Ask Dr. Tracy

What I Did For Love (Colleen)

If Colleen, an accountant, had followed my steps for "Qualifying Someone", her disastrous marriage to Barry could have been avoided. Unfortunately, when she came to me for counseling, most of this incredible but true case study had already unfolded.

When Colleen met Barry, her dream man, she was thrilled. He was a dentist who specialized in dealing with problems of the aged and working with medicare patients in a clinic. She saw him as caring and compassionate. He seemed to be everything she'd ever wanted. When he asked her to marry him only two weeks later, it seemed sudden but not suspicious -- she was already blinded by being in love.

After her dream wedding, she began to shop for a dream house for the two of them. There were problems with his son, a teenager from hell, and the ex-wife, whom he described as "crazy," but Colleen didn't hesitate to make Barry's problems hers.

"I tried to fix the kid," she told me. Which turned out to be hopeless, as the boy was abusive and violent. Eventually he went to live with his mother, but Colleen's problems were just beginning.

She set up her new husband in a private office where he could work for himself and build his own practice instead of working at a clinic. Using her own savings, she leased and decorated the office, installed the phone system, bought the equipment, hired the help and did everything but drill teeth. But her new husband's behavior was becoming more and more erratic.

"Barry told me he couldn't sleep, so he had to take sleeping pills. I was worried, but he was the doctor and I assumed he knew what he was doing." Finally, he lost the practice, she lost the money she'd invested, and they almost broke up.

Instead, he went to a drug clinic and pronounced himself a new man when he came back. Colleen believed him. She started to set him up in a practice all over again, but again he began to act erratic, taking drugs, sleeping days, up all night, and not showing up for patients. Finally, he went off the deep end one day, hallucinating that men from outer space were after him.

Barry took Colleen's car and headed across the border to Canada from their home in Detroit. He had most of his large gun collection with him and was denied entry. So he left the guns locked in his car on the U.S. side and made his way across the border on foot.

The Canadian police picked him up for bizarre behavior and put him away. He managed to talk the hygienist from his previous office into coming for him and getting him out of the mental hospital. Back across the border, he jumped in his car and attempted to get on a freeway by speeding the wrong way up an "off" freeway ramp, killing an innocent person coming the other way.

Barry was sent to jail, leaving Colleen to sell the office equipment and the dream mansion and salvage what's left of her savings. Far too late, she discovered that Barry had a history of drug dependency problems and had even written prescriptions for his narcotics in her name.

He calls her from jail. Sometimes he almost sounds sane, but usually he's delusional, babbling on about how everything's her fault.

If Barry is judged insane, Colleen will be responsible for him and her ordeal will continue. If he is judged sane, he'll go back to jail. Either way, she has wasted precious years of her life trying to get a crazy man's life on track. The experience has left Colleen in such disarray that it may take years more to get her own life back on track.

Colleen's is a classic, if extreme, case of not "Qualifying Someone" and doing far too much for someone who doesn't deserve your love.

Related Keywords: Bad Prospects, Giving Too Much, Over-Romanticizing, Love Addiction, Dependency

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