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Emotionally Abusive Marriage: What To Do?


I have finally realized that I have been in an emotionally abusive marriage for the last 20 years. Despite the fact that I have gone through this for so long, I am having a hard time convincing myself to leave. My wife’s rapid mood changes and other behaviors lead me to believe she has borderline personality disorder, which I believe is treatable. I don’t know weather to leave the abusive relationship and finally get some peace, or stay and help fix the problem-and possibly face more abuse if treatment fails. I really don’t know what to do.

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
  • ‘Anne’ bases her responses on her personal experiences and not on professional training or study. She does not represent herself to be a psychologist, therapist, counselor or professional helper of any sort. Her responses are offered from the perspective of a friend or mentor only.
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  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.

Since you didn’t mention whether or not you have discussed your feelings with you wife, I suggest that this be your first step in trying to fix the problem. You might want to find out if your wife realizes that she is treating you abusively. Ask her if she recognizes the problem, and if she wants help in overcoming it. If you are hesitant about leaving your wife of 20 years, it might be wise for you to seek the services of a marriage counselor who might be able to give advice on seeking help for your wife’s behavior. You, too, can benefit from the aid of a third-party’s advice. A neutral party can help you overcome the abuse you have endured throughout your marriage and help you deal with your wife’s behavior if it is something you truly want. A counselor or therapist can also help you make the decision you need to make to become a happier person. You deserve to be happy in life. If helping your wife will encourage this, then it’s definitely an avenue to pursue, but realistically speaking, some people do not consent to receiving help, nor will they acknowledge that they have a problem. As difficult a decision as it may be, the only way to achieve happiness might be to separate for a while. I hope this helps, – Anne

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