OK, Where Did You Put the Hidden Cameras in My House?

Reader’s Question

I have read your article on “Identifying Losers in Relationships” and I immediately began searching my home, hoping to determine where you placed the hidden cameras. After 17 years of marriage I recognize both my wife and myself in your article, and although it is comforting knowing the truth about oneself, what you do when there are small children in the marriage? I would not want my wife to raise the kids without my influence, and at the same time, there has to be a life out there where you are not hurting each other constantly. We have tried therapy for almost 5 years. I do not want to be this person anymore. We bring forth the worst in each other. Is walking out an option for a father in these circumstances?

Psychologist’s Reply

If you’ve tried therapy for five years, you’re sincerely trying to fix the situation, and that’s very positive and hopeful. Assuming your behavior and home life meets most of the ‘Loser’ signs, here’s some suggestions:

  • Print the article, check the signs you exhibit, and take the document to the therapist. Ask for help with those selected behaviors. Many of the specific ‘Loser’ signs can be the focus of treatment such as anger management.
  • Homes with Loser problems are also homes with verbal abuse, shouting/screaming, accusations, and even flying pots and pans. These hell-raising homes produce anxiety-ridden children and emotionally exhausted parents. Most verbal and behavioral explosions are really a series of events starting with an incident, signs of emotional distress, angry comments or loud voice, then physical outbursts. As a marital team, agree on a signal to use with each other when the signs of emotional distress are present and observed. Early intervention in the series of events can prevent most outbursts.
  • Some ‘Loser’ behaviors come from our personality, while some come from our personal experience. If we are reared in a hell-raising home, we tend to have a high tolerance for yelling and screaming in our adult life…and that isn’t good. With your spouse, rethink the boundaries in the home — what is allowed, what is acceptable behavior, etc. Reduce those boundaries by mutual agreement to eliminate such things as 1) yelling, 2) name calling, 3) bringing up the past, 4) threatening, and 5) other negative behaviors. If you think about your situation, after 17 years you and your spouse have become somewhat accepting of your home situation…and that’s not good.
  • Make an effort to calm your life and lifestyle. If you want a calm and loving home yet continue to associate with aggressive and ‘loser’ friends, it won’t work. Redesign your lifestyle for peace and love, perhaps seeking support in a religious faith or a different family model. Slowly detach and distance yourself from people with a bad influence — even if they are relatives.

Your children will be raised with your influence — even if you are out of the home. The question becomes what kind of influence? It is possible to become a positive influence on your children by changing the way you feel, think and behave. Keep in mind that no successful adult has ever credited a ‘Loser’ parent for their success. Get to work!

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