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Steven Olsen
Steven Olsen, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1765
Experience:  More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
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How do I tolerate my spouse's consumption in the form of

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How do I tolerate my spouse's consumption in the form of overindulgence with food and overspending? My spouse is in denial over the lack of impulse control while routinely deceiving me regarding size and number of material purchases and vilifying me at the start of any constructive discussion about boundaries.

Thank you for your question.

How do you tolerate this? Simply said, you cannot. A marriage is a equal partnership of trust where each spouse supports the other. You have clearly done so on your end. You have tried to regain and establish controls to stop his clearly damaging behavior. Sadly, those limits and controls have not been followed. Instead you are being lied to and also treated as the killjoy, the one who wishes to stop the "fun". He is reacting to you, not as a wife and equal, but more as a controlling parent with him as the "teen".

Impulse control issues are addictive. And, they are almost never about the impulse itself. Simply said, the behavior that is unable to be resisted is just a symptom. Actions taken to control that behavior are almost always futile as the real issue is emotional. It is often rooted in family development and there is usually a controlling parent or family member in that past. In men, the real emotional drives are hard to access without professional help as they are often deep hurts, vulnerability, feelings of betrayal and poor self esteem.

Your husband needs counseling, and if he will not go I would gently suggest you go by yourself if need be. This behavioral pattern is draining an discouraging and hurtful to you. You need support and often if you see someone it opens a door for him to come along in the future as men with this issue rarely go to therapy unless there is a very easy way to access it. If you are already seeing someone, that creates such a path.

This is certainly not your fault as I am sure you know. But trying to stop the behavior is not going to work as the problem is his unmet emotional needs. Seek out a therapist. Your family doctor should be able to provide a referral. And, encourage your husband to come along, even if only to support you in the process.

This is difficult to deal with, but getting him to see someone, even if he thinks he is there to support you is a first step. If he refuses he risks losing you as he is placing his own needs totally ahead of you. We all do this at times, but unless he is willing to look at the real source of this behavior he will not change. Steven

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I mistakenly answered that the person is a male, but I am asking about my wife's behavior. Does this change your answer, and is it still deep-seated emotional issue at the core? Also, what impact does this comprehensive impulsive behavior have my two children, 4 and 9?

It makes some difference, but the basic dynamics are the same. However, in women this is often the result of restrictions in family development and often the behavior originates from rejection of a significant other, often a key family member. But the overall process is as described. The behavior is not the issue, but rather the emotions that are unmet.

Children learn control from both fathers and mothers. Mothers show management of day to day process and fathers often show personal control and responsibility. What it usually will do is cause the children to indulge rather than restrict and the long term affects are often seeking a husband or wife with similar patterns.

Yes this is emotional and she needs to have some professional assistance. But the good in this is that she, being female, has a much better chance of recovery. Steven

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
last question - is the effect on my children greater if primary custody is granted in divorce?

The more exposure they have to you, the less the impact on the children in terms of her behavior. Yet divorce has its own emotional issues for children and if this is the path that occurs I would suggest supportive counseling for them.

It has been a pleasure helping you Pete. I hope this turns out well for you and all. If you need to talk again, please ask for me. If you have been at all helped by this interaction, please rate me highly. Steven

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