Posts Tagged ‘IED’

DON’T DIVORCE?

 INTRO

In April of 1968 I married a very beautiful woman with a delightful personality that I had fallen in love with.  In September of 1969 she divorced me.  In August 1978 I married a good-looking, fine woman that I really cared about and who needed my help and I wanted to help her.  In 2005 she divorced me.  Two marriages, two divorces.  What happened?  What can be learned from these tragedies that I can share with others to help them avoid the same types of mistakes that I made?

I’ll give my analysis first, since it is the most important part of this article, and then I’ll give my account of the details of what happened that led to my divorce (for anyone interested in how two people deeply in love ended up divorced).

ANALYSIS

I made many mistakes in my first marriage and made a disaster in responding to my breakup and divorce.  My first mistake was not being engaged much longer than our 5-month engagement.  This was important in order for us both to learn how to amicably resolve our differences…which renowned marriage researcher and author, John Gottman, PhD, says is the most important skill to have in order to have a happy marriage and avoid divorce.  Dr. Gottman also says that a couple should have at least five positive (supportive, friendly) interactions for every negative (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling) in order to maintain a healthy relationship.  You can easily check the health of your relationship by applying the two aforementioned factors that Dr. Gottman’s research discovered.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that my first wife had IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder) where she became hysterical; therefore I should have taken anything she said or did while in this state with a grain of salt, and not automatically believe that she wanted to get rid of me because I might be permanently handicapped (from a large brain tumor I had removed 5 weeks before she threw me out) and therefore not be able to make her and our children-to-be a good living, which is what I thought, not what she said.  Another mistake I made in my first marriage was to inform family that we were having problems.  Family and friends are supportive and usually take your side, which although they make you feel good, family cannot be objective in analyzing and resolving marital problems…that’s the job of marriage counselors. We should have gone to a marriage counselor to help us resolve our conflicts.  My wife went to a divorce lawyer, instead, which all but guaranteed that we would get divorced.  Although I instructed my lawyer that I did not want a divorce, he did nothing to assist me in preventing it.  In addition, my mom became overprotective and did not want me with someone who tried to kill me twice, especially at a time when I was very weak and unable to defend myself while recovering from my brain tumor surgery.  Mothers are funny that way…disliking people who try to kill their children.  However, had I been mentally and physically healthy, I would not have told anyone that my wife tried to stab me twice, but if I accidentally blurted it out, I would have adamantly said that my wife was having a temper fit at the time and really did not want to see me dead.

Finally, and most importantly, as very difficult as it was for me, I should have gone to my divorce court hearing.  Even if I simply showed up, limping, shaven-headed, one-eye-closed and half of my face paralyzed, etc., any judge would have been very skeptical believing that a spouse had legitimate grounds for divorce.  I needed to be there to tell what happened, and fight to keep her, perhaps through court-ordered marriage counseling.

Because we really loved each other, I believe that, were it not for my brain tumor, my wife and I would have worked out our problems and lived happily together and raised a family.  She wanted to be a good wife and, eventually, a good mother, and the emotional irritation I experienced from my brain tumor eventually went away.

My second marriage was completely different and I bent over backwards to make my wife happy, including moving to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.  In addition, my second wife desperately needed my Federal medical  insurance because of her medical conditions. There’s not too much to be learned from my second marriage and divorce, except that having been devastated by my first wife divorcing me, my fiance and attended 5 pre-marital counseling sessions with a marriage counselor before we got married and 30 2-3 hour “Communications-in-Marriage” couples counseling sessions with a marriage counselor and 4 other married couples after we got married.

ON THE OTHER HAND

It was a bath that precipitated my first wife to give me an ultimatum to either not bathe then or get out, and then follow it up with physically pushing out of our apartment a severely-disabled man only 5 weeks after he had a large brain tumor removed.  In addition, over the next six months my wife never even acknowledged, let alone apologized, to me or even shed a tear (that I could see) except for the time when she pushed me out of our apartment.  Our conflict should have taken five minutes to resolve: apologies on both sides with explanations that we didn’t mean what we said.  However, it was never resolved.  A marriage is faced with many problems over a lifetime which need amicable resolutions.  Perhaps I was lucky to have been tossed out of our apartment early-on before we had children?  But the consequences of divorce on all parties can be so painful that it should be used only as a last resort, after really trying together, face-to-face, to resolve the issues that brought you to the brink. We never seriously even tried because we hurt each other so badly and were both waiting for an apology from each other.  When I finally realized what needed to be done (grovel), my attempt was thwarted.

For more brief, but solid information on avoiding divorce, read my article on this blog entitled, “Improving Communications in Relationships & Marriage.”  Also, because making love can heal hurt feelings in a relationship, read the most informative and concise article I’ve ever seen on the subject, my article on this blog entitled, “Older Men, Have Great Sex Again,” which is actually relevant for all adults, not only for older men.  Finally, my article entitled, “Choosing a Spouse,” might help in selecting a partner who will be  there for a lifetime.

If you’re interested, here’s my account of the significant details of our breakup (if I also knew my wife’s account, we  probably could have avoided divorce):

OUR BREAKUP

My first-wife-to-be and I lived a few blocks from each other in our parents’ homes.  Since we both worked in the same office, I drove her to work every day and got to know her.  We then dated for a relatively short period, got engaged, and married after only five months of engagement.

We had a wonderful honeymoon but had a rough time learning to live together.  We got off to a bad start when on our first night she cooked hamburgers that she made with a teaspoon of black pepper mixed in.  She said that her mother gave her the recipe which made me paranoid about her mom wanting to break us up.  I had the curse of the first-born and consequently was a perfectionist and therefore too critical and, on the other hand, she never learned how to discuss our differences, negotiate and compromise.  While growing up, her parents never fought in front of her so she thought that couples that loved each other did not fight.  In addition, she always got her own way to the extent that, when she was a child, she demanded and got the master bedroom as her bedroom in her parents home.

Our fights would sometimes end with her phoning her parents to come and pick her up.  I eventually learned that the only way I could end a fight was to make her cry…and the only way to make her cry was to talk critically about her mother.  She would never compromise or even agree to end a fight…it just went on and on until I gave in completely, and even that did not satisfy her.  Fights did not end.  On two of the occasions when she became hysterical, she completely lost control and attempted to stab me with steak knives, which she tried to plant into my chest.  I consequently decided that she was not emotionally ready to raise our future children though she wanted to have four ASAP.  In order to prepare her to be the mother of our children, I thought that we needed to learn how to work out our differences and both compromise, when appropriate.  I had to make her hate to argue and fight and therefore I unwisely decided to see to it that she lost every argument from then on, though I should have instead insisted that we talk with a good marriage counselor.  Unlike the first two months of our marriage where I eventually gave in to every argument, I had to now win at all cost…no more understanding. This strategy began to work just about at the same time that I began getting agitated and a little paranoid from my brain tumor.  I was no longer in control…my brain tumor was.

My brain surgery took 5 hours and I was in the hospital for three weeks with 1/2 my face and head numb and so weak that I could barely move in my hospital bed.  When I was allowed to go home, I could barely walk, the left side of my face was still paralyzed and numb, my left eye lid was sutured shut to protect my left eye, I was deaf in my left ear, my equilibrium was bad to the extent that I appeared drunk when walking.  My wife was happy to have me home and cooked wonderful meals for me.  I remained emotionally irritated, however.

My brain tumor agitated me, aggravated my behavior, and made me hyper-sensitive to the point where I was difficult to live with.  In addition, my wife became enraged at something I said and tried to stab me again.  She was scared and told me, “somebody said you need a nurse, not a wife,” and “somebody said you’re going to be fat and bald.”  When my mom told her to “have patience with him, he’ll make you a good living,” she replied “I don’t have patience.” One Saturday, five weeks after my brain surgery, my wife wanted us to go out shopping.  I told her that I needed to get a bath first…that it was one of the few joys I still had.  She replied, “if you get a bath you can get out.”  I retorted, “I’m getting a bath so I guess I’ll have to get out.”  I took my bath and sang made-up lyrics that were insulting to her.  Although I begged her not to call my mom, she did so anyway, which vastly expanded our disputes and all but guaranteed we would never get back together.

She told me to call a taxi to take me to my parents home.  I dialed the phone and made believe I was calling a taxi…but I did not.  She made me call again once she  realized I didn’t actually call the first time.  The taxi came but I refused to leave but was too weak to prevent her from pushing me out the front door.  I went to my parents home since I had no money nor any other place to go.

FROM BREAKUP TO DIVORCE

The day after my wife threw me out I returned to our apartment for a week, which I told her I would do, with the hope that she would still be there or come by or call me to discuss our breakup.  She never showed up.  It only took about six months from our breakup to our divorce (under Pennsylvania’s brief 6-month so-called  “cooling-off” period in its divorce laws).  After the first few weeks apart I arranged to see her, using the excuse that I needed to pick up some of my things.  I thought we would talk over coffee and each apologize to the other for the terrible things we said while angry and that we didn’t mean what we said.  When I arrived at the apartment she was wearing a see-through blouse over a see-through body stocking under that.  In addition, she told me that a (male) friend would be over soon.  Moreover, every chair and sofa had piles of clothes on them so there was no place to sit and talk.  After I was there about 10 minutes her doorbell rang, so I left.  While I believe now that her intent was to make me jealous, I became convinced at that time that she was fooling around with another man only a few weeks after she threw me out of our apartment and therefore was not interested in making up and getting back together.

Since she had her home phone number changed, I couldn’t call her at the apartment.  So I called her every afternoon at her workplace.  After doing that for about a month, her boss answered her work phone one day and told me that she was always upset after speaking with me.  Consequently, I stopped calling her.  Incidentally, my wife’s boss was also the father of her new husband-to-be.

When I received the legal notice of divorce, I immediately tore it up.  My lawyer never contacted me to discuss it or even inform me of the divorce hearing.

Meanwhile, my physical condition (one eye closed, 1/2 my face paralyzed and numb, equilibrium injured to the extent that I couldn’t walk straight), plus my wife throwing me out and starting divorce proceedings, no money, made me paranoid and I heard voices every waking hour shouting at me.

After much thought I concluded that my wife did not think I loved her and wanted her so I decided to make it very clear.  Consequently, I called her at work and begged her to take me back.  While on the phone my mom returned from work and overheard my conversation.  After the call ended my mom lit into me for not standing up to my wife and being a wimp.  The next day I called my wife again at work to get her answer.  Unfortunately, my mom returned home from work as soon as I got on the phone, so I talked in a manner to please my mom so when my wife said that she thought I wanted to get back together.  I replied, “you thought wrong.”  That was the end of my marriage.  I had tried so hard to win back the woman I loved for the previous six months, but in the very last moment when I actually had a chance to do just that, I blew it.

POST DIVORCE

I was conflicted about attending my divorce hearing but decided not to attend for six reasons: 1) my wife threw me out and never invited back in, 2) I thought that my wife had become romantically involved with a co-worker and would cheat on me with him had I been even able to legally prevent the divorce, 3) I was overwhelmed with grief over my wife, couldn’t handle it anymore, and just wanted to avoid it all and have it go away, 4) the upcoming divorce made me paranoid to the extent that I heard voices and thought the entire proceedings were evil and I therefore wanted nothing to do with them, 5) I thought it was useless…whatever I tried was stymied or stopped and ended up making me feel even worse, and 6) I had no money or job, and given my physical appearance, thought my prospects for good employment were dim.  Additionally, I didn’t even know exactly where the divorce hearing was being held and my lawyer didn’t even notify me (though I did receive a notice months earlier…which I immediately had torn up).  For days prior to my divorce hearing I repeatedly said to myself under my breath again and again, “It’s stupid to want someone that doesn’t want me.”  But I was mistaken to not even try.  I phoned my x-wife one week after our divorce was final, and was surprised that she had a new husband and he answered the phone but let me talk with her.

I subsequently tried returning to U. of Penn to finish my Masters but my only thoughts were of my x-wife so I temporarily dropped out and needed and received  psychotherapy for awhile.  I had “Command Auditory Hallucinations” for months where 24/7 I heard voices shouting at me, “murder your son.” The voices eventually disappeared and I subsequently finished my Masters at night and remarried 9 years later because I found someone who I cared about and who needed my help.  We subsequently moved to Washington, DC (and worked there for 12 years) and then to Colorado (for 27 years).  After I retired I moved back to the western suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to be near my family since my second wife had divorced me, but I still thought of my first wife every day and concluded that I had an ethical obligation to apologize to her, even though it had been 46 years since our divorce.  Consequently, I sent her a letter of apology for not treating her better, and also stated in it that I thought my brain tumor was partially responsible for my erratic behavior while we were married.

Finally, the heartache that I, my first wife, and our families experienced, I believe could have all been avoided by sincere apologies to each other shortly after the start of our last major misunderstanding and that a good marriage counselor could have enabled us to have mostly positive interactions, work out our disagreements amicably, and live happily together and raise children (my wife never told me why she was divorcing me so we never even had a chance of working it out).  Eventually I decided that the main culprit in this entire matter was my brain tumor, making me paranoid, irritable, and lowering my libido.  It was important to my peace-of-mind and well-being that I recently forgave (in my mind) my wife and myself.  In addition, sending her an apology letter a few years ago was also cathartic.  My wife and I had decided to have four children; she had four with her new husband and I had none with my second wife since she could not have children.

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