Fifth, relational change is most often initiated by the woman. Sadly, women involved with these men often try repeatedly to coax Mr. Hyde into counseling, unsuccessfully. They wonder why he won't volunteer for counseling, failing to understand that his behavior is not troubling to him—only to others. Hence, he has no motivation for change until she becomes exasperated enough to insist on change.

Sixth, begging for change, instead of insisting upon it--with enforceable consequences—leads to profound discouragement. Many women become exhausted trying to argue with their man. Hooked into irrational behavior themselves, these women fight a battle they cannot win. They can't out-argue Mr. Hyde, won't be able to reason with him, and certainly can't make him calm down. What does help is to set firm boundaries on what Mr. Hyde can expect if he erupts in anger, uses foul language, treats you mean or acts irrationally. Setting clear, firm boundaries is the best argument against ‘nasty' behavior. Seeing the "hook" well in advance, and avoiding it, is your best offensive behavior.

Finally, couples counseling is often the only venue for effective change. Since these men aren't often motivated to change, and have little insight about the severity of their problems, as well as the impact it has on others, counseling is usually initiated by the mate of Mr. Hyde. Women, exhausted from years of dealing ineffectively with his antics, must ultimately set enforceable boundaries that provide an impetus for character change. She can elucidate his behavior and the impact on her in the safety of couples counseling. Even then, she needs to be prepared for rigorous, depth counseling, holding him accountable for specific behavior change. Anything less only enables continued outrageous behavior.

Are you in a relationship with Mr. Hyde? Have you held misconceptions about him that only make matters worse? Have you discovered strategies that others might find helpful? Please feel free to email me at

March 30, 2010

Dr. David Hawkins is the director of the Marriage Recover Center where he counsels couples in distress. He is the author of over 30 books, including Dealing With the CrazyMakers in Your Life, 90 Days to a Fantastic Marriage, and Saying It So He'll Listen. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.