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Reality Check re "fixing" my marriage
September 7, 2006
11:47 am
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September 24, 2010
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I already "know" (intellectually) the answers to my question. But I really need words and input from other people- a reality check.

I've been struggling with the viability of my marriage for a long time. I am co-dependent and I blamed my dysfunction for a lot of the troubles that we have- I still do. But now that I am working on my own stuff and feeling much more centered, my partner seems to be going slightly nuts. Or perhaps it's that I am now seeing the reality of his behaviour in a new light...?

2 months ago I was heading to the lawyer. After 2 months of therapy- both of us seeing the same therapist seperately, I THOUGHT we were making progress. However I have only just come to the realization that my partner is not making progress, but is simply regurgitating information and responses that he thinks I (and the therapist) want to hear. This process alternates with acting out in bizarre ways (manic behaviour, attention getting, tantrum-type stuff).

My partner is truly non-authentic. I'm not even sure he knows what or who he is, he is so programmed to be what he thinks people want and expect of him. I'm trying to cope with the reality that things won't get better unless he begins to do his own work- genuinely working on his maladaptive behaviours.

How do I stop trying to "fix" this mess? how do I stop playing in to his control tactics? It's quite crazymaking.

September 7, 2006
12:03 pm
Forum Posts: 79
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September 24, 2010
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Hi moving,

it's great that you are making changes and feel more centered...and yes, you're probably both seeing your SO with new eyes, and he is also, likely acting out - change is hard, and people who don't want to change or don't want you to change tend to try to attack the new you, wear you down, get you back to where THEY are comfortable...

The thing about being codep is that it is very much like an addiction/obsession. The urge to help can be overwhelming. But you are already on the right path. You have to remove yourself from the situation. Detach, if possible. If he throws a tantrum, say, "that behavior's not acceptable to me" and leave. Go to a movie, the library, whatever, for a couple of hours.

Also, you might try reading "Emotional Unavailability"...I can't remember the author, but in this book are strategies for talking to people like your SO - those who do not want to take responsibility for themselves or their actions. I found it really helpful.

Just remember, you didn't break him, so you can't fix him. He HAS to do the work himself, and he either will or he wont. Maybe some of the people here can recommend some other tactics.

Best of Luck,


September 7, 2006
12:20 pm
Forum Posts: 453
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September 30, 2010
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Movingon -

When my exfiance went into therapy, (to placate me, of course), se "played the game" until it got too uncomfortable for him. We saw the psychologist as individuals, with "couples" sessions every month or so. He finally cracked and raged out of two of those couple sessions. He could not handle getting down to the Truth: that he was an abuser and that he has a personality disorder (BPD), as well as alcoholism.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that my ex frequently manifested "manic behavior, attention getting, tantrum-type stuff," in the course of his therapy. It definitely GOT WORSE, as therapy progressed and he could not game play. Facing the unbearable truth definitely triggered what doctors call "acting out" behaviors, such as you describe. The intensity of the acting out is usually in direct proportion to the intensity of their disorders and issues. Sounds like your husband is LOADED.

I don't envy you, my friend. It is very difficult to accomplish anything via therapy with a man of your husband's mindset. It doesn't sound like he has come out of denial, nor does it seem as if he wants to do the work on his own initiative, so that he can become healthier and your relationship will improve.

I really feel for you. You can't "fix" his behavior(s). You cannot make him WANT to get better, come out of denial or do the work to heal. That is something HE must choose to do, or you are simply pushing boulders up a hill with no crest...they will keep rolling right, back down that hill, over and over. You'll never reach the top, if you follow me.

How to stop "playing to his control tactics?" Well, first you need to be prepared to see the relationship severed. Standing up to a controlling partner usually causes their "acting out" to escalate. In plain English, his efforts to control and manipulate you will INCREASE. He will become increasingly cruel and punishing. He will play with your mind. Be prepared to be criticized, blamed, undermined, falsely accused (usually of the very things HE, HIMSELF, is guilty of), etc. It will not be pleasant. But you must learn NOT to react to his ploys...NOT to respond to his jabs...NOT to let him SEE a reaction from you. Be calm and indifferent. Refuse to respond to his "crazy-making." Don't try to defend yourself. (He will always put you in no-win situations, so don't bother trying to exonerate yourself.)

Can you do this? It is called "walking in the Truth." It is taking back control of your feelings, your emotional well-being from another human being. It is hard as hell. But most of us on these threads understand what you are facing because we are in various stages of recovery from a similar relationship (or series of relationships).

Keep posting. We are here for you.
Hope this helped.

- Strong

September 7, 2006
12:47 pm
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September 29, 2010
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I too am struggling with being codependent in a marriage to a man who is passive aggressive, refuses to change, and thinks everything is ok "as is".

I agree with everything that has been said by Zax and Strong.

You asked about how to stop playing into his control tactics. Here's one way I'm going to try to do that with my husband:

I plan to join Weight Watchers with my sister in law in the next couple of weeks. However, I already know that when I join and start fixing myself healthy meals, my husband will moan and whine because the dinner I will fix for myself will not be the high fat meal he wants. (We don't have kids, so it's just me and him). Never mind that he's concerned about his weight too. He's already said he doesn't want to join Weight Watchers with me, or even eat the meals I'll be eating.

That said, I am mentally preparing myself for a barrage of comments about "how there's nothing good in the house to eat", I'm abandoning him, etc. My first instinct is to fix him a high fat meal so I won't have to hear him complain.

I discussed this with my therapist and she said for me to stand my ground - she said I shouldn't offer to fix him a special meal and I shouldn't feel guilty about it either. She said, "think about it, why would you want to be with a man who not only does not support your goal, but is trying to make you feel guilty while you are doing something good for yourself?"

That got me to thinking - it is important for me to, as Strong so wonderfully put it, to "walk my truth" and not let his comments get to me. I plan to ignore his negative comments. (Wish me luck!)

I think it is important for us who feel codependent to remind ourselves that our wants and needs are important, and that just because we are standing up for ourselves and our truth, doesn't mean we're hurting our significant other, even if they try to manipulate us into thinking so by their acting out tactics.

Stay true to yourself. You are going through a lot dealing with your husband. Emotional Unavailability is a GREAT book, I would highly recommend it.



September 7, 2006
7:26 pm

moving, hello and welcome to this threads. i agree with what zax, strong and T2Bb have to say. there is a time when we all come to a cross roads and it's time to make the hard decisions. And so many times the best decisions for ourselves are the hardest.

I am also coming out of a disfunctional marriage. My FXH, though not abusive, has refused for all the time we've been married to try to figure himself out and work on himself to be able to have a healthy relationship (drowing thread for the whole story). He's a gentle soul and more than anything i believe he is severly depressed, so he is not capable of facing and walking 'his truth". I blamed myself forever for our dysfunctions until I decide that i had enough and pulled the plug. It has been the absolut hardest thing I have ever done. Eventhough i feel is the right thing to do, many times i don't think it. He's always been sweet and gently with me, treated me great, but now I see that as some sort of overcompensation for his lack of backbone to deal with the issues that ended up breaking us. He claims that to this day that he doesn't quite grasp why i said enough.

So, best of luck with WW, the points work so well for so many people, great that you'll have the support of your sister in law, and heck, I wouldn't be cooking special things for husband, the WW is delicious and you can eat basically anything. Perhaps he might want to learn how to cook his fat ladden meals by himself? loosing weight is so rewarding, particularly when you start finding that path for yourself. When I made the decision to end my marriage i was able to loose weight for the firs time in 13 years. I've always excercized 6 times a week, and i just couldn't loose weight. Then, i lost 37 pounds in i guess 7 months and haven't gained them back. I feel good and i look good too. I could loose another 15, I'm down 5, so I have 10 to go!

Anyway, all the best , let us know how things are with husband and diet.

September 7, 2006
9:03 pm
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September 24, 2010
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I am truly grateful for your responses. I know that I need to learn some new behaviours for this situation. It's so hard because I do have so many issues of my own that I am working with and my husband's behaviours play on all of them. Any time I have a good day, and he sees me happy, he acts out and I buy into it and let it set me back in my own progress.

Like doubleloss, though my husband is emotionally abusive (he denies it, of course) he is extremely well liked by everyone around us. Very few people see or understand the type of behaviour that he engages in with me. People don't believe or understand any of this and very few can understand why I would consider leaving "such a great guy".

It's all very hard. I feel like I can't live with him, but I'll be persecuted if I leave. He is just so out of touch with himself and his actions that this marriage for all intents and purposes appears to be doomed. It's a tough pill to swallow.

Thanks all for the fabulous words of encouragement and sanity.

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