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Verbal Abuse Confusion and Advice
February 9, 2004
9:05 am
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golfing_man
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As you can tell from the name - I am addicted to golf - but that aside - I am actually a decent guy. Anyway, I have been married for almost 20 years. My wife is a verbal abuser - I did not admit it for a while (which I am learning is normal behavior) - and she seems to get worse. I can load, unload the diswasher at the wrong time or improperly, I can turn the TV on or off at the wrong time, I have been accused of affairs when I caught her in several with coworkers. She commonly calls me names, throws things, slams doors, withholds conversation from me, ignores me, makes me feel like what I want to do is "stupid", complains if I want to do something with my friends or family - but she has no friends, gives me silent treatment, makes me do things when I really don't feel like it, ridicules me, disrespects me , wants to fight just before and even after we have gone to bed, and MANY other examples. She displays "the honeymoon" phase I read about here. I admit that I am not the "best" on expressing my emotions and feelings (which may equate to me being codependent) nor am I the most assertive person with her - but - I don't want to think I am codependent and that is "enabling" her behaviors - and that I should just suck-it-up because I am THE problem. I have read a great deal on the internet and she has the classic symptoms of a verbal abuser. Her mother was/is a verbal abuser. I dont want to wake up 3 years, or more, from now and say "why did I waste so much of my life?"

Do verbal abusers get better without extensive therapy and without accepting that they have a problem? I am tiring of the "I am sorry, I really love you" stuff and of course the "I only did it because of ..." I wanted to leave some time ago - we went to couples therapy - but she never owned up to her harshness. I read a post earlier that verbal abuse affects you emotionally, psychologically and kills your spirit - I am not sure what all that means - but it certainly describes me. Should I throw in the towel and am I right to do so, or should I continue to try to "help" her get better? I don't think she will change - she usually does not apologize unless she goes "over-the-top". Can someone give me some guidance?

Thank you!

February 9, 2004
10:02 am
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Coonie
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"The words,"I'm sorry" means, I've made a mistake and I will not make it twice (or least not intentionally). People often forget they are only as GOOD as their word. Verbal abuse is abuse and counseling only works of both parties are interested in resolving issues. If your not going to leave soon try this next time she blows up"
Whisper: (it makes people stop and listen harder)
1.Why are you shouting?
2. "What will it resolve if you call me a ____________ (insert whatever name she calls you).
3. We need to calmly find a compromise to whatever is angering you or I can leave you here to be angry without me here (if she insists on shouting/name calling/whatever....go golfing

In my experience angry people are having no "fun" if they are angry and alone. Tell her to call you when her mood improves and the two of you can chat.

February 9, 2004
10:22 am
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golfing_man
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Coonie - Thanks for the advice. I have tried all those techniques - including walking out and ignoring her. I guess I have heard the words I am sorry until I am sick of it - and for the same thing over and over and over!! I am a "get it done" kind of person - and I keep running into a wall with her - I don't like feeling ineffective. And, I am mostly fearful of allowing myself to be damaged beyond repair - this has occured for a LONG time. I am going to ask an "it depends" question - but when is enough enough with verbal abuse?

Again - I appreciate your thoughts and welcome any and all.

February 9, 2004
10:44 am
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Anonymous
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Have you asked her to go to therapy or counseling of any kind? I believe that people must want to change in order to change, and it sounds to me like a very abusive relationship. The question you need to ask yourself is if it is worth it? You have been married a long time, 20 years, and do you want to live the next 20 years like this as well?

February 9, 2004
10:47 am
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eve
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You could try to read some books or take courses in "good communication". Listening, asking calmly, trying to find out what different messages that you and she are sending. Try to talk about it. Tell her that it IS a problem for you - if she won't accept it as "her" problem, she has to understand that YOU feel harassed by this kind of talk, and that YOU won't tolerate it any longer.

But most importantly - do NOT accept being verbaly abused. If she calls you names - terminate the conversation at once.

February 9, 2004
10:47 am
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mj
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Enough is when you decide to take responsibility for YOUR life.

All of us enter relationships with our family of origins....

We pick our mates because of something in us that wants to heal.

At first we are elated that someone loves us, chooses us, and is there for us. Then the family of origins kicks in, and what we most admired at first becomes what we hate the most.
At least that is the way it has worked in my life.

I found when you start looking at your own behavior and own it....then you can change it with the proper tools: counseling, reading, journaling, and any other means you can utilize. I have found until I do my work on self, no matter who I love, I still have me in any relationship.

You have been tolerating this verbal abuse for 20 years. What role did you play in your own family before this relationship? This is the work I am presently doing on self and it is difficult, but I feel that it will help me to learn not to be verbally aggressive with others. Anger shows out of control.

You can only work on yourself. You can't change anyone else's behavior.

Good Luck in your journey.

February 9, 2004
12:31 pm
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LCV
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Hi Golfing Man-
I am in a similar situation with my husband, although there is some physical abuse as well, the most common with us is the verbal....
He says "I'm sorry" all the time too. It doesn't mean much anymore does it? Well, we have finally started marriage counseling. Our arguements have lessened, we are using words that explain our feelings rather than name calling or "hitting below the belt"...BUT the ONLY way this will work is if you BOTH AGREE on how to argue. If she is not willing to admit she has a problem, then maybe you should just get out...20 years is a long time. Do you still love her? If so...then try to work it out, but if she has killed the love, then you should just think about your alternatives. Even though my husband is FINALLY trying...I think the love in my heart is gone, so I will be leaving I believe, but these exercises in communucation will help no matter what kind of relationship you are in....Be strong..only YOU can make the differnce in your life...Be happy
LCV

February 9, 2004
2:18 pm
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golfing_man
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Thanks to everyone!! Coonie,mj, Eve, Aces&Spades and LCV.

It is a very abusive relationship - as for my part in it - I am not sure what role I played unless I was enabling in some way - AND - it took me WAY too long to admit that "I" was being verbally abused. I have told her that "this is the last time"(although I feel I have given her far too many chances.) I am the end of my rope. As for whether it is worth it - I don't think so. The love was dead some time back.

We had couples therapy - but the therapist said I need to share my feelings more - and that is what angers my wife; but, verbal abusers, from what I have read, are perceived as kind from outsiders - I think the therapist mis-read the signs; also, the therapist had only a small window of time for that analysis. Aces - to answer your question "I do NOT want to live the next 20 like this".

And mj - not sure what you meant about "my role in my own family" - but would like to explore that further - probably some past issues I can work on to better ME.

Lastly, LCV - thank you for your response - I read your posts and that is why I posted initially. You should FLEE - I am not worried about my wife's physical aggression (and i certainly hope I don't come to regret that statment) but you might have big problems. HOWEVER - there are some really smart folks here that responded to your posts and mine - they know a lot better than I.

Thanks again to you all. I think I will exit the relationship and work on ME - that might even improve my golf game 🙂

February 9, 2004
2:29 pm
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LCV
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Hi G.M. -

I'm glad to hear that you posted after reading my thread. We are all here to inspire each other, huh? Well, you sound very strong..I hope that you do what makes YOU happy. It sounds like you have sacrificed yourself for her for too long...now it's time for you. Liberating isn't it? I feel so much happier just day dreamimg about my future, growing stronger in my independance each day!! Good luck to you.....

February 9, 2004
2:40 pm
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gingerleigh
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Are you going to continue with the couples counseling? It might take some time to get to the root of the matter with the therapist, for the counselor to be able to "see" what is really going on. Also, being under a barrage of verbal attacks can kill your spirit. Have you thought about just staying in counseling for yourself? It can help you sort through your thoughts and maybe pick up on ways you might be stuffing how you feel. It does help to get it out.

February 9, 2004
2:58 pm
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golfing_man
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Thanks Ginger! I am not sure about staying in couples counseling - I will see a counselor tho. Would you recommend the same one for just me? I saw the counselor by myself initially - and - not sure I would continue with her for just me. And, what does "stuffing how I feel mean?"

Thanks!

February 9, 2004
3:05 pm
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Anonymous
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Golf- I would not recommend the same counselor, you will want a different one, one that you are happy with, and the fact that you are able to leave says a lot about how much you respect yourself. That is what it boils down to is how much do you respect yourself? Do you feel you deserve better, and let me ask you this, if this was someone in your family and they were going through this, what would you tell them, and how would you feel about it, look at it that way as well, and trust me we all know how hard it is to leave, or begin to leave, thats why this is a support group

February 9, 2004
3:11 pm
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Worried_Dad
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golfing_man,

The A.M.A. recognizes emotional abuse as domestic violence. It WILL screw with your head. Read Patricia Evan's book "The Verbally Abusive Relationship."

In an abusive relationship, THE issue is abuse. Couple's Counseling is CONTRANDICATED for abusive relationships!!! It just makes it worse!!!

February 9, 2004
3:14 pm
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golfing_man
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Aces - I would tell the people in my family not to allow it. I would be like the reformed smoker (not that that is a good thing, mind you). Also - I have NOT talked to anyone in my family about this - should I?

I do respect myself a lot (and her). But I DO deserve better.

Thanks again to EVERYONE!

February 9, 2004
3:16 pm
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gingerleigh
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It might be a little odd to see the same person yourself, sort of puts the counselor in the middle of a he said she said thing when you end up having a break out session on your own and then meet back together later. If you aren't comfortable with the person, it's OK to try someone different. Perhaps even try talking with a male counselor. The biggest thing that matters is that you trust the counselor. You don't even necessarily have to like them per se. But it needs to be someone you believe will keep your information private and will give you information that is useful, not necessarily tell you what you want to hear or hope to hear. You should feel safe there, like you can say anything you want or need to. Sometimmes that's really hard to do if you're seeing the same person your wife is, since you might on some level feel like feelings you processed in a private session could be used in a couples session when you aren't ready for it.

As far as "stuffing" goes, what I mean by that is ignoring or just putting up with unacceptable behavior and silently allowing it. Counseling can give you some tips and techniques for recognizing a behavior that is harmful to you and being able to process it and put up a boundary against it so that it will either lessen in intensity or cease completely. One of the challenges you will face will be a huge "retraining" for your wife if you decide to stick this out, teaching her that it's not OK to treat you in that fashion.

February 9, 2004
3:18 pm
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Anonymous
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Yes you do deserve better, and you should tell your family if you are comfortable telling your family, only you can make that decision, if you need their support and want to tell them, I would, and you do deserve better, no one deserves to be emotionally or physically abused. That is something that people who are abusive, love the power. Which is what is comes down to, power over someone else, the power to make them feel bad, to make them do what you want etc. And your other cannot respect you if they treats you like that. I am sorry but to me that does not show someone cares. And you can try to justify it and say they care in their own way, but it is not caring. Point Blank. And I heard a great saying once, it takes more strength to leave a relationship than to stay in one.

February 9, 2004
3:19 pm
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golfing_man
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WorriedDad - I have read that one as well as a web site called DrIrene. You are correct - and I want to stop my noodle from frying as soon as I can. Should I be concerned about any dangerous outbursts when I leave?

February 9, 2004
3:19 pm
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gingerleigh
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Here's a site about verbal abuse that might be helpful. http://www.drirene.com

February 9, 2004
3:21 pm
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gingerleigh
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Gosh, we posted over each other with the site name 🙂

February 9, 2004
3:23 pm
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gingerleigh
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Worried Dad, how does couples counseling make the abuse worse?

February 9, 2004
3:23 pm
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golfing_man
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Yes - Drirene is a saint - as are you folks - thanks much!

February 9, 2004
4:28 pm
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Worried_Dad
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golfer_man,

Yes, the end of a realtionship frequently catalyzes an intensification of the abuse and may lead to actual physical violence. Try to have witnesses present because she may eityher assault you or try to incite you to assault her so that she can have you arrested--DON'T FALL FOR IT! That would be beneath you.

February 9, 2004
7:41 pm
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Zinnie
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HI Golfing Man,

Except that you wrote how long you have been married, including your name and description, I would have wondered if I was talking to my Father-in-Law.

You have described my in-law's marriage. Bad news. He finally had enough one day and left, after 38 years. She shrilly screams still (they have been divorced now for 20) "I have no idea why he left, I was the perfect wife to him." Although then she gives a whole list of his wrongs. Not saying he was perfect, but still.

In answer to your question, unless she gets help, sadly no, they do not get better.

Love,

Zinnie

February 15, 2004
2:01 pm
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kristi3
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GolfingMan,
You are a very strong man that does deserve so much more. Don't sell urself short. Stand up and be proud of the person that you are, knowing that what you have been through will only make you stronger. I do care about what happens to you and I wish you the best in life.
Your Friend
kristi3

February 15, 2004
7:23 pm
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free
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Some assertiveness is definitely in order here. Verbal abuse does in fact kill the spirit, and you probably do know what that means. You're with a person who makes ya feel like shit. Somebody who is not appreciating of you, the things you do, the strengths you possess, and the weaknesses that make you human. In short, she's a bitch. Your life together is all about her.

I'm sorry if this hurts you, but a spade is a spade and you're married to an ace. Your wife does not respect you, and hasn't for a very long time.

What are you going to do about that? What can you do?

Honestly, I really don't know as I suspect telling her your feelings will only give her ammunition to trample them even further.

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