(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Why Do I Hate
I don't know why I hate my husband and want to leave him.
(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Dr. Kenner: Right now I'm going to turn to the phones and Shawn, you're dealing with a situation with your husband?
Dr. Kenner: What's going on with him, or with you?
Shawn: It's more with me.
Dr. Kenner: I just realized that.
Shawn: It's with me. I just experience an enormous amount of stress and tension in his presence, frequently. Where I just feel really stressed. I can tell, I feel like there are so many things about him that I don't like. It's more than just what he does. We've worked through a lot of problems in our relationship and have come very far, so I can't point to behaviors. Now it's more like I just don't like him.
Dr. Kenner: That's a summary emotion, meaning it's an emotion based on a lot of individual data points, meaning experiences that you've had with him. So, when you say there's a lot of stress and tension, what goes through your mind? If he were to walk in the room right now, walk me through what goes through your mind?
Shawn: Well, say he's laughing, talking, I'm not liking, I'm imagining, I think I don't like the way he talks, the way he interacts, the way he laughs. I guess I feel like he's very egotistical. His attitude seems very harsh. It's sort of personality things and I think I've learned that he doesn't mean to be harsh, so I don't feel blaming anymore for that. But it's more that I just don't like the way he talks. I don't like the way he thinks. I don't like what he has to say - this isn't 100 percent of the time - but this is probably 20 percent of the time, and then I feel a huge amount of anxiety inside of myself.
Dr. Kenner: So anxiety is your signal that something in the future is uncertain. Like what direction do you go now? Do you divorce him? Have you talked about that? Do you try to stay with him and grin and bear it? How many years have you been married?
Shawn: Seven, and I just recently, I'd been thinking about leaving for a number of years, and recently an opportunity came up where there was someone that I would live with. I have a lot of fears around being a single parent and she was also a single parent, so it would have been a great situation. I really meditated about it and I really looked at it and my takeaway has been I don't know that that is the best.
Dr. Kenner: Do you have children?
Shawn: I do.
Dr. Kenner: How many? You said you're a single parent.
Shawn: One, a 6-year-old.
Dr. Kenner: A 6-year-old. And what are your thoughts about leaving in terms of the 6-year-old?
Shawn: That's probably a big one. I don't know that that's best for her. We parent her well together.
Dr. Kenner: Okay. Could you parent her well together being in different households?
Dr. Kenner: So you don't think he would turn negative on you if you left?
Shawn: No. But I think she would seriously miss out. Because we parent very differently and all the things about that a child needs, it would have a lot of concerns around the two of us parenting separately. It wouldn't be horrible, but it would be way less than ideal.
Dr. Kenner: So that would be a problem to solve. How do you parent as two parents and bring her up in a way that minimizes any damage? You're not going to get rid of it all, but you can minimize it. She's still young enough, 6 years old, you're not dealing with a 12-year-old or a preteen, older child here. So she may adapt somewhat if you work well. Let me tell you what I'm hearing - the stress and the tension, that's a red flag for you. Whenever I feel stressed or tense and it's a very high stress or tension, I know there's a very high important value at stake for me that makes a difference to my future. That's what anxiety is telling us, is some huge uncertainty if you're feeling very anxious. The question to ask yourself is the one I asked you - what's going through my mind? You're naming a lot of things that you don't like, but the essence is you do not like his character. Even though there are good things about him, you are not a match. You are no longer soul mates. You don't respond to him. Did you find this out once you got married, is that what happened?
Shawn: Yeah, pretty much a year into the relationship, I thought I'd made a terrible mistake. I've been trying to make it right ever since. There's just something in me, though, that thinks that there's got to be a way to solve this.
Dr. Kenner: What would make you like him? Or love him? What would need to change?
Shawn: I do love him, and I like him sometimes.
Dr. Kenner: But what would need to change in your relationship with him where you feel at peace with him, you feel valued, you feel treasured, you feel cared for, you feel important, and he feels similarly around you?
Shawn: Dr. Kenner, I don't know. That is a very good question. I ask myself for years and years, and after years, and he's changed and he's changed and he's changed and we've changed and we've improved all these areas.
Dr. Kenner: Is there anybody else in the picture? Have you been attracted to another man that seems to promise more?
Shawn: Well, we went through a lot of problems and so three or four years ago, I was unfaithful. We were very distant.
Dr. Kenner: And you had an affair with someone? I'm noticing we have about 30 seconds left.
Shawn: The point is, I imagined I'd be happier with someone else, but I can't know that's true. So that's one of the reasons I haven't left. How do I know I wouldn't feel this way with someone else?
Dr. Kenner: If you can get out paper and pencil and a shredder or pen and write down all these different aspects, you need to be able to put on paper the way you're feeling. You have too many different thoughts. You can feel that it's overwhelming. You could write down why do I want to leave, what don't I like about him, what would I need to change? Is it just that we're no longer soul mates? If that's the case, you have every right to part ways. If you're going to have a difficult conversation with him, I would recommend a book, Difficult Conversations, which you can get on my website. An excellent book. You are exploring your options, so that's great.
Male 1: Oh, she eats him alive and he takes it.
Male 2: Things pretty rough for you at home?
Male 1: I mean, if he had guts to knock mom out cold once, then maybe she'd be happy and stop picking on her. Because they make mush out of him. Just mush. I'll tell you one thing. I don't ever want to be like him.
Male 2: No?
Male 1: How can a guy grow up in a circus like that?
Male 2: Beats me, Jim. But they do.
Dr. Kenner: That's from Rebel Without Cause, and you may have grown up in a household where mom or dad just made fun of you, tore you to pieces, and you felt powerless. You didn't know how to stand up. Maybe a sibling stood up and got penalized for it, and so you chose it's better be silent. You chose that method. Is that the right method? Do you have options when you have to live with irrational parents, parents who lose it? Is there a better way of dealing with that, and what damage does it do to you long-range? I'm Dr. Ellen Kenner. I'm a clinical psychologist and that's one of the many questions you can call and ask me about.