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by Sonya
(Chandler, AZ)

I have been married to my husband for 16 years. Up till last week, we were planning on remnewing our vows. Suddenly out of nowhere my husband said he needed to find himself and couldn't live with me and our two daughters. I begged him to stay and he did, but the problem he said was that I drink too much, so I immediatly stopped.

However, I explained to him in therapy and verbally that my drinking was the way that I have used to cope with his anger managment problems. I further explained that I have changed the part of me that he asked me to for the better good, but if he doesn't get help with his anger, the relationship is not going to get better. He refused to accept that his actions are wrong and blames me and the children for his rages and outbursts.

When I try and explain or communicate that he and he alone is responsible for his behavior, he turns to his mother, who makes it "all right" for him. Anything she says is more powerful than anything I say and I am then treated like an idiot who's to blame for everything.

Now that I have stopped drinking, I've taken away his ability to use that against me. Now his new blame game is blaming the current situations on me, saying I am to blame for screwing them up when I was drinking.

There is no reaching this man! Last but not least when I no longer buckle down under his sarcasm, name calling, and meanness, he runs away, refusing to hear me.

My teenager is going through her teenage years and it's tough on everybody, but he blames me, saying I allowed her to get out of control. He becomes outraged with her when he trys to parent her. Then he blames her behavior on me because in therapy I admitted keeping things from him that my daughter did wrong, because I didn't want to deal with the yelling, screaming and tantrums when he found out.

He feels deceived and so now I try and keep him in the loop on everything. But then we still have total chaos in our home due to his abusive behavior.

When he loses control of his emotions and finds himself in a state of rage he blames her, and says hateful things to her. My teenage daughter can't stand her father and even though he can be very nice when things are going well, he ruins it by getting outraged every time there is a problem. I truly don't know what to do. Please Help!

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Sonya, and thanks for telling your story here. It sounds like you have worked very hard to make things better in your marriage. It is very good that you quit drinking. I hope you understand that it wasn't your husband's anger that caused your drinking, even though drinking was your coping mechanism for dealing with him. You are in recovery from alcoholism, and you need to understand that a lot of emotions that you were previously "medicating" with alcohol will now be bubbling up to the surface without the alcohol to keep them down. You might consider joining an AA group to help you with your recovery process.

That said, it is clear that you have major issues with your husband. The best thing I can do for you is to help you take good care of yourself, and work to get yourself as emotionally healthy as possible. You cannot change your husband, but you can change how you relate to him.

Here's what I suggest:

1) Write a detailed account of any abuse, abandonment or neglect you received as a child. Don't hold back or leave anything out. Describe every detail. Write about everything that has ever hurt, frightened or angered you. I know it might take a while, but it will really help. This is for no one's eyes but yours, so don't worry about that. The benefit is how it will help you to revisit these memories from your present position. What's the point of this? You have to be emotionally healthy yourself in order to improve your marriage, and this will help with that.

2) Now that you have brought up those memories, use the guided imagery healing processes you will find on this page to heal emotionally from the abuse. Use these techniques, and keep trying until you get some relief. They are powerful tools, that work very well if you use them.

When you deal with your past experiences this way, it will make the following techniques work much better for you. So be sure and do the above exercises before moving on to the following ones.

1) Use the journaling processes you will find described on this page to begin managing your anger more effectively on a daily basis. This will include a daily journaling process of writing from your anger and then shifting to positive journaling about the good things in yourself, your life and other people.

2) Moment by moment, day by day, shift your focus from what you don't like to what you do like. The things that trigger your anger are all things you don't like or don't want. Train your mind to look at the things you do want and like. Use this to extend the benefit of the positive journaling process above. Especially focus on the positive aspects of your husband. Make up your mind that you will have a healthy marriage, and that your husband will treat you with respect. Try to believe in the good man inside him.

If your husband is a chronic abuser, and refuses to get help or improve himself, the above exercises may seem pointless. You have to decide the best way to take care of yourself. That is nobody's business but your own.

Believe in yourself, Sonya. Make up your mind to be healthy, and to have a healthy marriage.

Never, ever give up on yourself.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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