What You Can Do As A Non-Raging Mate To Either Fix The Relationship Or Forget It
(The following is an actual email conversation between Newton Hightower, Director of The Center for Anger Resolution, Inc., and "Betty" the girlfriend of a rageaholic.)
Betty: I am a 35-year-old single woman who has been dating a man for three years who verbally and emotionally abuses me. I am called ALL kinds of names..."you're a F-ing B, you're stupid, F-ing crazy psycho, F-ing whore, F- you..." things of that nature. He is in counseling and has been for about three months. My question is can he truly change?
Newton: The answer is yes, absolutely! BUT, the prognosis doesn't look good.
Let me disqualify myself here. First of all, I do not work with women in your position because it is like me trying to work with someone from a different planet...I just don't get it at all. I used to be how your boyfriend is.
I would refer you to a female therapist who could teach you to put the PRESSURE ON YOUR MAN.
Then I would work with your boyfriend when he comes crying and begging, 'Please, help me! I am about to lose the love of my life. She won't talk to me. How can I get her back? She says I have to see you 3 times before she will talk to me.'
Putting the PRESSURE ON is pre-therapy.
When you do the pre-therapy, then I will do the therapy on him.
*DO YOU RECOMMEND LEAVING HIM?*
Generally, I would recommend you stay and learn how to stand up to him.
Staying with a jerk like that for three years means you probably cannot get out even if you wanted to.
Recommending that women leave usually doesn't work. I have seen couples where the man has shot several times at the wife and missed, and vice versa. In neither case did they leave each other; they just left the therapy when I hit the ceiling.
*PRE-THERAPY INTERVENTION: 911*
Last week I suggested to a couple the pre-therapy change number (911). The girlfriend arrived a little early and reported things had gotten violent again. I suggested that she report the incident and call the police every time it happens.
She said, "I won't tell him what you said." I replied, "Don't worry. I will tell him when he gets here."
My colleagues often question the wisdom of this intervention of advising wives or girlfriends to have their men arrested, when they are together in my office.
Most men are trying to save the marriage or relationship when they come to see me. I tell their girlfriends, "Most of us men would rather go to jail than get divorced again...at least I would."
I also do not challenge the men, but compliment them: "I know you are 30 years younger than me and could kill me with a single blow, so I hope you don't take this the wrong way."
"I can see that you are really committed to this relationship that you come here every week and pay a lot of money for me to recommend that she have you arrested."
*FROM BETTY TO HER BOYFRIEND: A ST. PATRICK'S DAY GIFT!*
Okay Betty, you said it took him two weeks to give a half- hearted apology. Send him a St. Patrick's Day Card that tells him it is his lucky day. You are going to give him a chance to make up for being a total jerk for three years.
1. First you will need a spoken apology that will bring tears to your eyes. You know, heart-felt with specific examples.
2. Then you can use a line my wife used to use: "That's nice. Now what are you going to do to make it up to me? No, I don't mean promises, but diamonds, vacations, things like that."
AFTER YOU HAVE GOTTEN ONE AND TWO WRITE ME...BUT DON'T SEE HIM UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY HAVE THE DIAMONDS IN YOUR HAND OR ON YOUR FINGER.
3. Then you need to find out what he is going to do if he does this again.
4. Betty, if you need a telephone coach, there are lots of therapists out there who receive my newsletter, and will read this conversation. Maybe one of them could spare you two or three thirty-minute telephone calls. If you paid for the phone calls, they might donate their time.
About the Author
Newton Hightower is the Director of The Center for Anger Resolution, Inc. in Houston, Texas, and author of the new book “Anger Busting 101: New ABCs for Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them.” Visit Newton's website for more anger- busting ideas and a free email newsletter filled with guest articles and tips for husbands, wives, and therapists. http://www.angerbusters.com
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