Feeling like I made the wrong choice

close_1972February 26, 2007

Currently in marriage counseling w/spouse of ~5 years. Counseling for various problems: spouse temper, my suppressed anger, disappointment, don't get along (none of the "big ones" but still an unhappy marriage). Have toddler. Wishing I had broken up w/spouse prior to getting married and dated "someone else" (SE)--who would have wanted to be in a relationship w/me. SE has always been in touch w/me tho I have, until recently, remained distant.

The more I talk to SE, the more I wish I had done things differently--I never even gave SE a chance tho everything was there. I realize SE is complicating the situation and I've decided to give that relationship a lot of space (and SE seems to be very understanding). How do I stop thinking about SE and focus on my marriage and resolving our problems, one way or the other?

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I think you know the answer here. If you are really intent on making your marriage work~you have to cut "Someone else" out of your life completely.Out of sight,out of mind...

Since you have a child,I would advise you to try to work out your marriage. Exsaust every avenue before throwing in the towel and running into "someone else's arms"

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 6:30AM
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Stay away from SE. The grass often seems greener somewhere else but it's usually not.

Many marriages have problems especially in the earlier years of raising kids. Raising a baby/toddler can be very hard on a marriage--Demands from the child, differences in child rearing ideas and dividing up responsiblities can often cause fights and hurt feelings. You are not alone.

I'd give your marriage your 100% effort instead of investing your time with SE. And, you may want to consider finding a new marriage counselor too.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 9:45AM
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Everybody dreams when they're PO'd....natural enough. Put it on the shelf and forget it. Your child deserves the best from both of you.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 1:35PM
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I know I need to put SE out of my life, and I have told SE we can't be in touch at this point, but my main question was HOW to stop thinking about SE?

I don't know if this makes a diff but here's the history: I dated SE and my spouse at the same time, slept w/both, decided I'd rather have spouse and broke it off w/SE, had doubts about marrying spouse but tried to ignore them. I had a lot more fun w/SE and we "got" each other better but I couldn't get over the crush I had on spouse, who I decided to marry.

That's why I feel like I made the wrong choice. I think I knew, deep down, spouse wasn't the right choice but I went with it anyway, hoping I was wrong, because I was so infatuated.

I haven't told any of this to marriage counselor or spouse. Spouse thinks SE and I have only even been friends.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 9:47PM
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The way you stop thinking about him is to concentrate on your husband. THINK about the times you've had with your husband.Concentrate on making new memories with him. Remember what it was you found in him that was so intoxicating. Look at old pictures,of your wedding,of your life together,the birth of your child.
The good,and the bad...you had good times,and bad times...but the point is,you had TIMES.
Try to find something you have in common with your husband (as you say you have more in common with SE) and go from there.
Dont just look at him as your husband,but as your FRIEND. Someone whom you should enjoy spending time with.
Focus on making what you have now GROW.Your relationship,your pets,plants,your child...
Think of how your husband gave you your beautiful child,and how that love created him.
If you really give yourself to your family more,you will find it easy to forget "Someone else"

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 10:00PM
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If you stop seeing and stop talking to SE it should come to a point where thoughts of him will dwindle down. And, try to keep busy so that you don't have a lot of time to think of him. Think about it...How did you get over your first big crush in high school?

Many of us have probably had past relationships and wonder "what if" I married that guy/girl instead....I wonder how my life would be...The difference is most of us don't go around socializing with old boyfriends/girlfriends. You are putting yourself in too tempting of a position.

It sounds like it's the SE that you have the infatuation problem with. Don't ruin your marriage over it. Your husband sounds like a trusting guy if he doesn't seem to be bothered by a guy friend of yours, while your SE sounds like a homewrecker, and possible adulterer....Maybe you didn't make the wrong choice after all!!!!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 10:06PM
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I had to estrange myself from my father, so I know about the nagging "what if" questions. The more distance and TIME you place between SE and yourself, the happier you will be with the decision. I can't deny that even after almost 15 years I still have a passing moment of wondering if I made the right choice. But I think about how happy I am now, and how much I was able to grow as a person once I had cut him out of my life, and I know I made the right decision. I think that without your SE as a distraction, as an anchor holding you back from taking a deep look at yourself and assessing your life honestly, that you will find happiness, or at least the find source of your unhappiness and the ability to change YOURSELF for the better. After all, no man can give you happiness. Only YOU can do that.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 10:08PM
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I know you guys are right--and it's been two days since I told SE that I needed my space but it feels like it's been much longer. Putting distance between us is not hard because SE lives really far away.

meghane--you are right that I need to be able to assess my life honestly and w/o outside influence. It's just hard to do.

The marriage has been going south for years, it's only recently that I've been in contact w/SE.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 8:33PM
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I think the more you let yourself think about the other fellow the harder it will be to stay with the one you committed to. I know it must be tempting to look somewhere else when things aren't nice at home (see my other post) but I won't let myself even think about it. I don't need that kind of complication! It's bad enough as it is. And really you don't know what it would be like with this other guy. He might be worse than the one you have!!

I think getting married is really important - I mean, you promise FOREVER. And to me that really means something. So even when he doesn't do right I still feel like I have to. Maybe it's not that way for everybody but I just have to be true to my own promise, you know? How else could I live with myself?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 10:07PM
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I'm with carla35. SE can't have much integrity if he/she is willing to participate in an adulterous affair and the breaking up of a marriage. Especially with a child involved. Take the energy you're expending thinking about SE and put it into your marriage. Any relationship requires work, and what better relationship is there to nurture than the one with your child's parent?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 11:22PM
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Why do you think your marriage has "headed south" as you say?
What is going on with it that you feel you have reached this point?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 3:30AM
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Spouse has been talking about wanting to get a divorce for ~4 years, I think the main reason we haven't is b/c we have a child. I feel like no matter what I do, spouse is angry at me. I don't feel close to spouse, I feel dismissed when I try to talk about my life (and spouse "multi-tasks" by doing other things and appearing to not listen), we are on opposite ends of the spectrum with respect to any major decisions about remodeling our very outdated house and often end up fighting so nothing gets done (we do agree on day to day chores, for the most part). Spouse thinks I'm insensitive to his needs, I feel he is to mine. We each show each other we care in the "wrong" ways for what the person needs. I feel like I'm often the person who initiates sex and it makes me feel unattractive.

I feel let down, this is not what I expected from marriage and I think I was naive when I made such a lifelong commitment. I always felt like I was on pins and needles w/spouse but I dismissed it. I felt emotionally ignored by spouse even before we got married but I dismissed it as unimportant. I think that was a mistake. Inside, many of the feelings I once had are either gone or locked away (I'm not sure which). I don't care much how my spouse feels about the things I do or say. I try to be more sensitive but it seems like he wants more than I can do w/o turning into an entirely different person. Counseling has seemed to help w/spouse's anger issues but I believe they are just being temporarily controlled. I do not know if counseling is helping but I do want things to succeed. I'm the one who pushed for counseling, I just didn't expect my friendship w/SE to interfere. When I realized that I was getting emotional fulfillment from SE instead of spouse, I realized the friendship was directly interfering w/solving my marital problems. Getting the fulfillment from SE that I wasn't from spouse was the reason I dated them both at the same time, only back then I didn't recognize what was going on inside me, emotionally, or why I was doing it.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 8:29AM
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And, I'll say it again. I think you need to try to find a new counselor. Five years seems a little long for marriage counseling to me. If you don't have a good counselor, the therapy can do more harm than good, or is just a waste of time.

Turning to someone else when you are married is never a good answer. I'll bet almost everyone remembers some traits in old boyfriend's that they wish their husband would have. One of my old boyfriends listened and understood me better than my husband...but he had other problems, and I would never want to be married to him. Quit comparing them. It's just not fair. You are married with a child...concentrate on your family.

It would be one thing if you posted a question about your marriage problems, but when your post brings in SE and the "Choice" you think you messed up on is, sorry, but it just makes you seem like you're being immature and selfish. Maybe you need to leave your husband, but your judgement is so clouded with your fantasy man at this point, that's there's really no telling how bad your husband really is. Given my frame of mind, my husband's can be anywhere between the devil himself and a perfect angel...ok, I'm not sure he's ever a perfect angel..LOL

I wish you the best of luck and hope you can be happy AND keep your family together.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 9:51AM
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Carla 35 and I often disagree but we're on the same page with this one. Your marriage stands alone. Make your decisions based in it only -- without some fantasy of another place/man to go to. Do not allow such thoughts to be your motivators. They only cloud the issue. If you're considering divorce -- for yourself and on behalf of your child -- you need to be thinking clearly.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 12:07PM
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I need to make a clarification: I've been married ~5 years. We've started counseling about a month ago and have had five sessions.

I do recognize that I shouldn't make this kind of decision while thinking about SE, I'm just having trouble not thinking about SE.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 12:45PM
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Well,I'm going to air on the side that if you arent having sex,it is your body's way of trying to tell you what you need.Your mind is drifting to this other man because you have physical needs that arent being met. (Surely many men go through this too when wives with-hold sex)
I would suggest you get to the bottom of why he doesnt want sex.Hopefully you are discussing this in therapy.
I'm not going to be judgemental because (after reading many marriage forums) this is a common theme when the sex life is bad. If you improve your intimacy with him,that closeness returns and you wont find yourself thinking about SE.
I'm sure anyone can relate that being rejected or always being the one to ask for sex can really effect self essteam,which is maybe another reason you are thinking of SE
because it probably feels nice someone is paying attention and wanting you.
But...to be with SE would only be a temporary fix. Continue working on your marriage with therapy. If all else fails,at least you know you tried your hardest.
But keep SE out of the picture.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 4:23PM
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Spouse and I are intimate physically, sex is not an issue or a problem for either of us. Emotional intimacy is definitely lacking.

I am on day three of not emailing or txting SE. We don't see each other because of the large distance between where each of us lives. It did feel nice to have someone paying attention to me and wanting me.

Each day of not contacting SE gets a little easier and being able to talk about it anonymously like this is helping me the most.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 7:49PM
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I think you are doing well, getting to day 3, and as you say it is getting easier. Perhaps emailing us, will take the place !

You seem to know the right thing to do, in your situation, and I think you are really special for acknowledging your very personal problem, and being so fair in the way that you talk about it.

I would like to encourage you to keep on doing what you are doing, going to counselling and ceasing your inappropriate emailing.

It is easy to make attatchments when you are going through a rough patch in your life. I have done this myself, but realized deep down, it was a dead end.

Is there someone who can give you a hug, and tell you how lovely and wonderful you are, like a sibling, or parent ? Often that is what we need to get us back on the road of courage in dealing with the tough bits of life.

Hugs to you from across the pacific ocean.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 12:48AM
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"I feel like I'm often the person who initiates sex and it makes me feel unattractive."
Ok,I guess I misunderstood. So you do have sex,just you always are the one initiating it.Well,good sign that at least your still doing it.
Great advice Popi, I have nothing to add.

Just also wish you luck and think you can do the right thing.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 3:40AM
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No judgments. Get yourself a therapist and tell that person the whole truth about your feelings. All of these things you are doing with counseling will amount to nothing until you are truthful. While I realize you cannot be truthful in the marriage counseling setting, I think you need a sounding board who knows your true feelings and is objective. I would also get a bit more truthful with your husband about your needs. He can't read your mind.

Plenty of people run into "old loves". What ifs, whatever you want to call it, are normal. I think you are past that point, however.

Just my $.02. I wish you all the best.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 6:01PM
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I just re-read the thread and wanted to make a few comments.

To Carla35: I AM immature and selfish, I think that's what has gotten me here. You are right that my judgement is clouded and getting SE out of the picture is what I need to do. Thank you for being straightforward.

To coolmama: I appreciate your commentary. You seem to be empathetic and level-headed.

To labmomma: I'm somewhat out of touch w/my emotions so it's not always easy for me to tell my spouse about my needs. I do not expect him to read my mind; however, he seems to expect it from me and is often hurt and angry when I don't.

To popi and everyone: so much for getting to day 4, I cracked and emailed SE. My spouse found a bunch of old pics from when I worked in another city, when I met SE, and I emailed SE to talk about the photos. I hadn't been hiding the photos, they were stored w/all the old photos and I'd forgotten about them. I don't think SE will respond to my email b/c of what we talked about when I said I needed distance, but it was still a setback in my opinion. It really had been getting easier not to think about SE.

Something I forgot to mention: I actually am seeing a therapist outside of marriage counseling. She is the one who told me to get into marriage counseling. I went to see her b/c I felt I needed help on how to deal w/my spouse's temper. Seemed like he was losing his temper too much w/our toddler (w/me I somehow felt like I deserved it but I knew for certain that our toddler did not deserve it) and I was afraid for our child's safety. Spouse has never been physically violent but seems to *almost* get there. Please don't interpret this as a safety issue because it's not at this point, I just couldn't handle the possibility of it and sought help. I have told my therapist about SE and our past, it was the first time I had ever been honest w/anyone about it.

I recently finished reading "The Emotionally Abusive Relationship" on the advice of my therapist, now she wants me to read some books on being assertive. I was emotionally abused as a child; I never realized what an impact that has had on my life or how much it has interfered/overshadowed the types of decisions I made for myself.

I would like to resolve things and keep my family intact but I feel like I'm too emotionally dead inside to really care about my spouse any more. I don't know what to do to revive myself. We're trying to start "date night" once/month in an effort to make things better. We're trying to spend more time together instead of separately. One problem is that spouse seems to expect me to be the chatty, fun one--that has generally been my role--and I'm not able to do it, or at least not as much as he thinks I should. Then spouse says I'm being emotionally cold and am doing it for revenge. I don't know how to overcome this and want to bring it up to our marriage counselor.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 7:02PM
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Well,it's kinda hard to be "fun,and chatty" if someone is yelling at you all the time. Would make me not want to talk too. What does your therapist say about your husband's "temper"? Are they addressing it in marriage counseling too?
I think this is less about the SE and more about the fact you dont want to be yelled at anymore.I think alot of yelling is a form of emotional abuse...by making the other person scared even if they arent hit.
maybe your husband isnt doing it intensionally,maybe he has bad days at work and brings it home with him,but he needs to know it isnt healthy and you dont like it,and that he shouldnt do it.
I was in therapy for a while,and she informed me that yelling and name calling arent fighting fair. That you have to learn to express yourself without doing these things.I think it really helped.
He exspecially shouldnt be yelling at a toddler like that.

I hope things get better...keep us posted.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 11:49PM
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I think you are stepping in the right direction, with therapy, and book reading. Perhaps you need to concentrate on one thing at a time when looking at all the issues involved.

Its tough, I know, but you will get there. You have taken a few steps down the road of self improvement and things will only get better. Give your child a hug.

Its just aweful living with someone who explodes, its frightening. I feel for you.

Take care, keep posting and let us know how you are.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 1:53AM
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I am going to toss this in the ring for what ever it is worth. My DH has a close friend who is single. Almost every relationship he has been in, (he dates them until they start talking marriage, and then he finds a way out) but when it breaks off, he tries to re-establish a friendship with her. A couple of the women are now married, and have a child, but he still communicates with them somehow. I think it is a big ego builder for him, because she is married to some guy, but still wants him. These young women are married, and yet in their minds he becomes that great guy (fantasy) that fills them with regrets, I imagine. Because he is Mr. Wonderful now, because I believe he loves the fact that they "want him". It builds his ego. I doubt they understand that he has done this with several of the young women. He does not want to be committed to marriage, or going through any "hard" stuff...when the going gets tough, he is so out of there. But leaves her with this feeling that he really did care, and thinks she is awesome. So he becomes that guy that they measure their husbands to. He is that fantasy that they build to larger than life, in the midst of day to day life of laundry, kids, cooking cleaning, etc. Real life can never measure up to a fantasy where you only know the carefree happy times of dating, and feeling "in love", that you experienced during carefree single days.
And he helps flame the love for him, because it so feeds his ego to know that when she is with her husband, she is thinking of him. This is my take on his continued friendships on the young women he was once involved with, although I don't think he would ever admit to it. Oh, by the way, these are women who also live in different states now. But if he is traveling, he may call and meet them for lunch, or something. One actually met him for lunch and brought her toddler.

Would you be ticked off to find that "YOUR" DH had lunch with and old flame and brought your child to meet her for lunch?

I am mentioning this for whatever it is worth.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 6:50PM
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Seemed like he was losing his temper too much w/our toddler (w/me I somehow felt like I deserved it but I knew for certain that our toddler did not deserve it) and I was afraid for our child's safety. Spouse has never been physically violent but seems to *almost* get there. Please don't interpret this as a safety issue because it's not at this point,

Don't waste any more of your precious life. Been there, done that, they don't change, and only get worse. They do what they do because it works for them. They zero in on your natural weaknesses, and the sickest thing, the obvious weakness of a child.

It will only get worse. Counseling...they are experts and know how to manipulate the counselor as well. Only a sharp counselor will spot it.

I also read the books by Patricia Evans...the one you read plus "Emotional Abuse - Survivors Speak Out". Listen to what they are saying. He's not gonna change without years of intense therapy, and the will to do it. Don't waste your life like I did.

And, read ANY book on abuse....the emotional abuse is FAR WORSE than the physical. That's what is so disturbing about your comment about him never being violent but 'almost getting there'. If you stand up for yourself, he WILL get there. Abusers WILL escalate to keep you under control. If you don't stand up for yourself, (by LEAVING), the emotional abuse can destroy you. The other comment, "Please don't interpret this as a safety issue because it's not at this point ", is a classic one, explaining/ignoring/rationalizing/excusing/minimizing his behavior. Abusers COUNT ON THAT.

Would you ever, in a million years, treat anyone like he treats you or your child??? You wouldn't.

Others, who have not lived in an abusive relationship, will give you very poor advice....'work on it', 'give him a chance', try this or that. You just can't understand it unless you've lived it, and abusers are operating in a totally different reality than the rest of us.

I know this post sounds over the top and alarmist, but trust me, it is the truth. Keep seeking out information, trust your gut, and save yourself and your child.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 11:04PM
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Actually,WEED30,I think you gave alot of good advice~I didnt think it sounded alarmist or over the top.You just didnt tell her what she probably wanted to hear,but the truth from how you see it. I think it was quite insightful,given the circumstances.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2007 at 12:53AM
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bnicebkind: that's an interesting situation you describe and I guess I can't exclude it entirely. I was never on the verge of marrying SE and I'm the one who cut things off, but I can't exclude the fact that an ego thing might be going on which is why SE is okay to be a friend despite the weird circumstances.

weed30: there is a part of me that suspects you may be right; spouse and I have not had a chance to explore temper issues in counseling b/c spouse was so focused on my friendship w/SE and how I was having an emotional affair. I don't think my possible emotional affar is the source of our problems but it was becoming a problem. SE understands that I need to focus on my relationship w/spouse and is okay to be out of the picture. I'm not missing SE as much as I was a week ago, and now spouse can't keep citing that as a huge problem.

Interestingly, since we started marriage counseling spouse has really reigned in the temper. Claims to have realized what it was doing to us and says he is learning to manage it better. I'm skeptical but am still giving another chance. He hasn't lost it w/our child, either. I do want to explore this more in marriage counseling but I feel I do need to try to give everything another chance. Conversely, spouse says I AM emotionally abusive b/c I am sarcastic, critical, and I use invalidation techniques. So I am working on changing myself and trying to improve our marriage the best I can. It just seems like spouse wants all the problems to go away as quickly as his temper has supposedly dissipated.

Thank you, everyone, for continuing to read about my crazy problems.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2007 at 9:15AM
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Remember too, and I'm surprised the counselor didn't catch on to this...an abuser is NEVER AT FAULT. It is always YOUR FAULT, YOUR CAUSED THEM TO XXX. SO by him saying that YOU are emotionally abusive, he falls into the pattern! But did I miss something. I thought you didn't bring up SE at counseling, then all of the sudden that is what counseling is about (see post above mine). DO NOT LET HIM PUT THE BLAME ON YOU. Step back, and look at this, I'm willing to bet that your response to his abuse is sarcasm, critism or invalidation. RE READ THAT, YOUR RESPONSE TO HIS ABUSE. So he is saying YOU CAUSED THIS. Classic abuse. Watch and let us know.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 7:02AM
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Vickey nailed it. I'd be in an argument with my ex, and somehow it would get twisted around, and suddenly it would be *my* fault.

"since we started marriage counseling spouse has really reigned in the temper. Claims to have realized what it was doing to us and says he is learning to manage it better."

Lip service. They all say that, and they behave better for awhile, because they don't want to lose control of their target(s). And control is what it's all about.

" I am working on changing myself and trying to improve our marriage the best I can."

???? Why???? HE is the one with the problem. Somehow he has convinced you that YOU need to change to accomodate him.

" I was so infatuated."

Abusers tend to be extremely charming, with magnetic personalities. Everyone thinks they are just the greatest, and in public they are. For most of them, it is only behind closed doors that they show their true colors.

I could have written all of the following about my relationship with my ex.

" I feel like no matter what I do, spouse is angry at me. I don't feel close to spouse, I feel dismissed when I try to talk about my life (and spouse "multi-tasks" by doing other things and appearing to not listen)...

He IS dismissing you, making your thoughts and feelings unimportant. Chipping away at your self esteem. And his constant anger is making you feel "off balance" and unsure. Even if he's not yelling, his anger is always there, and you can feel it. In a look, the tone of his voice, his body language, in the air. You never know what he is mad about, or what might set him off. And when he does get mad, it is about something so.....nothing. And then you question yourself about what just took place, but you can't make sense of it. Or you try to explain what you meant, thinking if only he would understand what you really meant, or why you did something, he would not be mad.

Spouse thinks I'm insensitive to his needs...... I feel like I'm often the person who initiates sex and it makes me feel unattractive.

Another form of emotional abuse. Making you feel unattractive and undesireable. A million thoughts racing through your mind about why. If you ever bring it up, he will either not talk about it period, or blow up, and the argument will end up being about that you didn't check the oil in the car.

I always felt like I was on pins and needles w/spouse but I dismissed it.

A statement made by someone who is being verbally and emotionally abused. "Walking on eggshells" is another.

I felt emotionally ignored by spouse even before we got married but I dismissed it as unimportant.

He saw this. He knew this, and exploited it.

Inside, many of the feelings I once had are either gone or locked away (I'm not sure which). I don't care much how my spouse feels about the things I do or say. I try to be more sensitive but it seems like he wants more than I can do w/o turning into an entirely different person.

More things that an abused person feels. Did you read my journal?

Counseling has seemed to help w/spouse's anger issues but I believe they are just being temporarily controlled.


I do not know if counseling is helping but I do want things to succeed.

The only way that things are going to succeed is if you continue to accept his abuse, ignore your feelings, and change yourself into someone you don't recognize. That is the only way abusive relationships endure....when the abuser is in control.

I am sorry to be so harsh, but it is the truth. It is not just my experience, it is the truth for anyone in an abusive relationship. In the books I read, in the other women I talked to. It's like they have this secret handbook and do all the same things. It is so unreal, and so out of a normal person's realm of experience, that you keep thinking it's going to get better if you just did this or just did that. And they are "better" for awhile, giving you some hope. Then it starts all over again, and you lose pieces of yourself, bit by tiny bit.

What is the relationship between you, him, and your family and friends?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 8:45AM
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Oh, and I would HIGHLY suggest you go to counseling ALONE. Counseling with an abuser is simply ineffective. They typically charm or fool the counselor, too. They also like to use things you said in a session as ammunition later.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 8:48AM
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My relationship between him, my family and friends, is strange. My immediate family is difficult to love--and I've always felt that way--so it's not a surprise to me that he isn't exactly enamored of them. But he is generally polite to them. He usually speaks negatively about them after a visit but they aren't very polite or friendly people so...so it hurts that he dislikes them as much as he does but I dislike them (to a lesser degree) and I'm hoping that reading the books on assertiveness (recommended to me by the counselor who told me I needed marriage counseling) will help me deal w/them better.

As far as my friends, he likes some of them but not all of them. I don't have many close friends so it's never been a big issue. He's never tried to tell me who my GIRLfriends can be but has chipped away at any of my male friendships. He is polite to my friends but not interested in being their friend as well.

I'm still feeling overwhelmed at the potential extent of abuse going on in our marriage. Last night I was feeling somewhat whiney and irritable and I observed that he almost lost it. But he didn't, and I mentioned it to him. He said that as long as I don't revert entirely to my old ways then neither will he. It's so strange w/him.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 8:22AM
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I asked because many abusers slowly work on cutting their spouse off from their family and friends. Mine also said negative things about my family, and did not want to do things with my friends. (couples) If they weren't his friends, he didn't want to do anything. I remember feeling the exact same hurt when he said things about my family. I can't figure out why I never just said "Hey, that's my family your talking about, cut it out."

It is overwhelming to realize that you might be or are in an abusive relationship, especially if it is emotional/verbal abuse. It's not as concrete as getting hit, so it's easy to dismiss, or rationalize, especially when the abuser is so skilled at manipulating you to put up with it.

Seriously, you should read more books and get counseling alone. And keep a journal. I had been keeping one, and one day, after realizing I was in an abusive relationship, I read it all at once. I was stunned to see a clear pattern. Things were good for a little while, then a blowup. Then they were good again, then a blowup, and on and on. It was a total cycle that I couldn't recognize at the time it was happening.

Does he get mad at inanimate objects? Like if he's working on something and the thing is not working, does he blow up, cussing and/or throwing it?

Does he put women down? Mine used to always make a comment if the newscaster was 'fat' or 'ugly'. Never made a comment about the less than stellar looking male casters. Women he worked were often referred to as "stupid b*tches". Trust me, he worked with a lot of stupid men, but they were never mentioned. He also had a phrase he often said when we were driving and someone (female) annoyed him: "There's another b*tch in a minivan."

Two other lines he liked to say: "You're the only one that's allowed to get mad in this relationship". (HUH??!!) and "You never apologize." Um, I'm supposed to apologize because you yelled at me for [insert ridiculous thing I did "wrong" here].

And in between every incident above, he was sweet, charming, and funny. So it is just so hard, when you're living it, to really see, to really make sense of it and realize what's happening. And even then, you can't quite come to grips with the fact that the person you married, who you love(d) and who loves/loved you, could be doing this to you on purpose.

Seven Signs You're In A Verbally Abusive Relationship

1. He seems irritated or angry with you several times a week. When you ask why he's mad, he either denies it or tells you it's in some way your fault.

2. When you feel hurt and try to talk with him, the issues never get resolved. He might refuse to discuss your upset feelings by saying "You're just trying to start an argument!" or claiming he has no idea what you're talking about.

3. You frequently feel frustrated because you can't get him to understand your intentions.

4. You're upsetnot so much about concrete issues like how much time to spend together, but about communication: what he thinks you said and what you heard him say.

5. You sometimes think, "What's wrong with me? I shouldn't feel so bad."

6. He seems to take the opposite view from you on almost everything, and his opinion isn't stated as "I think," but as if you're wrong and he's right.

7. You can't recall saying "Cut it out!" or "Stop it!"

Adapted from The Verbally Abusive Relationship © 1992, 1996 by Patricia Evans. Printed with permission from Adams Media.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 8:03PM
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I am really stressing over the trouble w/my spouse and my promise that I would not contact SE. I chatted w/SEvery brieflya couple nights ago over the internet via an instant messaging program, so that is my second transgression. SE sounded really down and said he missed talking to me and has wanted to email me all week. Its probably important to mention that Ive been initiating any contact at this point, not SE, and Ive had to basically renew my promise that I would not contact SE because of my behavior. I dont know what it is that I need or want but I cant focus at my work and I spent all day today just distracting myself and only doing tasks that were absolutely necessary. I kept wanting to contact SE; instead I email or txt my spouse but he doesnt often respond in a fun way like SE would. Its hard to want to txt or email spouse b/c he is not a flirty type of person.

Marriage counselor observed that spouse and I have very different personalities and we bring out the worst in each other. He observed that spouse does not communicate things to me and "lives in his head" and assumes things that arent accurate whereas I lie and am too abrasive. He told us to think about what needs each of us wants the other person to meet and talk about whether or not each of us can do that for the other. How am I supposed to know what my needs are? Spouse has already told me that hes not sure what his needs are either. This step could take a long time. I feel like Ive turned this into a "confession" thread.

As far as the emotional/verbal abuse, we must be in a phase of "good behavior" but I really hope its not a phase, instead a lasting change for the better. Spouse and I are both in agreement that time will reveal how things will be and we both are probably aware that this is the last chance. SO why do I undermine it by continuing to want to be in touch with SE? Some days are better than others, today has been a bad day because most of my work today is boring and requires me to focus and its been hard to focus on boring work.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 7:40PM
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Why in the world are you flirting with someone else, when your marriage is in such a precarious place? If it fails, to be able to look back and know you did your best, and gave your all to save your marriage, and keep your child's family intact? What in the world are you doing?

Take the time and read the step parent forum. That is what your child will face if your marriage falls apart, and your DH remarries.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 8:51PM
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I wish I could answer your questions bnicebkind. I think maybe there is something wrong with the way I think about things. I really feel like I'm trying to get SE out of my head but it's been quite a battle.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 10:12PM
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If I were in your shoes, I would spend the time and actually read the step parent forum from beginning to end. I would then look at what life would probably be like for my child if I divorced, and DH remarried. How would these women treat my child? Not just now, but 10, 15 years from now. Would he and his new wife go on and have a baby or two of their own, and where would your child fit into all of this?

Would you be comfortable sending your child over to your husband and his latest girlfriend for weekends, when he has visitation? How will a divorce affect you financially? What if he does not pay child support...because he is so ticked off at you for SE, that he becomes a nightmare to deal with? Can you make it?

These are the realities that so many women deal with in a divorce. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Enter very different parent styles, different ideas on what is OK for a child and what is not, and having another woman in a mother role with your child, and you begin to get an idea of the complications you are heading for. Read this forum and see how many of the girlfriends/new wives feel about their new husbands kids, and you will begin to get a tiny glimpse of the picture that you are about to choose.

Another woman who can take your child and get her/his hair cut if she chooses, be at your kids school/sporting events and teacher meetings, or pick on your child for everything, and treat "their" new kids as special.

Take a good hard look at your marriage and husband, and ask yourself if this guy you are flirting with, is worth the price your child may pay in all of this.

Read the step parenting forum...take a good hard look at your DH, your marriage, and your own role in all of this.

The only way to get SE out of your head, is to make a decision on whether you want your family to remain intact. If you do, then you have a choice to make, and you will live that choice. But you must either get both feet in this marriage and do everything you can to make this a good, happy marriage, or you will end up with the complications that so many step families find themselves in, that will extend well into your childs adulthood.

There may be happy step families. I just do not know any. Everyone I know who has done this, has had experiences like those on the step parent forum. Perhaps it is because it is in conflict with our natural abilities to cope with another female, in our role as a mother, and a wife to our spouse. Perhaps because it is so threatening to have our child, form a bond to another woman who also is "mom", and it threatens us at our very core. Or as a "mom" we actually "feel" the pain at a deep level, when someone hurts, or rejects our child, as so many of these new wives do...because it threatens them somehow, to have the children of their new husband intruding on her new little family, and hearing "her" husband on the phone with his ex. It can be threatening on so many levels to everyone, with the new wives, new husbands, new children who are treated better, etc.

Think long and hard about what you are really flirting with, because it is about so much more than this crush you have on this other man.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 11:00AM
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I want to go back to my first paragraph...obviously there is no way of knowing now, if you divorce, how a future woman who may one day be with your DH, will treat your child...let alone how she will treat your child years from now.

But take a good, hard look at the step parent forum and you will get a reality check on how many of these women feel about their new husbands kids, AND how she feels and talks about her new husbands EX (which will be "you" if you continue in the direction you are headed). They all seem to describe their husband's ex-wife as this horrible person, and perhaps it is because they need her to be. Or perhaps she becomes that way, I don't know. Perhaps the new wife is threatened by the first wife, because her husband still talks to her because of the kids, but the ex-wife (aka bio-mom) seems to hate the new wife just as much, and finds it very threatening that her kids really like the new "mom" in their life. So everyone is bad mouthing everyone else because they feel threatened somehow. But you need to take a good, hard look at all of this, before you complicate your life (and your child's) in ways you have not even dreamed about yet.

What in the world are you doing? IMO, you need to stop the flirting and decide where your marriage stands on its own. And if you want to keep your family intact, then get both feet in that marriage and work on making it a happy one. Because it is very hard to fix what is wrong in a marriage, if you have one foot out the door. Can you imagine if it was your husband who had this girl on the side, and you were not sure day to day if you were going to remain married, or if he was going to ditch you, and your child, for the other girl?

How do you build on that?

It is also not fair to SE. IMO (for whatever it is worth) because you now have a child, it seems that you need to give 100% to try and make your marriage work, so that if it doesn't, you can look back, and know that you were honest, and did everything you could to make it work. But doing what you are doing is not honest, fair, and cheats your child out of a chance at an intact family.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 4:04PM
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I've tried to do a lot of soul-searching and figure out what it is I need. I need and want to commit to making the marriage work. I do want it to work, and I've recognized that I'm not even giving it a real chance by keeping one foot out (as has been astutely pointed out). Actually, the thing that made me really stop and think was the realization that I have to make a choice where none of the options are easy and if I don't make a choice then nothing will be resolved and I'll continue living in Fantasyland, and certainly I'm not happy there. I'm not in touch w/SE at this point and I'm not thinking about it so much. I'm focusing on my marriage and my spouse and things seem to be getting better, slowly. Thanks for the advice and the support!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 4:46PM
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I want to apologize for my post, because you are right...only you can figure out what you need. Only you know yourself, and the people involved. The rest of us can respond to your post, in how we might handle a situation like this, but keep in mind that it is a generic response, of what we might do, or hope we would do, if we were in your shoes. Or many might say one thing, but when walking in your shoes, may actually do another.

These are choices that only you can make, because only you know the people involved, and are able to see the whole picture, based on what you know, or believe you know.

Just as you might respond to a post, you respond from your experience, or your limited viewpoint they have presented, and what you believe, or feel on any given day, which may influence your response.

But everyone needs to figure out what is best for them and for the other people involved, based on the truth as they see it, and their set of beliefs.

So you will work through this on your own, and find your way. As you mature, and gain life experience, you will become more sure of who you are, what "you" believe and "why" you believe as you do. It begins to shape who you are. It is all part of learning who you are. You will find in life, adults you respect, and each will have strong beliefs, and the individual beliefs many vary widely, from person to person.

I do not want to push what I may think or believe, onto you...because it is up to each person to explore and discover what it is that "they" believe and understand "why" they believe as they do. It comes through this thing called "life experience" and you must find your own way. Because you, and those you love, will live out the joy or consequences of personal choices.

So mine was simply a view. Others that know you and the people involved, may offer another viewpoint. But when it comes down to it, we are all swayed by our own views...and they do not really matter. You must find your own way, and discover what is right in your life, and in the life of those you love.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 11:14PM
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