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Kristin, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 454
Experience:  Licensed Mental Health Counselor. 11+ years specialist in mental health. Expertise and insight!
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My wife is almost always trying to pick a fight. When she

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My wife is almost always trying to pick a fight. When she talks she jabs at me. Inserting insults with every other sentence. When an appropriate objective conversation starts, she interrupts my response, interjects hers, but keeps changing the subject with only slightly relevant content. It's like a bull fight where the direct attack is always avoided, but the irritation is maintained. We make love fewer than 5 times a year; and the frequency is dropping. Should I read that our marriage is toast?

Hello and thank you for your question.

This situation sounds really unbearable for you. I have some questions. How long has your wife been doing this, trying to pick a fight? Does she only behave this way with you or with other people as well? How long were you in counseling for this and how did that go for you?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

She has been picking fights for at least a few months. I decided to run for Congress in order to communicate to my district and our nation fundamental solutions to our nation's problems: We spent $50k to do this and it was a loan of her money. She decided that I was fundamentally financially a fool. Ever since she had been turning up the screws on the annoyance. But this did not start with the election. We went to therapy over more than 5 years, both individual and couple. I was in counselling many times before we married about 10 years ago. Many cousellors have told me that I am holding anger that I don't express and when I was 18 a psychiatrist told me not to get married because I will probably never provide adequate intimacy.

Thank you for the additional information. Why on earth would a counselor tell you at age 18 that you couldn't provide intimacy? Was there a reason for this?

It does definitely sound like you do withhold your emotions and allow your wife to run over you emotionally. This in turn can reinforce her abusive/aggressive behavior towards you. You do need to set a firm boundary with her. Even though you spent money towards a cause, that does not give her license to treat you poorly. It sounds like she is disrespectful of you and that you definitely need to start standing up for yourself. How does she respond when you do try to set a limit with her and not put up with her behaviors?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

When I was 18, I was in college. I got upset about loosing a card game. I drove away in a car. I got into an auto accident in this state of annoyance. During the ensuing discussions with the Psychiatrist, I repeatedly used word choices that precisely answered questions but did it in a way that was counter to convention: E.G. when asked: "You didn't go to the movie last night?", my answer was "YES" when I wanted to mean I didn't go. E.G. when asked "Is there someone sitting in that chair?", I would say, "if so, they must be very, very tiny!", when asked "Is that dog a boy or a girl?", I would say, "No, its a dog." Perhaps that's why the pyschiatrist thought that I was not going to open up to a woman.

I just came back from a WEEKEND emotional workshop/training where I may have effectively excised a major part of the hurt associated with the fact that my 2.5 year older brother severely beat me up at least once a week my entire life until I was fourteen. During the last ten of those years, I regularly promised myself that I would kill him decades later. Then, he just stopped doing it. Even during all of those years, I loved him and forgave him, but I never forgot the lesson: how dangerous it was to express my anger.

I hit 2 of my former wifes who yelled at me. 3 times in my life. So I have been terrified of my own anger!

Thus until, Saturday (2 days ago), I was unwilling to abide someone else's yelling. Now I am going to put up with it. FACE it and... Convert it into a compassionate and healing process. But my wife is still jabbing like in a bull fight. I wish she would stick to a head-on fight wherein I can use my new (hopefully) power and determination.

Is there still hope for this marriage? How can I get the desired process to start? How can I get us love-making?

Good for you for attending the workshop. Underneath the anger towards your brother is hurt and releasing that true emotion also serves to lessen your anger, where you won't be so apt to lash out (and hit for example) which as you know is completely unacceptable. Sounds like as a teen you were just simply rebelling in a sense to those questions being asked, which is not uncommon for teens to do who also have the intelligence to answer in such a clever manner. Sounds like you irritated the psychiatrist and he reacted in an emotional manner by telling you what he did. I would let that go, what he said to you....

Yes there is always hope for a relationship, however that exists when you are both committed to that process. When your wife jabs at you, I would not accept it. as it's not okay for her to do that. She needs to be accountable for her own behavior just as you do for yours. But you are not responsible to heal her... what you can say is I really am committed to working on the marriage and understanding what I can do to make things better and communicate with you, so that you don't feel so frustrated. However, when you jab at me, I'm going to disengage and leave the room as it's not good for our marriage to allow that to continue. If you want to talk in a way that isn't hurtful or demeaning, then I would really like that as well. I know I have things to work on too, and I'm prepared to do that, in fact I am doing that now. But please do treat me respect and be more gentle in your words. Then you need to follow thru on that boundary. And if she starts up, you need to say... I'm going into the other room until you calm down. And then do it. If you don't set this boundary, you are telling her in actions that it's ok for her to do this, that you will put up with it and this only enables her to keep doing it. Again, it's up to her to stop the behavior ultimately, but in the meantime you don't need to be the verbal punching bag. From there, she may start to not only respect you more, but gain more clarity into why she is doing that. You two can work on the issues of the resentment about the loan, how she perceives you etc. I would really recommend a couples counselor for that. For a more intimate life, is to go out on a real date with dinner and fun, and have a good time. You need to get back into the habit of a sexual relationship and that means by simply initiating it and moving forward with that. If she declines then you will have to discuss it and agree to set dates and times for lovemaking and again, follow through with them. The rut has become a habit and like any new habit it's broken with new behaviors and routines, and follow through. It could also be that once you two can get to some of the deeper emotions and share them (thru counseling or another means) that you will feel closer and then that can evolve into more of an intimate physical relationship as well. Be sure to also show your wife physical affection such as kiss, hug or caress that is not about leading to sex, but just to demonstrate affection here and there. That will also keep you two physically connected even if you are not having sex.

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