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LoveIS Offline OP
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The past two years of our marriage have been filled with conflict and pain. After many struggles, emotional infidelities, verbal abuse, starts, and stops, I now feel apathetic. I feel that I am caught in a bind, and would like help in getting unstuck from a mental roadblock that I have.

My bind is that I feel my husband is not a part of solving our problems, but usually waits for me to take the lead. When I do take the lead, with a suggestion like counseling, or getting advice from a book, he refuses. He only complies with suggestions in order to stay "out of trouble" with me. It seems to me his heart is not in the goal of finding a solution. He just wants to go back to happy times, without reflection on what has happened and trying to prevent it.

I have made it clear to him that I want HIM to take the lead to find a new solution this time, since my past ideas have not worked and I am running out of ideas now.

We definitely need help. I like the telephone counseling idea this site offers, but fear that he will not be open to the suggestion and will just see this as another form of control from me.

I may be able to muster up the conviction to try this one more time, with a little encouragement from you out here on the forums and would appreciate your advice to make our next attempt successful. I would also appreciate your thoughts on his behavior to help me break through.

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Welcome to marriagebuilders. Unfortunately, you can't expect him to take the lead in recovery. You are the one who is unhappy, and you will need to do the heavy work.

Can you explain a bit more about the details of your situation?

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Thanks for that advice, I will get my head in the right place to try this again.

There is a lot of history here, difficult to find a place to start as there are many issues. My husband blows up a lot. He has a couple of consistent triggers, 1) Insecurity/Jealousy 2)Sex. Most importantly to me is that if we have a conflict, instead of working it out, he threatens to divorce me.

He is unreasonably jealous. Many examples, but one is that I received a spa gift certificate from my boss (male) that was purchased by his admin (female) as a morale gift-which is typical at my workplace. When I explained, he said he was fine with it, but I could tell he was not. Later that night, he told me that if I wanted to sleep my way to the top, that was one way to advance my career. This accusation had no basis and it hurt me very much. Part of the jealousy stems from basic insecurities about my job. Two things about it are areas of conflict. 1)income inequity (I am the main breadwinner, which I have never cared about and we knew that would be the case when we got married.) 2) my work is male dominated, about 10% are women and many on my team are men - almost all happily married men. I'm also required to travel every few months for a week or so and this causes tension and often verbal abuse.

Sex is the other trigger for anger. We had a healthy robust sex life for 24 years, with about twice/week frequency and great lovemaking. The problem is that if there was some reason that we were not able to have sex, he would get angry and lash out at me with dirty looks and accusations of being cold. For years, I did not confront this as much as I should have. I resented it and was frustrated by it, but generally I let it slide because I either wanted to believe the best in him or because I was too afraid to face the conflict. I had a turning point though. I was getting counseling for feeling overwhelmed. I was explaining some of the blow ups from my husband, which at that point were harrassing calls to work, and she asked me why I allowed that. I immediately saw this as profound, and have been trying not to allow it ever since. I still wonder every day how to accomplish that.

But, when I confront him, he threatens to leave or divorce me. This reaction is saved for our worst conflicts, but it has happened so many times I've lost count. I have had to hide his keys to keep him from leaving at times. I've had to try to keep my kids calm while he tries to leave. This has been a pattern since at least 2001. When this would happen, I would eventually break down and beg him not to go. Once during one of our bad fights, he again asked me for a separation, and this time it took everything I had to say agree. I contacted a lawyer to get things started, and then he broke down and told me not to go through with it. I agreed, but on the condition that we get counseling. We did try counseling but had a low quality therapist and did not continue after 3-4 sessions.

He has a problem with angry outbursts and what I feel is verbal abuse. Examples He's called me a [censored], said he wished I would die, told me that after we break up he wants nothing from me but a check...and that he didn't love me anymore. I could go on and on. But the latest thing that has been difficult for me to get past is that he woke me up in the night with a shove and told me that he doesn't like to have sex with me anymore (this was in reaction to me not having sex when he wanted to). After that one, I told him I was done. It was slightly physical, which meant he went past verbal abuse. He said that he was sorry but I asked him what he would do to try to prevent this. He had no ideas there, so I offered suggestions of counseling, reading a marriage book, etc. I asked him to think of what to do, because otherwise he doesn't take it seriously. He selected a book. After reading the sex chapter first, he stopped reading it and the drama continues.

I love my husband, but we each have issues to work on and we need help. When I move us in that direction, I pay another price of being bossy and wanting it my way. I mainly just want peace now, and if it takes being alone to have peace, that's where I will end up. But, I don't want to give up on a strong love and we also have two beautiful daughers who need their dad.

Thanks for any advice and honest assessment that you might have.

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Severely insecure people like him are terrified everyone will learn his dirty secrets and abandon them, since they're so unworthy. So they do the one thing they fear the most - threaten to leave.

First, continue YOUR counseling. You need that first and foremost. Get yourself stronger so you can say no when you need to.

Second, make a promise to both of you that you will no longer jump to his ego-stroking attempts. For BOTH your sakes. It will help both of you. Calmly tell him that you realize his attempts are done so you can reassure him; but that you realize also that it is unhealthy. Because of that, to help both of you, you will no longer react to his outbursts. Tell him ahead of time, very important. That way he can't blame you later (and he WILL try).

Third, KEEP THAT PROMISE! Work on that first. It will take a long time, 6 months or so, to get out of that habit, to teach him that it won't work any more - you've grown and moved on from that dysfunctional situation.

Fourth, you need to sit down and work out a POJA with him about you traveling. It can be a marriage breaker, traveling with the opposite sex. Especially when your H is that insecure.

Fifth, tell him that you will from now on be COMPLETELY honest about your sex life. That you still love him no matter what happens, that if he decides to take something personally, it will be on HIS shoulders because you are telling him right now that you love him, but you can no longer accept things as they are.

Things should calm down from there.

Oh, and go read The Dance of Anger.

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LoveIS Offline OP
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This is great advice. I will find a therapist and get going on my part of this problem. I only stayed with individual counseling for a few months, because the therapish wanted to rehash the past more than help me understand how to help myself.

I read a few pages online of Dance of Anger and it looks like a great presciption for me that could help me with issues beyond marriage. I do have issues drawing boundaries and not holding others accountable beyond marriage--with kids, work, etc.

I have been trying to keep the promise to myself about not buying into the ego motivated blow ups. Since this problem went on for way too long, for a variety of reasons, it's going to take awhile for me to learn an appropriate reaction and for him to understand the change without blaming me.

I don't instinctively connect to what you are saying about honesty about our sex life. There are two dysfunctional issues that might be working against us, 1) He's really good at displacing his issues onto others, particularly me. 2) I have difficulty putting the responsibility back where it belongs.

Thanks again for your thoughtful answer. This is a wonderful forum!

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LoveIS Offline OP
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I wish someone had recommended "Dance of Anger" years ago, it's a treasure. We are definitely caught in a circle, and this gives me hope for finding a way to break out, while comforting me with what fallout will naturally occur.

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 Originally Posted By: LoveIS
The past two years of our marriage have been filled with conflict and pain. After many struggles, emotional infidelities, verbal abuse, starts, and stops, I now feel apathetic.

LoveIS, I can relate and understand how you are feeling. I feel caring love but romantic love is such a thing of the FAR past that I can't imagine it and you know us women; we need to have romantic love for SF for ourselves and to meet our spouses' SF need.
 Quote:
He just wants to go back to happy times, without reflection on what has happened and trying to prevent it.

My dh doesn't want to look at his "past sins" either; doesn't want them to be mentioned and wants to "go from here". If we are alike in any way; I bet it is because we want healing and resolve and not brushing everything in one big pile under the rug. THAT is why I am feeling apathetic; I feel that I am being forced into accepting without any resolve or affirmation of what I am feeling. I don't want to feel anymore.
 Quote:

I have made it clear to him that I want HIM to take the lead to find a new solution this time, since my past ideas have not worked and I am running out of ideas now.
Can you "catch him" taking the lead; LEAVE something; anything, everything for him to deal with and then support and encourage his idea (as if it is his all along). I find that teens and children need the same thing. Can you tell him what would make you very happy; let him do it and BE very happy when he does it?Why are women so different? We just want to be securely cherished and adored.

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I'm glad the book helped. It is great.

 Quote:
I only stayed with individual counseling for a few months, because the therapish wanted to rehash the past more than help me understand how to help myself.
Did you know that who you are right now is 99% because of who you were the first 15-20 years of your life? It molds you, completely. It's even biological. The mechanisms you learn to get ahead in childhood become imprinted on your brain, and they result in stronger synapses in the brain for those actions that worked, vs. ones that didn't. Kind of like strengthening a muscle; the one you use the most is the one that works the best, while the others barely function.

If you learned that if you said no as a child you got sent to the corner or got banned from the room, you stopped saying no. Today, you have a subconscious fear of saying no for fear of being punished. But it's so deep in your subconscious, you can't tell you are making that connection.

That's why therapists work on your past. They have to understand who you were growing up, to know how to deal with the adult version.

Example; we got our IQs tested as a child (I was about 6, my older brother was 9). I remember my mom talking about his genius IQ; and I remember driving to this gorgeous private school they were sending him to. I assumed he got to go there cos he was smart, and when I asked to go there and was turned down, that I couldn't go because I wasn't as smart as him. I have spent 45 years dealing with feeling inferior, stupid, from that one incident. Always deferring to other people because I assumed they must be smarter so they deserved more than me (everyone else gets the private school but me). I actually told my mother this last weekend, and she told me how crazy it was because my IQ was actually higher than his! The reason they sent him to that school was because he was such a h&llion that the public school was going to kick him out! But I spent my whole life feeling inferior and looking up to 'smart' people because of that one event.

So let the therapist pick apart your past to find those kinds of gems. So you can dismiss them.

About SF: You need to be on a level where you tell him exactly how you feel, how what he does makes you feel, how if he AOs you, you certainly don't feel like SF with him, because if you don't you will build so much resentment that it could become a dealbreaker in your marriage.

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LoveIS Offline OP
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I'm so grateful for your replies! I felt so alone and you have helped so much.

My current situation:
After two back-to-back work trips, I was physically tired. I knew that my husband wanted to enjoy sex, but I was exhausted and told him that I needed to go to bed. He became angry. I followed the advice in Dance of Anger and tried to explain my feelings and reaction. Which is basically that I am exhausted and I need to rest, how about another night. He reacted with anger, the fighting escalated, and he again says that I make him feel so insecure. I told him that he needs to own that, I cannot be responsible for his security. Because we have battled this issue for years and we are stuck in a circle, he told me that he feels that I am causing the failure of our marriage and that the kid's pain related to that will be my fault. I continued to explain my perspective. I anticipated his objection, was careful not to be argumentative.

Next few days, he will not discuss it further, he would rather wait it out by minimizing contact and then begin to act like it's all ok (pattern). I reminded him this morning that it is not ok and that we need to discuss it. He again asserted that I am making him feel miserable when I say no to sex (I don't frequently say no, fyi). I restated that his response was inappropriate and how it made me feel. He is not able to see my perspective and is not interested in counseling or self help books/approaches.

His last response to me is: "You are wicked and impossible. I AM done. You are not worth the heartache. Tell your back up plan that you are all his." (He knows I have no "back up" plan. I've never cheated. After this struggle am not even remotely interested in another guy.) Don't pity me for his harsh words, I let them bounce off at this point.

I'm going to let him do what he needs to do, which will probably be file for divorce.

Any last advice for me on this effort? I really appreciate that you seem to see so easily things that I cannot recognize.

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How about the truth...

"I understand your frustration. I put work ahead of my marriage. I do understand how being away on back-to-back trips and coming home exhausted hurts the marriage. I get it. Can we brainstorm what we can do about it?"

Do you take these trips alone (individual sales/consulting) or with coworkers...male ones?

Many, many affairs happen from putting work first, spending more time travelling with members of the opposite sex, than with your family. And we tell ourselves it's FOR our family.

Readjusting our priorities to really fit what we want...instead of owning our acting priorities, which make our real ones upside down...is a part of intimacy, ownership.

Each time I'd point my finger at my H and tell him to own his stuff, meant I wasn't owning mine. I was DJing him in my head, saying, "If you wouldn't, then this wouldn't be a conflict."

Those were lies to myself. Thank God, literally, I learned to hear my DH's stuff as his own...that's my job, my act of respect, and didn't try to make him own anything. Trying to make someone own something that's already there is akin to self-gaslighting, really.

Feels crazy, loopy and helpless. It isn't real. And it isn't real respectful, either.

You can hear your H's fears as his own fears...validate, acknowledge they are valid...they are his...doesn't make them the truth. Makes his fears HIS truth. His very real experience coming from his stuff...about his stuff.

Focus on the boundaries around delivering his stuff...no yelling, no assumptions, accusations, selfish demands, lying or independent behavior (the primary LBs)...and do so by checking yourself first...

are you assuming his stuff or are you focused on hearing his stuff? Are you taking his stuff and putting it all over yourself? That would be stealing.

\:\)

Do you want to know your H for who he really is, what his experience is right now...or do you want to control him so he does do and doesn't do?

Self-honesty disrupts the old dances...and when you change your steps, focused on your own feet, everything changes.

So were you radically honest with H? No. You said what you felt physically and emotionally, mentally? Did you first strive to understand him...not assume? Were you preparing to share your stuff ahead of time as soon as he "started in" (which is your expectation)?

Are you willing to do whatever it takes to make your marriage your top priority, to partner your H?

Tip I learned from myself...when I justified to others, I was lying to myself.

So many other answers than bed..."I know SF is important and I've missed and want to reconnect with you, too. I want to first relax in a hot bath...and since my body feels really tired right now...would you come sit and talk with me, so I don't snore bubbles?" It's an invitation to intimacy...to take the journey with you...to state your want, what you really want, and ask for help getting there...it IS sharing...not excusing...and takes no justifications. No entitlement. No rights to intimacy...and you gotta ask yourself deep down...do you want to be right or do you want him to be the bad guy so you just feel righter?

Or do you want RIGHTNESS in your life?

We learn a lot of overlaps, and beliefs backwards...we, as Cat said, have deeply ingrained stuff in us, conflicting beliefs...which require justifications (or so it seems) instead of examination.

Examine, anyway.

Free yourself from justifications. "I cannot own that" is true...stop doing it. You're still doing it, even as your mouth is saying you are not.

It's about you...for he is inherently responsible for his stuff.

Do you KNOW he suffers? Do you understand your partner, your equal, is in pain? He may be asking you for your help, as his partner, in a real lovebusting way...hear both...figure out how your love bank is busted and by whom (I robbed myself blind and blamed my DH), and share what you find out...and ACKNOWLEDGE his stuff...as his.

No making...read Ears_Open's thread...put a hopper on your head.

Hey, it works. \:D

Get clear on the difference between beliefs and feelings...one generates the other...you do it one way, you live backwards (I feel therefore I believe); you choose to act from your beliefs, then the feelings follow. Forwards.

He doesn't "feel" you are causing the failure of the marriage...that's his thoughts right now. Listen and repeat...confirm or clarify what you heard. That's practicing respect and not taking in his stuff as yours...and discerning a feeling from a belief. Lots of great stuff...

The argument doesn't escalate...either you escalate or he does...usually takes both. Stop and ask yourself, "Am I crossing my own boundaries? Am I acting from love and respect right now, or in retaliation, defense, fear or anger?"

Check yourself...not because you will change him...because you're betraying yourself, your code, what you really want.

At times, you'll want to hurt back, stop him from hurting you more...so you'll hurt him more...and we do escalate...because he is desperately trying to hurt you to stop hurting him.

That dance. Sometimes you can stop and reach out, saying, "I'm taking your hands in mine right now, and looking in your eyes, right now, even though I want to hurt you instead of touch you. I know I love you deeply and truly and I'm reacting, not acting to that knowledge right now."

And you hold, nonverbally, and then the feelings follow. New feelings. Changed dance. "This is not what I want. I want you for my partner, and to partner you. I choose you."

Learn what you don't say, where you choose to react, and share what you learn about yourself. Here are my buttons--he already knows them.

And consider, you may very well be hearing a lot of projection...he may be in an affair himself...so be in reality, do your verifying, it's your responsibility.

Strive first to understand, then be understood. Primary building block or human communication. Do not assume you heard correctly...you both have filters...focus on restating and handing back...intimacy is knowing and being known. Not judging, controlling, stopping, igniting, making...those are the fantasies we are taught.

We feel. We think. We believe. We perceive. We view. We feel.

We happen.

\:\)

LA

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I do not put work above my marriage. I'm the breadwinner, so there are some sacrificies, short work trips being one of them, that go along with that, but I carefully balance and put my family first.

I do not connect to your advice, honestly. I have been sacrificing my own needs for too long, and being oblivious to the personal cost that would add up in end. After years of over functioning, I hardly know what I want, as I was consistency acquiesing to others' needs.

I'm trying to put my needs back into balance, it affects me in many areas, as a parent, friend, family member and spouse. I feel much better about myself and people have stopped walking on me, because I began to understand that I had been allowing that.

However, it's been a difficult adjustment for my husband. This is a man that's had it his way (or the highway) for 27 years of our relationship (19 married). I was only 17 when we began dating, he was 22. I think we formed bad habits from the start.

I contnue to have difficulty expressing my needs with him, and that may be some of the issue. However, I feel that I need to work in that direction. Also, please keep in mind there is some verbal abuse involved here, and intimidation. That is not something that I feel would be solved by coddling further.

Continuing to fill his leaky cup, leaves my cup dry. I've come to know that I can't live like that, I need and deserve more.

I do honor and respect your advice, but wanted to let you know it doesn't feel right to my heart. I've come to the point now that I would rather be alone then let this bad behavior continue.

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LoveIS...I realize this may sound ...strange, but would you mind finding 2M2L and telling her what you just told us?

She is in a physically and verbally abusive marriage and could use advise from someone in a similar situation.

I commend you for standing up for yourself! Not many BSs do this right away...


One year becomes two, two years becomes five, five becomes ten and before you know it, you've wasted your whole life on a problem you can't solve. That's one way to spend your life. -rwinger

I will not spend my life this way.
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Hello
You can do a lot by yourself by reading on this site.
Even if he won't join in, you can execute Plan A by satisfying some of his emotional needs.
When you do, he might start to see you in a different light and want to work on your relationship.

Good luck.

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Sounds like you really understand now what Dr. Harley means by sacrifice harming your relationships, especially your marriage...

That's how I robbed my own love bank and blamed my DH. I was taught it was love...when it was control.

LA


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