part of my problem and my husband's. Having read the letter from Tex , I think I could fall into the role of Kali, especially from my husband's view. I think I feel hatred towards men. I think there is abuse in this family. Unfortunately I have abused our wonderful son verbally and with spanking, not realizing that there was an alternative to this kind of parenting. There was some part of me that felt controlling a child like this was a stupid exercise because it wasn't effective in the long run and also felt miserable after I had abused him. I have become aware how little I am able to love anyone. I feel inept at basic human social skills. I read how Kali withheld sex from Tex. I also withhold sex from my husband, but it is because I don't feel attracted to him. He has been a bully, yet is also often much better at looking after our son. I think I also married him so I could have a child. I did think that that was ok, as I thought we could develop our marriage and learn skills to create more of a bond. However, I don't feel happy. The following is one example of our twisting and winding interaction that avoids intimacy. My husband has complained over the years that my snoring has kept him from a good night's sleep. About two years ago he said that the snoring was nightly and so loud, it was driving him crazy. He often used foul language to emphasize the problem. So, I went to a doctor who diagnosed a structural problem in my nose. I had an operation to resolve this. The doctor asked me to monitor improvement via my husband post-op. My husband refused saying he wasn't doing the doctors job for him. Anyway since then the snoring problem has come back (to haunt him). By the way, when I have stayed at my parents' house, they have not heard me snore. When our son sleeps in the double bed near me (when he is sick), he also has not heard me snore. My husband as a consequence has slept most nights on the sofa in the living room, or with our son. He would often come into our double bed early in the morning, I guess especially if he had slept on the sofa in a crunched condition. The sofa could be turned out into a sofa bed. Then recently we had the opportunity to move to a new apartment. I did the choosing etc, as he didn't show interest and was working long hours. There was enough space for him to have a double bed in one bedroom rather than sleep on the sofa. This meant he had his own private bedroom and I had mine. He would have a double bed as he is tall, and I would have a single bed. There would be extra space in my room which I wanted for privacy, exercise also. I thought that if we ever got together as a couple, we at least had a bed or two to share. Also, he had the chance for a decent night's sleep. I did honestly want him to have a good night's sleep as he had become irritable and bad tempered. When he slept on the sofa bed he often slept in the nude, and had to cover himself up in the morning while we ate breakfast. He would get up and fold the bed on average at about ten o clock at weekend mornings. Anyway, while I was out one day, he decided that the new bedroom allocated for him would be better as an office, and moved the sofa bed back into the living room. So now, again, he sleeps either in the living room, or in the lower bunk bed in our child's room. I thought I had a practical solution. Yet now there are no chances for us to become intimate physically. There wasn't any interest before as we have both avoided each other. I must admit I have occasionally screamed at him. He thinks I am mentally unstable. What can I do about this mess of a marriage? I would like to make a clean break. One minute I see him as attractive and interesting. The next, I see him in a completely different light- someone moronic and controlling. Would a separation be beneficial? It hurts our son a lot already. He has become more and more attached to his father. I don't want to hurt him further. Yet would he benefit also if there was less conflict in his home environment, even if he only saw his Dad/Mum every weekend? Could you give me some advice? I would really appreciate it. with thanks, J  Dear J, Sounds like you're in an abusive marriage and are miserable (Aren't I a rocket scientist?). OK, seriously, the behaviors you describe on your husband's part are clearly abusive; he seems to go out of his way to disrespect you. Also sounds as though you are retaliating, and that your retaliation is hurting your self esteem and contributing to what may be a low level of depression. You also sound ambivalent; as though you're not entirely sure which way is up - questioning things. My hunch is that you are emotionally spent and that you are acting out many of your frustrations. Spanking your kid is one likely example of your frustration.  You seem to fall into a category I call angry victim or abusive victim. That means that you are a victim who has had tooooo much abuse - and are at your wit's end. But your acting out doesn't help you and certainly compromises your integrity/self-esteem. Your problem is pretty easy to fix by the way. Just stop acting out for starters! You may want to see if your doc thinks you are a candidate for an antidepressant too.

Can separation be beneficial? Perhaps, but if you're asking, you're not sure. And since it's your life, I think you need to be sure! Stop acting out and sit with your feelings - let what's going on become clearer to you - while you regain your self esteem (because you are behaving in a way that you admire). It will be hard at first, but constantly remind yourself to disengage emotionally from what hubby is doing or saying to you. Zip your mouth up and sit on your hands so to speak. Take a walk. Do whatever helps you do nothing behaviorally.   And keep a diary. Write down what happened, your frustrations, what is going on for you!

Some questions you'll want to eventually answer: When does he seem attractive to you? (When he's treating you well? When he's pulling away?) When are you sexually withholding? (When he's treating you poorly? When he's pulled away?) Do you feel used? When and how? If you have no interest in sexual relations, why aren't you relieved  that he's moved the sleeping situation around?  Do you feel insecure and wanting when he pulls away?  If you don't have a bond with him, do you have a bond with another person, a friend, a co-worker, a relative? Are you really socially inept, or are you disinterested due to depression? Does your husband do stuff (like blame you for something that he thinks is "your fault") that prevents you from being able to sustain warm feelings towards him? Do you really snore that loudly or does he (unwittingly) tell himself that the noise is positively, absolutely unbearable (suggesting that he would find something dreadfully wrong with anybody he marries), or do you unconsciously snore extra loudly only when you are with him? (Tape yourself if you must!) Clarify the marital problem in terms of what part is his stuff and what part is your stuff. (Your stuff you can do something about!)

If you can get to the point where you are not retaliating despite his mis-behavior, you are likely to have a clearer head about what's going on in your marriage. Consider individual counseling. Find your center. Then make your decision about which way to go.  Think about posting in The CatBox too. Lots of good feedback there.    Warmest regards, Doc


Wednesday August 21, 2002

Hello! It's now been 5 weeks. I told my H that I felt counseling is the only thing that can help us, "If we want to work things out." He said he is going to tell the counselor the same things he told her a month ago, that he doesn't want to work on things. He said he feels counseling "doesn't work/help". His idea of counseling is just showing up, not working on Fixing problems and using it as a place to put me down. Well, he's already told you he's got no interest in fixing things. Believe him and start preparing for your new life! Before he left he opened up his own new private checking account and has had his paychecks deposited into it - for the first time since we were married. Right before he left, he told me I could not spend more than x amount of money on the credit card or he would not pay. At that time, he would only look at the bill once a month, as per the statement. Since he's left, he looks up my charges online - up to the minute - and writes my charges down on paper. This happens once or twice a week, whenever he sees me. He says I can no longer have x amount of money, and can only charges gas, food, and very important things. "You cannot waste money like you do," was his comment. Last week, I came home to get my son at our house. He was watching him in our house for the day - and he was very angry. In a rage he demanded an explanation of charges from such and such places. The next time he goes into a verbal rage, call the police! Start setting your limits! I explained the charges, saying some of them are credits. Credits take longer to post. (They had not even been over x amount of money for the month!) He asked if I was up to something, taking extra money - and if I continue with this behavior, he didn't care if we sold our house. 

Before he moved out he said he'd like to see our 6 year-old son live at home for the security for & one of us to have it. Yesterday he said, "I feel the same way as before I left, nothing's changed". He said, "You can either get an attorney and we can save money to keep the house or get an attorney, we will fight and you will lose the house." Some hours later he said I can also choose to wait until "the 3 months are up" & if I couldn't stand it, I can always proceed with a divorce. Well, I'm not sure what this means, but it sounds as though he's making reference to some legal time frame. Be careful or you may get the short end of the stick! He may have a girlfriend which would help explain his different behavior/actions. Those 3 girls' numbers were right in the middle of his wallet. I have seen his wallet before, but not with women's names on post-it notes! He was very defensive, saying they were "friends". Then why not guys' names? Do you think it is odd too? It really doesn't matter. What matters is that he's indicated he wants out and he wants you not to contest whatever it is he's setting up. That's probably not a good idea for you. After 12 1/2 years in a relationship with this person, a gift (son), house, etc., I cannot fully understand why I am so "discardable." You are not "discardable." He simply has decided to start abusing and discarding someone else. I told him I thought he was selfish. He said I am being selfish. "I should stay in a relationship with a person I don't love?" Sounds like the words of someone having an affair? Sounds like a person who wants to hurt you out of his own anger and misery. Sounds like the words of a person who has increased his power and who wants out. Could be an affair; could be that he senses you are upset since you think he's having an affair. Could be he simply wants to crush you emotionally. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter! If he says he wants out, believe him, even if he's "just kidding!" You don't need a partner who doesn't want you or who specializes in hurting you! When things were better, I thought we had grown together in some ways. After reading the information on your site, I now understand the imbalance in our relationship compared to normal relationships. My relationship did not progress like a normal relationship. It is hard for me to accept because I was trying to look at the potential; if there was any. Never proceed on potential! Always base your assessment on what is. If there was a way to work on things, I think things could have been great. Not happening. Correct. It won't happen unless both people want it to happen. He doesn't.

For him to go to counseling would mean he would have to change and admit to doing things wrong and feel blame. He won't do that. Right. He won't and you deserve better than that. He was the controller and didn't have to care. I was the caretaker and would try to fix things to make it better between us. Now it's time to stop fixing things between you and to start fixing things for yourSelf. Over the years, he has punched me with his fist about every year or two out of anger. Ugh! I hope you called the police, or, have this on record with your counselor! Our counselor asked him questions a few months ago and he really didn't show any emotion. She said, "You know you verbally abuse her, does it make you feel better?" He said "No, I feel so mad at times, I would like to beat her up." What do you think? I think her treatment notes are going to be important for you. Don't know the law , but I know it's not OK for a man to beat up his wife in any State. I strongly advise you to consult with an attorney - even if you choose not to fight him for divorce. I think you need to know what your rights are  - just as a starting point. If you don't do this, he is likely to take advantage of you!!! Do not let that happen. Do you think I should divorce this guy asap? I can't answer that question; only you can.  Do you think when he gets in a new relationship he may find that person "I am not good enough to be?"  I think you are too busy wondering about what his life will hold, and are too busy trying to hold on to what may have been. When you do this, you lose your power even more. See an attorney today, just for a consultation - even if you decide not to go ahead with it. Knowing your rights is part of taking your power. It would also be a good idea to see the same counselor you saw together - alone. You come across as a gentle, loving person. Let her help you recognize that you deserve to get what you give out: love and caring... Just wondering what your opinion is. Have a good day. Thank you, sbc 

Here's your plan:

bulletConsult with an attorney
bulletCall your therapist for sessions alone
bulletRead this book: The Secret of Overcoming Verbal Abuse: Getting Off the Emotional Roller Coaster and Regaining Control of Your Life by Albert Ellis et al .

Good luck to you dear sbc. Doc

Friday August 23, 2002

Dear Doc My question is about sex and the verbal abuser. I have known, been involved with a man for about six months. From the beginning he has told me how much he loves, respects, desires me. His past sexual prowess is the stuff of legend. Legend created by whom? He has told me of the his past lovers and their comments, their nastiness, etc.He has told you... Well, when it comes to me he has no interest. If we are out, he will tell all how beautiful, sexy, etc., I am. Part of legend making... When we get home, nothing. When you get home; where it matters...  Gee, I wonder when you are out and he is telling "all" whatever he is telling them - what impressions they draw? I don't really care about the sex. I would like some affection now and again. A kiss maybe, a pat on the arm, a hug. However, he does expect me to service him, he loves his bl%^j*b. Oh really??? His comments in the past to me are (I quote) : "Your breath smells like whole milk, I hate whole milk; I can't f*%k you because you get too wet; You stink, you need to take a shower; If I cut off my breasts and your breasts, mine would weigh more; Don't look to me for attention and affection, I can't be around 24/7". My question to you is: What are you doing with this guy? YUK!  Okay, now I am at the point where I am his sister. I see him once a week. Don't touch him, never try for affection - or God forbid - SEX. I stopped being his caretaker. I don't buy him gifts, clean his house, buy him food. I quit. EXCELLENT! Now he is freaking. Hehehehe! Do I love him? Is he fat? I should find a dentist. I used to care, but find that I don't anymore. Of course you don't. You are looking for a partner, not somebody who wants to play cat and mouse chase games. Whatever. The sex thing has always bugged me. Others gasp at my beauty, my slimness, "Oh, if only..." (I consider my self-image to be quite healthy). I have never been with a man who is so uninterested. Just curious. I haven't met him, but my operating hypothesis is that this is an extremely insecure man who was apparently intimidated by your beauty. Maybe he's able to perform when he's not intimidated by a woman. Maybe he's never able to perform, but he spins tall tales. His self-esteem apparently depends on how much sexual prowess others think he has. After all, look what he can say about you: "She was SO awed by my magnetism, my incredible physical charm, that she bought me gifts, cleaned my home, bought my food, serviced me sexually. After a while, though I had begun to tire of her, no matter how much I pushed her away, she still adored the ground I walked on." Conveniently, I doubt he's brag to "all" that you rejected him! Wouldn't we all love to be a fly on the wall when and if his former girlfriends get together -  for a little chat! Giggle!  Best wishes to you, Doc