I Was Abused As A Child And Now I'm Emotionally Abusive In My Marriage
(Las Vegas, NV)
Dr. DeFoore, I was emotionally and physically abused by 4 older brothers for over 14 years while growing up.
I used my anger and resentment toward those who abused me to live a disciplined and focused life. It helped me cope in school and in the military, all the while being alone and having no real attachment with friends.
I am now 21 and married. My wife and I have gotten very close over the years, so "Pandora's Box" has been opened. I have emotionally abused my wife, when I wasn't even realizing it, for a few months now.
Our marriage is on the brink of collapsing and my eyes are open to what I've been doing. Do you know what we should do? How I can get help and how we can save our relationship?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Braedan, and thanks for telling your story here. I congratulate you for learning to focus and direct your anger for all of those years.
As you're now learning, however, intimate relationships tend to bring up old anger more than any other situation. I think it's great that you want to get healthy and save your marriage. I will try to help.
Start by writing about all of the abuse you experienced from your brothers (and anyone else), as described on this page. Your parents may have some responsibility for neglect, since I'm guessing they could have done something to protect you. If so, write about that too.
Also, begin a daily anger journal, to focus and contain your anger, as described on the journaling page linked above. Every time you get angry at your wife, hold it inside if you can, and then get it out in your journal.
I strongly encourage you to use these imagery processes for emotional healing to resolve your past trauma from the abuse. This will also help if you have any post-military PTSD.
Finally, begin shifting your focus in a positive direction with the third of the three journaling processes. This is very important, and will help you tremendously.
You're a good man, Braedan, or you would never have written your story for this site.
Believe in yourself, and use these tools until you get really good at them. You will see good results, if you do the work.
My very best to you,
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