Avatar universal

Unsure of what to do about wife who grew up abused.

My wife was abused physically, emotionally, psychologically and in other ways as far back as she can remember until the age of 19 when she ran away from home.

I met prior to her running away from home and I am the reason she left, I asked her to marry me and she took that as her way out it seems and we were married. I knew she was abused but I did not truly know how much abuse she had lived with at the time we married. I did not come from an abusive home so it was something unknown to me. Ever since the beginning I thought I was strong enough for the both of us but 10 years later I'm not so sure anymore.

My entire life I never got into arguments with anybody including my adult life while married to my wife with the exception of her. I served 10 years in the military until I was hurt and was medically retired but during my entire military career I never argued with anybody. I was always the mediator whenever there was an argument that occurred if I was around. People came to me for help to solve problems etc. I actually have training on how to de-escalate aggressive behaviors and situations and had to utilize this often as do most NCOs.

My wife is the one exception. No matter what I do if she is in the least bit upset or just feeling bad one wrong thing can set her off into a tirade of yelling, cursing, accusations and threats. For the first few years I always stayed calm during these episodes and let her get everything out and eventually she would run out of steam or I would talk her into calm and the argument ended. As the years progressed she became worse and my patience wore thinner and thinner. Somewhere in the middle years 3-7 I remember one thing I told her, "I've tried and tried so hard not to argue with you, I've done everything I can but your forcing me to feel things I don’t want to feel... I just hope one day I do not become as angry as you."

To fill in some gaps. Holidays were always horrible. The first 3 years she would go visit her family for holidays like mother's day, Christmas, Thanks-giving etc and she would always come back home crying because her family let her down in one way or another. I would be there for her and support her and she did not see me as the enemy back then but her support system. As the years went on she grew further from her family and stopped visiting, then stopped calling and finally cut off all communication with them at all. This is when all the rage and abusive behavior started to get worse in our marriage. Whenever a holiday was approaching or an important event like me making rank or a birthday she would automatically be in a bad mood and just asking "Are you ok?" or "What's wrong?" would end up with me getting yelled at and the holiday or event would be ruined.

One major thing she does when she gets upset is she will bring up every single thing possible that goes years back. She could be upset about the toilet seat being up, for example, but it will go way beyond that by the end of the argument. She will start with the toilet seat but then literally bring up something from 3,5,7...10 years ago that I may have done wrong. Then she speaks in absolutes like, "You never loved me.", "You never do anything that shows you care.", "You always think you are right about everything.", "You never help with anything.". Recently, the past 2 years, she has started to pack her things and say she is contacting a divorce attorney every time we have an argument. She has done this countless times... even as recent as an hour ago, hence this post.

Throughout the years she has slowly told me about her abusive childhood/life while living with her parents. She ran away from home often to other friend's houses. She would pack her stuff then just run away. She told me she has been physically abused as long as she can remember by her father. From what I gather she has been hit and put into the hospital many times. I did not realize just how many times he has put her in the hospital until we recently found her medical records that covered the time she grew up in her parent's home. The medical records are in two separate books and each is about 1 1/2" thick. Granted a lot of the records are normal childhood sicknesses but a lot of it was "Patient claims to have fallen down." or "Patient claims to have slammed arms in car door by accident." and with each of those it will have a note stating, no parent/guardian present at medical facility. Her father would beat her then make her mother drop her off in front of the hospital... then my wife would have to lie to the doctors in the E.R. and after being treated she would either call a friend to pick her up or if she was lucky her mother would pick her up.

Her father has contacted me on a few different occasions and they have all been bad. The first time I met him (keep in mind he is a police officer) he said he was going to fight me... we ran across him in a Wal-Mart and he was upset that I did not ask for approval to marry his daughter. Another time, years later, I ran across him at a gas station where he held me up for about an hour talking about my wife. The conversation started off with him apologizing about the past but slowly moved to calling my wife an instigator and saying she was the abuser in her family, that she was the one who hit people in her family and started fights. When he was through talking poorly about my wife I told him he had to be crazy if he thought I would believe his lies over my wife of 9 years, I then walked away and haven’t spoken to him since.
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13167 tn?1327194124
I completely agree that some people are more resilient to abuse and hardship than others.  Some people are virtually never deeply affected by it - they soldier on and focus on other things,  and live their lives.  Other people are deeply affected by it,  and for a time act out their hurt,  but reach a point where they decide I WILL NOT live this way,  I WILL overcome,  I will live joyfully and make a great life for myself despite the injuries that they have caused me,  I will break free of this yoke of pain.

Either one of those types overcome and can life fully.

The third type,  suffers from trauma and makes a virtual nest in it,  afraid to break free and in fact no even really realizing how caged they are.  How bound they are.  So they engineer a life around their bondage,  forging relationships with people who won't challenge their bondage,  or if they are too challenged they drop the relationships in favor of hanging on to their construct of how life is after abuse.

Your wife isn't the first type,  the kind of aren't ever really affected.

She may well be the second type,  the type who says ENOUGH,  I'm done living in this pain.

If she's the second type,  since she is religious she might want to buy Beth Moore's "Breaking Free" series.  It's 10 CDs and a workbook.  VERY VERY powerful for believers.

Secondly,  she may want to read Bad Childhood Good Life by Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

Best wishes.   I hope somehow you and she are able to find peace through all this.
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Avatar universal
I guess what I am getting at as far as my wife's abusive past is this; I know for sure she came from an extremely broken home. I know she had to deal with a tremendous amount of abuse of all types for 19 years, her memories seem to go back to the age of 5, 14 of which she can remember. She has had broken bones, she has a hard time trusting new people in her life, she tends to believe everyone will inevitably let her down... the list goes on. She was suffering from a chronic pain a few years back and we hopped from doctor to doctor until we ran across one that said the pain she has usually manifests in adults that were sexually abused as children/young adults and my wife started crying on the spot. After we left that office I asked if that was true, if she had been sexually abused as well and she answered no.

The longer I am in this marriage the worse it gets. I have tried so many ways to fix our problem. Nothing works and some things make things worse. She refuses to see a psychologist or psychiatrist or even marriage counseling. She won’t open up to me though I have told her everything about my past and opened up 100% about everything to let her know I trust her with my secrets and my life's past yet she still after 10 years of marriage says things like, "You don’t even know anything about me, I haven’t told you even half of what I've gone through."

Anybody reading this would most likely think that there are always two sides to every story/situation and you would be right. I admit I have some fault in what has ultimately become a wreck of a marriage. We have no children... I started believing that having children would be a bad idea considering the temperament of my wife and her past but, there are also other reasons we have not had children that have nothing to do with my wife's past or temperament. I just wanted to say we do not have children in case anybody was wondering about that.

When I say I have played my part in this marriage falling apart what I mean is I lost my patience and I lost a lot of trust in my wife throughout the years. The first few years we argued almost every other day... if a week went by without an argument then that was unusual to say the least. In those first few years I was very patient and I always stayed coolheaded because I did not see the purpose in having two people screaming and yelling about something. But as the years went on her yelling and screaming got worse even as I continued to not fight her. I eventually gave in and started taking a proactive approach to the arguments. I started pointing out things that I researched like how her temperament was going to ruin this marriage, about how she was letting what her father did to her while she lived with them was going to damage a marriage that did not have to be like her parent's marriage. From day 1 I never controlled her, I always let her chase whatever ambition or dream she wanted. I always let her buy what she wanted, be friends with whom she wanted... do what she wanted. I was never the man to say no to her as there was no reason to

One major incident where I lost a lot of trust in her was while I was in the military. I was injured severely and needed surgery. After the surgery and 3 days of being in the hospital I was sent home but was released to er care for the next 3 months. I was bed-ridden and relied on her for everything to include food, help with restroom and taking care of my medicine. I suffered from severe nerve damage in a large area and was on extremely strong medicine at the time. She was supposed to get my medication filled but her mother called and she went to visit her family and forgot to get my medication. I had taken my last pill and thought that at any moment she would come home with my medication. She said she would only be gone for 2-3 hours but she stayed with her family for over 12 hours. My medication ran out and I was in tremendous pain, I think I called her so many times she eventually had to answer. When she answered I told her I was in immense pain and needed my medication but at the same time I asked her why she did not answer her phone for 8 hours even though I left messages about needing help. I was irate to say the least. When she got home she had my medicine but instead of bringing it to me she brought herself dinner and sat in the living room eating with my medication right next to her. I called out to her until my voice was hoarse and finally I tried getting out of bed to get the medicine myself. I walked out of the bedroom and started down the hall but fell down... I was in so much pain and crying so much I could barely see her but when I was able to focus on her I saw a look on her face I still remember 5 years later. She was putting a fork of food in her mouth and smiling while looking at me... while I was crying on the floor begging for my medicine. I laid there for another 5 minutes and fell asleep on the ground from pure exhaustion. She eventually helped me back to bed and gave me my medicine but from that point on I called my supervisor at work and asked him to help with my medicine. I never told anybody about this, I just told my supervisor that my wife was extremely busy at work and I needed his help and he did so. This incident... it caused a lot of pain both physically and emotionally. I had never been in a situation where I had to rely so heavily upon somebody as an adult and that person, who was supposed to be my best friend and closest person to me, fall through on purpose and all that because she decided to get me back for being upset about her not answering her phone or bringing my medication in time.
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Avatar universal
What scared me the most was two years later I had to go through another surgery that was very similar and it would make me bedbound again. Before I had the second surgery I actually had to confront my wife about that moment and asked her if I could rely on her or if she would do the same thing again. I had to tell her if she had any inclination to do the same thing to me again that I would report it to the authorities this time. I did have the foresight to have my supervisor call me every few days to check on me this time and all went well for the 3 months I was in rehab.

Our 10 year anniversary is coming up this year and this is where our marriage stands. My wife isolated me from every friend I had from my life before her. She even isolated me from any new friends I made to the point I did not have any friends. She would instantly dislike anybody I befriended and brought to our house and eventually her disdain for anybody who I befriended would show in her actions and verbal communications while they were at the house. It got to the point my friends felt uncomfortable being at my house. Then I would go hang out at their house instead and for a short while that worked out. I would go to their house and hang out playing video games or working on our vehicles for 1 hour to 3 hours about 2 times a week but, eventually she started arguments about even that... it got to the point that every single time I went out to a friend's house I would come home to an immediate argument about how I always choose friends over my own wife. It only took about 3 of those arguments to take the energy out of me to defend myself and the right to have friends that I simply stopped having friends at all. Through this whole time she had friends that she would hang out with at all hours of the day, have them sleep over at the house, go on weekend trips out of town with etc.... I never said a single word in protest about her and what she did with her friends ever.

I went through phases where I would try to sit her down and talk about her past. I have tried taking advice like telling her how her behavior made me feel the way she felt when she grew up. I have tried to treat her how she treated me (that was short lived and the worst idea possible, I thought if she had a taste of her own medicine it would make her see what I was living with... never did that again). I have taken advice and not argued or fight back at all, that actually made her get more upset than I have ever seen her. In that situation I told her I admit to whatever she said I did wrong but will not argue about it and for 3 hours she screamed and yelled while I just took it but she started getting more upset than I had ever seen her so I had to actually start arguing to calm her down... I have no idea why that would make sense, I thought not arguing made more sense but it didn’t work. Finally...and I hate to say this, but now when she argues or starts to fight I just don’t seem to care anymore... I think about life without her, about how my life was before I met her and her family. I find myself thinking more often now that life would be so much simpler without her in it. I just do not know what to do... 10 years is a long time to be married to somebody; a long time to work towards something that you hope will end up good. 10 years of hoping and praying that some day she will finally throw away the anger and hostility... just thinking about all of this, all 10 years of this being flushed down the toilet is soul crushing.

I really do not know what to do... if there is anybody who has been through anything like this or has any advice please help. I don’t even know if I'm afraid of losing the marriage or afraid of starting over, I can’t seem to differentiate the feelings anymore.

Thanks for reading this.
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Avatar universal
I wanted to add. I have always believed that the way she is is not her fault, I've always believed her family was the true evil in this whole equation.

She has not always been like this. When times are good they are very good and she has supported me through my military career, through my disability and many other hardships in my life.

There is just this side of her that comes out and it's not the woman I fell in love with. I did not see this side of her until after we were married and even then I always thought we could fight this because we know the enemy isnt each other but the brainwashing her father did.

She has never hit me or anybody else but her anger get's so out of hand sometimes that it's like watching a human hurricane, loud, terrorizing and destructive... and I have been in war zones, yet watching her angry is more scary than being shot at with mortars.

I see that there is a great person in her, she spends hundreds of hours every year doing volunteer work for homeless veterans, battered women's shelters etc. I know somewhere in there is a key to letting all this rage go and letting us finally live a normal life.

The problem that caused me to write this was... well, it's Mother's day and she has been in a foul mood since Friday. All it took was me saying something about being happy we both have a great mother in my mom and she went crazy and started screaming about everything possible. I
dread any type of holiday now. I used to love holidays and special occasions but now I just hate looking at a calander and seeing a holiday comming up.
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535822 tn?1443976780
This is such a catalogue of problems with you both, it sounds as if the marriage does not work at all, and some real therapy is needed .Have you tried to get some help, some marriage counseling ?
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13167 tn?1327194124
I read the whole thing up to the point where you said you have no children (about halfway through) because that was what I was looking for.

I would guess somehow you believed you couldn't attract/hold on to a healthy woman,  so you picked this damaged one as the best you could get.

Get out of there,  and find a healthy woman.  Time and life are precious,  this is a waste of yours.
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Avatar universal
I dont think it's that. I had a very healthy dating life before marraige and none involved any type of arguing or fighting. Almost every single relationship was great and ended on mutual terms, we stayed friends even 12 years later.

Even during the marraige I had plenty of women who were attracted to me but I never cheated.

I do thank you for your suggestion though I would worry if I did not have a healthy self esteem and was a troll lol. I actually dated a calvin klein underwear model once and again we are still friends and she has been married since. It wasnt me grabbing the 1st thing that came along lol. I actually came back from military training and had to fend off 3 other women before I met my wife.

Like I said, I did not see these bad qualities until after we married and by that point we were so invested in property/life etc though the good times in between is what seems to have kept this going.

She is in school to become a pastor and I am in school to become a medical doctor.

Was kind of looking for advice, not judgement.
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Avatar universal
Thank you for your suggestion. Unfortunately she refuses to go to any type of therapy. I am willing and able but she wont. Even bringing it up is asking for trouble.
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Avatar universal
The part where I mention children is not even close to half way. Do people on this forum tend to do this often? Read half a post, or in this case 1/4,  then give their two cents?
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13167 tn?1327194124
I'm not judging you,  lineagebp  although it appears you feel like I really have done that to you.

I can't speak for everyone here and their reading habits,  but I did skim the rest of your posts in case there was something that disagreed with the  first part of what you said.  

I don't think people need all this information to make an informed thought (as informed as you can be reading a stranger's words on the internet!) that this marriage won't work.  She's not whole.  

You do sound whole.  

Best wishes.  
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Avatar universal
I was thinking what you wrote just a moment ago actually. It must be difficult for people to post situations like this and really give a good picture, well good enough to actually help a stranger see what is truly going on.

I was afraid of that answer though. It just seems like so many wasted years once I give up. That almost seems to be the driving factor... that I shouldnt give up for the simple fact of not giving up.

I apologize if I was rude, I just realized shortly after that post to you that there is no way for you or anybody else to truly know what is happening. Re-reading my first sets of posts makes it seem as though it has been a full on war for 10 years when that is not the case.

I also realize the post was extremely long lol. Sorry about that. I just thought if I answered every question I can think of first then I wouldnt have to answer them later and could get help sooner.

Thanks again and I am glad you did look for children in this matter because no child should be around anything like this... heck, it's the whole reason this has occured, my wife grew up in abuse and thus the cycle continues. Is there no way to stop the cycle though? Faith? Love? Anything?

I just have heard of people who grew up abused who get past it and move on. But, then I have met a lady who was abused and even 40 years after leaving her house and having kids of her own she still has problems that stem back to her childhood abuse. It just scares me that my wife may become this woman.

Just looking for help. I am not one of those men who just walk out, the 10 years of marraige should show that. I feel victimized at times but no, I do not feel like a victim. I still live as full a life as I can but again, there are those times where fights occur and occur.... and occur which disrupts any normal or happy life.

Anyway, thanks for the post.
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Avatar universal
Awesome! Thank you so much for the inspiring words. I will definately give that a try. I pray she truly is of the second type, there are times I see that in her. Thank you again and bless you :)
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13167 tn?1327194124
You're so welcome - hope everything works out for you -
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