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VIDEO: "What is parental alienation?" Parental alienation is when a parent allows a child to participate or hear them degrade the other parent. This is not uncommon in divorces and the children often adjust. In severe cases, however, it can be devastating to the child. This video provides a helpful overview.
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Author Topic: On the precipice of leaving - do I do it?  (Read 809 times)
orders4946

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« on: May 19, 2022, 07:59:32 AM »

Hi all,

If you have separated or divorced from your ex-spouse I would really value your opinion.

I secretly started making plans to leave in December when things were at their very worst.  It was the culmination of 3 years of discord following the birth of my first child.  These plans have now come to fruition - my new place is vacant and has been decorated, I fortunately have the financial means to leave whilst continuing to support my wife and two kids, my family are aware of my plans and are ready to support me.  I know I am incredibly fortunate to be in the position that I am in.

So why am I finding it so difficult to leave?

Ever since I started mentally disengaging from my marriage in December I seem to have become braver - caring less about what my spouse thinks/feels.  It seems to have changed the power dynamic in our relationship and the abusive and controlling behaviour has lessened.  However this shift has also been accompanied by a lessening of the love/affection in our marriage.  It is strange - almost like the loving highs and abusive lows have become a steady flatlined loveless relationship.

My wife and I have had a series of talks about 'working on things'.  When I first indicated a desire to leave my wife was distraught and begged me to stay on the basis that she would change.  She has made some changes, although I see these as changes that are of no material consequence to her (e.g. she has become less controlling about food that I eat, how I style my hair etc).  She has gradually improved some of the other issues that were important to me (my kids' access to their paternal grandmother).  It felt very strange to hear those loving words as I was used to a situation where I was continually having to 'earn' or 'deserve' her love.  I'm not sure if I believe her, and when she has had angry episodes since I would see some evidence of how she 'used to be' (although those episodes are less sever than they used to be - or they are not affecting me as much because I care less).

I feel my gut is telling me to leave as I may not have such a cushioned adjustment, but I am finding it so difficult.  I don't know if I love my wife anymore but I care about her deeply and I do not want her to suffer or be upset.

I would be grateful for any advice, guidance or anecdotes.
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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2022, 09:58:07 AM »

It might help to try and look at the big picture - as a 55 year old man looking back at his life and family.

I say this because we often makes these decisions (staying/leaving, getting into affairs) based on how it will affect our day to day life now. This short term thinking has lead many to make decisions they regret as the inevitable unfolds before them over the years.

I'm not saying stay or leave, but to think about this on a more global basis.

Just as a small exercise, how to you think things may evolve with your relationship with your one year old boy who will only see you every other week for the next 15 years and who will be spending most of his time living with another couple (you wife and her new husband). What kind of man could he be and how might he affect your son and your relationship with him? Will he be totally cut off form his paternal family?

You also mentioned that your changes have actually improved the interface with your wife (albeit less fulfilling emotionally). Might a different adjustment on your part or time resolve some things. Again, just as a small exercise, where do your values with you wife align   and where are they in conflict.

Living in a unfixable relationship is hell. Getting a divorce is a different hell.
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PeteWitsend
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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2022, 10:19:59 AM »

I went through a similar situation.  One false start toward divorce, followed by assurances from BPDxw that she was sorry and would "work on" herself.

that lasted about a week. 

Followed by a couple abortive marital counseling sessions where BPDxw actually screamed at the counselor and refused to ever go back. 

That convinced me I had done all I could to save the marriage - although I had known in my gut for a couple years that she was disordered, I didn't trust her, and therefore could not stay with her.

I was not quite ready to move out yet though.  But I kept a journal of fights and behaviors, and saw that even though I remembered things getting better, we'd still be fighting, or not speaking to eachother close to half of each month.  She really didn't understand she was on thin ice, and thought she had me under her thumb. 

I was just marking time though, and told myself about a year after the false start that I would not tolerate another blow up, and if it happened, it was up to her to apologize and change, because I wasn't going to. 

The "straw that broke the camel's back" was a visit from my mom.  Even after agreeing to all the ridiculous stipulations BPDxw put up, she still picked a fight for no reason whatsoever on the last day, and then, after we dropped my mom off at the airport, screamed at me and cursed at me for no reason, nonsensical screaming really, at a little kid's birthday party.

After a week of not speaking, she asked me "what I had to say for myself."  When I said "Nothing."  she said "Okay, so we're getting divorced then?"  And I agreed. 

I had all my ducks in a row at that point... attorney picked out, rental townhouse picked out, and had moved a lot of my things into storage already on the DL.

she was still surprised when I actually went through with it!  Totally delusional.
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PeteWitsend
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2022, 10:30:37 AM »

It might help to try and look at the big picture - as a 55 year old man looking back at his life and family.

I say this because we often makes these decisions (staying/leaving, getting into affairs) based on how it will affect our day to day life now. This short term thinking has lead many to make decisions they regret as the inevitable unfolds before them over the year.

I'm not saying stay or leave, but to think about this on a more global basis.

Just as a small exercise, how to you think things may evolve with your relationship with your one year old boy who will only see you every other week for the next 15 years and who will be spending most of his time living with another couple (you wife and her new husband). What kind of man could he be and how might he affect your son and your relationship with him? Will he be totally cut off form his paternal family?

You also mentioned that your changes have actually improved the interface with your wife (albeit less fulfilling emotionally). Might a different adjustment on your part or time resolve some things. Again, just as a small exercise, where do your values with you wife align  and where are they in conflict.

Living in a unfixable relationship is hell. Getting a divorce is a different hell.

I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but - unless I'm missing something in his post - it's wrong to assume he may not get 50/50 or even majority custody, and his son would be cut off from his paternal family..

I say that because a lot of people told me father's never get what they ask for in a divorce and courts side with mothers when children are young.

Because of that, I didn't fight for the parental rights I should have, particularly over schooling, and my XW was able to move much farther away (but still in the geographic area specified in our divorce decree), put our daughter in a lousy rural school while attempting to demand more money from me to put her in private school, and also making it more difficult to see my daughter due to the distance involved. 

So, while you're right, that is a potential outcome, it's not the only outcome and it shouldn't be framed that way. 

I mean that respectfully; not trying to start an argument, but I know the same sort of comments people made to me hurt the outcome I got in that I didn't fight for 50/50 rights like I should have. 

And as far as cutting children off from the non-BPD's extended family, heck, even with the standard possession I received under state law, my daughter sees her grandma (my mom) and aunts and cousins more now after the divorce, because BPDxw can no longer interfere and poison visits by picking fights and insulting or refusing to go, throwing tantrums in the car or at the airport, etc.  So while it's not perfect, my daughter has more familial contact than while I was married. 
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2022, 10:33:20 AM »

Excerpt
So why am I finding it so difficult to leave?

Fear, obligation, & guilt.

Try listening to or reading:

- https://www.amazon.com/Out-Fog-Confusion-Clarity-Narcissistic-ebook/dp/B077SFQWZ2
- https://www.amazon.com/Narcissists-Playbook-Sociopaths-Psychopaths-Manipulative-ebook/dp/B07NS9YVD8

You're being manipulated.
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PeteWitsend
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2022, 10:37:16 AM »

My calculus was this:

I was staying together for our daughter.

But I could not stop the conflict and our daughter was old enough to understand what was going on and express that she didn't like it when her mom screamed at me.

If I stayed, I risked demonstrating to our daughter that it's
NORMAL to allow people in a relationship to treat you like that.  

if I left, it's true I would not be able to monitor what happened to my daughter at her mom's place, but I could at least provide her  with a calm safe harbor when she was at my place.  and model responsible adult behavior.  

So I was exchanging 100% of a toxic environment for one that was more like 60/40 toxic/calm.  And my XW could no longer control or affect our daughter's relationship with my extended family.  

As the saying goes, "better to come from a broken home than live in one."

I know every situation is different and BPD is not the same severity in all cases, so every person needs to make up their own mind.  This was the reasoning I used when making up mine.
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2022, 11:10:59 AM »

PeteWitsend, your points are valid.

I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but - unless I'm missing something in his post - it's wrong to assume he may not get 50/50 or even majority custody, and his son would be cut off from his paternal family...

Data for consideration: On the national average, a female parent is granted around 65% of custody time, whereas a male parent receives around 35%.

In this average are all the various ranges from 100%/0% to 50%/50%. In recent years, more fathers have become custodial parents, with the percentage increasing from 16% in 1994 to 20.1% in 2018.

A 60%/40% schedule is most often every other weekend, But there are other schedules <link>


Click photo to enlarge

The number of children living with both their parents has fallen significantly, from 85% in 1968 to 70% in 2020. 13 states do not require the judge to consider a child’s preference for custody. 37 states and Washington, D.C. require the judge to consider a mature child’s preference in custody. 14-year-olds in Illinois and Georgia may choose which parent gets physical custody of them.

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livednlearned
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2022, 11:52:31 AM »

So why am I finding it so difficult to leave?

Wouldn't it be more surprising if you didn't feel this way?

Ever since I started mentally disengaging from my marriage in December I seem to have become braver - caring less about what my spouse thinks/feels.  It seems to have changed the power dynamic in our relationship and the abusive and controlling behaviour has lessened.

You made an important change, no longer exhibiting people pleasing or submissive behaviors and your wife responded positively. You now know that there is movement on the needle. Her desire to control you has met a match: someone who can protect herself from her own worst impulses. Remember that through biology or choice or both, she will not fully recall her own behavior. What she mainly sees is you, beaten down. Seeing you brave, assertive in all likelihood is comforting to her, even if she cannot explain why.

Maybe you are second-guessing because you are not the same guy you were when you began putting these plans in place. You have made changes and those changes in turn have altered the dynamic in the marriage.

Becoming braver in a BPD marriage is something significant that's worth looking into more deeply.
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2022, 01:09:33 PM »

I can't thank you all enough.  I truly appreciate each of your insightful replies; certainly some food for thought.

I am based in the UK where the starting arrangements for custody is 50/50 unless there is safeguarding risk to the child.  I am a very involved father so even seeing them only 50% of the time makes me sad at the prospect.  However one of the issues I have with my wife is that she positions herself as the 'gatekeeper' to the children conditional upon me being nice to her so my time with them is highly managed and I have little autonomy.  I have pondered whether I would have more quality time with them if I was to consolidate errands etc into the time I'm without them so I can be fully focused and engaged during the time I have with them, and of course be able to parent the way I would wish to do so when I do have them.

You are also correct in that my wife's behaviour has changed in response to my changed behaviour.  I am very worried though that I've only become brave enough to change my behaviour because I had the security blanket of my secret plans and because my feelings have changed towards her as a result of her actions towards me (I am questioning whether I am still in love with her).  I feel like I am constantly on alert and very guarded - my feelings are not softening even when she is accommodating my wishes more (e.g. not causing issues for me when I want to see/speak to my mother and brother).  I also feel like my wife is storing up resentment towards me for later as a result of her having to do things 'my way' (she has never been good at compromising)

Ultimately I don't trust that she won't revert to the behaviour she displayed for 6+ years with me, when she has only made these promises for the past few weeks.  I can't see how we can have a meaningful marriage if there is no trust.  Longer term plans (more children future house move) all make me feel sick with worry that I won't be able to escape like I am able to now.

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You can't reason with the Voice of Unreason...


« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2022, 01:24:29 PM »

There are no guarantees for the future.  Yes, the probability is that these recent weeks of "less bad" behavior won't last much longer.  The better solution is for her to start meaningful therapy and diligently apply it in her life, thinking and perceptions.  One aspect of DBT/CBT I remember mentioned here is mindfulness.  Would she do that, seriously review her perceptions and actions?

You could view divorce as a way to help set better boundaries for parenting.  She may not view your boundaries as having any teeth or authority, but court does have that authority.

As for the end of the marital relationship, there's always the option to remarry at some future time if you have confidence there is real recovery from disordered behaviors.  Recovery must be a bit rare, I don't hear of any remarriages around here.
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« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2022, 01:36:56 PM »

Excerpt
...unless there is safeguarding risk to the child

Careful she doesn't run to the courts requesting a safeguard. This is usually the first move a pwBPD makes with some fabricated lies.
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PeteWitsend
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« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2022, 04:31:56 PM »

PeteWitsend, your points are valid.

Data for consideration: On the national average, a female parent is granted around 65% of custody time, whereas a male parent receives around 35%.

In this average are all the various ranges from 100%/0% to 50%/50%. In recent years, more fathers have become custodial parents, with the percentage increasing from 16% in 1994 to 20.1% in 2018.

...


I assume that's the average across all cases.  Curious if they have separate statistics what the numbers are when the male parent contests the custody time and fights for more.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2022, 04:39:35 PM by PeteWitsend » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2022, 04:39:06 PM »

...
I am based in the UK where the starting arrangements for custody is 50/50 unless there is safeguarding risk to the child.  I am a very involved father so even seeing them only 50% of the time makes me sad at the prospect.  However one of the issues I have with my wife is that she positions herself as the 'gatekeeper' to the children conditional upon me being nice to her so my time with them is highly managed and I have little autonomy.  I have pondered whether I would have more quality time with them if I was to consolidate errands etc into the time I'm without them so I can be fully focused and engaged during the time I have with them, and of course be able to parent the way I would wish to do so when I do have them.
...

Sounds like you've answered your own question there...
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PeteWitsend
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« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2022, 04:45:57 PM »

Careful she doesn't run to the courts requesting a safeguard. This is usually the first move a pwBPD makes with some fabricated lies.

Absolutely.  Everyone divorcing a pwBPD should take steps to protect themselves from spurious allegations; document things, keep emails and texts, and carry a voice recorder to record in person interactions. 

But also, this concern should not keep the non-pwBPD from some course of action out of fear of what the pwBPD might do. 
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orders4946

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« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2022, 04:35:41 AM »

Thanks very much for the advice everyone, I really appreciate it.
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« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2022, 04:59:44 AM »

I actually thought about starting a similar thread. More stories of how your divorce went down would be appreciated. Especially the first stage - moving out - setting up a new life with your kids, aso.

orders - You have done some preparations for leaving, but have you made a plan for how to tell her you want a divorce/move out? What about a list of possible problems that may arise.

Here's a list I've made, I've gone through some of them with my T and that really helped. (in red is what we agreed to do)
How do I tell the kids? --> Later, maybe the next day. They will probably be a bit worried but they are kids and will focus their attention on toys, tv and whatever they're doing
How do I act in case of suicide threat? --> Ask her, "do you mean it?", if she says yes, tell her you're calling the cops. Don't go there, let the police handle it.
What if she "goes quiet" and don't give me necessary information about the children when they are with her? First day, maybe let it go, second day, involve CPS. --> check locally how things work.
How do I respond if she won't agree to make up a plan of custody? --> Same as last question.
How quickly can we set up a schedule for custody? --> as fast as possible
These are questions I haven't discussed with my T:
What if she deny that I want to move out, and doesn't take it serious?
What to do if she promises to the kids that I'll be back?
What do I do if she becomes physically ill, throws up and so on?
Plans for picking up stuff from the old apartment.
How would I react if she promised to seek professional help?
How would I react if she actually would seek professional help?
How would I react if she kept going back to that help for months (and not showing any indication of stopping)

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orders4946

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« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2022, 06:28:00 AM »

These are really helpful questions 15 years.  Thank you.  I have jotted down some thoughts next to them.

I think my biggest difficulties will be my fear of making my wife sad (I am so used to trying not to disappoint her, and there is a core Mr Jekyll in there who I fell in love with, but I can't be in a marriage with her Mr Hyde) and whether I will regret the decision in hindsight.  On the latter point I am trying to refute my fear by saying to myself that 'sticking' is merely continuing in the same pattern, and that is making me unhappy.  At least 'twisting' gives me some autonomy and some hope.

How do I tell the kids? --> Later, maybe the next day. They will probably be a bit worried but they are kids and will focus their attention on toys, tv and whatever they're doing  I hope this is true as my wife has made me feel guilty about this in the past.  My eldest is almost 4 so will need any changes to explained to him (my youngest is 10 months so will be oblivious!)
How do I act in case of suicide threat? --> Ask her, "do you mean it?", if she says yes, tell her you're calling the cops. Don't go there, let the police handle it.
What if she "goes quiet" and don't give me necessary information about the children when they are with her? First day, maybe let it go, second day, involve CPS. --> check locally how things work.  Great advice - I will follow this
How do I respond if she won't agree to make up a plan of custody? --> Same as last question.  I will follow this
How quickly can we set up a schedule for custody? --> as fast as possible I will follow this
These are questions I haven't discussed with my T:
What if she deny that I want to move out, and doesn't take it serious?  I think we would need to proceed as planned and she would know we were serious when we actually pack and leave.  Remember we cannot control the other person's reaction; only our own.
What to do if she promises to the kids that I'll be back?  This is where I suspect parallel parenting will become relevant.  We would need to validate the kids' feelings but keep our message to them consistent.
What do I do if she becomes physically ill, throws up and so on?  I think we would need to be empathetic but firm in our convictions.
Plans for picking up stuff from the old apartment.  This could be difficult.  I have moved important possessions to my place of work secretly, but I can imagine her being obstructive.  Do you suspect yours will be?  I plan to lock other valuables in a shed to which only I have the key to protect them from being destroyed.  Do you have that option?

How would I react if she promised to seek professional help?  My wife historically used to dismiss this prospect as 'she knew more than them'.  Recently however she has raised this as a possibility.  It is very confusing.  My window for escape seems to be limited and I'm not sure how I can trust her to change.
 How has your wife viewed this?

How would I react if she actually would seek professional help?  As above.
How would I react if she kept going back to that help for months (and not showing any indication of stopping)  as above.  There is no guarantee that she would not revert to long-standing behaviour.
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« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2022, 07:25:20 AM »

Hello.

I can't comment on the divorce side.

I will say document everything you can. keep copies and messages of everything. I'm also in the UK.

Also keep in mind she may try alienation with the children.

If she is also not coping to help with arrangements for the children and the children needing help with things and also of she becomes unstable https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/  They will also see if she isn't doing as she should and will work for the best for the children.

if you can have as many people around you.

I know some of my daughters friends solely live with their father it depends on invidual circumstances. or others have 60/40.
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« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2022, 08:34:02 AM »

Further comments on our comments below in red. Keep in mind the T I go to is specialized in these kinds of relationships.


I think my biggest difficulties will be my fear of making my wife sad and whether I will regret the decision in hindsight.
I share your main concerns. How would you feel if she's fine and has a new love interest in 2 months time? Would you feel then that you're sympathy and worry was too much. We can't be responsible for another person at least not to the degree we are. Will you regret it... impossible to say but why have we come to this point of constantly thinking about breaking up? Would you feel the same anxiety in a relationship with a NON bpd that you no longer love?

How do I tell the kids? --> Later, maybe the next day. They will probably be a bit worried but they are kids and will focus their attention on toys, tv and whatever they're doing  I hope this is true as my wife has made me feel guilty about this in the past.  My eldest is almost 4 so will need any changes to explained to him (my youngest is 10 months so will be oblivious!)
My T also said that mothers have a tendency to want to be good mothers, maybe especially in a situation like this. She kind of calmed me down and made me think that the kids will be fine.
How do I act in case of suicide threat? --> Ask her, "do you mean it?", if she says yes, tell her you're calling the cops. Don't go there, let the police handle it.
What if she "goes quiet" and don't give me necessary information about the children when they are with her? First day, maybe let it go, second day, involve CPS. --> check locally how things work.  Great advice - I will follow this
How do I respond if she won't agree to make up a plan of custody? --> Same as last question.  I will follow this
How quickly can we set up a schedule for custody? --> as fast as possible I will follow this
These are questions I haven't discussed with my T:
What if she deny that I want to move out, and doesn't take it serious?  I think we would need to proceed as planned and she would know we were serious when we actually pack and leave.  Remember we cannot control the other person's reaction; only our own.
True, once we're out of sight, they will probably be kind of the same as always, obsessively text on whatsapp or whatever. The chock may be spread out over time i guess. Us being there might not even calm them down, quite the opposite.
What to do if she promises to the kids that I'll be back?  This is where I suspect parallel parenting will become relevant.  We would need to validate the kids' feelings but keep our message to them consistent.
Maybe I am being too worried about this, if she says something confusing or misleading, I can clear it up with them later. As long as my message is consistent
What do I do if she becomes physically ill, throws up and so on?  I think we would need to be empathetic but firm in our convictions.
I think I need a concrete plan how to do. I find it hard leaving the apartment with her in chock and puking. Or maybe leaving her by text message is an alternative? Then we can meet later when the first chock has passed. But how about the kids being with her when I deliver that message... Hard to see how that would work out.
Plans for picking up stuff from the old apartment.  This could be difficult.  I have moved important possessions to my place of work secretly, but I can imagine her being obstructive.  Do you suspect yours will be?  I plan to lock other valuables in a shed to which only I have the key to protect them from being destroyed.  Do you have that option?

I don't have too many possessions I care for that much. I can take some to work, I can create a list of things that I can't take before it happens and put them in a bag and take them somewhere just before I tell her I'll move out. We have a storage in our house to where we have a separate key, maybe I can take that key with me when I leave. She won't need it the first days.
How would I react if she promised to seek professional help?  My wife historically used to dismiss this prospect as 'she knew more than them'.  Recently however she has raised this as a possibility.  It is very confusing.  My window for escape seems to be limited and I'm not sure how I can trust her to change.
 How has your wife viewed this?

My wife don't care much for professional help, last time I tried to leave she told me we could go see a professional, I booked an appointment, but a few days later she told me she won't go, later she was furious with me for booking that appointment.
How would I react if she actually would seek professional help?  As above.
How would I react if she kept going back to that help for months (and not showing any indication of stopping)  as above.  There is no guarantee that she would not revert to long-standing behaviour.
Probably not
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« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2022, 12:14:05 PM »

"Do I do it" to "How to I do it"  This has quickly moved from "do I do it" to "how to I do it". Be careful to not let the tail wag the dog... family court, CPS, lawyers, etc. are a machine and once you step in, the focus will be on process and formula.

"How to I do it" One of the cleanest ways to get out is to go to couples therapy, but tell the therapist that if there is no clear path to progress in __ (n)sessions that you want to shift the focus to divorce as a solution. After (or during) file a divorce case with recommended temporary orders and set a court date for finalizing the temporary orders. Try to agree, as much as you can and let the judge make the hard calls. Then move out.

This might take 4 awkward months, but that is four months to wind down and accept the dissolution of the family and avoid a huge blow up drama (or at least experience it in stages). This can be easier on the kids, too. If she feels you should not be in the same home pending the temporary order, let her move out.

CPS Caution. In the US, CPS and the police will be of negligible value in helping manage a separation and child visitation without a court order. Even once the court order is in place, cooperation is far easier than enforcement. You can read many cases here were one party decided not to live up to the court order and the months (and $$) it took for the other to sort it out.  I'm not familiar with UK NSPCC practices in these situations.
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« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2022, 01:53:02 PM »

I've found the anecdotes here on the actual leaving really helpful.  My wife is not violent and has toned down much of the yelling and dysregulated behavior around the kids.  So I'm not going to get that one "aha" moment.

I've been emotionally gearing up for divorce for months.  She actually is the one who brings it up every 2 weeks as a threat, and I find myself at the brink of getting out ... and I just don't take it.  

Right now, we "broke up" for the 5th time this year this morning.  We are supposed to go to the nearby big city for a weekend away from kids and dog.  And she is refusing to go and wants a divorce.  It's predictable, and I'm already getting the e-mails hinting at a negotiation as long as I commit to a weekend of long, long, long discussions about our relationship (including apologies and commitments to do better).

I'm not practically prepared for divorce in any way.  And yet something inside of me is saying this is it today.  Maybe it's a conversation I had with my D15 last night where she unknowingly described her mother's BDP symptoms perfectly.  I felt deep shame I'm putting her through this.  But I haven't left yet, and I can already feel myself negotiate the possibility that further work from me on me can bring some stability to the house. Ugh.  
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« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2022, 10:36:38 AM »

This is a case study of some years in the making: https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=352928.0;topicseen

It's an example of things not going well after the divorce.

It's just one case, not the norm, and not rare.
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« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2022, 10:27:09 AM »

This is a case study of some years in the making: https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=352928.0;topicseen

It's an example of things not going well after the divorce.

It's just one case, not the norm, and not rare.

That's really scary. 

I think you do what you can, but you can't control other people, and if a BPD ex-wife or ex-husband succeeds in alienating you form your child or children, that's just despicable, by maybe in some cases unavoidable.  I imagine some kids are more susceptible to it than others.

I'd say:

1) Get a trustworthy therapist, or child psychologist defined in the separation agreement or divorce decree as the exclusive provider for the child/children, and take them as often as necessary, but at least every couple months to ensure they maintain a rapport and the child trusts them.  having another adult in the equation can help spot any issues, and also counter-balance the disinformation campaigns a BPD mounts.

Courts are generally very pro-therapy, and also recognize the value in having an established relationship with a therapist, and so that shouldn't be difficult to get addressed in court.

2) Stay as involved as you can in their lives.  Call to say goodnight every night, or most nights at least (a courtesy you can allow the pwBPD to ensure they allow you to). 

3) Get advice on how to respond to uncomfortable questions, or comments the other parent might make to the child. 
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« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2022, 02:48:25 PM »

This is an infamous BPDFamily member who's custody story made it all the way to ABC's Good Morning America...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Psycho_Ex-Wife

I was friendly to the supervisor and said that would be no problem to add the extra hour to Sunday.  Right now I am not sure what time the visit will be, I'm not stressing or hit_ing about it to the visitation center because that is not me.  I am a very laid back person and usually take things in stride...I probably took things too much in stride with my 18 yr old and was always too flexible, guess where that got me...a child going on Dr. Phil saying her father is a child molester/pedophile.

Regarding providing peace for the child...I do want peace for my children but in order to provide peace for a child, both parents have to find some common ground and that common ground does not exist.  I agree with your comment about providing peace, but...

95685dad ended up on Dr. Phil with his two daughters claiming he sexually abused him...

Both these gentlemen fought hard for custody and ended up as victims of the battle...

...that's just despicable, by maybe in some cases unavoidable.  I imagine some kids are more susceptible to it than others.

I'm not sure there is an antidote is to PAS... and I've seen PAS up close... it happens fast. And the courts often prefer to favor one parent having primary visitation when there is parental conflict. The often see it that the kids will be better off being primarily with one parent and peaceful, rather than equally split between two parents fighting.

The question, I believe, is that if your wife is likely to do this, would you still divorce, or would you wait, or would you do it differently?

I suspect the odds go up the more threatening the divorce is or how much animosity (e.g., another women).

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« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2022, 05:09:02 PM »

Hello Skip,

My advice, listen to your feelings.

I started the divorce process officially this month.  I asked for a divorce in March.  During the time period between March and May, my BPD-H asked me to reconsidered ~ x4 and Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde appeared many times.   

When he asked me to reconsider, he made me promises, said what I wanted to hear (years prior) and the man I dated reemerge.  Since I made a marriage committment, I took time consider each appeal andreturn to the conculsion that I wanted a divorce.

Reason why I always returned to this conculsion was because when we were in a state on agreeing to divorce, I was happy.  I found joy again.  I moved in with my mom and discovered that I can have times in my dwelling we I can laugh with someone else.

Listen to your feelings.
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« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2022, 05:30:18 PM »

....
The question, I believe, is that if your wife is likely to do this, would you still divorce, or would you wait, or would you do it differently?

I suspect the odds go up the more threatening the divorce is or how much animosity (e.g., another women).
This is all horrifying, to be sure.  But do you think it's a common enough outcome to justify staying in a miserable marriage?  for some, that could be close to 18 years before their youngest reaches adulthood.

I'm curious if we polled all members who left, what % would say they regretted the decision, or by and large, divorcing was a worse outcome than staying in it for the kids.

When I was doing the calculus - noted above - over whether I should stay or go, I reached out to a fair number of people I trusted, and the advice was unanimous that one should never "stay together for the kids."  They all downplayed the risk of alienation.  In one instance, a friend of mine (who is a child psychiatrist and had a stepmom who was likely disordered as well, he said she was probably BPD, but no one diagnosed it as that) told me that kids will figure it out in the end, even if there are rocky years, but that was no reason to stay in a miserable marriage, which he felt was worse for all involved.  

I did consider that as well, namely that by staying in a volatile marriage, was I doing more harm to my daughter that way?  Would she think it's normal to treat a partner that way, or be treated that way herself?  Would she think less of me?  

It's a tough choice... it was the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life, and hopefully will ever have to make.  But that's what I fell back on... if I stayed in the marriage, I couldn't control the chaos and volatility BPDxw at all.  It was a life of walking on eggshells.  But if I left, at least I could control it when I was alone, and I could give my daughter the period of time she was with me, a break from it. 
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« Reply #26 on: May 23, 2022, 10:38:07 PM »

My advice, listen to your feelings.

It might require more consideration when there is a 3 year old and a 1 year old.

anyway, I'm basically only sticking around for my kids (ages 1 & 3).  If it weren't for them, I would've been gone a long time ago.  I still love my wife and wish her well, but I don't see how I can live in misery for the rest of my life if I stay with her. 

Pete, one size does not fit all.  One size doesn't even fit us if we consider how we changed in time.

My point is not to tell anyone to stay in the marriage... or to leave... this is a deeply complex and personal decision. My point is to just to think it through.





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« Reply #27 on: May 24, 2022, 04:50:30 AM »

I think the couples therapy-idea is worth considering. It's good to know what could be the cleanest way to end a marriage, I have heard this recommendation from mental health professionals too. I like this idea because it's the right thing to do, even from a neutral perspective. And also it's less work for you personally, a way to not overthink it, instead do it in an organized manner. But if the other spouse refuses to go to couples therapy, how many times do I have to ask her to reconsider it? What would the next step be?

As for the risks involving a divorce. In Scandinavia where I live, the legal system works quite differently than in the US, this according to what people in general say, and the opinions of mental health professionals I've consulted about these issues. However, the same mix of personalities and dysfunctions exist here too. There is a difference in culture between here and the US so that may play a part too. I don't know how the social climate is in the US, but here, it's a lot easier to be seen as a fantastic dad than a fantastic mom.

Staying has its risks too - exhaustion, dysfunction, isolation etc - all bad for the kids growing up. They might even cut contact with you when they are grown up because you stayed with the other parent. I'm sure you can be alienated when you stay in a marriage too.
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« Reply #28 on: May 24, 2022, 06:57:51 AM »

Staying has its risks too - exhaustion, dysfunction, isolation etc - all bad for the kids growing up. They might even cut contact with you when they are grown up because you stayed with the other parent. I'm sure you can be alienated when you stay in a marriage too.

Agreed. A relationship can break down to total toxicity.

Another downside is an enabling relationship (e.g., father enabling mother) can model dysfunction to the children.

This is an interesting article on the impact of divorce to children at different ages. It pegs elementary school age (6–12) as the most difficult period to experience a divorce.
https://www.healthline.com/health/childrens-health/worst-age-for-divorce-for-children#6-12-years

Another consideration is how local courts look at visitation of children under 18 months old.
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« Reply #29 on: May 24, 2022, 10:03:23 AM »

It is strange - almost like the loving highs and abusive lows have become a steady flatlined loveless relationship.


I would examine this idea more. What is "love" and how do we experience it? These emotional highs and lows have been compared to drugs- the highs and the lows of withdrawal. The highs are exciting, the lows terrible.

By comparison, less drama may feel less interesting or exciting but may be the more stable relationship in the long run.

A lot of unconscious factors influence how we are attracted to people and how we attract people. There is a reason that two people are attracted to each other.

I think a step to change in dynamics is to change our participation in the dynamics. While this doesn't change the other person, lessening the drama can reduce the crisis/stress mode and hopefully lead to more clarity of thought. Keep in mind that when one person changes their behavior, the other person doesn't have new "tools" and so will try the behaviors they know. Less drama may feel boring but perhaps it's space. Maybe in this space there's room for a different feeling of love, maybe not, but the "boring"  might be the space to examine this.

This doesn't mean one has to stay or leave. That's a personal decision.
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« Reply #30 on: May 24, 2022, 10:53:29 AM »

It might require more consideration when there is a 3 year old and a 1 year old.

Pete, one size does not fit all.  One size doesn't even fit us if we consider how we changed in time.

My point is not to tell anyone to stay in the marriage... or to leave... this is a deeply complex and personal decision. My point is to just to think it through.


Well, that's a blast from the past!

I agree 100% one should consider the risk of parental alienation; I just took a little issue with the way you presented it.  I wouldn't focus on extreme worst case scenarios like those cited; I would just say that pwBPD are known to engage in this sort of behavior, and the Non-disordered parent needs to be aware of it, and take steps to prevent it. 
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« Reply #31 on: May 24, 2022, 03:29:55 PM »

""How to I do it" One of the cleanest ways to get out is to go to couples therapy, but tell the therapist that if there is no clear path to progress in __ (n)sessions that you want to shift the focus to divorce as a solution. After (or during) file a divorce case with recommended temporary orders and set a court date for finalizing the temporary orders. Try to agree, as much as you can and let the judge make the hard calls. Then move out.

This might take 4 awkward months, but that is four months to wind down and accept the dissolution of the family and avoid a huge blow up drama (or at least experience it in stages). This can be easier on the kids, too. If she feels you should not be in the same home pending the temporary order, let her move out.

Unfortunately, I had to use this on Saturday after a chaotic and destructive Friday left me numb and with no answers except that we can't go through this anymore.  My uPBDw accepted it, as she was the one who "ended" the relationship three times in one day.  She is now freaked out that I'm not circling back, and I'm actually very happy with this solution.  The idea of reconciliation seems like a bad one right now, but I am very much up for one last try to find an equilibrium.  And now if it doesn't work, I feel like I've set a track at least a little on my terms, rather than just reacting to the weekly divorce "talks".
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« Reply #32 on: May 25, 2022, 11:55:08 AM »

95685dad ended up on Dr. Phil with his two daughters claiming he sexually abused him...

Both these gentlemen fought hard for custody and ended up as victims of the battle...

If my memory serves me right, 95685dad's ex was diagnosed with Histrionic PD and was slamming him on every clueless format she could find.  (Recently in the news, Amber Heard was diagnosed with both BPD and HPD.)
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« Reply #33 on: May 25, 2022, 12:37:14 PM »

If my memory serves me right, 95685dad's ex was diagnosed with Histrionic PD and was slamming him on every clueless format she could find.  (Recently in the news, Amber Heard was diagnosed with both BPD and HPD.)

They had a tough custody battle, both trying to get sole custody (if I remember). She ultimately went to a non-profit women's advocacy group with two girls claiming sexual abuse and copies of emails he had sent her. The advocacy group went on Facebook to draw public attention to the matter. I think they did some real life protests too. Dr. Phil hosted a face to face with the mother, daughter, and 95685dad.

It did not play well for 95685dad.
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« Reply #34 on: May 27, 2022, 10:46:20 AM »

They had a tough custody battle, both trying to get sole custody (if I remember). She ultimately went to a non-profit women's advocacy group with two girls claiming sexual abuse and copies of emails he had sent her. The advocacy group went on Facebook to draw public attention to the matter. I think they did some real life protests too. Dr. Phil hosted a face to face with the mother, daughter, and 95685dad.

It did not play well for 95685dad.

Jeez... What was in those emails?

Why would he agree to go on Dr. Phil? 
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« Reply #35 on: May 28, 2022, 03:20:11 PM »

One thing that leaving will do is give you perspective, which can lead to clarity about what is the best course of action.

It is very, very difficult to look at behaviors and our reactions to them when you’re still in the relationship. It simply becomes normalcy, even if its painful or dysfunctional normalcy.

Once you’re outside of that environment, it’s a lot easier to see how unhealthy it is/was, to process things in a healthy way, and gain some clarity about what you want moving forward.
Clarity about what you want, what you’re willing to tolerate, what changes you can make in the relationship and for yourself, and just as importantly, what life outside this particular relationship will actually be like.

Journaling is a great idea.  You can really start to see the patterns and cycles of behaviors and the frequency of conflict between the two of you. It’s a common occurrence here to feel like maybe things are getting better when things are calm for a while, but when you document the relationshop and start look at journals, you might realize things have only been civil or peaceful for a day or two. Because the chaos hurts, we crave normalcy, and we feel things are better than they might actually be.

If nothing else, if you separate move out, you will eventually see their true colors. Which, again, leads to clarity.
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« Reply #36 on: June 10, 2022, 02:12:50 PM »

About that histrionic case, as I recall the daughters lived with dad at first, then the older daughter spent more time with mom and mom was determined to get the younger daughter too, whatever it took.  I lost contact with dad eventually.

Many members here have had such unbelievably false allegations made against them.  Myself included.  (When I filed for custody I had to get a Change of Circumstances to agree.  I won the right to proceed but I was shocked to see that the decision included a short paragraph where my former spouse claimed I had tried to choke her years before - and they didn't even ask me about it.  However, it also noted that she was "not credible" in some of her testimony.

How do you prove a negative?  That you didn't do anything wrong when there are no independent witnesses to document right or wrong?
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« Reply #37 on: June 11, 2022, 07:33:21 AM »

How do you prove a negative?  That you didn't do anything wrong when there are no independent witnesses to document right or wrong?

This is incredibly hard, which is the whole issue with the #metoo movement and social justice online. Our justice system uses "innocent until proven guilty" for a reason, however, with social justice, any accusation makes you guilty to the eyes of the population. It feels like we are back to hunting witches.

To be fair though, if damages have not been documented, or if a woman/man did not go to the hospital to get a rape kit or anything because of shock or other reasons, the contrary is also incredibly hard to prove.

It all comes down to : we cannot know what happens between two people behind closed doors.

And if the Depp VS Heard trial taught us anything, it's that if you aim to leave a pwBPD, you better, first, document their crisis and abuse via pictures, video or recording...
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