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Have poor impulse control. How to treat it?

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My wife does not trust me because I have poor impulse control with regard to discussing our personal life at work. she thinks I don't care about our relationship because I have difficulty expressing my thoughts. I should point out that we work together. I have on many occasions failed to support her by inaction or made choices that seemed to put others before her. I have always been a procrastinator and try to avoid confrontation because of my fear of not being able to defend myself. My insecurity has allowed her and others to take advantage of me my whole life.
Posted Tue, 12 Feb 2013 in Anxiety and Stress
Answered by Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar 2 hours later
Hello and welcome to Healthcare Magic. Thanks for your query.

I understand that some of your qualities or behaviours may be causing misunderstandings in your relationship. Very often, in an already strained relationship, even minor things tend to backfire and cause complications. Soon, things become a downspiral and lead to major problems like mistrust and instability in the relationship.

It is good that you have been able to realize that some of your personality qualities like impulsivity, procrastination, insecurity, etc. have been playing a major role in the causation of your relationship problems. Now, it is important to take firm steps and put in serious efforts to change yourself in these areas. Unfortunately, even though you may have good intentions, such qualities may portray a different picture about you and cause misinterpretations of your intentions.

The second thing to remember is that there is no single success formula for all relationships. Each relationship is unique because each person's mindset, attitute and expectations are very different. So, the important thing is to try to understand the partner's expectations and priorities and try to be sensitive to the partner's emotional needs. For example, your wife may get very upset or even overreact if you let her down in front of others. She may be okay with certain things, but for certain others there may be a strict no-no. These priorities may be very different from your pririties; sometimes her expectations may not be even be logical. But that's the strange part of relationships. Relationships don't work beased on logic. The secret is that there have to be a lot of adjustments and mutual compromises, in order to keep both partners satisfied.

It's never too late to change certain qualities or behaviours which may be unhealthy and causing problems between you two. The point is not about who is correct and who is not. Like I said before, relationships don't work that way. So, I would suggest that, if it's going to benefit your relationship, you would have to make certain changes or adjustments. Once you start making your wife feel that you are giving importance to her priorities and emotional needs, then she will slowly start trusting you. Most women want such acknowledgements and feelings expressed openly and often, repeatedly. And, it's not only enough to just express feelings, but also reiterate them in your actions. So, at least till she regains trust in you, you may have to put in double the efforts (put your ego on hold for a while) to make her understand that you actually do care a lot aout her and her feelings.

If you are having major issues with these feelings of insecurity, inability to express yourself or stand up for yourself, then I suggest that you seek professional help from a psychiatrist or psychologist. There are effective counselling techniques which can help you acquire such skills. So, if you put in dedicated efforts, I'm sure you can make a huge difference to this relationship.

Wish you all the best.

Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar
Consultant Psychiatrist
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have poor impulse control. How to treat it? 40 minutes later
There is another issue with regard to my wife's dealing with my shortcomings. When there is a problem and she feels like she cannot cope she will resort to throwing me out of the house because she doesn't want me around to face the problem. She'll let it fester for a few days before she says anything, and then decide it's better if I do not come home. This happens because she owned the house before we got together. She feels justified because it's her house and that she can't leave since there is nowhere for her to go. Each time this happens, part of me does not want to go back but since I feel her reasons are not enough to end a marriage, I go back. I also feel that this behavior is abusive because any time she is angry and hurt by me, she can toss me out. I told her how I felt and she brushed it off and got angrier because she came from a physically abusive marriage and told me I had no right to feel that way because all she's ever done is take care of me. Her income is much greater than mine and I do contribute what I can but much of my salary goes to my ex-wife and children so whatever I do spend on myself is criticized.
My wife's usual defense is how much she spends and how much she's sacrificed and how my actions could jeopardize her position at work. She's afraid her home will be taken away because of me. Despite my attempts to help her understand that things are not as bad as she makes them out to be, I can't get through.
So the question is, how do I get her to validate my feelings?
Answered by Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar 17 hours later
Hello again,

From the additional information you have provided, it appears that your wife's way of dealing with problems also doesn't seem healthy at all. It reflects an overall poor coping strategy and a lot of impulsivity. Unfortunately, her dominating nature and financial superiority, when added up with some of your qualities such as inability to express yourself and your insecurities seem to be widening the gap between you two.

However, since you still feel that you don't want to end this marriage, it is important that someone breaks the ice. Otherwise, this gap is just going to keep widening. Given the current situation where she seems quite okay with throwing you out and justifying herself always, you will have to be the person who takes the initiative. In this process, you may have to make compromises and be willing to change yourself - because it doesn't look to me that she is willing to make any compromise.

So, if you want her to validate your feelings and respect you, then you should win back her trust. Whichever things she has found fault with you or found lacking in you, these have to be sorted out, so that she is able to see these and realize that you are putting in serious efforts to make this relationship work. Unless she sees an obvious change, she is very unlikely to change her attitude. You yourself have mentioned that despite trying to make her understand, she only misunderstands you.

Secondly, try to be more expressive about your feelings. Like I mentioned before, women often seek repeated outward expressions and reassurances. Maybe, you can take her out for a nice dinner and have a discussion with her - not to argue about anything, but to just let her know that you genuinely care about her, her feelings and this relationship.

Thirdly, you have to give her the impression that you are strong enough for her to depend on you. I think this point is very important, because right now, one of the major reasons why she doest respect you or care about your feelings is that she probably feels that you are not strong enough for her to depend on you for anything. I can understand that there are issues regarding a discrepancy in your financial and career positions. But you should not let that pull you down and make you feel more insecure and weak. Though financial status is important in a relationship, yet one of the most important qualities which a woman seeks in a man is emotional strength and dependability. Once you give her this feeling, then she will automatically start understanding your feelings and stop taking you for granted.

I know that it's not an easy task for you, but if you are making a choice of making this relationship work, you will have to put in a lot of effort and make significant changes to the position your wife is holding you at.

Wish you all the best.

Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar
Consultant Psychiatrist
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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