Hello to all and thanks for taking the time to read this.
I have been in an emotionally abusive relationship with my wife for the past 15 years. I have only very recently (several days ago) begun to understand what this really means and how some of the destructive aspects of this relationship seem to work. I have not been able to face and begin dealing with this directly until now. I have been living in denial for a long time.
I don’t believe that what I’m about to describe has ever been witnessed by anyone except me and my wife. What happens remains hidden from view, and has been happening since before we became intimately involved.
I am a 47-year-old man who is married to a 45-year-old woman. We have lived together for 15 years and have been married for the last 10 years. We continue to live together. My wife and I are both intelligent and educated people who are generally well-regarded by those around us.
We are deeply involved in a continuing cycle of emotional violence that manifests itself like this: I will say something (some comment, observation, remark, etc.) to my wife and she does not respond, neither verbally nor by using a gesture or some other body motion. In other words, there is no acknowledgement that anything was said by me. Since there is no response from her I usually will ask her something like, "Did you hear what I said?"
When the cycle of violence is active she will continue to ignore me (as if I were ‘invisible’ and ‘mute’), but I need to stress that this cycle doesn't take place every time I say something to her. It seems to be triggered by something I can't identify. I feel it must be something that is somehow threatening her, but that’s just speculation since I really can’t know what’s happening in her mind.
If the cycle is active and I am ignored for a second time, then my fear of abandonment (which I have carried with me since childhood) intensifies and ‘hijacks’ my higher mental processes. My fear takes over and then begins to drive my anger. I then punish and abuse her verbally. I am outraged that the woman who loves and supports and obviously cherishes me in so many different ways could treat me so shabbily...and I tell her so, in no uncertain terms. I can be very cutting, and this is exactly what happens. I verbally cut my wife to shreds. When I begin to attack her verbally, she quickly makes it obvious to me that I am no longer ‘invisible’ or ‘mute’. She will begin to return my verbal abuse with angry secondary abuse, which takes the form of an attempt to deflect any responsibility for her behavior, quite often by attempting to blame me for starting the whole thing. She verbally indicates to me that she is justified in her behavior and thus justified in abusing me. This only increases my anger and round and round we go. This will continue until one of us leaves the presence of the other and the cycle seems to end, or at least pauses. We both go away feeling incredibly hurt and emotionally abandoned by the other person.
I’m not sure when the cycle really ends though, because if my wife attempts an apology after we’ve cooled down some it generally takes the form of “I’m sorry I can’t be better for you” and “I’m sorry I can’t do things the way you want me to do them” (Emphasis hers). Perhaps I’m being insensitive, but these don’t sound much like apologies to me. The first one sounds like she’s saying “It’s unfortunate that you feel like you’re being abused” and the second one sounds like “I think you’re being unreasonable to object to my abuse of you”. My wife seems unable to even acknowledge the damage she causes, much less truly apologize for it. These ‘apologies’ quite frequently result in another screaming match. The good part of me recognizes how damaging this behavior is, but the bad part of me can’t seem to stop it.
I want to stress that I don’t feel that this description is necessarily 100% accurate or complete, due to my lack of objectivity, but I strongly feel that, at the very least, something similar to this must be occurring. I feel that it’s very possible there may be other things at work here and this may only be the beginning.
I am 100% responsible for the damage I cause in this cycle of violence. I am guilty of inflicting horrific, repeated damage on the woman that I love. My wife does not cause me to react to her the way I do. The responsibility for my reaction is solely mine, and I need to start taking positives steps to keep this from happening ever again.
I am actively seeking an individual therapist who can help me overcome the effects of my wife’s abuse as well as help me cope with my fear of abandonment. In addition to this, it’s imperative that I get anger management help, and quickly. I feel that I am finally ready and able to work with a competent therapist to address these and any other issues that I may subsequently discover during my therapy.
All comments are appreciated. Thank you again for reading this.
It is hard when someone doesnt respond to what you first say to them or ask them I know it has happened to me ,and I say the exact thing you do, did you hear what I said, I guess the problem then is for you to be able to move from there to not going past it into that 2nd stage of abusive behavior, so therapy may be able to help you with these overwhelming anger issues, I think your wife could also take some blame in it escallating , she could respond appropiatly once you have said to her ;did you hear what I said:and she still chooses to ignore you, is there any chance you can both discuss it, in the relationship I had it wasnt possible to talk as his anger would take over and his way was to yell so loudly you couldnt speak.I think you care a lot or you wouldnt have come to seek any feedback from us.Let us know how it goes I am sure you care enough to get some help with this Issue. Good Luck
I totally agree with margypops and have and do experience with my mate some of the same behaviors that you describe. I think you are on the right track in getting a therapist and the only thing that I would add would be that couples counseling may be of added benefit to teach you both how to fight fair. There is nothing wrong with us getting angry, it is what we do with that anger that is damaging and when it leaves, it is time for the I am sorry and the guilt is overwhelming. You sound like a man who has given great thought to this and I think are very intelligent to give it the face you have. Something tells me you are way ahead of the game and with the right help you and your relationship with your wife will not only survive but will have a very rewarding marriage. It is obvious you love each other very much and if both parties are willing, it can be overcome. I have learned when I get that angry, I go for a drive and put distance between myself and my hubbie, then when I calm down, I come back and say "Are we ready to talk yet?" If he says no, I go find something to keep me busy until we both can talk and not rip each other a new one, ifn ya know what I mean.
for whatever reason your wife is certainly deliberatley ignoring you and she knows whats going to happen next therfore it seems shes using some power to entice a reaction from you so that an verbal abuse cycle begins..It sounds like you both get to blow off stem make each other feel bad and then go into the apologie role....your a wise man to seek counseling and it will help you to see things mor objectivley...the important question is why does she choose to ignore?/ you does she want to make you feel bad? does she enjoy the drama that will follow// you need answers to these questions after your into therapy for a while perhaps she could joi you for couples therapy....you need to figure out if this is the life you want to live, if you think it can change or if you wnat to change and help her to change it seems to me you are both a bit at fault its not an easy answer here,,,,,Best wishes,,,and kudos to you for writting its the first and perhaps hardest step...
Hi again and thanks so much to everyone who's taken the trouble to respond.
To tina1213: Hi and thanks for your questions. My wife is unable physically to bear children and because of this we have none. This cycle only plays out when my wife and I are alone.....never in front of any other people. Our cycle did not begin from the moment we met but DID start shortly thereafter and began happening long before we became intimately involved with each other. Please feel free to ask any other questions you think appropriate.
To Cherie762: Hello and thank you for responding. You are correct in your assessment that my wife is deliberately ignoring me, and also that she knows what's about to take place when she ignores me. While writing my description I specifically tried to separate out any emotion and tried hard not to reach any conclusions. My goal was simply to describe what I think is taking place. I think you've put your finger on the key to understanding this cycle (that originates with my wife but which I participate in). Why does she choose to ignore me, or perhaps more accurately, what is forcing her to feel that ignoring me is her best/wisest/safest choice? Discovering what is driving my wife's behavior seems to me to be the central issue. I do NOT just start abusing my wife verbally out of the blue, but I DO react very poorly to being ignored. For someone who has fear of abandonment issues as I do, the action (or inaction) that most strongly 'pulls their trigger' is being ignored (abandoned). To try to make things more clear, let me say this: I know for a fact that my wife is totally committed to me as I am to her. We love each other deeply and care for each other a great deal. There's no doubt in my mind that my wife abhors what she's doing to me, but she can't stop it yet. She is in no sense a 'drama queen'. Separate from this cycle my wife is one of the sweetest, most loving and generous people I have ever met, which only makes this behavior more puzzling. We BOTH want to stop this somehow, even though she can't face the fact that she is responsible for originating this cycle (at least she's not able to yet)
I hope this clears up any gaps in my description. Further comments from everyone are most appreciated. Thanks again.
I agree with everyone's comments and would suggest that you attempt to speak with your wife about this. Ask her why it is that she doesn't acknowledge you're even speaking to her. The next time she does that, try giving up before you get to the point where you'll blow up. That way, she doesn't get what she usually gets; the opportunity to blame you for something like an explosive abusive reaction. I also suggest that when you speak with her, whether she acknowledges you or not, suggest to her the idea of marriage counseling. I wish you the best of luck!
I cannot urge you enough to get with a therapist; there are relational disorders, as well as individual disorders and abusive relationshios. There is an article on the cycle of abuse, which refers to the "cycle of abuse" in unhealthy relationships. You can also read Wikipedia on Cycles of abuse, subtopic, relational disorders.
There are good and bad articles out ther; these are two good ones. There are several Md therapists on Med help. Aee the Mental Health Forum.
Okay, I don't think any of us can tell you what is happening in your marriage and of your wifes intentions. We of course by your own account don't know everything going on..how could we. Not to mention by your own account you've made clear by your insite that these are your accounts and not unbias as your deeply involved in the situation and may be seeing things from your own perspective. Theapy yes. But a therapist certified in communications.
Anyone could make a thousand assumptions as to why your wife doesn't reply and why you then become filled with anger(which sounds more like hurt that she didn't acknoiwlege you which leads your emotions to become teh dominate fricing force instead of taking a breath and walking away). Truth is you've been married for ten years and everything that's happened and teh effects it's had on both of you are obviously leading to a further and further breakdown in communication and a stronger urge to allow emotions..hurt and fears overtake your actions. And since she's not here posting we can only reply to your actions and not to hers as I said, no one can assume as to what is happening with her. Espeically if you can't.
So therapy,,,communications expert that can help you learn to talk to one another without using immediate emotional reactions as a way of communicating feelings as those actions are seeming to only perpetuate and deepen the issues your each dealing with together and seperatly.
And for now, make a promose to yourself that when you don't get the reaction you would like from your wife that you will walk our of the room as hard as that is because teh urge to react is string when your hurt and past fears surface. But at this rate the damage being done is becoming or remianing very serious. And try to see that she can't read your mind and without using words to communicate..like I feel abandomened when you don't answer of I feel hurt and afraid..all she's eharing and seeing are bursts of anger and physical abuse which she is not going to interperate as your fear and hurt but as you hurting her and nothing get's accomplsished except further damage to each of you.
Your wife needs a professional to talk with herself also. Not always is it a good idea to immediatly go into counseling together until you are able to at least understand a little bit of what you yourself feel and what makes you react. ou both need personal attention by a professional and then need to either come together with a therapist to continue counseling or make a different decision as to what the most beneficial step for both of you would be in your marriage. But in my opinion at this point. Having both of you in the same room with a professional without your each ebing able to control your reactions could lead to more arguments and damage when you leave depending on what's said. You need to learn to control your reactions first so your wife can feel safe in talking to you and you can feel safe in talking with her.
I can tell from your post that you both love each other it is evident and sometimes it is a matter of miscomunication, like the others I think you would both do well with some couples Therapy and perhaps for your self some anger management.you have been very fluent in describing the issue here, perhaps it would be a good thing to speak to her and get dialogue going of a similar vein.
Hi and thanks for answering my previous questions. First of all, I want to tell you that I admire you for acknowledging you have a problem and for being accountable for it. I, myself, endured an emotionally abusive relationship for the latter years of my marriage and I can tell you that one day of being emotionally abused is one day too many. You and your wife must be battle-weary and miserable but if you both want to work at this, there is a way to save your marriage. Communication is important if you are ever going to turn this around.
I do have more questions so please indulge me. I wonder if your wife came from an emotionally abusive home because that would explain why she has continued the cycle in your relationship. Did you come from an emotionally abusive home? You mention abandonment issues but was there emotional abuse as well? If either one of you came from emotionally abusive homes, is the emotional abuse still happening even though you both live in your own home? It's easy to continue this vicious cycle because that's how you were raised and what you were exposed to in your youth.
Or has this emotional abuse stemmed from her relationship with you? You've brought your abandonment issues into your relationship with her so have they caused the initial manifestation of the cycle?
I really do want to help and I feel for both of you so please add these pieces and let's go from there. Emotional abuse not only hurts the heart, it hurts you psychologically too. 15 years is long time for anyone to endure being torn apart verbally by the one whose supposed to love, honor and cherish them.
It's best not not make assumptions here as to the nature of your relationship, except that you are likely to benefit from professional help. I see it as not worthwhile to contimue a discussion of it here, since there are factors that not even you may be aware of. When a person is untrained in the study/vocabulary of personality dynamics and relational dynamics, one can gloss over problems/areas that should be explored.
First, seek individual therpay, as is recommended in cases such as yours, where individual conflicts are likely to be inpinging on comunication/quality of relationship. A communications expert should be involved.
You and ther therapists can then work out a time whenyou and your wife should work togethery in a therapeutic context.
Hi to all. I really can't tell you how beneficial ALL of your responses have been for me. Thanks so much to all of you.
Due to the nature of everything that is happening in my life, I will no longer be able to communicate on this forum. I'd like to thank you all again for your help, because it's been substantial. Your willingness to help an anonymous stranger is admirable and exactly what I'd expect of myself in a similar situation. Your concern is obvious and very much appreciated.
My main goal in posting my story here was to reassure myself that something like this could actually be taking place. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, this is in no way a fictitious story or academic subject. I continue to live in the situation I have described. I know in my heart that my wife and I will get the help that each of us so badly needs, and each of your responses indicate this as well. I gave enough information for everyone to get a general sense of what's taking place, and you confirmed what I already suspected: With the proper help my wife and I will able to get to a place where we have a chance to be truly and completely happy. Your confirmation of this is invaluable to me, and I thank you for your help.
I hope all of you finds true peace in your lives and I wish you all the best. Please don't attempt to contact me via email.
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