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Dr. Steve
Dr. Steve, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  19 years conducting therapy; book author; newspaper columnist; former co-host of radio show
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my wife makes the same mistakes again and again. when confronted

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my wife makes the same mistakes again and again. when confronted she becomes very defensive and when she can no longer defend herself she becomes hysterical and will throw tantrums like a child. After a few hours she has forgotten everything and will behave like nothing ever happened. She is like two people in one and I am beginning to think she has a serious psychological problem. Our life is always ok until you try to question why she does certain things. Do you think there is a problem? She also has no opinion or suggestion of her own until you come up with yours and she crushes it telling you what you suggesting will not work without telling what will work. She makes alot of mistakes which have cost us dearly and when confronted she amkes you feel you are the one who caused the problem if not partly responsible for it. She never takes responsibility for anything.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Steve replied 4 years ago.

Greetings:

 

Great question, but an unfortunate situation between you and your wife. It could be something as simple as an agitated depression, but given the description you wrote above, here is my best guess: Your wife sounds a lot like a woman with narcissism. I know that term gets thrown around a lot, and its real meaning tends to get lost in the shuffle, but here is the deal: If a child grows up in a household/family that does not "mirror" her thoughts and feelings, she essentially grows up feeling worthless and empty inside. Of course, this feeling is remarkably uncomfortable, and so she develops a "plan" to cover up the feelings or to protect herself from feeling this way. Thus, she begins to compensate by not making herself vulnerable... EVER. If asked for an opinion, she does not risk exposing herself to ridicule or dissension - rather, she awaits the other person's opinion, and then begins the process of making it seem as though hers is far superior (again, this over-correction makes up for the fact that she feels dreadful inside). Too, she positively canNOT take it when feeling criticized - even in the smallest of ways. So rather than accept and process the feedback, she launches an all-out assault against the person who makes the judgment, thereby creating an environment whereby the other person may dare not make such an assertion again.

 

In all, she really does need some reparative therapy, whether she likes it or not. My advice to you would be to gently (but firmly) lay out your concerns and suggest that the two of you enter therapy together. This may be "safer" for her if she feels as if (at the very least) the responsibility for the marital issues will be shared by both of you rather than heaped onto her already drooping shoulders. I might also suggest a book for you called "Disarming the Narcissist" by Wendy Behary. It will help you to formulate a plan to increase the level of empathetic communication between the two of you.

 

I wish you well. If this really is a characterological disorder, then the road to recovery is going to be a long one for her. If you are satisfied with the response, please hit "Accept." That is the only way i can receive credit for my answer. Thanks-

Dr. Steve

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks but what are my options? What I descrbed earlier is not the only problem


Expert:  Dr. Steve replied 4 years ago.

Hello again:

 

Sorry... I did not see that question in your original post.

 

Actually (and I am not trying to be difficult here!), I think I gave you a plan of action and a book for options in my original reply.

 

And thinking about it further, here is another thought - if she thinks it is you who has all of the "problems," go with her assessment (i.e., appeal to the narcissism in order to begin directing it - you MUST align in order to move her without abject resistance) and tell her that you are going to seek help. Then, because she "probably has a better memory" for the issues you will be bringing to therapy, she can perhaps accompany you to "help" your therapy/your therapist. Here again, we are going to back-door her into a therapeutic relationship so that some boundaries can begin to form. Whatever course of action you choose, there does have to be a degree of deception involved because she will be hyper-sensitive to any approach by you that even remotely implies she is culpable.

 

And seriously, get a copy of the book. I think you will find it to be quite enlightening!

 

Best wishes - If you are satisfied with the response, please hit "Accept." That is the only way I can receive credit for my answer. Thanks-

Dr. Steve

Dr. Steve, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 370
Experience: 19 years conducting therapy; book author; newspaper columnist; former co-host of radio show
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