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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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I have been married for 23 years. We have 2 grown children,

Customer Question

Hello, My name is***** have been married for 23 years. We have 2 grown children, one 17 and the other 20. I need some help.. My relationship with my husband is bad. He tells me I am the reason he drinks... and the way he speaks to me is because of my weight, my medications I take for anxiety, and because of my personality. Thoughout our marriage, I have worked to support our family so he could become an airline pilot. I have pretty much raised our children and worked outside the home on my own to help him get to where he is today. I feel afraid, scared, and I have become to isolate myself from him and others ,I quess because I feel I don't deserve anything better. It is like Iam in a self protective mode..Over the past 2 years.. because of the hateful words that I have eternalized, I feel I don't derserve anything better. He tells me Iam the reason he drinks,and that he only drinks at home.. because I don't take care of myself.He has said that Iam an embarrassment to him and his friends, and that no other man would find me attractive.
I believe he doesn't see what he has in me.... I have devoted my entire life to supporting his carreer and to the care for our children while working outside the home. But for the last 2 years, I have isolated myself because.. I quess I feel so terrible about myself, and the hurtful comments that are said. Not once have I ever heard a thank you for for my efforts in helping him... all I hear is that " Iam an obese woman... who sleeps all the time,, and pop pills" Iam just exhausted and so tired.. with the feeling that I will never measure up to his expectations . I feel Iam nothing more than a liability to him.
So, 2 nights ago.. he came home drunk... from buying dinner.. he came home.. and invaded my sons personnal space and proceeded to urinate on himself.. He was behaving in such an out of control way. ie slurring words, spilling our dinner, like a sloppy drunk.The next day when he left to go fly.. I began to text him.. telling him.. that is the last time I will put up with this.. I told him to stay in Houston.( where he is based) and not to come home until I can sort all of this out. I told him.. that he is not allowed back in our home until I felt safe enough. I encourgaed him to get help for his drinking. Everything that I said to him was through text.. so I can have documentation. I told him to give us the space that we need.. and that this was not fair to our children or me.. I told him if he did not respect my decision.. I would have to change the locks on the house.
I set up an appointment with my counselor.. and will start to go back to my Allanon meetings.. I was beginning to see some clarity until he returned my texts
He proceeded to tell me once again that my behavior of isolation , my medications I take for anxiety, and being obese are what cause him to drink. He can be so hateful with these accusation... that I believe him .. therefore reinforce my isolation..
Iam 49 years old.. and have tried and overfunctioned so much by being the best Mom I can.. and thinking that I have to put up with the drinking and hateful comments,, that I feel Iam 100 years old.. I feel so alone.. and so tired of putting on a happy face for my children.. that most of the time.. I sleep when my kids are at school now.
He convinces me that Iam the reason he drinks.. Iam so alone and feel so guilty, and just flawed. Please help me. Iam a good person.. I have worked in the medical field for 25 years.. raised my children to the best of my ability... but now.. I feel no better than garbage when I hear and internalize how he thinks of me.. Sometimes, I barely have enough strength to make it to the bathroom.The person he sees. for some reason I believe. The person that my friends and coworkers see, is someone different. i don't know who Iam.. All I know is that I have done my best to love and nurture my children, and thought I was doing the right thing my supporting his career.. by working so hard outside the home.. My self esteem has hit rock bottom. Please help me, Thank you, Elizabeth
Somehow, I have raised two wonderful children. My son is a straight A student.. and doing so well in school, and my daughter too. This is not fair to them.. and I have tried so hard to be the best Mom. My children and I are close..I know that because Iam involved in their lives and the lines of communication are open and honest.
I feel so responsible for everything.. and I know Iam so hyperviligent in protecting my children from all of this. But now, I have reached the point of barely surviving. Please help me. Thank you, Elizabeth
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 4 years ago.

Hi Elizabeth! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

First let me say that I can imagine how distressing and worrisome and even scary this situation must be for you. I say scary because you've devoted so much of your life, of who "you" are, meaning your "self", to this marriage and to your loyalty to your husband. And now it's in danger, it feels to you like it's in danger. But, Elizabeth, it's really been in danger for a long time. This situation is clearly also very distressing, so I will also at the end of the posting give you a technique you can use on your own as well for when you are in the throes of anxiety and depression.

Elizabeth, I am so impressed with your clear thinking before he texted you. You must continue with these plans. They were very sound plans. Please commit to going ahead with them. Al Anon is very, very important so you have support. Counseling is essential as well. Good for you. Remember: he is responsible for his drinking and for his actions. No one forced him to drink, and certainly not you!

Let's also work on five ways you can begin to build a behavioral program for yourself to give you the emotional strength you need to handle his mean and unhealthy way of conducting himself: diet, exercise, spiritual life, motivational reading and psychotherapy. The first four are to help you feel more involved and in control of yourself and what's going on inside. The psychotherapy can actually teach you skills and give you tools for managing your symptoms. This is serious for you as you need to reprogram your thinking about yourself. Spiritual life, diet and exercise are great ways to begin such a reprogramming.

Diet: cut out coffee, sugar, white flour. That may be tough. But you will see results as some of the newer research shows. And lean meats only. No fast food restaurants, no fatty foods. See what I mean about getting involved in controlling what's happening? With diet changes you are treating your problem with respect: you are acknowledging you need to make changes to get your body feeling better. Let yourself feel better about yourself.

Vitamins can be useful for moods. A good quality daily vitamin, for example. One of the most important supplements is Omega 3 fatty acids, either in fish oil or capsules or in flax seed oil. Buy good quality. The clinical dosage is 1,600-3,000 mg daily. All these things you should get at the biggest and most frequented health food store and ask them for the best brands they trust in terms of quality.

Exercise: 5 days a week moderate exercise, to include 3 days of strength training as you get more used to it. Pretty amazing isn't it? I told you it would require work, but what you put in to it you will get out of it. Your doctor will verify the research results showing the benefit. See if your kids will help with going on walks or bike rides, or even doing exercise videos with you.

Spiritual life: the medical literature is now rather overwhelming about the benefits to so many different areas of physical health of regular religious and spiritual practice. Going to church, meditation, etc. are all shown to produce benefits to the physical body. What about our mental health? Well, you will see that meditation is now a regular part of psychotherapy interventions. I don't know if you're a religious person or not. But if not, this may be a good time in your life to tune up your spiritual life. If you do not believe in G-d, that's not a barrier to your own spiritual life. Just thinking about the meaning of your life, of life in general, and studying spiritual texts and practices will help with the anxiety and depression.

Then along with exploring the spiritual part of life, I want you to get really into motivational videos and books. Here's a simple YouTube search I put together for you on "motivational speakers":

Some like Tony Robbins are the classic big guys. Some are newer. Watch them all. There are great women speakers now as well. Get inspired. Buy a book or two. Here are some possibilities, but they are only suggestions as there are so many good ones.

The first book is the father of all these type of books. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. There are classes in these books now! It was written in the 1930s and still has something to say to us today that is very worthwhile.

I think very highly of the second book on my list, which is a real classic: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It is the book that has helped more people than probably any other.

The third book is by Anthony Robbins. He's one of those speakers who fills up huge auditoriums. For a reason. He's a terrific speaker and writer. The particular book (if you like it, try his others): Awaken the Giant Within.

Which brings us to psychotherapy. If your counselor doesn't help enough, here is the web address for Psychology Today's therapist directory. You can sort by zip codes and when you see someone who seems like they might be helpful (they show you a photo of the therapist!) look at the listing and see if they list relationships, depression, and anxiety disorders as one of the areas they work with.

If you want someone who isn't as structured as a pure CBT therapist, consider seeing if the therapist also lists humanistic and/or psychodynamic therapy in their orientation. The idea here isn't that these types of therapy are magic. It's that you may want to find a therapist who will form a strong therapeutic alliance with you and will help you look at the sources of your emotions and social phobia.

Okay, that should help you get working on these symptoms and get some relief. I wish you the very best!

Now, I want to give you a tool to use for when the worry and depression is overwhelming. Here are instructions on a therapeutic protocol called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). It's really quite easy to do almost anywhere. My patients suffering from depression or anxiety, when I teach them PMR at first are amazed how simple it is and that it is a psychological protocol. It was first used in the 1920s! Since then, of course, it has been refined and many studies have been done showing its effectiveness. You will practice PMR at first when you don't wake up with an attack so that you will be familiar with it. I want you to practice the PMR at least 5-6 times before an attack or feeling acute anxiety. Why? Because when you're in the throes of anxiety, you will only remember to do something you are very familiar with it. So practicing 5-6 times is really a minimum.

I want to stress the importance of breathing as well. Part of the physiology of what is happening to you in anxiety states is that your breathing is getting shallower. This reduces the oxygen in your blood to your brain. That increases the anxiety reaction, which strengthens the attack and you are in a vicious cycle! Not good. So breathing is the primary tool. I have found in my practice that learning breathing techniques can be helpful. But some of my patients are not interested in learning more than one thing at the beginning, so I have found that just reminding you to BREATHE deeply at the same time you are doing PMR is almost as good. If you are willing to take a yoga class and learn breathing techniques, that's the best. But, breathing deeply with your PMR will help.

So, we're ready for learning PMR. I want you to print my instructions below my signature and have a copy in each of the rooms of your home where you may be when you have an attack. And again, you need to practice this easy technique at least 5-6 times as soon as you can. It needs to become as natural to you as breathing. Ah, remember breathing?

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****


  1. After finding a quiet place and several free minutes to practice progressive muscle relaxation, sit or lie down and make yourself comfortable.
  2. Begin by tensing all the muscles in your face. Make a tight grimace, close your eyes as tightly as possible, clench your teeth, even move your ears up if you can. Hold this for the count of eight as you inhale.
  3. Now exhale and relax completely. Let your face go completely lax, as though you were sleeping. Feel the tension seep from your facial muscles, and enjoy the feeling.
  4. Next, completely tense your neck and shoulders, again inhaling and counting to eight. Then exhale and relax.
  5. Continue down your body, repeating the procedure with the following muscle groups:
    • chest
    • abdomen
    • entire right arm
    • right forearm and hand (making a fist)
    • right hand
    • entire left arm
    • left forearm and hand (again, making a fist)
    • left hand
    • buttocks
    • entire right leg
    • lower right leg and foot
    • right foot
    • entire left leg
    • lower left leg and foot
    • left foot
  6. for the shortened version, which includes just four main muscle groups:
    • face
    • neck, shoulders and arms
    • abdomen and chest
    • buttocks, legs and feet

Quickly focusing on each group one after the other, with practice you can relax your body like ‘liquid relaxation’ poured on your head and it flowed down and completely covered you. You can use progressive muscle relaxation to quickly de-stress any time.

What You Need:

  • A comfortable place.
  • Some privacy.
  • A few minutes.


My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****