"Landmark was the first and only thing that has ever threatened our relationship"

May 2004
By a former member

My husband was involved with Landmark for about two years (2001-03), and thankfully, he recently quit because it was causing major problems in our relationship.

When he joined, we had been married 7 years, had a strong healthy marriage, we're good communicators and problem solvers, and we have a child together. We're both highly educated with professional jobs, big house, and plenty of money in our savings.

Even before he enrolled, we researched Landmark and were suspicious of their methods and philosophy. However, he had some childhood baggage to deal with, like many people do, so that's why he went.

Here's our story:

He came home from his first Forum weekend blown away by his experience. It wasn't available in our city so he traveled 2 hours away. Right away, he pressured me to attend a Forum. Actually, he called me from there ("homework") to ask me to come Tuesday night to his "graduation." I said thanks but no thanks.

For weeks, Landmark was all he talked about! "Obsessed" would be a good word. I finally had to ask him to stop talking about Landmark and speaking all that jargon, which drove me up the wall. He would get teary sometimes and say how important this was to him and how he wanted to share it with me, his life partner. I tried to be tolerant because I saw how important it was to him.

I have to say that for about 3 to 4 months, his transformation was amazing. He was more communicative, attentive, and loving. He admitted to being arrogant and critical in the past, and he confessed to his family that he wanted to put aside old wounds and be closer to them. All of these were positive things, but at what cost?

All the hours and energy he invested in Landmark activities were not available to his family.

It was in the second year that things started to go downhill. First, he was constantly enrolled in some course, like a chain-smoker, all of them a 2-hour drive away.

Landmark has a curriculum that rivals any university!

Second, he behaved like Landmark was his new religion. And you know what it's like when you run into someone who's found Jesus. He pestered all his friends and coworkers to get involved in Landmark, especially me. It was all he talked about. I made it clear, more than once, that I didn't want any part of it.

Landmark participants are put under pressure to recruit others, and when I used that word "recruit" in front him, he got angry. Or if I used the word "cult," he got mad at me too. He spoke Landmark's party line, chapter and verse, to refute any criticism I had. The Landmark people really liked him, because he was a "success story," and that fed his ego.

At one point, I asked him to take a break from Landmark. He did for about 3 weeks, then signed right back up for another course. He felt constant pressure from the leaders to take this course or that course, to prepare him for leadership down the road. That was always an urgent reason why he had to enroll right away. One time he signed up for a lengthy, intensive course and hid that from me until right before it started. We had always had open communication, so it was a big "red flag" when he did that.

If he wasn't attending courses, he was helping someone else run their Forum, doing homework, making phone calls, talking to his coach, studying the materials, attending volunteer training, etc. At one point, he had to keep statistics on how many people he talked to, how many came to an introduction, how many enrolled, etc.

When he commented he could see himself in a new career as a Landmark leader someday, my blood turned cold. And that was the turning point. I then began the long, hard process of getting him OUT. I knew it wouldn't be easy after 20 months of involvement.

I explained to him because of his emotional and time investment, Landmark had become a higher priority in his life than his wife and daughter. Throughout our 8 years of marriage, I never felt anything would EVER break us up, our marriage was that strong, until Landmark.

Landmark was the first and only thing that has ever threatened our relationship.

We spent a pivotal weekend of soul searching and crying about it. One thing he is not, is stupid. He chose our family over Landmark. He realized, if it was going to threaten our relationship, it was time to stop. As a final decision step, we consulted a therapist as a neutral third party, and my husband trusted his advice.

Leaving Landmark turned out to be no picnic. He called his leader to tell her, and she was NOT happy. She explained how disappointed she was in him, because he was "giving up on himself," and made him feel bad about his decision. When that didn't work, she had one of her superiors call him and apply pressure to stay in.

The phone rang all that weekend, and we ignored it. Once he began to see the pressure tactics Landmark uses and how they make it so unpleasant to leave, I think that surprised him.

While I will stop short of saying he was brainwashed, the techniques they use aren't far from what cults do to keep members from leaving. Lots of praise for doing well, lots of applause, a feeling of belonging and community, a language only members understand, etc.

It's been almost a year now since he left. In those first few weeks afterward, we talked about Landmark a lot as he "debriefed."

Landmark has now faded from our memories.

Looking back, I can say that it definitely helped him. He just got in way too deep. After reading other stories, I realize that I was lucky.

My husband listened to me and knew I had his best interests at heart.


Copyright © 2004 Rick Ross.

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