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Help Needed.

  1. Jun 7, 2005 #1
    Hello all,
    I have been lurking here for sometime now. This appears to be a very enlightened crowd. Lots of fun discussions, I want to thank you all for the hours of entertainment you have provided me.

    Now I need some objective input, perhaps you all can help.

    What does one do when you have a spouse with emotional problems which they refuse to recognize?

    My spouse may be suffering from something call Borderline Personality Syndrome. Periodically and often unpredictably this person will go completely out of control, the verbal and emotional abuse can last for hours at a time.

    I have children from a previous marriage, the meer mention of the name of one of my "other" kids is nearly a guarantee of a breakdown. It is a very difficult thing to end up dreading a visit from someone you love very much. Since my children live 1000s of miles away it is not like they visit frequently, once a year or less. We have recently completed one of these visits, I am still numb. I have endured a day of silence, a morning of invective yelling. Where dreadful things are said and wild accusations are made.

    Having endured this behavior for something over a decade now I have learned that silence is the best response. Any thing I say or do only makes it worse.

    I really wish that I could just walk away from this, but we have a child. How could I possibly leave a child to deal with this behavior by themselves.

    On a daily basis my spouse is very opinionated, anything she likes is the best and if anyone disagrees they are just a stupid fool. I find this quit tiresome, as I really have quite different tastes.

    Well I have rambled on enough.

    I just wish there was a clear path forward. With in a few years our child will be old enough that I will be able to walk away. Meanwhile I find myself frequently depressed and always treading time at home.

    Any discussion will be appreciated
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 7, 2005 #2


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    Well, you've certainly come to the right place to get a vast array of opinions. I can tell you right now that a lot of them will be contradictory, so you'll end up having to make your decisions based upon which appears proper to you. Probably a synthesis of several will be best. My first approach is to ask you if there might be someone on 'her' side, a parent or sibling perhaps, who understands the problem and can discuss it with her without triggering her defense mechanisms?
  4. Jun 7, 2005 #3
    Thanks for the reply,

    No, my father-in-law is near by but also shows similar symptoms.

    Any mention of outside help is immediately dismissed. In the recent invective it was suggested that I seek help to work on some of my problems. I agreed, but when I pointed out that we both would have to be there so "my" problems could be highlighted, the idea was dropped!

    Yes, I am sure I will get many different inputs and finally must deal with it as best I can. If you all can help me define the problem, that will be a help.

    Frequently just talking about a problem can be a help.
  5. Jun 7, 2005 #4


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    I would guess that it's a chemical problem of some sort, then, as opposed to something like a tumor or physical damage. They're quite often hereditary.

    That it can. I was going to suggest that someone in particular take a boo at this, but didn't see him on my buddy list. He seems to be here in 'stealth mode', though, since I just saw a new post by him. He's very knowledgeable about this kind of stuff. If he doesn't show up on his own within a few minutes, I'll fire off a PM to him.

    edit: Ooops, he wasn't in stealth. It was a hit-and-run post and he's off-line. Hmmm, I just noticed that you are too. As I shall be in a couple of minutes.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2005
  6. Jun 7, 2005 #5
    Yeah, I have been wondering about chemical imbalancses, At one time my spouse was taking medication that may have trashed the thyroid, so there well may be some problems there, I don't think it is directly related though.

    I will be in and out all night.
  7. Jun 7, 2005 #6
    If the thyroid is not working correctly, a person can go from nice to killer zombie mode in seconds flat.
    A friend of mine video taped her husband, secretly,{because she knew he had been forgetting to take his meds} to show him what his behavior really looked like. She would try and tell him, but that always made it worse. Even when she would ask him if he had taken his meds, he would freak out.
    So she put the tape in the player with a note for him to watch it, and she went out for the night. He said that when he saw himself screaming out of control at his family, he understood what it was like to be around him when he hadn't taken his meds. He's normally the nicest person you'd ever meet.

    There are so many reasons a persons behavior can be out of control, from blood sugar level, to allergies. But I've also known entire families that were just nasty, cranky people. Because that is what they accept as normal.
  8. Jun 7, 2005 #7
    Thyroid issues can do that! I had no idea. Since earlier medical issues my spouse wants nothing to do with doctors, I have suggested that she have the thyroid checked but so far no go.

    I have have always seen these actions as a very strong defensive barrier. I have never encountered anyone who keeps the "shields" up as consistently and this person. This to cover very deep insecurities. In the decade that I have been married I have NEVER heard my spouse admit to being wrong. If caught in an obvious error, it was caused by someone else lying..(i.e.)

    Perhaps these deep personality issues are worsened by some chemical issues. Now just to get her to a doctor.

    Really, the last thing I want to do it end this marriage, I would much rather have a reasonable and happy spouse (over all one of the least happy humans I have ever encountered) but it is not clear that I can bear much more.

    Thanks for listening.
  9. Jun 7, 2005 #8


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    It's hard to get someone help who is refusing to seek it. Aside from the personality issues, if her thyroid is not functioning properly, that can lead to a lot of other health problems in general. However, her rejection of medical treatment even for physical problems might stem from the mental issues as well. A general check up needs to be the starting place, as a lot of physical problems can manifest themselves as personality disorders. I don't know your age, but such emotional outbursts can even be symptomatic of early onset of Alzheimer's. We can all offer advice, but I don't think we have anyone here who is fully trained to help with how to get her help (unless we have a psychiatrist lurking who hasn't fessed up to being one yet). You might try calling a psychiatrist yourself and explain the problem and ask them what they suggest to get her 1) in to a doctor for a general physical and 2) to a psychiatrist to treat the mental health problems.

    The other thing that is important to consider is what impact her problems will have on your children. If she's really abusive (either emotionally or physically), that's not good to expose your children to. Of course you want to see your children, but bringing them to your home where your wife is going to cause a spectacle isn't going to be the best plan. Perhaps you can take the children on a vacation, just you and them, and not take your wife along for those trips. That way you get to spend valuable time with them without subjecting them to the emotional abuse your current wife inflicts on everyone. Your children have to come first.

    Second, it's going to be harder to get her help if you too are emotionally frustrated. Perhaps talk to your own physician and get a referral for a psychologist who you can talk to about how to handle the stresses of living with someone mentally ill.

    Lastly, as much as you want a reasonable and happy spouse, it just might not be possible with your current wife. If she won't get treatment, or if treatment doesn't resolve the problem, then you're going to have to think hard about whether you can continue to live with her. You may have to separate from her just for your own mental health and safety.

    In the end, as Danger mentioned, you're going to have to choose for yourself what choices to make next. None of us can tell you what to do, so keep in mind that anything suggested here are suggestions, not commands. Providing you with the options just gives you more information to guide you toward making your own choices.

    Please, continue talking if it's helpful. Sometimes just talking things out helps us see more clearly how we feel and what we need to do.
  10. Jun 7, 2005 #9


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    That's something that came to mind after I logged off last night, but I was thinking in terms of the child that they share. If there's any chance of physical or psychological harm to him/her, then Child Welfare Services or whatever it is in your area could very well force her to accept treatment or risk losing custody. This would certainly be a last resort in my mind, because that's a snowball that can just keep going long after you want it to stop.
    The other thing is that I know nothing about your religious inclinations. It's a bit strange coming from an atheist, but sometimes a clergyman (if you have a regular one) is the best kind of counsellor. They're more trusted and respected by some people than medical professionals are, and most of them are very good at this sort of thing (unless you get one of those fundamentalist twits that wants to cast out demons).
  11. Jun 7, 2005 #10
    well, this is based very strictly on my own experiences, so...

    but i'm gonna say get out of there, and take the child. Its very very hard to grow up with emotionally unstable parents. its a horrible thing to see the adults in your life breakdown, and act unreasonably. its very confusing to any child. i'm going to guess you're kid together is reasonably young, because i don't doubt that if he/she was older, she would encounter the same things from your wife that you are now. As soon as that kid starts trying to be independent, there will be loads of issues.

    perhaps if you'd ultimately like to work it out, try just a trial separation. you and your kid can go on a vacation for the summer, and let your spouse think things out, and let her decide if she wants you back enough to try to get some treatment.

    Now, as far as treatment of your spouse goes... its going to be a very very difficult thing it seems. if she has physical masifestations as well as purely psychological, then she'll need lots of different treatments and doctors, and this is always very hard for a person to subject themself to. frankly, i can almost understand why she'd refuse to go. its opening a can of worms she'd rather avoid. unfortunately, this is not just her problem anymore. if she goes, it will likely be very hard on her, and you. even if treatment helps, there could be difficult transition stages. and there's always the possibility of treatment backfiring, and having her get more frustrated and upset.

    its a very difficult situation you have. i really think the best thing for you is get out of it. i'm sorry for your spouse, because i'm not sure how they could really get better, and i'm afraid anything you do may just make things worse for them. but you have to worry about yourself, and your child. honestly, instead of spending efforts on trying to salvage things, i'd try and consider the best ways to get out of there peacefully, and to find some other place to be.

    thats how i feel though, from my own rather unpleasant experiences. like other have said, we don't fully understand the situation, and only you really can decide what's best. good luck though, i hope things work out.
  12. Jun 7, 2005 #11
    Talk to her doctor. He may be able to listen to her problems from you and then invite her in for a 'medical check' or other appointment at which point he could suggest some tablets for 'stress' or whatever. I have seen this approach work for a woman who suffered severe PMT (PMS in the US), but refused to accept this and whose husband couldn't cope with the hellish 1 week in 4. In her case, a very sympathetic doctor got her to take a course of 'happy pills' and the situation was transformed.

    I must admit though, your case does sound far worse - you must try all you can, but in the end, you have to consider yourself and your child and maybe have to call it a day....
  13. Jun 7, 2005 #12
    How come nobody has suggested yet that he might not be telling the whole story, or that his wife might just not be the nicest person, with no medical problem involved?

    I'm not saying this is the case, but it is interesting to ask why everyone accepts his story at face value, especially when one compares the credulity here with the disbelief accompanying the last major personal complaint against someone off-the-site that I witnessed here, the oar-and-Coast-Guard post.
  14. Jun 7, 2005 #13


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    Why would anyone question him? We will assume he's telling the truth since we have no reason to believe otherwise.
  15. Jun 7, 2005 #14
    I'm sure you can think of a few reasons why someone might not be completely honest with themselves or with others about their relationship with their spouse.
  16. Jun 7, 2005 #15


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    Not when he's asking for help rather than allies. That's like faking an experiment to produce results that are what you want and yet useless.
  17. Jun 7, 2005 #16
    I did mention "with themselves."

    Edit: And the guy in the coast-guard-oar thread didn't have much potential gain from making people here believe him either.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2005
  18. Jun 7, 2005 #17


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    I suspect it's nothing chemical but rather her history and yours that causes her and you to behave as you both do. That history is sensitive, embarrassing, awkward and tough to come by through "casual dialog". Either fix the problem or leave. No in-betweens. Get counciling if you choose the former. Relationships are so exhausting; both of you must become wise to that which is one (a couple). In time you'll both learn. Would be nice to learn it sooner than later.
  19. Jun 7, 2005 #18
    BT, don't be so argumentative all the time. this is a help thread, and being cynical isn't really helpful.

    what mattersis the OP feels emotionally abused. this has to be caused by something in their relationship. he said he'd be willing to see a therapist if his spouse came as well. the spouse refused. This is a problem. its not healthy to be in a realtionship where one person feels abused, and the other refuses to address the problem. Thats all we really need to know.

    Sigma1uno, if you've had other marriages as well... i wonder why those ended... some people become habitually abusive... others become habitually abused. i've obviously got no idea about your past relationships, but perhaps you should sit back and reflect on them. Why did you leave your former spouse(s)? why are you hesitant to leave this one? how have your other children dealt with your divorce? have has the former spouse handled it? how have you?

    If there's a problem in a relationship, how does one resolve it? you do have a problem here, and if there's a serious lack of communication, i'm not sure how you could expect a resolution.
  20. Jun 7, 2005 #19


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    Never mind her for now, take care of your own needs. Get yourself to a counsellor. What you want is an objective party who can help you see things clearer as to how to handle the situation. They will know what to do about your particular circumstances. Ideally, your spouse will be convinced to come in with you, but no need to count on that. The first thing you need to do is reach out for help.

    Do it. Do it now. It will take long enough for a counsellor to become available anyway.

    (One question: why - if and when you escape the situation - would you not take the child with you?)
  21. Jun 7, 2005 #20


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    It doesn't sound as if he thinks she will give him custody without a fight.

    Have you given her an ultimatum to get counseling/medical help or get a divorce?
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