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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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I am going through a divorce with my husband right now. We

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I am going through a divorce with my husband right now. We were together for seven years and married for 18 months. I am 33 and he is 28. Although he was sweet and kind, my husband went from menial job to menial job, smoked pot and passed out on the couch daily, and had his family, especially his mother smothering our marriage. All the while I was Steady Eddie, trying to increase my paycheck so we could start a family. I just felt overwhelmed and I stepped out of our marriage. It was a very short lived affair and I stopped it immediately and told my husband I was very sorry and wanted to please go to therapy. My husband ran out to live with his sister. Since that day, my husband has had sex with me several times and then walked away coldly, he's called me horrible names, threated to destroy me financially and ruin my job, I will stop all contact to let him go and he will then call me like a stalker on my phone and at work to say he wants to talk to me that he loves me and wants to see me. I fall for it and he cuts me off, rejects me again and tells me I need to let go and I'm needy, he keeps contact with my family but does not allow his family to contact me and had destroyed my reputation with his,exposing all of our marital issues with them. This has been since July and he invited himself to my sisters for Thanksgiving,begged me to see him and then told me if it was up to him he would stop the divorce. He then started treating me cold and bad again and now here but now he denies saying that. I am so mentally beat down from this. I know I was wrong but when I ask him to stop he tells me that I did this and it's my fault and it's because of me. I never saw a side like this before and everyone thinks he is so innocent and does not see the way he abuses me. He lies to everyone and doesn't even tell his attorney that he secretly calls me and sees me. The only way his attorney found out was when mine told her that he was lying about me harrassing him and he had voice messages and text message proof of it. He allows me to come over to see him for window amounts of time so that he can hide the fact that he is seeing me from his friends and relatives. I feel like I'm going crazy. I'm losing all my self esteem and I feel like there is not help for me because I had the affair and I don't deserve help. Please help me. I have no idea how to heal and it is destroying my whole life. Also, I never cheated on my husband the during the entire course of our relationship and the person I did have the very short affair with was crazy and did not want me to stay married so even after I told him that I told my husband and wanted to save my marriage, this man took it upon himself to inform my husband via email and send details via email. My husband told me it was my fault he was obsessed because I made him fall in love with me.  I just recently blocked his phone number from mine and told him to get help because he is emotionally abusing me.  I confessed, apologized, begged for therapy and to save our marriage.  He filed for divorce but is still doing this to me!
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

Your infidelity was a mistake, but the ongoing treatment and 'drama' within your relationship represents a whole series of dysfunctional behaviors that both you and your husband share. So, please set aside the issue of your marital infidelity for a moment and focus on what this relationship has been doing to your life over the past few months. First, you married a guy who was basically, a 'loser'. He never supported you adequately---cannot and WILL NOT do so in the future. Period. You need to decide if you want to live this very clear "reality" going forward. He is what he is. If you love him enough to put up with his lack of initiative, work ethic, his unwillingness pursue career advancement and work "his tail off" for his family, his self-indulgence in smoking pot, etc., then you will probably stay with him long term---you'll fall for his verbal reassurances and take him back repeatedly.

Second, you married a guy with serious symptoms of what we call a personality disorder. He keeps coming back to you because he realizes that few other women would find him attractive in the long run (i.e., he is a 'poor prospect' in the eyes of any healthy woman; he is rarely employed, has no resources to offer them, etc.); and, he realizes he is actually quite dependent upon you financially---you literally 'take care of him' in terms of meeting his physical needs. Why wouldn't he make token gestures to persuade you to take him back, if he can take advantage of your willingness to fund much of his lifestyle? Only a fool would not make such a request, repeatedly. He is quite dysfunctional, but he is no fool.

Third, you married a guy who really has no respect for you, and instead is highly narcissistic and self-focused. People with personality disorders externalize blame for everything----they only accept responsibility in a superficial, 'verbal' manner, without actually believing they are at fault. Saying they are sorry will get them something---and they know it. But they almost never accept personal responsibility for their actions, have trouble truly empathizing with others, cannot easily see how their behavior comes across to others, and will 'sell out' the interests of loved ones to make their own image appear favorable to others (.e.g, they will make their spouse or partner 'look bad', even to the point of lying, if it will enhance their own image).

So my point is----your infidelity was a problem, but it pales in comparison to the pathological behavior patterns of your husband.

I will pause here and allow you to react to my post...............

Edited by DoctorMichael on 1/1/2011 at 7:51 PM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I just don't understand why he only calls when I walk away but when I give in, he tells me he loves me and misses me but is divorcing me still. He has his entire family on his side and his mother is supporting him with funding for his attorney, shopping for his food, ect. He wants to keep the home and have me leave with all the debt. He threatens me with alimony when he is angry and then tells me he is a man and would not do that but goes back and forth with that statement. I don't understand why I am more attracted to him sexually and needy when he doesn't want me anymore? What is wrong with me?
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
When people are in the immediate state of losing a source of reward e.g., access to your attention and support, they will seek to regain it. So, he will only call and attempt to draw you back into contact with him if he actually feels you are withdrawing his 'rewards'. Once it is clear to him that he is somewhat 'safe' (his reward system you possess in 'safely' in place), he will refocus attention on himself and ignore you. Also, when you 'give in', he is smart enough to try to verbally reward your action of returning to him with the assets you possess. But, actually, he doesn't really mean what he says----it is a verbal manipulation--to reinforce your acquiescence in the moment. In the long run, he still appears intent on divorcing you. Based on the 'tall tales' he has shared with his family, he is now probably receiving constant encouragement and pressure to divorce you and 'be rid of you'. He has portrayed himself to his family as the 'victim', the abused husband; he has made you out to be the wicked witch who causes him so much grief that he cannot work; you've driven him to escape into a daily world of pot smoking. This is the picture he has painted of you to his family and so it is not surprising that he is being urged to get rid of you. Of course, he knows none of it is actually true, in the LEAST.

You are more attracted to him sexually and feel more needy when he pushes you away because the 'emotional' trains of thought you regularly experience involve fear of abandonment, fear of being alone. The emotional trains of thought you experience are quick to believe you are really not very attractive, if this guy is rejecting you, and you don't want to be seen as a marital 'failure'. On the other hand, the rational, objective part of you is the part that is writing this post to me today. It is able to step back and ask these honest, objective questions. It realizes that your tendency to take him back over and over again, the feelings you have of attraction when he pushes you away-----are all hugely irrational and self-defeating. So the trains of thought you are having right now in writing to me are the healthy aspect of your thinking. These emotional trains of thought are most definitely not very helpful to you because they are self-defeating. So nothing is wrong with you. You are experiencing very normal internal conflicts between the emotional trains of thought and feelings you have about this relationship----mostly based on how the relationship was when you first met this guy; versus the objective/rational trains of thoughts you have as you try to step back and look at this situation honestly and rationally. You will find that your thinking flips back and forth this way, as you try to figure this mess out for yourself.

What do you think?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I think a lot of what you say makes perfect sense. I was not perfect in my marriage either and had things to work on that I recognized. However, I am so stunned that someone who said that they loved me for so long would actually go to great lengths to destroy my reputation, threaten my livelihood, throw me out into the streets, lie to others and abuse me by actually having sex with me and then chucking me time after time. I am so shocked that he would paint this picture of me and that people would be dumb enough to believe he would stay with me for so long if I was so bad to him. I supported him, cuddled with him, loved him and truly cared about him. Yes, I yelled, got frustrated, said things that I took back but MY GOD I did have an affair but the last thing on my mind was how can I destroy my husband!!! It is amazing to me that he could show so much affection to me and then overnight become the one and only person who wants to nail me shut in a coffin. I cry and he has no remorse or sympathy for how I feel. Did he ever really love me?
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
People with narcissistic personality disorder traits, such as your husband, love themselves far more than they love others. They are able to feel 'love' feelings for others, but these are quite easily set aside if their own level of personal comfort is threatened, or if the other person isn't meeting their needs to the extent they wish them to. Others tend to feel exhausted by the incessant demands and needs of people with narcissistic personality traits because one can never do things quite well enough. So it is possible, likely that he loved you, but it was high conditional.

One approach some wise people might take in this situation is to make a clean break and not look back, and make any future relationship contingent upon: 1) evidence of completely giving up pot use; 2) completion of a vocational training program trade apprenticeship, or a college degree (AA, BS, etc.) and sustained employment for at least 6 months that is sufficient to pay for basic family expenses; 3) involvement in individual counseling with a solid record of changed behavior. And what would you have to do? I suppose----not have any more affairs. I suspect you have the easy part because you are already compliant with the above. Now, do you really want to be in a marriage in which you aren't at least equal partners, and have roughly 'equal' achievements in the above areas?

What do you think?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you. It's hard to believe that I never knew he was a narcissist after all these years. Lastly, I have told him I will never talk to him again before yet he still calls me after 10 days or so. How do you get someone with his type of personality disorder to understand that he is to stay out of your life completely and that you are done with the games?

Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
You simply must stop reinforcing his bad behavior. When you talk to him and act conciliatory and encouraging in any way, it reinforcing 'calling-every-10-days-after-she-ignores-me' behavior. To talk to him is to indulge his narcissistic wishes----it simply increases the likelihood that he will try this approach again to extract acquiescence from you and access to your emotional and physical resources e.g., sex and money. You may want to let him know that in order to talk to you again about reconciliation, he has to first show a very clear, specific pattern of behavior change, to win back your trust, because you cannot put your faith and be in any way dependent with your heart and livelihood on someone who is as unstable as he is, career-wise, emotionally, etc. AFTER his behavior change might come some talk of reconciliation. IMO, you can't afford to trust him based on words---only ACTIONS on his part. I realize I am being rather frank and stern here but really, your rational/objective brain knows all this stuff.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Please let me know if I have overlooked any aspect of your original question. I wish I were a mouse in the corner to watch/observe how this all works out for you. You seem like a very loyal, loving, smart, patient and hard-working woman; you deserve far better than this--honestly. Incidentally, please hit the green Accept button at the bottom of the screen before you finally log off. Thanks.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
My customer roster shows that this question has been 'timed out'. If you would like to provide a response to my last post, please feel free to do so. Alternatively, please hit the green Accept button at the bottom of this screen so I may receive credit for answering this question. Thanks.
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