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Mark Manley
Mark Manley, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 402
Experience:  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Over 15 years exp. Married 30 years and happy.
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I have been married 35; the last 15 years have been emotionally

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I have been married 35; the last 15 years have been emotionally difficult. It started when I became ill with undiagnosed pernicious anemia. By the time a doctor figured out the problem, I had no measurable B-12 in my system. For 2 years I was in a downward spiral. I went from being a happy, energetic 43 year old who ran about 20 miles a week, worked for a rape crisis program, attended college and was raising 3 children who I adored. I had to give up running (for the first time, I was dealing with injuries), became extremely depressed, gained 40 pounds because I was driven to eat to the point that I got up several times during the night to eat even though I knew I wasn't hungry. I quit school, and eventually my job, because I couldn't concentrate and had difficulty getting up in the morning. I stopped driving because I was going through red lights even though I kept telling myself to stop. Once I was diagnosed and started B-12 treatments, I slowly returned to my normal self with one exception. During that time, my husband never showed any sympathy or concern. In fact he was very rejecting and critical which led to more depression which remains today. When I try to talk to him about this, he is not sympathic, has never apologized for his rejection and insensitivity, and uses the fact that I was "crazy" to justify his actions (or inactions). Around this same time, the family dog was dying. He put all his energy and sympathy into the dog. Shortly after all this, in the span of 6 years, his father died and then his mother followed by his sister. Our relationship has never gotten back on track. I am looking for some understanding about this period in our relationship. He refuses to discuss it. We have not had any intimacy in six or seven years. I withdrew from any intimate conversations because it was too painful to be constantly rejected. In the last year he has rejected his younger sister (the last one person from his original family) when she was receiving treatment for cancer and told her he didn't love her. In fact, he said he didn't love anyone (except maybe his children). Last month he moved out of our home, telling me it may be temporary or it may be for good. He told me if someone came into his life that he was interested in, he would pursue that relationship. I am in therapy. My therapist tells me that he is a narcissist and that I was no longer valuable to him when I was sick. He sister also thinks he fits the description of a narcissist. This is not the person I married. He was never very communicative or emotional or empathetic but I am uncomfortable labeling him with a personality disorder. I need to understand what is going on.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 5 years ago.
He came face to face with mortality due to your illness, then he was further overwhelmed by the loss of his family members. Instead of learning to make peace with mortality (his own and loved ones), he ran away. If he doesn't care then he can't be hurt when death or illness robs him of his loved ones. In short he is allergic to mortality his own and his loved one's.

What can you do to help him? The only thing I know of is to confront him with his reality. He is so afraid of loosing his life and and his loved ones that he has actually created the situation he fears most. His prognosis for recovery is poor, but you never know, with you getting in his face, and a miracle or two he might learn to grow up and face reality. If not, I suggest that you let him go and see if you can find a man who is not afraid to love and be loved.

Sorry for your great pain.

Mark Manley
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
thank you for your reply. In your opinion (and with the information I have given you) do you think his response to things that have happened is driven by narcissism? People who have told me he is a narcissist have also told me there is no possibility of change because of the narcissism.
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 5 years ago.
He appears willing to give up everybody he loves in an attempt to avoid pain, insecurity and loss. This is not so indicative of Narcissism but it is probably equally difficult to treat due to his very strong aversion to facing reality and dealing with it.

If you are going to try to get through to him you have to confront him heavily. Instead of trying to diagnose him I recommended you learn how to be very assertive with him and "get in his face". If you have already become skilled at this, and you saw no movement in him, then you should consider letting go and moving on.

The label isn't very important. Your actions in relation to him are what you can control. Learn to confront his defensive thinking and behavior and how to invite him to come out from his hiding place. Some people are very fragile and hide their fragility behind any number of defenses. They not only attempt to hide from others but from themselves as well.

Put him to the test. Call him on his crap, all of it! and see what happens.

I will be surprised if he has the ability to respond in a genuine manner but If I were you I would want to know that I tried.

I am sorry this is so painful for you.

Mark Manley

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