Welcome to the
Marriage Builders® Discussion Forum

This is a community where people come in search of marriage related support, answers, or encouragement. Also, information about the Marriage Builders principles can be found in the books available for sale in the Marriage Builders® Bookstore.
If you would like to join our discussion forum, please read the Announcement Forum for instructions, rules, & guidelines.
The members of this community are peers and not professionals. Professional coaching is available by clicking on the link titled Coaching Center at the top of this page.
We trust that you will find the Marriage Builders® Discussion Forum to be a helpful resource for you. We look forward to your participation.
Once you have reviewed all the FAQ, tech support and announcement information, if you still have problems that are not addressed, please e-mail the administrators at mbrestored@gmail.com
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
N
nscriv Offline OP
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
N
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
Hi

I am married and raising two children with my wife. Things are not the best between us, I want to make things work but I don't know if this is going to be possible.

We tend to have a lot of conflict which is mostly centred around one issue. I must admit, I am guilty of angry outbursts and criticism in response to this which I understand is damaging in itself. But I become so frustrated and resentful because my attempts at communicating the problem in a calm and civil fashion are always brushed off by my wife, and nothing seems to ever change.

The problem for me is in large part related to a lack of domestic support, but it is also one of a sense of a lack of fairness in terms of how much each of us gives to each other in our marriage.

Basically this is a summary of the imbalance;

I am the sole provider financially for the family. I've done quite well financially over the last couple of years after working extremely hard and have managed to pay off our mortgage on our new home (which I built for the family) as well as provide a very comfortable lifestyle for everybody. I am quite happy to be the sole provider in this regard.

My wife has a small business which I initially supported her starting up, but it has run for several years without achieving any success and yet is basically the most important thing to her in her world. She does not take any drawings from the business. This is all she ever wants to talk about, and when she is at home she is often sitting on her computer working on it with no awareness of the needs of other people in the house.

She does not provide much if any domestic support. Anything she does do I generally feel that I have to extract out of her - with repeated requests which often escalate to conflict - I do 95% of the cooking, grocery shopping, washing of clothes, etc., and have had to resort to paying a cleaner to help with tidying. I am even responsible for looking after the children after school. I think it is relevant to mention that the eldest child is not mine biologically, but I have raised him as my own since birth. I consider that giving her child a strong and supportive father figure is something that she takes for granted. She always claims that she doesn't mind doing things to help, but almost always responds that she is not yet ready to do whatever thing that I have asked for her to help with, and that she will do it at xxx time. Yet xxx time always elapses without the task being taken care of. Furthermore, she regularly leaves her clothes strewn around our bedroom, leaves messes around the place, and basically makes me feel like I am expected to clean up after like one might do for a child. This even goes as far as dirty dishes being pushed under beds, and other unhygienic and unpleasant mess making.

We can't seem to find things to talk about very often. I like to talk about ideas, to explore different concepts and knowledge, but I can't seem to engage her on this basis. She would probably state that she finds it difficult to engage with me on discussions surrounding other people, although mostly all she ever focuses on is minutiae relating to her business, which becomes very staid and boring quickly.

She does not take care of her physical appearance. She is overweight and does not exercise. Occasionally she attempts a crash diet which I see as symptomatic of a general laziness. I feel that it would be nice if she made an effort to look nice for me - its not the most important thing to me by any means but it is something.

I have expressed to her many times that I feel like things are a one way street in our relationship, and that the only way I will be happy is if we can work together, to support each others needs. I have been very specific that this includes domestic support especially considering she is supported by me financially and I think that she should consider herself very lucky to be in a position where she can go and work on a business just because she wants to.

Recently I made quite significant attempts to try and move towards fixing things by working through His Needs, Her Needs and working on how I can make things better from my end. I recognised that the angry outbursts would have to stop and tried to identify where I could be failing her. Consequently I put in quite a lot of effort to be more affectionate as well as calmly explaining how my needs were not being met.

Following she made some superficial efforts, for example she decided to clean up the dishes after dinner (which I have still been cooking), and I felt like there might be some promise. I filled in the emotional needs questionnaire and gave it to her, suggesting that we could work on understanding each other better if we filled that in. She didn't do that and so we never got an opportunity to complete that exercise.

After about two weeks it started to feel like this whole process was simply an extension of the general imbalance that I discussed above. Once again I was putting in the effort, trying to get her to read chapters of the book together, making efforts to consider how to best meet her emotional needs, not resorting to negative behaviour when I become frustrated etc. All the while nothing much coming back in return.

Eventually this built back up to my resentment boiling over and returning back to angry comments and criticisms.

It all feels like a negative cycle.

We go through this situation, quite often she acknowledges the problem, but then the action is never taken to deal with it. This makes me feel that I can't trust her.

The way things are going I do not know what the best approach is. I would far rather things work out between us but feel that I am actually quite justified in feeling the resentment that I feel. Nobody would reasonably expect their partner to act like a dependent child.

I am wondering whether a separation might be best?

Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 20,312
Likes: 3
B
Member
Offline
Member
B
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 20,312
Likes: 3
Welcome to MB.

Have you read this?
Start Here First-Welcome Aboard


FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
N
nscriv Offline OP
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
N
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
Hi, yes, most of it. Thank you.

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the information as there are many different angles to look at, and I don't know where to find good therapists who follow this philosophy in the country that I live in. So I thought that I would ask for some thoughts/advice from the people in this forum, at least for a starting point.

Thanks again.

Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 20,312
Likes: 3
B
Member
Offline
Member
B
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 20,312
Likes: 3
What are doing about your AO?

Do you have the book Love Busters?

Is she onboard with MB?


FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 20,312
Likes: 3
B
Member
Offline
Member
B
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 20,312
Likes: 3
Please read and listen to the clips in here.
Anger Management 101


FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,786
Likes: 1
L
Member
Offline
Member
L
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,786
Likes: 1
Originally Posted By: nscriv
Hi, yes, most of it. Thank you.

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the information as there are many different angles to look at, and I don't know where to find good therapists who follow this philosophy in the country that I live in. So I thought that I would ask for some thoughts/advice from the people in this forum, at least for a starting point.

Thanks again.


What Brainy is saying is that your wife has withdrawn from the marriage. Angry outbursts(AOs) cause people to lose their love very fast.

Fortunately for you, this is something within your control and we can give you guidance. There are several people, including Dr Harley himself, who have personal experience of eliminating AOs and recovering their marriages.

Have you talked to your wife about posting here? It would be good to get her perspective. If she does this, tell her to start her own thread.


3 adult children
Divorced - he was a serial adulterer
Now remarried, thank you MB
(formerly lied_to_again)
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
N
nscriv Offline OP
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
N
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
Thank you for your replies. I will suggest that she posts on here but I don't think that she will do that.

Yes I have the book.

The thing is, it's all very well to to focus solely on the love busters that I am guilty of. The fact that I am candid about that should show that I am serious about doing what I need to. But I'm also not prepared to be the only one making the effort if all that would result in is me being used like a doormat.

I don't think that she is completely withdrawn either. After coming across an article 'buyers, renters and freeloaders' she has many of the characterstics described under freeloader. (Although i do believe that she is committed to monogamy). Many of her comments to me when I complain about the situation seem to indicate that she doesn't think that she should have to make the effort that I think she does, i.e. everything should come naturally.

Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 20,312
Likes: 3
B
Member
Offline
Member
B
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 20,312
Likes: 3
Ok, but you can only control yourself. You can't control her. You need to clean up your side of the street and she cleans up hers and then you meet in the middle with a wonderfully clean street.

What are her top ENs?

I agree with LW. Will she post here?

Also, you didn't answer my question. What are you doing about your AOs? Did you read the Anger management 101 thread I posted to you and listen to the clips?



FWW/BW (me)
WH
2nd M for both
Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,786
Likes: 1
L
Member
Offline
Member
L
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,786
Likes: 1
Originally Posted By: nscriv

The thing is, it's all very well to to focus solely on the love busters that I am guilty of. The fact that I am candid about that should show that I am serious about doing what I need to. But I'm also not prepared to be the only one making the effort if all that would result in is me being used like a doormat.


A doormat is how you describe your situation right now so how could a change be worse?

Originally Posted By: nscriv
I don't think that she is completely withdrawn either. After coming across an article 'buyers, renters and freeloaders' she has many of the characterstics described under freeloader.


Of course she is a freeloader. That is exactly what a withdrawn spouse is.


3 adult children
Divorced - he was a serial adulterer
Now remarried, thank you MB
(formerly lied_to_again)
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
N
nscriv Offline OP
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
N
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
Originally Posted By: BrainHurts
Ok, but you can only control yourself. You can't control her. You need to clean up your side of the street and she cleans up hers and then you meet in the middle with a wonderfully clean street.

What are her top ENs?

I agree with LW. Will she post here?

Also, you didn't answer my question. What are you doing about your AOs? Did you read the Anger management 101 thread I posted to you and listen to the clips?



No she won't post here, and I tried to get her to engage on working through the books and questionnaires with me. I gave her the emotional needs questionnaire but she didn't fill it in and she doesn't seem to be able to communicate her needs to me. Other than me figuring out that I could give her more affection .

I'm listening the AO clips and agree that I should do better but we are not talking about physical violence or damaging property, just to keep it in context. My AO are almost solely in response to the selfish freeloading behavior. And I'm not somebody who has a very short fuse, it takes time and repeated occurrences of this selfishness before things boil over. I tell her how I feel about something and how it affects me many times in a calm manner with no change in behavior before I stop coping well and begin to criticise overtly.

Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
N
nscriv Offline OP
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
N
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
Originally Posted By: living_well
Originally Posted By: nscriv

The thing is, it's all very well to to focus solely on the love busters that I am guilty of. The fact that I am candid about that should show that I am serious about doing what I need to. But I'm also not prepared to be the only one making the effort if all that would result in is me being used like a doormat.


A doormat is how you describe your situation right now so how could a change be worse?

Originally Posted By: nscriv
I don't think that she is completely withdrawn either. After coming across an article 'buyers, renters and freeloaders' she has many of the characterstics described under freeloader.


Of course she is a freeloader. That is exactly what a withdrawn spouse is.


It is a bit presumptuous to assume that she is freeloading because she is a withdrawn spouse.

I blame myself for getting into this, but the more I reflect on the situation I realise that this has been this way from early on.

We used to be very good friends prior to entering into a relationship, and when I entered into the relationship I also committed to raising her son. This was from birth, the biological father had abandoned her. So it was never something that I ever considered would be less than permanent. I guess I gave her a bit more slack early on as I knew she had to put focus into the baby, and so couldn't expect as much.

Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,786
Likes: 1
L
Member
Offline
Member
L
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,786
Likes: 1
Originally Posted By: nscriv

It is a bit presumptuous to assume that she is freeloading because she is a withdrawn spouse.


Angry outbursts, (a raised voice) scare your spouse and they carry a payload. The person you should trust most in the world is treating you in a way he would never treat even a casual friend. That is why AOs are such massive love busters.

As the relationship deteriorates, your spouse's taker comes out in force to protect her. Of course that makes the relationship deteriorate further as your taker comes out in retaliation.

Both of you are now trapped in your respective corners protecting yourselves. She is a freeloader because she does not love you. Ergo, she is taking the domestic support and offering you nothing in return.

Originally Posted By: nscriv
I blame myself for getting into this, but the more I reflect on the situation I realise that this has been this way from early on.


Of course, this downward spiral takes a while to build but you can start the change at any time by stopping the AOs. That is why this step is so important.

Once your taker stops beating her up, hers will stop hiding from you but it will take more than a week or two. It took a long time to get this bad and it will take a while for her to feel safe. MB can make her be passionately in love with you again and want only to make you happy but it is going to take some work on your part.

You need to stop bullying her and start coaxing. Can you do that?


3 adult children
Divorced - he was a serial adulterer
Now remarried, thank you MB
(formerly lied_to_again)
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 1,432
M
Member
Offline
Member
M
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 1,432
Originally Posted By: living_well
Originally Posted By: nscriv
I don't think that she is completely withdrawn either. After coming across an article 'buyers, renters and freeloaders' she has many of the characterstics described under freeloader.


Of course she is a freeloader. That is exactly what a withdrawn spouse is.
Freeloaders and withdrawn spouses are not the same thing. Many withdrawn spouses are not freeloaders. One can emotionally pull out of the marriage for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with being a freeloader. In fact, calling your withdrawn spouse a freeloader can constitute a disrespectful judgement.


me-65
wife-61
married for 40 years
DS - 38, autistic, lives at home
DD - 37, married and on her own
DS - 32, still living with us
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,786
Likes: 1
L
Member
Offline
Member
L
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,786
Likes: 1
Originally Posted By: mrEureka
Originally Posted By: living_well
Originally Posted By: nscriv
I don't think that she is completely withdrawn either. After coming across an article 'buyers, renters and freeloaders' she has many of the characterstics described under freeloader.


Of course she is a freeloader. That is exactly what a withdrawn spouse is.
Freeloaders and withdrawn spouses are not the same thing. Many withdrawn spouses are not freeloaders. One can emotionally pull out of the marriage for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with being a freeloader. In fact, calling your withdrawn spouse a freeloader can constitute a disrespectful judgement.


Yes, good catch, I should have said 'exhibits the behaviour of a freeloader'


3 adult children
Divorced - he was a serial adulterer
Now remarried, thank you MB
(formerly lied_to_again)
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 381
B
Member
Offline
Member
B
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 381
NSCRIV -

Ive read through your posts and I want you to know that I think youre in the right place. You may feel like marriage builders cant help, that your situation is too messed up and that unless your wife engages, nothing can change. But based on what Ive read there are still some things you havent done, some approaches you havent tried that might help improve your dynamic.

Im going to quickly summarize your situation as I understand it.

Lets get clear on your goals You want to be in love with your wife and you want your wife to be in love with you. Right now youre certainly not in love. You feel like a slave around the house. You feel like you give and she takes. I am pretty she sure she is not in love with you either though she seems to be suffering less in your marriage since she isnt the one asking for change.

Youve mentioned three areas youd like your wifes behavior to change in that would make you happier
Domestic Support
Conversation
Physical attractiveness

Youd also like her to stop
Independent behavior (especially overworking on her business at your familys expense.)
Annoying habits (not picking up after herself)

You feel like when you ask her nicely, she brushes it off and nothing changes. This frustrates you a lot (understandably) and you end up expressing anger and criticism which of course doesnt change anything either not for very long and it makes a MAJOR withdrawal from her love bank.

Heres my advice

1)Stop the angry outbursts (AO) COMPLETELY.

This is abusive behavior and it is also NEVER going to get you what you want. I hear that you are tired of focusing on improving yourself but AOs are non-negotiable. They need to be completely eliminated. She has to know that no matter what, you will not verbally abuse her as you have. This is a totally failed attempt at controlling your wife. Your wife doesnt want to be controlled. She will resist your attempts at control either directly of passively. But you will not get what you want. IF YOU WANT YOUR WIFE TO ACT LIKE AN ADULT, TREAT HER LIKE AN ADULT. Your AOs are probably making the problem worse. She may be rebelling like a teenager, showing you she cant be controlled by a bully parent.

2)Your disrespectful judgments (DJ) also have to go.

Obviously vocalized criticism is out but you need to work on your unspoken criticism as well. I hear a lot of judgment in your words here lazy, selfish, childish. These are judgments of character, not descriptions of behaviors. Your wife is smart. She knows how you what are feeling and what you are thinking. If you believe you can keep your critical thoughts and feelings about your wife a secret I think youre wrong. Maybe from a colleague or a stranger but not your wife. And she registers those unspoken criticisms. It affects her just as if youd said them.

3)You need to understand and meet her emotional needs.

Someone on this thread asked you what they were. Do you know? How are you doing? Based on her behavior I wonder if one of her needs is admiration (working two years on an unprofitable business, talking about it all the time.) If so, your criticisms and lack of value of what she values must be devastating.

As you accomplish these things the environment of your marriage will change. She will feel like changing not because shes being bullied by a parent but because she is being asked by an equal an equal she is in love with. IMO you are a long way from seeing her and treating her like a true equal. No wonder she has done nothing to change.

OK Ive focused on you, but what about her? Here are some other ideas to encourage/persuade her to change her behavior. (Some of these are repeats.)

1)Use only respectful requests
2)Use I statements ("When you do X, I feel Y")
3)Fill her love bank which often causes people to want to reciprocate.
4)Don't enable her - don't clean up after her if doing so makes your resentful.
5)Start using the POJA - like you would with an equal. Find a win-win for situations like house cleaning and her business. I think you guys could make some serious progress with this.


Thats it those are your main tools.

Youve asked if a separation would be a good idea. Harley does recommend separation at times.

1) If you simply cant control the fighting and angry outbursts, you may consider a separation. You might say I love you too much to fight. I am so unhappy in our current situation I cant be around you without losing my temper. I think it is safer for us to be apart until we can make some progress in our relationship. In this case you would have a clear plan to work on things seeing a counselor etc working on getting back together.

2) If you have truly controlled your AO/DJs and cheerfully asked for change with respectful requests for a significant amount of time (I dont get the impression youve achieved this yet) then I think Harley would recommend considering a separation to wake the reluctant spouse up to the reality of their situation they may lose their partner if they dont change their behavior. But right now I don't think you're ready for this type of separation. I dont think youve cleaned up your side of the street enough.

I hope this is helpful. My W and I have experienced some of the same dynamic you have described. It can be maddening. I remember feeling and saying many of the things youve described here. Our improvement was a slow process and it continues but I can tell you real change can be made. Dont expect huge changes over night. As you noted, this dynamic has been present in your relationship for a long time, maybe from the start. To expect rapid change is unrealistic. But that is not to say things shouldnt change. You both deserve what you both want a happy and satisfying marriage. I think you can totally achieve and new, different and better marriage - but only by doing things in new, different and better ways... More of the same will simply get you more of the same.

Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
N
nscriv Offline OP
Junior Member
OP Offline
Junior Member
N
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 6
Thank you for your insightful and comprehensive reply, BWS71.

I think that you are pretty much spot on with most of what you say, although I find it difficult to see how to change the way I feel about things. (I can however see how it is possible to work on how I react to my feelings (AO's).)

For example, you mention the example of her business and how she must feel about my lack of value for what she does. Since I first posted here a few days ago I managed to engage her to fill in the EN questionnaire and she identified admiration as her #1. So you were spot on. The problem I have is that I feel resentful about the level of engagement that goes into it at the expense of other areas in our lives. I perceive this to affect not just myself in a negative way but for this to affect our children as well. It is something that she could not be engaged in were it not for my financial support. She often seeks my opinion on matters to do with the business but then almost always disregards my good advice on measures that she could take to improve her chances of succeeding with the business. All of these things make it very difficult to perceive it as anything other than a drain on not just our marriage but our family.

I can completely see you are right in terms of the effect with regards to her need for admiration, and how my feelings towards that are the exact opposite of what she needs. But I don't see how we can both win out of this situation.

Perhaps I just need to work on what I can.

Thanks again for your help.

Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 381
B
Member
Offline
Member
B
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 381
One of the most genius insights from Harley for me is his assertion that in order for the wife (in your and my case) who needs admiration to get what she craves from her husband she must do things her husband admires and avoid doing things he doesnt admire. When I read this, I knew Harleys approach could work for my wife and I. Most other marriage strengthening books Ive read suggest building a tolerance for your spouses failures. Harley hits it on the head when he says, No. In order to be truly be admired and respected and valued by your husband, you need to DO the things he admires, respects and values. So true. Our spouses crave our love not our tolerance.

So dont mistake the message of my previous post the very achievable end goal is for your wife to behave in ways you truly admire. Im not suggesting anything less. All Im doing is telling you how you can best persuade your wife to change, how you can do your part to best create an environment that encourages change (instead of discouraging it.) What youre doing now is not working. With your current approach neither of you are likely to get what you want.

Knowing your wifes top emotional need gives you huge power! Now, instead of feeding the plant poison and expecting it to grow, you can give your wife the unique type of sunshine she craves. You can also feel more motivated to avoid the behaviors that are particularly toxic to her, knowing her sensitivity and elevating her emotional needs to the same level of importance as yours. Youre not a helpless victim of your wifes neglect. You have the keys to success. You have the ability to change this dysfunctional dynamic and break the impasse you currently find yourself in.

If you could feel what it is like for your wife to 1) go without your admiration and worse 2) feel judged you would act differently. But, of course, we cant feel what our spouses feel. We only feel what we feel.

So heres your game plan

1) Completely avoid AOs never again. You wouldnt hit your wife. You should be equally averse to verbally abusing her with AOs. Dont dismiss AOs as justified or innocuous again. Take up meditation or read a book on anger management. Take it seriously as seriously as you wish your wife would take meeting YOUR emotional needs.
2) Work on your DJs start to see your wifes job as something really important at least to her, and acknowledge that what matters to her is just as important as what matters to you even if it is different. Your world view is not superior to your wife's it is different.
3) Become an expert at meeting your wifes ENs. Lots of room for improvement here it sounds like. Getting your wife to fall back in love with you is your secret weapon =)
4) Make respectful requests for change and use the POJA. It can work, I promise.
5) Dont enable her negative behavior dont pick up her clothes, dont pick up her dishes. I dont mean be passive aggressive. I mean, if something causes resentment for you dont do it. You dont have to be angry about it. Just choose. Let some things go.

I believe in this program because it worked for my marriage which had some very similar issues. My wife has changed in ways I NEVER IMAGINED she would ways in which she probably never would have changed had I kept banging my head on the problem with the same broken response to her failure to meet my ENs. Once I got rid of the poison and started feeding the plant it grew. Dont be discouraged. You can do this but not by following your instincts.

BWS

PS why not try the POJA about the time your wife spends on her job? Read up on it make sure you follow all the steps. Be creative. Do not railroad. The end goal is mutual enthusiasm. You may not get there in one sitting. That's ok. This is important enough to take the time to get it right. Once you see real progress can be made, you'll be encouraged.

PPS - if you're not ready to be emotionally neutral for that conversation, try the POJA on something less sensitive. Becoming comfortable with the POJA is going to be worth your while.




Last edited by BWS71; 10/23/13 08:10 AM.

Link Copied to Clipboard
Forum Search
Who's Online Now
1 members (1 invisible), 15 guests, and 57 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
cooper503, Bobbyboy341, Steve123, kenmw, lawenda
71,694 Registered Users
Forum Statistics
Forums67
Topics133,535
Posts2,322,661
Members71,695
Most Online3,185
Jan 27th, 2020
Building Marriages That Last A Lifetime
Copyright © 1995-2020, Marriage Builders®. All Rights Reserved.  |  Web Development by SunStar Media.
Site Navigation
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5