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Separating, living together – wife has new relationship

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Peggy 2 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #310095

    robert
    Participant

    My wife and I have been married for nearly 13 years. We have two children and after my second child was born my wife slowly became unsatisfied with our relationship. Her frustration with the situation led to her becoming angry and subsequently emotionally and physically abusive over the following years (my second child is now 9). Throughout this time I wanted to continue to make this marriage work, but following so much abuse and any form of intimacy I have become detached from her despite still loving the memory of her.

    Three years ago there was an episode where her abuse became so frequent and violent that I spoke out to friends and family, whereas previously I had kept quiet for years. Following this time, we worked through our problems with a counselor which helped but that only lasted temporarily before the physical abuse and shouting started again. I emotionally distanced myself from her and this caused her to spiral into depression as I was unable to accept blame and responsibility for our marriage crumbling down. My wife threatened suicide, threatened abandonment and self harmed during this time in desperation – as I was not giving her what she needed. Following one evening of arguments and shouting, she smashed a glass bottle and threatened to cut herself, so I called an ambulance and she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital with mild depression and alcoholism. She went through a course of therapy to help resolve this, and returned back home a few weeks later. My wife blamed me for making her feel that way, for not stepping in earlier, for letting her get that way in the first place. I still struggled to accept blame for the situation, as I felt like I was the victim.

    During the last 6 months since this incident, I have been accused of being a narcissistic person – specifically- covert narcissism. She believes I also have traits of psychopathy, which I do not feel are justified or valid. I am able to feel empathy and love, I love my children, family and friends and can introspect on situations to try to understand them. However, as I did not take responsibility or work hard enough to help my wife, she believes me to be the cause of all her pain, despite her being (and continuing to be) physically abusive. Acts ranging from spitting in the face, to slapping, punching, to pushing me over continued up until a few months ago, at which point we have been able to distance ourselves from each other by taking long breaks with our respective families.

    I have always wanted to have one relationship for life, to provide a stable environment for my kids and this has all fallen apart. In many ways, I was ashamed of the situation with nowhere to turn. There is almost no support for men where the partner is the abuser. I felt and still feel ashamed to talk to people about what happened, like it was my fault for putting up with it and not really acting to resolve it properly.

    We have agreed to separate, but this is not yet formalized by a lawyer. We still live in the same house together, my wife has not worked (or only small, sporadic jobs) since the children were born so I am financially supporting the whole family right now, and we’re struggling to make ends meet. I have discussed with her the financial implications and asked her to contribute with her own wage while the children go to school during the day. This is really necessary to help us get through the separation and mitigate the chaos of selling our house and causing the children to move schools. For them it’s the best to have a more stable time during this period.

    However, my wife has procrastinated on getting a job for years and even more so in recent months. Instead she has focused on a new intimate relationship with a new person, spending her time working on that instead of taking responsibility and helping to untangle ourselves properly. She also bought a puppy, which restricts her time even more.

    So at the moment I am supporting my whole family financially whilst my wife is being adulterous and expecting me to support her too.

    I’m heartbroken and depressed about the whole thing and am facing a situation where her inaction will force us to sell our house prematurely, reducing any potential savings and leaving us both poor. I have a good job, but it is not enough to support both her and myself living in separate places, as I would have to pay child and spousal support, equaling about 65% of my net income.

    I am going to a lawyer (I live in Germany) and will understand better my rights here.

    If anyone has been through a similar situation please reach out, or if there is any advice on how I can keep my head up and move forward without getting beaten down by the pain I’m feeling please let me know.

     

    #310129

    Peggy
    Participant

    Hi Robert,

    I just wanted to say how sorry I am that you have been having such an awful time with your wife.  Let me reassure you that this is not your fault.  The problems that your wife has were not caused by you.  They go much deeper than that.  Perhaps something was triggered when you had your second child such as post natal depression.  She probably needed to continue with therapy – blaming you is her way of absolving herself from all responsibility.  The way you describe your feelings towards the domestic violence you have suffered is fairly typical, I think.  Men probably receive less sympathy than a woman might and feels ashamed to admit what has happened.  You were and are the victim of her abuse.  Perhaps you would find it useful to talk to a counselor about this.  She seems to have almost ‘convinced’ you that it’s your fault.

    It’s good that you are consulting a lawyer to find out where you stand legally and how your finances can be dealt with.  You need to deal with this one day at a time and also consider whether your children are safe in your wife’s care.  Is it not possible for you to stay with your family until you can establish your own living arrangements?

    I hope you can find a way to come to terms with what has happened.

    Peggy

    #310141

    robert
    Participant

    Hi Peggy, thanks for your kind words. It is very hard and each day at the moment is like a battle. I am not able to live with my family as they are in a different country, I don’t have much of a support system here in Germany, unfortunately. That’s one of the reasons I decided to write down my thoughts here.

    Financially I’m tied to my house and the home where we both live. Ideally we would sell it in one or two years when our potential profits would set us both up for a new beginning individually. That’s the problem, I have to live with her and her inactivity, while she lives off me and builds a new relationship. It hurts like hell to come home from working full time and find her drinking and happy on the phone with her new boyfriend.

     

    #310147

    Mark
    Participant

    robert,

    This living situation is highly unhealthy not only for you but especially the children.  You are setting an example of your willingness to be abused,  put up with infidelity and financially enable her to do all this.  You are playing the victim.  If you have a son then he will see you as the model of what it is to be a man.  If you have a daughter, she will see your wife as the model of how to treat a man.

    I believe a lot of parents think they are doing the right thing by keeping the family together, not changing their situation.  Rarely they look at the long term impact on children.  There is a trade off between stability and handling an unhealthy situation by experiencing some pain and disruption.

    Mark

    #310153

    anita
    Participant

    Dear robert:

    You wrote: “I have been accused of being a narcissist person- specifically- covert narcissism. She believes I also have traits of psychopathy”. The mother of your children, not a psychiatrist, has diagnosed you with Narcissistic Personality Disorder as well as Asocial Personality Disorder (the DSM-4 had those terms, I don’t think they were altered in the current DSM-5).

    I am not a psychiatrist, but her behavior fits so well with the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. I know the behavior from a very personal experience.

    The reason I mention it is not so that you will counter her accusations with one of your own but so that you will present this disorder possibility to the attorney you will be  seeing and consider it as you  proceed.

    Her behavior fits it very well. You can read about it n the DSM book (the psychiatrist “bible”), and in literature by competent psychiatrists and psychotherapists. There are ways better suited to deal with women with this disorder.

    First on your agenda should be to protect your children and yourself from her violence, physical and verbal. (In a way, her current affair with the other man, if it distracts her from displaying violence against the children and you, it  is.. not the worst thing for you and for the children, in this specific circumstance that you are in).

    Best by far that you remove your children and yourself from her. Perhaps the attorney can help you with this and maybe it is possible to require her to attend evaluation by a doctor and get a confirmation of her Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This diagnosis may, maybe… help you in getting sole custody of your children and as soon as possible!

    anita

    #310227

    robert
    Participant

    Hi Mark, thanks for your thoughts. You have a good point about the impact on the kids and playing the victim. I sometimes reflect on that and worry that I’ve exasserbated the situation by folding to what I thought was the right thing to do. This may be projecting the wrong type of model for my kids.

    I feel like I should take responsibility for a lot of the issue we had and I want to move on. The problem is I’m financially tied at the moment and moving out is not an option until there is a change in that situation.

    For that, I am reliant on my wife to work. The alternative is to just do it and deal with the financial problems afterwards, but I’m undecided if that really would be best for my children.

    #310229

    robert
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thanks for your guidance, you may be right about my wife’s mental state, perhaps she will pursue more therapy once she is stabilises herself in her new relationship, especially if the root of her behaviour doesn’t change. I see her being extremely kind and caring to this new man, perhaps all she needs is a person which fits her better.

    Regarding the kids, I belive my wife has been a good mother to them and has brought them up well. I do not want to take sole custody and remove them from her. I would want to work towards joint custody.

     

    #310243

    robert
    Participant

    Also worth noting that any abuse, physical or verbal, was directed only ever at me, never at anyone else.

    #310259

    anita
    Participant

    Dear robert:

    You are welcome. You wrote: “Regarding the kids, I believe my wife has been a good mother to them and brought them up well. I do not want to take sole custody and remove them from her… any abuse, physical or verbal, was directed only ever at me, never at anyone else”-

    – this means that three years ago, when “her abuse became so frequent and violent” your two children, the younger one being six at the time, were not present in the home and did not hear or see the abuse. It means that when “the physical abuse and shouting started again”-  the two children did not hear any of the shouting. It means that her “spiral into depression” did not include her neglecting the children and that they never heard her when she “threatened suicide, threatened abandonment and self harm”.

    “Following one evening of arguments and shouting, she smashed a glass bottle and threatened to cut herself”- again, your two children did not hear or see the shouting, the smashing of glass and her threats.

    “so I called an ambulance”- the children didn’t hear the ambulance siren approaching, didn’t see their mother taken away.

    “despite her being (and continuing to be) physically abusive.. spitting in the face, to  slapping, punching, to pushing e over”- none of that was heard or witnessed any of these things.

    – it is impossible. She is not a good mother. Even if all the abuse against you occurred strictly when they were in school, the harm and hurt must  have been tangible to the kids when they were home. No  way they didn’t notice the effects of the abuse or their mother’s depression.. or yours, the tension in the home.

    A woman who  practices such poor self control is unlikely to  practice excellent self control when the kids are home.

    I understand that you are focused on finances, wanting her to work, that you are upset that she  is having an affair while not working, while you are supporting her and I understand that the idea of you as a divorced man, having sole custody is overwhelming.

    It is convenient for a distressed and overwhelmed father to think that his abusive wife is a good mother.  But it cannot be true.  No  way she  is a good mother.

    In your struggles, see the reality of the situation as it is. It is necessary to do so for the purpose of proceeding wisely, and doing what  is most effective.

    What do you think?

    anita

     

    #310265

    Mark
    Participant

    robert,

    You don’t think that your wife’s violent behavior is not sensed or known by your children?  They don’t have to be on the direct receiving end in order to be traumatized.

    You use your finances as an excuse to keep your wife and her lover in the same home as your family.  You assume that it is you and your children have to move out.  Why can’t you kick your wife out?  I find it interesting you did not entertain that option, again that seems like victim mentality.

    I know it is easy for me to say but you are reaching out to this community for advice, observations, suggestions, and sharing of our own experiences in order to best counsel you.

    Mark

     

    #310273

    Peggy
    Participant

    Hi Robert,

    I picked up from your post to me that you are really hurt to see your wife ‘drinking and happy’ when you return home.  She is drinking for a reason (unless it’s just the occasional social drink) and this frequently denotes anger issues.  She sounds anything but happy.  I think you are assuming that this new man will not be subject to her abuse should he move in with her.  Patterns tend to repeat themselves and, unless she gets treatment and deals with her underlying issues, he could well become another “you”.

    As far as expecting your wife to work, I think you are in a Catch 22 situation.  She won’t go out to work whilst you pay for everything (including her drink) and mentally you think you can survive like this for two years.  Work out a budget that just covers basic necessities (no drink) and see what is left for you to ‘bank’.  You will know better where you stand after you’ve seen your lawyer but it might be better to rent somewhere and just pay the minimum that the law says you have to for your children.

    I basically agree with everyone else who says that this is not a healthy situation for any of you to be in and the sooner you can remove yourself from it, the better it will be for everyone.  Perhaps you can ask your lawyer where you stand with regard to the children whose safety must be paramount.

    Peggy

    #310385

    robert
    Participant

    I’ll respond here to all of you, as your themes are the same. I appreciate your points and have thought about them for some time. You are correct about the impact on the children, this is clear. I just wanted to clarify that in all other relationships that she has in regards to all other people, my wife has been kind, friendly, and is trusted.

    I reached out for help in order to weigh up what others felt, and I would have also replied in a similar way if it was someone else’s situation.

    In relation to getting out and going for full custody, or kicking my wife out of the house, I will talk to my lawyer about this, but it is also handled by a different office, the Jugendamt.

    All your points are valid, but I’m more looking for advice on how to deal with the depression of the whole situation, if you have any?

    #310403

    anita
    Participant

    Dear robert:

    “I’m more looking for advice on how to deal with the depression of the whole situation, if you have any?”-

    – a big part of depression is feeling powerless to change the difficult circumstances of our lives. Seeing no light at the end of the tunnel, no hope, feeling stuck in a bad place, a bad situation.

    This is why a plan of action is most important- planning and following practical steps to correct a difficult situation, or in your case- to exit it.

    Every day, as you follow that practical plan of action, as you exert therefore some power  over your life, or at least, you are working toward exerting power over your life, at the end of the day say to yourself: today, I did all that I can do.

    The Serenity Prayer states: “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference”.

    When you witness any particular distressing situation in your home, ask yourself: is this something I can change or something I should try to change right now? If it  is, do so. If it isn’t- accept it, let it be, there is nothing for you to do. Take a few slow, deep breath, say to yourself: this too shall pass and attend to your children.

    (Perhaps your plan of action should include collecting evidence of her behavior at home- ask your lawyer regarding collecting evidence/ documenting her abusive behavior, times, dates and so forth).

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by  anita.
    #310413

    Peggy
    Participant

    Hello Robert,

    Express your thoughts and feelings through the use of a journal – writing things down is therapeutic.  If you have your own room, play your favorite music and, if there’s room, dance around.  Movement and exercise ward off depression.  Look for groups and classes in your area in a subject you enjoy and take part in them.  Take the children out for walks at the weekend where you can spend some quality time with them.  Sketch, paint, make lunch, look for wild flowers, birds and insects.  Contact a friend or make a new one and meet up once a week.  Make a box of treasures full of cards, drawings, photos and so on from your loved ones.  Look for inspirational quotes to include.  Write down jokes that you find funny and so on.

    I have a card that a friend once sent me with the A-Z of Life’s Journey.  Here’s an example:  Quit Worrying, Have Faith, Yield to Fun and Venture into the Unknown.

    Act as if you are having fun and one day you might actually find yourself enjoying your life again.  I heard once that laughter was as good for you as jogging.  Now I just sit on a park bench laughing at all the joggers going by.

    Peggy

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