• Quote of the Day
    "It is only too easy to compel a sensitive human being to feel guilty about anything."
    Morton Irving Seiden, posted by Daniel

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I've been married for 20 years but first thought of leaving my husband 17 years ago. I kind of drifted - as a depressed and obedient teenager I allowed myself to be pushed into a particular type of degree and drifted between jobs when I graduated. I knew I wasn't studying the right subjects but lacked the conviction to fight for change. I eventually drifted overseas and struck it lucky with a well paid job that allowed me to have a very nice lifestyle.

I eventually met my husband who comes from a different city in my country. We'd both returned from travelling and needed to find new accommodation and new jobs. I managed both quite easily but he couldn't. He eventually found a live in job for a couple of months that would give him the flexibility to continue interviewing for professional jobs. Only catch was that it was for a couple. I ditched the future digs and job and agreed to go along with it. At the end of that we moved into an apartment together - all way too quick in hindsight.

Eventually he wanted to return home and to settle in my city. I really, really didn't want to as I had enjoyed freedom from my controlling and generally disapproving mother. I suggested alternative cities but it's what he wanted so it's what we did.

We got married soon after arriving home, and we both got great jobs. His didn't turn out so well in the long run but at least the money the money was coming in. Because I still didn't have any proper career goals or vision I was soon left with a "what next" hole in my life and so I filled it with babies. Before the second one was conceived I was really unhappy but a) didn't want to be a solo parent like my mother had been; b) didn't want to "be like her"; and c) wanted 2 kids with the same father. So, #2 came along.

Our modus operandi would be to truck along happily but then something would happen and we'd have a row. These rows would be long and drawn out with him doing most of the talking and me just listening, withdrawing. I'd struggle to hold all the points he'd made in my head so I could answer them and he'd be infuriated if I interrupted - and god forbid a pause was misconstrued as an opportunity to speak. One of these rows happened the day after I brought #2 home from the hospital and was feeling the hormone dump that you get and all I wanted to do was be with my baby and I was getting a diatribe about what an idiot I had been years ago - nothing to do with the current day. I've always felt that was really unnecessary and cruel and I guess I don't let go of hurts which isn't healthy.

If I have an issue with something that is going on he digs about and tries to make out there's something more and scrabbles to find something else I might possibly be angry about. He can't see that it takes a hell of a lot of courage to bring up things that I know he'll get resentful about. Our biggest issue is that our roof isn't weatherproof and so every time it rains we have to put buckets in one hallway and #2's bedroom to catch the leaks. We first got someone in about this 7 years ago and he was appalled by the quote and claims it's impossible to find anyone to do the job - we live in a huge city - and that re-roofing is overkill. I don't claim to have the answers but I know that there must be some f'ing solution - and we have the money sitting in the bank. It's not as if we'd have to get a mortgage or refinance.

Now, he's generally a good guy. He's not violent, he's well respected in the community, has a great sense of humour, works hard and has provided financially for us really well. However as a father and husband I feel he falls short time after time but I can't comment because we'll get into a tit for tat argument rather than him taking on board the feedback. I didn't have a dad and I know I had sugar coated expectations of him, but his idea of doing stuff with the kids is pretty much Netflix. I had a health scare late '15 and he was amazing but that just makes it worse when the rows happen because it's so hard to reconcile the two versions of him.

A classic row is if I say someone said X - He'll suddenly latch on and I'm expected to know their reasons and be able to explain them. It's exhausting because often it's just me chattering away and suddenly you are in the middle of a row about something inconsequential that someone irrelevant has said.

We've been to counselling and it often falls down because he comes out with this great speech about how amazing I am and how he's lucky to have me and the counsellors (who recognise him from local media) fawn over him and I want to puke. The most recent counsellor I went to tried to get him to come along but he eventually declared that he "was too busy, can't he just fix you and then tell me what to do?".

We don't have art of the walls, and have few photos in frames because I lack the taste to decorate properly and he's too busy. Even something as banal as our bedding has to be approved. It's bloody ridiculous. My office is "my space" (we both work from home) and that's where nicknacks etc go because I wouldn't try to impose on communal space. Even then, we're talking about a few candles and plants.

A big issue that we address but don't resolve is that 4 years ago we organised a family holiday and meet up with friends from the UK in SE Asia. Booked and paid for well in advance but the travel insurance was left until the last minute despite my expressing concerns. My Mum, by this stage, was on dialysis and was starting to develop complications that were seriously life threatening. The hospital wanted to do an op and she agreed despite there being several indicators that her decline was speeding up. The op went well but it triggered a number of other things to start falling apart and it became apparent to me that she wasn't going to be able to pull out of this one. I asked the drs point blank if I should cancel the trip and they assured me that by the time I returned Mum would be ready for rehab and to return to her rest home after that. I couldn't believe my ears. I tried to talk to my husband about cancelling but he wouldn't hear of it and I really felt I didn't have a leg to stand on so I went. 1 week into the 3 week holiday and we were called back home. The travel insurance company didn't want to know (fair enough, we didn't pay until after Mum's op) so we spent thousands on new flights. She died about a week later but wasn't lucid again. Her friends were amazing while I was gone and were lovely to me but I felt then, and still feel, just dreadful for leaving a dying woman while I went off on holiday. I know I'd think anyone else who did what I did was a monster. The platitude that "I wasn't to know" is crap, because anyone could see how rapidly she was going downhill.

I've started marathon running and one of my coaches was doing her new customer evaluation and asked about my relationship. It was shitty that day so she got that kind of response - she said that was really normal, people can't control their lives so they take on crazy, punishing goals to prove to themselves that they can.

I feel like I'm still the drifting, aimless teenager who is functioning quite well but not going anywhere and not really happy. I've been on anti depressants but after a while I worked out that I wasn't depressed as much as I was just unhappy - but first world problems, right?! Nothing to really be unhappy about.

If we broke up would I really be that much happier? I'd have to get a real job (which I actually like the idea of) but I'd have him as a full time antagonist. My kids are in their late teens and I don't want them to be screwed up by my lack of action when they were little. 90% of the time the days just drift past and I'm happy enough but there are things I'd like to do that I know I can never do if I'm with him - like saddle pack in Yellowstone, or go on a cruise. He has his idea of a perfect holiday and that's that.

I feel like I haven't really progressed from the teenager who doesn't like to make waves and just goes along with what everyone wants. I've got no idea what would make me happy or how to go about finding out. I feel like I stay put out of weakness rather than a belief that this is where I belong. How do I sort through it all?
 

Daniel

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Has anyone been on the roof to look? Maybe call for a free estimate? And if he complains, oh well?

Individual therapy may help you to work on assertiveness or boundaries or depression or whatever to help you sort things out. Because of my anxiety, I have problems with boundaries. And when I am depressed, I feel might as well live alone.

Do you still go on dates? If not, that can help a lot sometimes.

Since he seems selfish about vacations, have you considered going on a cruise with a girlfriend instead?

In any case, I would agree that getting a "real" job may help you financially for whatever you want to do later. It may also help you feel better like you say.
If he criticizes you for it, just try to ignore him? Eventually, he may get used to it.

So by working on what you can control -- you -- it may be easier to leave him or to decide either way. Also, any change you make will at least have a ripple effect in the relationship.

---------- Post Merged at 12:21 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 07:40 AM ----------

By the way, some articles from the relationship forum:

Love Is Not All You Need

Four Secrets to a (nearly) Perfect Relationship

Relationships Balance Sheet: What you want versus what you have

We All Married The Wrong Person

---------- Post Merged at 12:51 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 12:23 PM ----------

When you feel better, do you feel better or worse about the relationship? I feel better about mine.
 
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ok

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Hi Daniel

We've had guys up there - they reckon the roofing material we have lasts 20 - 30 years and it's coming up to 35 years. He just says "well, they would say that". If I get a quote I can guarantee that that company won't get the work.

I sold a car of his recently, it had sat on our driveway untouched for 6 months, not road legal. He started it up one day, jumped the battery and I thought that was progress. Another month passed and there had been no action. How hard is it to take a few photos and list it online? I had it sold within hours for a pittance and he was furious but I could see that he was damping it down because he knew he'd had ample opportunity to do it right.

I bought some plane tickets for our eldest to go on a youth development program and I'd asked him to do the bookings so many times. He didn't so we sat down and booked flights for the times we wanted and which weren't necessarily the cheapest. We'd left it so late that we were lucky to get discounted flights at all. He wasn't happy when he asked me about the airline and the fares and I end up feeling like a naughty child.

We don't go on dates. Years back a non-profit he donates huge amounts of time to gave him a generous restaurant voucher. It sits pinned on his wall. At the time we'd have had to get a babysitter and we didn't actually have one we could call on. We've been able to leave the kids home alone for a nearly 5 years now but it hasn't improved our social life. If I try to tie him down to dates to have people over he groans about being tired from working so much and "do we have to?". It gets embarrassing not inviting people back, and it's embarrassing with the state of the house.

I'm hoping to be able to have a trip to the US this year, for professional development as well as fun. I feel guilty spending money like that on me and terrified of broaching the subject. I've had very little training in my profession and I'm proud of what I've achieved but it would be nice to have some formal education.
 

Daniel

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We don't go on dates.

Wow. Not even out to dinner just the two of you? (If not, why not?) I know a lot of couples don't go out much to save money, but your situation seems different.

Is he a workaholic?
 

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He is, a bit
Tight too
And just not that interested in spending time with me unless it's on the sofa watching a movie or tv
When we did used to go out (is that even grammar?) it would be for things like our Anniversary and we'd just talk work the whole time. We used to share an office but after 9 years I couldn't stand it any more and moved into a room we don't use. It got so that there was nothing to talk about because I was privy to every phone call etc. He'd say that I'd only heard one half but that was generally enough. He said, she said reciting of work calls doesn't do it for me, I'm a bullet point kind of girl.

In the evening I'd rather take the dog for a walk and see the sunset, bike into town for a drink at a harbour side bar, something like that. Living in a city there are things happening every night and I could easily never be home in the evening - and they don't all involve money, there are running groups, biking, lots going on. I'm definitely an "out" person, where he's more of an "in" person. Ironically, I'm an introvert who was brought up to be an extrovert while he's an extrovert who has always been overshadowed by his more extreme sisters.
 

Daniel

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So he seems stubborn and self-centered? "My way or the highway." ?

Or is he just used to getting his way since you don't "like to make waves" ?

If he is self-centered, an article on coping with it:

Is your partner self absorbed? - Dr. Offra Gerstein - Personal and Relationship Issues

The article in a nutshell:

Self-absorbed partners are capable of loving behaviors. Since these acts do not come naturally to them, they must learn to be considerate and loving. Partners of self-referenced people carry the burden of teaching, requesting and even insisting on equal consideration...

Self-centerdness may be viewed as a disability rather than a deliberate conduct.

More generally:

First of all, if this is how you feel, there's a good chance your partner feels the same way. Hard as it may be to empathize with one another, it can help if you start to acknowledge out loud that you both need more nurturing, admiration, and respect. That simple step can spontaneously put some oxygen back into your relationship.

Talking about your goals and your expectations, your hopes and aspirations—not just in your marriage, but in all aspects of your life—can also help...

The Northwestern report...says that marriage today “requires constant care and attention” from both partners...

How You Can Get What You Want From Your Partner | Psychology Today

From Psychology Today's marriage section:

You may feel your spouse is too social, but he may see you as a hermit. Much irritation can be avoided just by understanding the differences between you and your partner—and accepting that it's OK, even inevitable, to be different.

You're Driving Me Crazy! | Psychology Today
A final example of this all-important type of compromise could relate to your being more extroverted (or, for that matter, introverted) than your mate. So if you'd prefer, say, to do more social things outside the home than suits your spouse, you need to consider that your partner requires less external stimulation than you do—and then make whatever adjustments feel “right” for both of you. Or the two of you might decide that in many instances it’s fine for one of you to go out to be with your friends, while the other stays at home, “catching up” on their much greater need for solitude...

It makes perfect sense, alternately, to defer to each other’s proclivities. This could relate to preparing a meal, cleaning the house, or taking a particular route to see your child’s basketball game. And if it’s a matter of simply getting your way (vs. your spouse’s), it could involve which restaurant to go to, which movie to see, which friend or relative to visit, and so on.

Compromise Made Simple: 7 Handy Tips for Couples | Psychology Today
Because our intimate relationships are now almost wholly vehicles for meeting our emotional needs, and with almost all our emotions invested in one relationship, we tend to look upon any unhappiness we experience—whatever the source—as a failure of a partner to satisfy our longings...

But much—perhaps most—of the discontent we now encounter in close relationships is culturally inflicted, although we rarely interpret our experience that way. Culture—the pressure to constantly monitor our happiness, the plethora of choices surreptitiously creating an expectation of perfection, the speed of everyday life—always climbs into bed with us. An accumulation of forces has made the cultural climate hostile to long-term relationships today.

The Expectations Trap | Psychology Today
If you think the goal of your marriage is happiness, then you’re going to be expecting your spouse to make you happy and your marriage is going to look like an accounting system...The thing with such accounting systems is...it always seems as though we’re giving more than we’re receiving...

If, on the other hand, you view the goal of your marriage as wholeness, then suddenly everything in your marriage becomes an aspect of you becoming a whole person, even when your spouse frustrates you by not giving you what you think you want in the way you think you want to receive it...

Is Your Partner Driving You Crazy? | Psychology Today
 
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MHealthJo

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I think you're getting pushed around and intimidated and stifled too much.

You mention that your mother was very controlling and disapproving - this dynamic in your background can create the similar future dynamic of being intimidated, controlled and pushed around, which you now have.

Without some healing it can lead a person to end up with a relationship with problem dynamics, whether that be the current relationship or another one.

A book I would recommend is The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner. It's a great tool for starting to create changes in a relationship, even when that seems impossible. It's surprising what increased self-esteem and selfhood can lead to.

It's possible also to use therapy to help yourself find ways to change your movement in a dynamic, and that can create new effects in a relationship.

If you can find a more confident and strong place to move from, which a caring, supportive and helpful therapist can help you do, then you will be able to do things and make movements without feeling as concerned about his reaction. You have a right to make decisions and do things, not get vetoed too much by tightness and my-way-all-the-time-ness and tantrums and odd personality traits. Once you feel that right deep down, you'll feel comfortable standing up for it and get better at knowing how. You won't be too afraid.

You may want to do some reading about schema therapy as well. There is good information online. If you work with a therapist it would be helpful to see someone who can work with that modality.

Go for it and I wish you the best!
 

Daniel

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And just not that interested in spending time with me unless it's on the sofa watching a movie or tv

When did that start? Or was it mostly that way after the "honeymoon" phase was over? You mentioned after the first 3 years, you were already considering divorce.

The really surprising thing is even on your anniversary he doesn't want to go out. It's like he takes you for granted. Or does he do something else that is special?

MHealthJO said:
not get vetoed too much by tightness and my-way-all-the-time-ness and tantrums and odd personality traits

Yeah, and I still don't get why he refuses to go out somewhere now and then (assuming he knows that it is important to you). That is being a selfish ass in my book. Unless he has some crippling social anxiety disorder or something like that, which does not seem to be the case except for his cheapness.

Would he try to prevent you from having a party at your house if you wanted it? Or would he just complain at first but let you have your way?
 
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I'm in agreement with you getting some individual therapy, OK.

I know I could have used some to get some perspective on my ex. Fortunately for me, somehow I tuned in that no matter what I did, he just didn't want to change. My belief was that if I showed him how much I loved him and that he was a worthy person, he'd change for me.

Who ended up changing was me. I became someone else that I didn't like because I wanted to please him. I figured out later that it was all an echo of the relationship my parents had. My dad worships my mother. He concedes to her, tells her everything we (the kids) say, and she controls (or tries to) the entire world. Must be exhausting for her. But dad taught me love is putting up with BS, and mom taught me love is being controlled and turned into a puppet.

I've been noticing he always wants to stay home. That was a red flag for me. Do you sometimes go out by yourself, just to visit friends/family (not necessarily to spend money but just spend time with in their homes)? Or do you concede to stay home, and does he make you feel guilty for wanting to get out once in a while? Does he look down on your family and friends, and therefore make you feel shame for wanting to spend time with them? Does he discourage you from inviting your friends/family over with some excuse (I'm too tired from working, he's stuck-up, she doesn't like me, they were rude to me once, blah blah blah") Because if so, he's isolating you, and that's another trick to manipulate you into becoming what he wants. All his.

What do you want, and are you "allowed" to do what you need and want to be yourself? Or is he stripping away parts of you a little at a time? Does he nitpick about your appearance or clothing, eating, etc?

Therapy may make you look at this relationship with new eyes. Because it's hard to be objective when you are isolated so much together. And you do have a say. You can go out somewhere without him and enjoy yourself. It would be interesting to see how many times he calls you while you are out to "check on you." Or how cold and obnoxious he might be when you come home after a nice time out with your friends/family.

I'm making some assumptions here, but just wanted you to become more mindful and aware of how he acts when you attempt to make independent decisions/actions (or does he insist you check with him all the time when making decisions, and veto your ideas a lot, or make you feel stupid for speaking your mind)...
 

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Hi

I've jumped on LinkedIn and contacted a few people I worked with 10 years ago to find out what skills are in demand these days and which ones I might be able to pick up reasonably painlessly. Waiting to hear back, but a start is a start.

He acts supportive of me going out but finds little ways to make me feel bad about it. If I pull him up on it I'm the one misinterpreting things. And that's the way most rows go, I might complain about something I feel is unreasonable but it gets turned around every time so that actually I'm the unreasonable one. On the other hand, I've announced that I'm doing yoga on Monday nights and he's happy about that - but I'm doing it with a fiercely independent friend and he's probably terrified of her! Last night we got there and found the timetable had changed so we hung out in a local bar till about 9 and he was ok with that too.

I invited a stack of people round for his birthday last year and he wasn't happy but afterwards thanked me and said he'd had a good time. We have so much deferred maintenance on our house - too busy, can't agree on the order of work, who to get to do the work etc - that it's now become embarrassing having people around. Unless it's summer and we can be mostly outside I'm just not keen. We have regular seasons so outside weather doesn't last!

The sad thing is that I do actually like him most of the time. It's just the fact that when we have to "get real" and delve below the superficial it all turns to ****. It's rained this week and so I wake up already anxious about the house and the day goes downhill from there.

JGJB you asked about nitpicking etc, yep, that happens. It used to be that everything I wore he hated and I'm the first to admit that I don't have a natural sense of style but I find myself looking at clothes and wondering if he'll approve. We'd look at 2 garments made with subtly different designs and he'd be so frustrated that I couldn't see why one was ok and one was awful.

When my Mum moved out of her house we "inherited" some perfectly good but ancient bath towels that had the same stripes but each was white and a different colour. Great when I was a kid because you knew that your towel was yellow, pink or whatever and I thought they'd be useful when our kids were little. He refused to accept that they were a set and could be used together. I'd have been ok if he'd said it's a dumb idea but he persisted with the fact that I was wrong and that wasn't how they were meant to be.

I'm rebelling on the clothes and buying more and more of what I like, but I find the whole process extremely stressful and the very fact that I feel like I'm "rebelling" makes me feel like a child and not an adult! I don't want to be that person.

I think what I'll do is get a family wedding out of the way (because I adore his family and I'd hate to be uninvited) and then suggest that we move out to a nice rental, do up the house we're in and sell it and invest the equity. That will very, very quickly deteriorate into a conversation about "our future" which has been raised twice now but we've both backed down and left the elephant in the room. I think it's time to tackle it head on.

Edit: just picked up the Intimacy book on Audible and will look into the counselling
 
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Sounds like he is doing this thing called "gaslighting."

Because you are isolated, it's harder for you not to doubt yourself.

Perhaps next time you do go out, ask your friend/relative for a key to their house... Just in case...

POWER is YOU.jpg

 

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