The biggest reason Tom became angry at the statement "marriage is the hardest work we ever do" is that he did not want to be held responsible for his words and actions towards his wife. In his closest relationship, he needs to live life unfiltered and uncensored. Being held accountable for his inappropriate anger and mood swings triggers a string of self-deprecating thoughts inside his head that are never ending except when he turns his anger onto someone else. However, when his wife is about to walk away because she has had enough, Tom knows how to make her stay by expressing how he could never live without her. This is a continuous cycle as Tom repeatedly tests her love for him. In an attempt to fill his emotional void he provokes fights with his wife by jumping her boundaries physically and emotionally. He needs to know whether she will come back to him or abandon him like everyone else. Even his excessive encounters with the police due to his impulsive and abusive behaviors do not drive her away.
Tom was also angry since he knew he could not maintain a healthy relationship because of his mood swings, anger, self-absorption, and victim beliefs. He knew he needed to deflect the attention away from his behavior choices and onto how life has mistreated him, so that his wife would excuse the nasty harsh words he says to her every day. He would rather point out how his wife has failed him than to say I am sorry. For this person, life is going to be hard because his basic relationship skills are destructive and he will continue to encounter hardships in most environments where relationships are a key element to success.
We know you have a lot of personal and practical experience with Tom. You have encountered him often. Tom has a Personality Disorder at the root of his chaos. What we would love for you to do is to take a stab in the comment section below as to your experiences with Tom and, if you feel adventurous, what personality disorder you believe Tom has and why. Is he Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, or Dependent Personality Disorder as classified by diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV? Our next article goes live later this month on the 29th. In that article we will present our argument to Tom's diagnosis and Mike will describe the types of calls you would most likely encounter him on, and give practical tips on how to best respond.