Dennis - she has ground you down to a husk of your former self. She is simply taking advantage of your good nature and kindness.
Basically you have to get yourself sorted out and THEN tackle the family issue. For that reason, I have two recommendations for you.
First, I’d like you to use this tool:
This Bill of Rights was one of the tools used by Virginia Satir, a well-known family therapist. Containing some really basic psychological rights belonging to every person, it really helps to identify and deal with areas in which we have problems.
Read the statements. Note down any immediate thoughts or feelings that come to you and discuss with your therapist.
Look at yourself in a mirror and read it out loud to yourself. Listen to your voice grow in strength and volume so that you can really start to feel it inside. In the beginning, you may feel silly or embarrassed. You may hear the inner voice say, "That's not the truth". Just hang in there and keep doing it - you'll notice the change within six weeks, if you do it regularly.
1. I do not have to feel guilty just because someone else does not like what I
do, say, think or feel.
2. It is OK for me to feel angry and to express it in responsible ways.
3. I do not have to assume full responsibility for making decisions, particularly where others share responsibility for making the decisions.
4. I have the right to say "I don't understand" without feeling stupid or guilty.
5. I have the right to say NO.
6. I have the right to say No without feeling guilty.
7. I do not have to apologize or give reasons when I say NO.
8. I have the right to refuse requests which others make of me.
9. I have the right to tell others when I think they are manipulating, conning, or treating me unfairly.
10. I have the right to refuse additional responsibilities without feeling guilty.
11. I have a right to tell others when their behaviour annoys me.
12. I do not have to compromise my personal integrity.
13. I have a right to make mistakes and be responsible for them. I have a right to be wrong.
14. I do not have to be liked, admired, or respected by everyone for everything I do.
Secondly, I’m going to suggest that you would benefit from some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Not because there is anything wrong with you, but so that you can approach the family issues from a position of strength and as objectively as possible.
CBT is based on the fact that what we think in any given situation generates beliefs about, and reactions to that situation, and also causes the behaviour and feelings which flow from those beliefs and reactions.
These ‘automatic thoughts’ are so fast that generally, we are unaware that we have even had them. We call them ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) for short.
If the pattern of thinking we use, or our beliefs about our situation are even slightly distorted,
the resulting emotions and actions that flow from them can be extremely negative and unhelpful. The object of CBT is to identify these ‘automatic thoughts’ then to re-adjust our thoughts and beliefs so that they are entirely realistic and correspond to the realities of our lives, and that therefore, the resulting emotions, feelings and actions we have will be more useful and helpful.
Cognitive therapists do not usually interpret or seek for unconscious motivations but bring cognitions and beliefs into the current focus of attention and through guided discovery encourage clients to gently re-evaluate their thinking.
Therapy is not seen as something “done to” the client. CBT is not about trying to prove a client wrong and the therapist right, or getting into unhelpful debates. Through collaboration, questioning and re-evaluating their views, clients come to see for themselves that there are alternatives and that they can change.
Clients try things out in between therapy sessions, putting what has been learned into practice, learning how therapy translates into real life improvement.
Please visit this website for much more detailed information on CBT:
If you cannot afford to see a therapist, there are good free CBT based self-help resources here:
Also, there is a book called ”Feeling good - the new mood therapy” by Dr. David Burns. It has a hand book which gives you practical exercises to work through and further instructions on how to better use CBT. I really do recommend it.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook for Dummies By Rhena Branch, Rob Willson is also pretty good.
Finally, and once you are feeling stronger, you can tackle the family issues.
I think it is time for parenting in reverse!
We humans only indulge in behaviour that brings reward of some kind. Only when that reward (whatever it might be) disappears, or the consequences of our behaviour promise to be unpleasant do we consider changing what we do. Like a child, your wife is going to have to learn to accept boundaries, and you have to give her reason to change. If she is not given a reason to change – that is, that life will become very uncomfortable indeed – she will NOT change. Why should she – she has it all her way right now.
Here is the clue to sorting things out. When you are faced with non-co-operation – give her choices, and make sure she understands the consequences of her choice – and always follow through. These must include talking to you decently, controlling her temper and no threats of violence. Make it VERY clear to her that if there is the slightest threat of violence, the police will be involve immediately.
I would start by immediately taking control of the money – that gives you a bargaining tool. Cash to spend depends on civility!
It is then up to her – if she understands how strongly you feel about things, if she chooses to overstep the mark, then she has the responsibility for the consequences.
She needs to be confronted with unacceptability of her behavior, and made to understand while you care for her, her behaviour towards you is unacceptable and has to change. Make that very clear to her.
She also needs to understand that any continuation of offensive or dismissive behavior will have unpleasant consequences. They need to be spelled out to her very clearly, with clear emphasis on the fact that they will apply immediately. In other words, she either shapes up or the relationship is over, and she is out.
This may sound harsh, but unless she is given a reason to change, she will not. By being soft, you are just encouraging her behaviour, and not helping her at all.
Stay calm, remain objective and avoid drama, but stick to your guns.