Dear Dr. Archer,
I’ve been in love with a guy for five years, and have kept it secret from my family. I’m very mad and possessive of him. I don’t allow others to touch the things he has touched. I don’t like him spending his leisure time with any of his friends.
I think that he is so special, but he must be special to me alone. I don’t like him speaking with girls other than his own sister. I tell him calmly at first, but then become very angry. If he doesn’t listen and do what I want, I become violent, and scream out loud.
If that doesn’t make him listen to me, I start hurting myself. I hit my head on the wall, scratch my fingers on the floor, burn my skin, and once I even cut my fingers. I try to remain calm and patient, but when it comes to him, I become very tense and violent.
My first impression from your story is that you are very afraid and insecure. You seem to doubt your ability to maintain a relationship without being in total control. Many believe jealousy and control is a form of love, but it isn’t, and it will never sustain a relationship. I suspect your early relationships have been very dysfunctional, and possibly abusive, as well.
You cannot maintain a healthy relationship by intimidation, threats and self-abuse. I suspect that you know this, but can’t help yourself, because your fears are overwhelming common sense and rational thinking. This is a pattern only you can stop, and I suggest you do something about this and do it now.
There is no happy ending to your story, unless you’re able to overcome your fear of rejection and abandonment. You will need a very wise friend or, perhaps, a professional counselor to help you find the better parts of yourself. When that happens, you may find that special someone who wants to be with you out of love and respect, not because you use manipulation and control. I don’t think anything else works.
Dear Dr. Archer,
I am a 57-year-old married female, with two adult children. I come from an abused childhood, and jumped into abusive marriages. I have been married three times, and have maintained my current marriage for 25 years. I have had years of therapy, and have actually become a marriage family therapist myself. Currently, I remain in therapy to keep myself grounded, so that I don’t experience too much cross transference with clients.
My marriage has failed, yet I won’t leave, due to my religious convictions about divorce. I believe my husband has had and will continue to have adulterous affairs. He refuses couples counseling, and, as much as I want to save the marriage, I can’t save it alone.
I am on a second career. My first was 18 years as a deputy sheriff, which I wound up having to medically retire from, leaving me depressed. My concern is that if I don’t leave a legacy to the world, then what purpose have I served? I have two daughters who are grown, and into their own world. I have one sibling that is so busy he can barely take time to talk to me.
I am looking for a fresh opinion. Also, I am a devout believer in Jesus, and daily speak in prayer with him. I’d like your take on my situation. Thank you.
You are experiencing a severe values conflict. You want a loving and healthy marriage, but continue to choose to maintain a relationship with a man who has a totally different idea about marriage. You are kind and helpful to others, as a therapist, but you don’t want to follow the solution for your own problems.
From what you write, it appears that your current husband wants a stay-at-home, keep-your-mouth-shut wife. You can either accept his lifestyle, or make the difficult decision to leave and pursue your own values. This doesn’t necessarily require divorce.
The truth is, you have been unsuccessful in finding a healthy companion, and until you recognize why, you will continue to find yourself in destructive relationships, and the likelihood of living happily ever after is remote.
I seriously doubt your religion would want you to endure a lifetime of marital suffering. We should live the best life we can, regardless of religious convictions. No one likes divorce, but sometimes divorce is necessary. Even the Bible allows for divorce, and states that infidelity is a reason to end a marriage. Ultimately, however, your happiness, how you live your life, and how you pave your future, is entirely up to you.
Every marriage will have its problems. Some should end, while others are worth fighting for. I urge you to consider Richard Bach’s words: “If we must lose wife or husband when we live to our highest right, we lose an unhappy marriage, as well, and we gain ourselves. But if a marriage is born between two already self-discovered, what a lovely adventure begins, hurricanes and all.”
You had a rough beginning in life. Being an abused child often leaves many emotional scars and distorted ideas about relationships. It’s good that you continue your own therapy, but keep in mind all therapists aren’t created equal. If you haven’t been making progress in overcoming your self-defeating behaviors, then perhaps another therapist specializing in adult survivors of childhood abuse may give you another perspective.
You still have a lot of life to live, and your priority should be yourself, and how to make the most of your life. You won’t be good for others until you’re good for yourself. Good luck.
Dear Dr. Archer,
My nine-year-old brother has always been a picky eater. Lately, however, he is even pickier. My family and I are getting quite concerned, as he’s not very tall, and he’s extremely skinny. We suspect it’s some kind of anxiety about food. He said he gets stressed about eating, or even thinking about eating.
For the last year, we’ve been slowly encouraging him to try new things, and he has done extremely well. He eats broccoli, carrots, chicken nuggets, fish fingers, sausages, and various other foods like fries, cereal and sweet things like chocolate.
He also started eating potatoes and cheese, but recently hasn’t been comfortable eating them. His portions are getting smaller, and we don’t know where to turn. We give him chewable vitamins, but we fear that’s not enough. He will eat bread, but gags at pasta, rice and now potatoes.
What do you suggest? Should we talk to our local GP? Maybe counseling or therapy is needed? Thanks.
Many nine-year-olds are skinny and lanky, so that doesn’t concern me. Does he have energy? Is he an active boy? Does he sleep well? If so, then this is just a case of picky eating, and not a big deal. The foods that he likes are okay, and even include vegetables.
Mark Twain said it well when he said “Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like, and let the food fight it out inside.” In the meantime, strive to make mealtime a pleasant experience, not a time of stress.
As for increasing his range of foods, introduce new things as often as possible, without making a big deal out of it, while allowing him to eat mainly what he likes. It may take a while, but your brother will start tasting other things, and if it’s a positive experience, the new food can be added to the list.
As he gets older, trust me, he will expand what he eats. My son only ate eggs and cheese, three meals a day, for two years straight. Then one day he started eating more, and now he eats every food known to man. This is because we never made an issue about it, and let nature take its course. The day will come when your brother will do the same. Good luck.
Dr. Dale Archer is a board certified psychiatrist who founded the Institute For Neuropsychiatry in Southwest Louisiana. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN Headline News and other national TV programs, and is the author of the New York Times best-selling book Better than Normal. Visit him at DrDaleArcher.com.