"Stories" from the Collective (YOU)

My Marriage is Ending

by Richard

My low self-esteem has finally hijacked my marriage, and my wife now wants to end our 27 year relationship. What can I do to stop this?...

QUESTION: My marriage is failing due to my feelings of low self-esteem - help!...

MORE FROM Richard...

I have been married for 27 years to a wonderful wife and she has finally decided that she wants to end it.

We have had a moderately happy life together but it has been ruined by my constant fear of losing my wife due to my feelings of low self-worth.

These feelings stem from early childhood when I found out that my father was unfaithful to my mother with my god-mother. I was also badly bullied at school for many years.

As an adult, I then lost the friendship of my only brother when he shafted me on a business deal. At the time, I also found out that he was being unfaithful to his wife.

I got engaged to the girl of my dreams and she then broke it off. I met my current wife at that time and we fell in love and got engaged. It was only after this that I found out that she had slept with my best friend a few months earlier. Amazingly enough, we still got married and have been until this week, 27 years later.

My experiences in earlier life have shown me that I have a tendency to lose people close to me and that I am often betrayed by people I trust. I have therefore always been fearful of losing my wife. This has made me act in a way that defies belief. I have been inconsiderate, a bully, domineering, controlling and critical of my wife for years. I have been incapable of showing her normal affection, wanting always to have sex instead.

I have been doing the exact opposite of what I should have been doing to keep her and our marriage together. I am told by my therapist that I have been "testing" her to see how far I can push her before she leaves. My behaviour towards her has been mainly unconscious and the result of my inner feelings of being bad and having low self-esteem. I am praying I can change this as I so want to stay with my wife and love her very much.


Overcome Your Insecurities: Here's How!


Richard actually submitted his story as a symptom of low self esteem, rather than as a relationship question. And even though there are clearly issues of self-esteem at play here, I felt that it would be more helpful to share Richard's story in the relationship advice forum. So I have moved Richard's story here, and posed the question asked on his behalf...

Richard provides us with a great example of how we all, to one degree or another, sabotage the relationships that matter to us, and all because of an early childhood 'trauma' that we never managed to heal and make peace with.

So I look forward to your answers (comments) to Richard's dilemma, no matter how big or small your answers might be. And, who knows, maybe Richard's story provides answers for you, too...


Comments for My Marriage is Ending

Does this help, Richard?
by: Paula Renaye

Sounds like you have a really good grasp of your situation and know where you need to concentrate your efforts. The areas that stand out to me are trust and and not wanting to lose her whilst setting things up to make her want to leave.

First of all, do not for a second think that you are the only one who has ever done something like this. And you are very right that we do these things because we are compelled on an unconscious/subconscious level. So how do we stop ourselves?

In The Hardline Self Help Handbook, I go through detailed digging expeditions to get to the bottom of these beliefs and show you how to rewire them--and really shift your whole way of looking at the situation--so you don't replay the same old patterns. Since I can't go through the entire book here, let me focus on 2 two particular points: your self-esteem and your willingness to trust, which are actually intertwined more tightly than you might imagine.

As you might guess, the root of the trust issue goes back to childhood. Since these issues are still playing out in your life, knowing how they were originally created is important. What situations caused you to believe that people couldn't be trusted? How was your trust betrayed when you were a child? How did someone who was supposed to protect you, not? How did you feel when that happened? Did you remember thinking something in particular, did you make a vow or such? What did you say to yourself about it--what beliefs did you come away from the experience with?

When we feel betrayed by those who are supposed to love us and protect us, we not only learn we can't trust, we may take on the belief it was our fault, that if we had somehow been better they would have loved us enough to protect us, etc. The common bottom line is that we come out of it with our self-esteem shattered and a compulsion to find someone or something to make us feel worthy again. And the ways we go about it can be very ingenious--and self-defeating.

Sounds rather bleak, but it doesn't have to be. You can make different choices and change your life dramatically. It does, however, take conscious effort and determination. The good news is that you obviously want to and that is a huge part of success--wanting to.

So, it's time to get good with yourself. Answering the questions above will give you some great clues--or very specific insights--on the beliefs you need to change. Once you identify one, such as "I am unlovable and bad," you immediately create a belief to replace it--"I am good and lovable." Then start paying close attention to your thoughts and every time you catch yourself playing a limiting belief in your head, stop it--break the pattern and repeat your new belief three times.

The insights you already have are wonderful.


Lotus in the mud...
by: Sheri

My heart goes out to you. The ending of a relationship can be one of the darkest nights of the soul. In my experience, somehow...the phoenix does rise from such ashes, and although now you most likely can't even fathom such a possibility, I encourage you to hang in there, and learn all you can about yourself during this time.

Your story tells me that you are well along on this path, and being aware is the first step to healing such a history.

In different ways, I can fully relate to 'your story'. On my own journey, I have found three books to be valuable beyond words:

1) The first is Louise Hays' 'You Can Heal Your Life'. Full of insight on how we even developed our 'story' and useful help on healing, to live beyond those stories we drag around.

2) Second, Harville Hendrix, 'Finding the Love you Want'... beautiful man and beautiful understanding of love relationships, and again, exercises to more fully grasp why we enter relationships and what it is we are trying to achieve within them.

3) Lastly, a book that may have a philosophy which is challenging for some, but definitely worth reading - Collin Tippen's, 'Radical Forgiveness'. It suggests that although physically your life is upside down and backwards, perhaps on a spiritual level, your soul made an agreement with your wife...that the 27yrs and this break up...they were needed to fulfill your soul's longings of growth. Again, not for everyone to grasp, but it definitely has helped me in many areas of my life to 'accept' what is just not acceptable by my conventional standards.


Sorry to carry on so, but your story resonated with me somewhat, and this has been my 'path out' of the pain and misery, and instead...led me toward huge growth!

I send you my empathy and hope for comfort and growth..you will feel blessed for this time, one day down the road. My mother always encouraged me that 'a year from now, this will all look different'...and yes it does.

Time does bring healing. Hang in there Richard.

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