Dear Christine, Puzzled in Pontiac

Dear Christine,

I’ve got a problem with my wife. I’m straight, and am married to my wife and we have 3 beautiful children together. I love my wife very much and promised her that I would always love her and take care of her. I take my promises very seriously, especially because she has Borderline Personality Disorder. I have read everything I could find on line, and it is exactly her! I know no one else will take care of her and love her like me, but she says she’s fallen in love with someone else. Get this, it’s a woman!

She says she’s not in love with me anymore, and since she’s met this woman, she won’t have sex with me any more. And she acts mean to me, comparing me to this woman, and she gets angry at me all the time, yelling. It’s just not fair! I keep telling her that no one, not even this woman, will ever love her or take care of her as I do. She says she’s going to move in with this woman, but she’s staying with me until tax time. I don’t really like that, but I don’t want to say anything to make her mad, because if I do whatever she needs, maybe she’ll change her mind and love me and stay with me instead. Last weekend she told me she wished I were her best friend, because she wants to tell a best friend about her relationship with this woman. I had a knot in my stomach, but I want to know as much as I can, so I said that I am always her best friend, forever. So, she told me all the details, and I mean ALL the details, of this relationship. I guess I shouldn’t have let her tell me, cause it hurt so much, but I feel like I’ve got to know everything, so I can be ready for her to change her mind and want to keep our marriage. So, I’m confused and scared. Whenever I tell her I love her and will always take care of her, she tells me that’s she doesn’t want to be taken care of. But she needs it. She’s not strong, being Borderline, and she needs help. Puzzled in Pontiac

Dear Puzzled in Pontiac,

I’m sorry to hear you’re going through such a difficult time in your marriage. It sounds very unfulfilling and frustrating. You know, any relationship, to be healthy and be a success, needs to be of two equal partners, who both give 100% to the marriage. At any time, if one quits contributing their all, the relationship suffers, and there’s nothing the other one can do. You just can’t make up her 50% that she’s not giving by you giving the marriage 150%. It just doesn’t work that way.

I’m wondering if your wife has been in treatment for being Borderline, and if that is an official diagnosis from a psychologist or psychiatrist? You have educated yourself on line, but diagnosing someone else, when you aren’t trained can be very tricky, particularly if you are married to that person! If she has emotional problems, she would best get help from a professional. Your support and understanding in that is invaluable, if and when she’s ready to get that professional talk therapy. However, you can’t make her get help she doesn’t want or see a need for. And it may be that she doesn’t want you to take care of her, even though you promised you would. She needs to be a free adult, responsible for taking care of herself, making her own choices of how that happens, and she may actually resent you’re “taking care” of her, particularly if she believes she’s fine. Please talk to your wife about your needs in the marriage, and then ask her to describe her needs as an individual and as a wife. Find out if there is still common ground there, because people change and what they need changes, so it may be that your wife no longer feels the need to be taken care of by you. After you share your feelings and needs with each other, remember that you are responsible for your needs only, not hers. Then you both can make requests of each other, for behavior changes that would help you out. Remember, in negotiations, ask 100% of what you want; be willing to hear “no”; and then be willing to negotiate with each other.

In any case, you come across as desperate, telling her that you are her best friend, and encouraging her to disclose all about her affair with the woman, putting yourself in a world of pain. It’s like inviting her to stab the knife in your heart and then turn and twist it around. Please don’t volunteer for that kind of pain again! You may not ever have the marriage you had, and you may not ever be able to keep your family whole and intact, but those things are not possible. The marriage you had is in the past and will never come back. You can’t step in the same river twice! It keeps moving on, even if you stand still. Please focus on taking care of you, and your kids, and try to protect yourself from accepting whatever crumbs of conversation, anger or affair you may be offered by her. Write again and let me know how you’re doing.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888Click here to email Christine.

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