I received a question the other day from a reader about his marriage, which has been in a rough place since, well, approximately the beginning of their time together (nearly 20 years ago).
He’s asking me what he should do.
An excerpt (skipping some details for brevity):
[Basically, I have a tremendously difficult time, and have had since day one, being married to my wife. From the beginning of our marriage until about the 15 year mark, she alternated between being furious and being overwhelmingly needy. In the early days, I found this combination totally overwhelming. Even on our honeymoon, I found her behavior so distressing I had very little interest in sex.
During the early years, she would get angry at me for minor, unreasonable things. Once in our first year of marriage, she got angry at me because I picked the salt-shaker up off the table and used it to put salt on my food. Doing this, she said, was offensive because it was a way of my saying she had improperly seasoned the food.
Over time, things got worse. By 2015, she was screaming at me almost daily. Beginning in the early days of our marriage, she would occasionally hit me. She hit me a couple of times between 2013 and 2015. That Spring, she told me that she wanted me to move out. The straw that broke the camel’s back, she said, was my telling her that I thought that if she met me halfway, there was a lot of hope for our relationship.
This was offensive to her because, she said, she did not need to meet me halfway because everything wrong with our relationship was 100 percent my fault. I said I would not move out, so, in a rage, she went to our children aged 7 and 4 at the time, and told them in a very harsh voice, “Girls, Daddy is a bad man. You do not have to listen to him. You do not have to respect him. You do not have to love him.” Then, she looked at me and said, “I will tell them that every day until you get out.”
In the last two or three years, I have stopped having emotional reactions to all her behaviors. I have tried to take more initiative to take care of issues around the home. In the last four months or so, I have really taken to saying absolutely nothing when she rants about whatever.
The result of these changes has generally been positive. She has been expressing more appreciation etc. She says, “you are treating me better.”
That really bothers me. It bothers me because for so many years, she screamed at me, called me names, hit me etc. Now, she turns around and says “well, you’re treating me better.” No concern at all about the way she has treated me.]
—-Oh boy, where do we begin…
My first question is — what signs existed before the marriage or what (if any) incidents occurred during their courtship? This woman obviously has severe self-esteem and anger issues. Her abuse of him is bad, very bad… but the manipulation of the children against him shows a particularly dangerous degree of malice.
We’ll talk more about her in a minute…
But as you can see from the trajectory of her behavior, not all things happen in a vacuum. His actions for a long time were making things worse.
The main issue I see involves absent-mindedness.
It’s a problem common to guys, especially intellectual guys.
You just can’t engage with your woman “logically” or “reasonably” to solve problems. It never works. And generally just makes things worse.
Relationships are negotiations, but they are not open negotiations. The more you try to be “fair” and “discuss things” the more you will be punished by your woman.
Women don’t want a treaty, they want leadership.
Even “self-aware” women who might request this and try to communicate in such a way, end up more and more angry and frustrated when you try to discuss negotiated behavior. Women have always hated this — even in the “good ‘ol days.”
(Don’t deceive yourself — women may have married “betas” who didn’t “get it” but they always despised them)
A great example of this is Count Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin from Anna Karanina. He’s the “good, faithful husband” who has expectations of his wife’s behavior, but no ability to really engage with her emotionally. He’s focused on his career and his ideas… things she couldn’t care less about. It eventually drives Anna’s rationale to cheating on him, and hating him, even though she knows he’s a good person.
So back to our reader… my suspicion is that said guy is an intellectual (INTP?) who spent much of his default time thinking about macro issues, neglecting his role vis-a-vis the family, at least in terms of energy.
Which is why her behavior went from needy and angry to physically abusive. He was aloof — not in the “alpha” sense but in the spacey sense. She was experiencing a lack of attention without the masculine enticement — in other words… indifference from a man you are stuck with but no longer desire. There are few things that abuse a woman’s ego more.
It explains why when he began to handle her outbursts with composure, she started to desire him and feel more secure in the relationship. Daydreaming guys or guys who don’t understand the female psyche don’t inspire leadership in women. Guys who can weather the storms do.
Which is why as he became more present and took care of more tasks their relationship improved. He was being a man.
(Credit due: these are the basic things about the Red Pill that help to make guys understand how how women act and think)
But we now get to the big question…
Things still aren’t that good in the relationship. And he’s got tons of resentment over her past behavior.
So what’s he to do?
Well, it’s not my call.
But I can say that women almost never take responsibility for their past actions and behavior. And if they do, it’s only because they need to in order to avoid negative consequences.
(As I’ve said before — self-honesty is not a common female virtue).
So as a guy, you need to get over that if you want to stay in the relationship.
And to do that, I’d recommend focusing on the things you have gotten wrong.
(Because there’s plenty of blame in demeanor on said guy’s side)
But here’s the bigger thing…
Is there anything he’s getting in return? Because look…
Commitment is important, but if you are getting nothing out of a woman, at a certain point you have to ask yourself why you are sticking around.
My suspicion is based on this woman’s issues, she doesn’t simply need leadership in the relationship… she needs a guy who will MAKE her submit. She needs hard core “red pill” treatment that will treat her like she is insignificant, with said guy building up his value and then flaunting it.
She doesn’t like herself and will never truly respect him unless he disrespects her.
This means disappearing for awhile, etc. and doing what he wants.
Not being nice to her unless she does something good.
Now, I would have to talk to him to KNOW this is the right approach. Maybe it would make things intolerably worse. Moreover, I am not sure said guy is up for this.
But it frankly already sounds like things are intolerable.
And I don’t think this is a woman that can be healed through strength and love.
If you’re threatening to tell the children that their father is a “bad man, you don’t have to love or respect him” every day, you have a real spark of evil in you.
These are not things simply hurt or dissatisfied women say.
They’re things that come from a deep well of entitlement and malice.
But I know these situations aren’t easy.
Which is why I work with guys who are going through these serious break ups or divorces.
Not necessarily to save said relationships… though that is sometimes in the cards, and desirable.
But to help set them up for a different way of showing up with women and themselves.
One of my clients said to me last night: “you have a real knack for seeing things in people they can’t see in themselves”
I agree, and it’s a trait especially important when you’re looking at the end of relationships.
A lot of times you feel people chasing to stay in a bad dynamic because the alternative is scary… not because it’s healthy for them.
It’s why I bring objectivity and honesty so you can see the relationship and your role in it more clearly.
Along with the path forward… whether in the relationship… or out (but with the tools to do better next time)
The link to work with me is here: www.patstedman.com/application
I made mention in the this email what I felt said guy could do better.
But it seems some of you got the wrong impression.
I did NOT think this guy was primarily at fault. I noted the things he was doing wrong because there were areas here that were making things worse… and I want you guys to not only adopt attitudes of responsibility, but learn from other men’s mistakes.
There is no question fundamentally this woman has been the problem.
Indeed… as two of you noted, said behavior didn’t sound like simple insecurity and anger issues, but BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder).
More credence was added to this by two sections I left out: Said woman decided on a whim she wanted to move across the world for a job opening (which may or may not have existed, a relative saw an ad), just as they were getting ready to move near family with kids on the way. When he refused and advocated they stick with the plan, she became enraged and held this over his head for years.
When they went to counseling, the counselors immediately noted that the majority of the relationship problems were stemming from her. She stopped going… and has since mentioned she doesn’t believe the relationship can improve, it’s ruined, and she is only remaining in the relationship for religious reasons. She believes she has never done anything wrong in the relationship.
So a disclaimer:
I’m not a Clinical Psychologist and it’s not up to me to make such determinations.
But much of this does seem to fit the bill.
I’ve heard stories of guys with BPD girls before but since I haven’t myself, I didn’t put this together. So thank you readers for tipping my thinking in this direction. Reading it was an immediate “aha”.
Anyway, if you want to work with a guy who’s pretty good at diagnosing behavior (not perfect), go here: www.patstedman.com/application