Difficult Problem

Difficult Problem

Postby Don » Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:05 am

I have been married for 30 years. It's the second marriage for both of us, and we have two adult children. For the first few years, things went reasonably well, and we moved to Canada from Europe. In the mid 80s I disclosed, first to a therapist, and then to my wife, that I had been severly sexually abused as a child. My wife's reaction was at first luke warm, but soon turned dismissive. We continued like this for several years until I left her and went to live by myself to lick my wounds, get more therapy, and hopefully to heal. After a separation of some 7 years we reconciled and I moved back in with her.

The therapy that I had received whilst away had given me a great deal of insight into the problems in my marriage - some my fault, some my wife's. Several years later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a course of treatment. She is currently in remission. However, the problems in my marriage only got worse. My wife suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, which in her case is manifested by uncontrollable outbursts ("psychotic rages" my shrink calls them), extreme paranoia, and emotional cruelty. She saw a psychiatrist for a while, but he eventually refused to see her again when he felt threatened by her.

I am in my late 50s and my wife is in her early 60s. I don't want to give up on my marriage, but I can't seem to build any sort of connection to my wife. Both of my kids assure me that she loves me, but after hearing all the vile and hurtful things that that she has put my way over the past ten years I find it hard to believe.

Separation or divorce is not really an option since I work in an industry that is slowly dying due to technological change, and my meager income barely covers the bills. To complicate matters my business relationship with her family amounts to a sizeable proportion of my income, and this would be lost in the event of a separation. The nature of the business makes replacing this potentially lost income almost impossible. I also fear the loss of my kids and my grandchild.

All this is a powerful incentive to try to work things out, but nothing I have tried to date has worked. Marriage counselling is also out as she has rejected the idea before and has been adamant that if there's anything wrong with the marriage it's my fault, and that it's up to me (alone) to fix it.

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Re: Difficult Problem

Postby benfica25 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:01 pm

So you have been married for 30 years, with your second wife and have two kids together? Your wife has neglected any professional’s help to help your marriage? If I have read your post right you state that your wife has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. You have to understand that cancer is something that impacts someone’s life and changes there attitude towards it. Also if I remember correctly that your wife suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). When she yells at you don’t take is seriously because you have to understand that she can’t help saying these thinks. It’s the BPD talking. My parents have been married for 30 years and they argue all the time. But deep down I know that they love each other.
I have learned in my Psychology class about BPD. My professor, Dr. Musiurski told us that people with BPD are desperately afraid of abandonment and alternately clings to others and pushed them away. They are so fragile that they seek reassurance and self-definition from others. BPD could lead to other destructive behavior such as cutting or other self-mutilation, threats and suicide, and suicide attempts are common because for some reason they feel rejected or abandoned. BPD could also be caused of a possible history of childhood physical, emotional or sexual abuse. BPD affects from 1.2 to 6 percent of the population, or about 18 million Americans.
In your case, your wife has been acting rudely towards you, maybe because you left her for seven years. Don’t forget that she suffers from BPD and people with that disorder don’t like being abandoned. So after that happening she feels anger towards you because you left her when she needed most.
Don’t take your wife’s anger towards you seriously. Every relationship has its ups and downs. They’ll be good days to come. Just try to help you wife through her battle of breast cancer. Right now is the time that she needs you most.
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Re: Difficult Problem

Postby LexiRose » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:14 pm

Hi Don,

I understand that you have been married to your wife for thirty years, the two of you also have two adult children and that this is the second marriage for the both of you. Also, in the 80s you had disclosed that you were severely sexually abused as a child first to your therapist and then to your wife. In order to get the help you needed, you had separated from your wife but you two reconciled roughly seven years later. Your wife subsequently was diagnosed with cancer and Borderline Personality Disorder in which makes her feel that she views that everything “wrong” in your marriage is your fault. Do I have all of this information correct?

I too am in Dr. Misiurski’s class. She also covered a theory called “cognitive dissonance” which is when tension arises when an individual is simultaneously aware of two inconsistent cognitions. This means that an individual acts inconsistently with past behavior due to feeling disequilibrium in their life.
Perhaps your wife has been battling with this in regards to your marriage due to the fact that you two were separated for so long in the past (reconciling would have provided equilibrium) and then her finding out that she not only has cancer but also Borderline Personality Disorder. I have a similar diagnosis (Dissociative Identity Disorder, without any medication) and I can assure you that my husband feels similar if not the same as you do.

What I (we) have found helpful is that communication (like Dr. Scott has stated time and time again) is key. It is not only what you communicate about but how; it is your tone of voice, body language and giving each other space to collect your thoughts about the situation that has caused your wife’s episode/attack. Perhaps at a time when you are both calm you could execute these questions in this order:
    What started this episode?
    Why do you think you reacted in this way?
    Is there anything I can do in the future to help prevent this from happening?
    Is it just when you are experiencing these feelings that you are not happy with our relationship? (Please only ask this if she is completely out of her episode and in a positive mood; it could do more harm than good.)

Thank you for posting this question; please let me know how you make out!

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Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:36 pm

Re: Difficult Problem

Postby flea433 » Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:23 pm

I know you have a lot of difficult problems, with sexual abuse as a child (something that takes a lot of courage to open up about) and your marriage with your wife of over 30 years seems to be deteriorating. Also your business relationship with her family and children seem to want to keep you from getting a divorce. Although I don’t know much about marriage I do feel I can give you some insight into Borderline Personality Disorder due to my own dual axis diagnosis (Bi-polar II and BPD) and hopefully some insight into that may help you with your marriage.
I am in phycology class as well with Dr. Misiurski and Living with BPD is a challenge in itself. The toll it costs on relationships and friendships is absolutely detrimental and living with it seems almost impossible. The main thing to understand about BPD is the fear of relationships with anyone. The overwhelming fear of abandonment causes people with BPD to aggressively push those closest to them the furthest away. It also causes these uncontrollable mood swings that come out of absolutely nowhere.
My advice to you is to try and understand about BPD. It is a very difficult disorder to understand. Dr. Scott may say that communication is the key to a relationship but when someone is in an episode associated with BPD it may be difficult to communicate with them they may respond with unnecessarily harsh words completely unrelated to the situation or they may just completely shut down and become unresponsive. What I’ve found to be most helpful is to just be left alone for a period of time until a time I’m able to communicate with my significant other (this could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days depending on the episode). Understanding BPD may be able to help you understand your wife better and hopefully may help with your marriage
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