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Last weekend my H and I were having a sort of relationship talk, and we were discussing his relationship with his OW. He insisted that when I served him divorce papers, that he went back to her seeking friendship, possibly more, but that he knew it would never work and that she had too many issues for a healthy relationship. I asked: "So why did you go back to her then, why didn't you seek someone new?"

And his response was "Because I knew I could control her."

So I have been digesting that little piece of information, not being surprised at hearing it at all - because everything with my H is an issue of control, his control, my control, who's control, freedom from control, you name it.

And then after pondering that, and knowing that my learning to set boundaries 2 years ago was the beginning of the end for us...because I was no longer allowing him control over me...

Then I started to think about how underneath his current pleasantness is a resentment about my conditions for his return to our home. I set most of these conditions out months ago, and he told me repeatedly no way would he ever meet them, yadda yadda.

Of course, now that he has seen that I was serious, and that I really was going through with the divorce, he has capitulated. Was I just playing a game of "Chicken" with this man? Apparently that's how he is seeing it...

I'm wondering...and thinking...and then I had this horrible thought:

He was angry at not being able to control me, so left, to gain control of the situation. When that didn't work, he tried to come back, but again, with his own terms and control. Aaah but then I didn't cooperate, I went the divorce route, which he couldn't control...so....Is he agreeing to meet my conditions and asking to move back home simply to attempt to regain control over the situation????

ARGH.

I do understand that he is trying to get control over his life, without help. He flat out confessed in a desperate moment that his life is unmanageable. I wanted to scream: STEP ONE! But I didn't!

So I know that this is an attempt by him to straighten his life out...without help of course. He's still trying to be powerful.

But I didn't really put any negative connotations to that understanding until now....

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Perhaps he can learn, change, and grow. The questions are, can you stand to be there and face the uncertainty while he tries to do it? And will you be able stand fast if he backslides?

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I'm with Sisyphus...

My dear... you sound like you want to be in control also. Please, no offense. I understand your perspective and your experience how you are wary... BUT, where does trusting in God come in?

Wise as a serpant
Gentle as a dove

I'm with Sisyphus... we're here for you as you go through step by step but please ask yourself, WHO do you trust? YOURSELF? YOUR H? or ...?

Have a great day! Shalom!

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Regarding your subject line, "I just had a horrible thought..."

This reminds me of something I used to hear as a kid:

I'd say, "It hurts when I do that"... and Mom would say, "Don't do it then"...

So simple. So difficult.


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Hi Sisyphus ~

quote:
Perhaps he can learn, change, and grow. The questions are, can you stand to be there and face the uncertainty while he tries to do it? And will you be able stand fast if he backslides?

The question is - is he actually learning, changing, and growing? I have my doubts. IF he is, the answer to your question is honestly, I don't know. Steve had advised me to go to Plan B while he was "changing and growing" because he said that the damage from mistakes and backslides would destroy any chance of healing our marriage.

OvrCs ~ I'm not offended. Yeah, I'd love to truly be in control of my life right now - as you pointed out, my trust in God isn't really there. How can I trust God when I don't even know what He wants from me right now? I have no clue if I am doing what He wants, or if it's what I want.

I don't trust me, I don't trust my H, and I don't trust God. That's the honest to goodness truth.

I am terrified of trying to POJA with a man who simply sees everything from the angle of control. As a raging co-dependent, I have major problems with trying to be in control - but that's not really my concern here, and I'm not really in a battle with my H over control - it's a war that he is carrying on in his own head with me - without consulting me!

Let me give an example of what I am talking about: 9 months before we got married...my H had sex with another woman. "We" had been waiting for marriage, and we were both virgins, until he cheated. When we got married - oh dear - both of our lives were so out of control and both of us were children. I was so desperate for his love and affection - I was scared and hurt and definitely not over his "cheating". I needed reassurance. We had a one room apartment outside the navy base he was stationed at. Night after night, I'd sit in bed (we had no sofa) and beg for him to just sit and spend time together, to be affectionate and to pay attention to me. I'd usually go to sleep in tears, while staring at the back of his head - he was on the computer playing games.

Several months ago, he brought that time up - and apologized. He told me that he saw my need for affection and my requests for attention as an effort to control him, and that he intentionally ignored me so that I wouldn't gain control over him.

We tried to reconcile this marriage this last December-March. I had all of my apologies, or expressions of love or respect or appreciation thrown back in my face. I wrote him a long letter, after a very thoroughly moral inventory of my own behavior in our marriage, taking responsibilty for things I had done that harmed him. I was told that it was ALL manipulation and lies - in an effort to control him.

He's completely paranoid that someone will "control" him.

When I asked him about wanting to reconcile now, AGAIN, after all this crap we have been through, his answer was that he wanted to see his children more, and that he didn't want me to move away.

His idea of divorce was that we'd use the same lawyer, live down the street from each other, and be 'friends'. When I insisted on my own attorney (he never got one of his own) and went forward with my plans to move near family for support....I was trying to "control" him.

Honestly, I am guilty of trying to control him in the past. I've apologized many times and worked my a$$ off at changing my behavior. I thought that I've done a pretty damn good job too. I'm beginning to understand that my H thinks that "consequences" means "someone controlling him".

Somehow, like a kid, he thinks that consequences and actions are unrelated. The whole cause and effect thing goes out the window when talking to him.

Bleah, woah, where did all of this come from? I guess I'm just really doubting my whole decision and scared to death.

I do think he really DOES mean to make this work. I just don't think that he has the skills or the ability to do so. And I'm just way too damaged.

Sheryl ~ I think yours is the best advice. My brain is starting to do that spinning out of control thing again...time to decide not to go there right now....

(((hugs)))

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BR,

I've only crossed paths with you on occasion, since I'm more often in the Recovery, EN, or GQII forums, but I've found the things you say to be often insightful and interesting.

I think you're looking at and thinking about the right things. You said:

quote:

I don't trust me, I don't trust my H, and I don't trust God. That's the honest to goodness truth.

As a baseball fan, I'd say you're batting 667, and largely in touch with reality. As a Christian, I think God is trustworthy, but I've been where you are often. Better honest doubt than faked faith, as long as you don't settle for staying that way. What you're going through is really tough, and I can sure understand.

In bringing up POJA you really hit the heart of the matter. As I've written to CJ and others, the real key to recovery seems to me to be whether we can POJA with our partner. It's a skill and takes time to learn and develop as a habit, and it's hard to POJA until someone proves trustworthy.

In essence, I see POJA done right as being about two people who are healthy enough to be capable of independence, but are choosing interdependence. This means shared control over both lives, and means we have to be as concerned about our partner's well being as our own. It also requires respecting their opinion--we're not trying to become either a benevolent dictator or a subject, but a partner.

Whether your H is capable of this I don't know. I will say that the power of having ENs met is amazing. It goes a long way toward creating the willingness to care for another like we do for ourselves, if we are at all capable of being altruistic.

I don't remember all the ins and outs of your relationship, but I would imagine that despite all your efforts he has not been very available for you to meet his ENs, just as he hasn't tried to meet yours. So, even though you've been the one trying, it hasn't built up your balance in his love bank all that much. Consequently, you both need a lot of time together meeting each others ENs to jump start your recovery.

Trying too hard to work out all the tough issues before romantic love is rebuilt probably won't work. So you'll probably have to risk a lot of time, effort and pain building that for some months before you know if he'll really come around and "get it".

I'm sorry it's so tough--wish I had ten easy steps to rebuilding or seven questions to tell you if your spouse will ever get it, but I don't.

Hang in there,

Steve


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I can relate, BrambleRose.

I don't think you necessarily have a control issue...when someone else is always trying to control you, just being yourself or trying to, LOOKS like you are trying to control too. But it's not.

My H also has conrol issues. And it think, although he's never said, that his relationship with the OW is all about that. She's younger, foreign and he is the mover-and-shaker of the relationship...the teacher.....the one to be worshipped. She's put him on some kind of pedistal, where he loves to be. Whatever.

He, just like all of us, deserve to be honored for the unique gifts and talents we bring to this world. He is one brillian man, with so many gifts, it's incredible. I truly was so pround (and still am) of him.

But getting to that pedistal by stepping over or on others is not the way to get there. It's by being honored by other, not by you forcing them to acknowledge you.

I had a question: Are you and he in counseling? I think, for me anyway, that would be a vital necessity for any kind of getting back together. There are just to many old and new issues that need to be addressed.

Aloha,
Mrs.O


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Oh, BR, I totally sympathize with you. My H has started making overtures toward me. Telling me he's now feeling the guilt and remorse he wasn't feeling when we tried to reconcile before.

I've also set conditions - be completely finished with OW and be clean and sober. I don't think it's controlling, I think it's setting boundaries to maintain my sanity. I know that the OW isn't my problem, but his bouncing back and forth between her and me is something I just can't handle anymore. I'd rather he stay with her until he's really done with her and just leave me alone until he's ready to let her go completely.

As for drugs and alcohol, there's no hope of any relationship as long as he's using. And, I need him to be back in AA before I can get involved with him again, not white knuckling it. He can do what he wants, but so can I. And I know there's no sanity or serenity with him without these conditions being met.

He also has control issues, and so do I. I'm trying to put my faith in God. It's much easier when it's about the two of us apart. I can pray for God's will for me and for my H, but when it comes to our relationship, I have a much harder time letting go. I'd rather be sane and lonely than spinning out of control with the insanity of living with an active alcoholic. I'm not willing to take a chance until things are much different than they are now. But I know there will never be any guarantees and that's what scares me.

Keep praying, keep writing here. Sleep on this, if you can, and I know you'll have more perspective tomorrow. You are always so helpful to everyone with your wise advice. Just open yourself up to that guidance that you have for everyone else.


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quote:
I do think he really DOES mean to make this work. I just don't think that he has the skills or the ability to do so. And I'm just way too damaged.

I can relate! My H bitterly complained in our first joint counselling session about how controlling I am. He stopped going after 4 months because he was nothing more than a "whipping post." Gee, sorry my point of view has that effect on him!

Your description of early marriage struck a chord with me. I admit to making efforts in the past to control my H's behavior. He considered his mother very controlling. I am so NOT like his mother! At first I didn't think his accusations of my controlling behavior were warranted. Then I realized how he seems to perceive control. Request from me = control. As an example in counselling, he used some infrequent instances where I would ask him to bring me a napkin (the only time I do that is if I'm seated and he's in the kitchen anyway). My oh my. I'm just soooo controlling! Gimme a break. BR, do you think your H perceives control in the same way?

Anyway, I've learned a lot this year about my marriage. My C says H's first response to any request of any kind is resistance. (understatement!) I've modified some of my behavior that seems successful. I have a history of taking on too much responsibility while my H is carefree and oblivious. A petty example is gas in the car. I did it.

A while back, we were going out of town. We were discussing what time we would leave, and part of it depended on filling the tank first. I knew better than to ask him to do it. Instead, I presented a choice: well, H, we could go together to the gas pump and leave 10 minutes later, or you could take care of it while I'm doing xyz. When presenting him with options, I seem to get what I want more often. A direct request is practically guaranteed to meet with resistance from him and disappointment in my heart.

My H's passive resistance and indifference toward me have done tremendous damage. I'm getting better, I think. At the same time, my H needs serious professional help. Like you, I'm not confident that he has the skills or the ability to fully participate in this marriage. Yep. It's not a pretty place. Well, BR, be encouraged anyway. You've acknowledged him for what he is. Figuring out what to do with the information is a whole new ballpark. In my case, I can see the probability that I will never have a fully functional marriage with this man. That puts the choice with me. Move on and give myself the option of trying again later with someone else, or accept my status quo. Yukko! Can I have a different menu please? LOL


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(((((((BR)))))))))

I don't have anything insightful to say right now, because I think I'm so involved in a "controlled" situation that I can't even figure things out for myself lately.

But I am lurking around and am reading your post and want to send you a hug.

I've been in recovery before with my now exH. Honestly, he truly did want to change back then, but just always slipped backwards to old habits. However, I did have to take control of MY life, and choose what I was going to live with, and it had nothing to do with controlling him, just tired of my life revolving around him like it had been. What I'm saying is, that I didn't want control of him, just myself.

Hugs, Dana


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Hi BR,

What an emotionally charged thread!!!! To control or not to control? Why does that have to be such a negative thing for the WS? It seems like it is blown out of proportion.

Is control always a bad thing? No. Are all our actions controlling ones? No. Then why is it perceived that way?

Ok, I am asking questions that I know the answer to but, hey it does make us think, right?

One question to the WS: What are good controls vs bad controls?

Same issue in my house. For some silly reason, the WS tends to think that the BS wants control but the OP does not? Go figure. From what I have read and experienced often the OP is more controlling and demanding than the BS. Yet the WS does not seem to acknowledge it. Making excuses for the Op's behavior (ex: Oh she is having a bad day, you are rude to her, it is that time of the month for her, she is sensative, she likes her privacy, you should not have thought about her that way - this last one was a personal injection - since most of my thoughts and comments to the WS about the OP was never said by me to the OP).

All your comments as always are greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
L.

[This message has been edited by Orchid (edited July 18, 2001).]


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I agree with Orchid. For goodness sakes, they're adults too with the power to say NO or to disagree. "Bad" control is when it's manipulative and you'll do something unpleasant if you don't get what you want.

Another form of "bad" control is bad mostly for the person doing it. That's what I'm struggling with when I think time and time again that I can control my H's out-of-control behavior by doing things or putting up with things that make me crazy. They don't help him either. But this kind of control seems to be a natural response to crazy (and crazy-making) behavior. You actually have to learn not to respond this way when it involves someone you care about.

Setting boundaries is not controlling, I know that, but I still find it very difficult to do. I think it's "good" control to take control of our own lives. Again, I don't think it's unnatural to respond to an out-of-control situation in a loved one by trying to help them in order to regain control of our own lives. Of course, we have no control over anyone else and have to learn to maintain the focus on ourselves when faced with someone else's crazy behavior.

My H admitted to being attracted to women who need him. In other words, women he thinks he can control. He is furious at me because in taking care of myself I have undermined his control of me. So who's really into control?


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BR--
Actually if he meets your conditions (which I wonder if he can) then he is surrendering a little of that control for the moment, which may or may not be part of his manipulation. I understand both sides of the control issue. My ex was paranoid about control. I can't tell you how many times it came up!! But I also recognize it in myself, and sometimes find myself intentionally denying people I care about things if they seem too needy or desperate or wanting becuase I don't want to feel like I am being controlled or cajoled into doing something that was not originally my idea. My mother is a prime example. We have a shaky relationship, and she is very insecure. She uses guilt and manipulation better than anyone I know. Because of her insecurities, she often tries to "get me" to show her love and affection. I often withhold it from her out of frustration and a rebellious and selfish spirit. I am angry for her perceived attempts to control me. Therefore, I withdraw.

It does kind of look like he left in order to gain control of the situation. I think being aware of this new angle is a good thing, but just don't over analyze it. Just be aware of it maybe. I don't know if anything you do will ever be perceived as anything less than controlling to him until he deals with his own problems. I just wish he would. But you are taking control of your life, and that is good. Even if it means letting him come back ON YOUR TERMS.

LetsTry, my ex left me for an 18 year old that looked at him with stars in her eyes and who he could take care of--that needed him. His mom was a manic depressive and their own marriage was troubled; he was often (as a child) turned to for counsel--how sick is that. This little girl is screwed up (eating disorders, depression, suicide attempts, diabetes) he feels like he is able to take care of her and she needs him, believes in him, and sees him as God. Translation: she can be controlled and manipulated. Our marriage started to become strained and questions of control and his disatisfaction came to light when I started questioning his excessive drinking. I was controlling him. Classic passive-aggressives like him are terrified of losing control. I was more responsible than he, more educated, more grounded, more mature, and more talented. He was threatened, and cried that I made him feel less like a man. I think I was guilty of withholding some of the strokes that would have helped his fragile ego. But most of the time I simply tried to ask for what was right for our life and for me. I suppose any 18 year old can make him feel like a man for sure.

I really do think that some people are drawn to people with problems, who are less intelligent, poorer, weaker, or younger if they have no sense of self or true strength. Theirs is derived from this fake sense of power by default. Yeah, I when I tried to set those boundaries, I got called controlling over and over again. But I believe I have codependent tendencies that I am exploring, and control is an weakness for me to work on.


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{{{{{BR}}}}}},

Where are you? What's happening? How are you feeling now? Check in won't you?

Cheers!
Nicole

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As iron sharpens iron, so does one wo/man sharpen another... Prov 27:17


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Okay...for the last wek, I have been risking getting my head bitten off in my postings, but this thread has gone in a good direction for the most part.

{{{{{ BR }}}}}, I feel indebted to you, and I am 'watching' your sit with much concern, and care. I notice that you are paying close attention to the addiction thing, and sometimes that process is detrimental (in general...this is not a slam). We tend to lose many opportunities here when we use this forum to commiserate, and justify giving up. I am trying to be God's advocate...the Devil has too many. Not a Bible thumper per se, just want people to stay out of his way.

It is the nature of this thing to keep us somewhat in the dark...it makes us do the right thing for its own sake...not ours. This is the ultimate test...you are going through your own crucifixion in your own way. Please remember what happened to Jesus...(your model). Doubt...questioning God about abandoning him, forgiveness of his persecuters, and yes, executioners. Finally, acceptance, love, and detachment ('It is done.') That is the model you are urged to follow.

Your thoughts are natural, and come from 'the Devil'...people in those times were simple, and required simple models...that is where the concept of the Devil comes from...it is self-sabotage, these thoughts, and you know that is your Taker screaming to be fed.

God is in control...despite what you, your H, or any of us think to the contrary. You will seek the counsel of those who allow you to service your Taker now...not good. Success depends on your ability to see these things clearly, and to act accordingly...why do you think the success rate is so abismally low? Because we tend to take the easy way out, and give up. The gate is narrow...that is more than Biblical imagery...it is a very concrete fact for you now...not mere symbology.

Listen to the doubters, and you will fail...miserably, and it will take a long time, much of your energy, and all of your remaining self-image...the tendency to keep it more of the same will dominate if you allow it to. He will continue to respond 'just like you knew he would'. It sad, but this thread represents to me, a bad place for you to go if you let it dominate your thinking.

IMHO -Mike

[This message has been edited by waiting_for_her (edited July 19, 2001).]


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Hi Nicole ~ I'm here, and I've been reading all the responses, I just haven't had even a moment to sit down and respond like I want to. I'm on my way out to the pediatrician now, my daughter apparently has an ear infection. Ever try to get ANYTHING done with a very fussy sick baby? <sigh> Hopefully this afternoon I can sit down and focus a bit, I have alot of things I want to say!

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Hi BR,

Just checking in to see how you are doing. Sorry to check in on this so late, I was out of town for a few days to visit Baltimore Inner Harbor. Fun town, lots to do and great places to eat!

Just one little insight for you on this one so far. Of course you have control issues too! We all do. I'm sure you have heard of married couples fighting over money, haven't you? Well it really isn't money that they fight over, it's control. For them, money merely becomes a tool of control.

Prayers and stuff,

Bumper


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Ok, baby is still giving me fits, my basement (computer room/rec room) is completely disorganized (electronics, toys, paperwork EVERYWHERE) as I try to reorganize for my H's imminent move home....I'm behind on my web projects for 2 different clients...so my life is just a tad busy atm. Let me see if I can get at least SOME responses out though!!

Stillhers ~ You know, I just loved your response.

quote:
In bringing up POJA you really hit the heart of the matter. As I've written to CJ and others, the real key to recovery seems to me to be whether we can POJA with our partner. It's a skill and takes time to learn and develop as a habit, and it's hard to POJA until someone proves trustworthy.

In essence, I see POJA done right as being about two people who are healthy enough to be capable of independence, but are choosing interdependence. This means shared control over both lives, and means we have to be as concerned about our partner's well being as our own. It also requires respecting their opinion--we're not trying to become either a benevolent dictator or a subject, but a partner.


I think you have hit right at the crux of the matter...can he, or is he really willing...to POJA? He says so...but I have big doubts. (But, while we are on the subject of POJA - he insisted and I enthusiastically agreed that we HAD to get a broadband connection, 3 computers on a shared dialup wasn't going to work - I'm surfing at cable speeds now baby!! )

As long as control - percieved or otherwise - is a major issue between us...POJA is going to be pretty rough.

Interdependence - that's such a great word!!

You know, I find what you said about working at ENs first...I had thought we ought to approach LBs first. But, thinking about it, I think you are probably right. My biggest EN is honesty. Gee, imagine that! And we can't do ANYTHING without rebuilt trust, mine. And as I think over the last 6 months, I realize that I was probably filling quite a few of my H's ENs. I also avoided LBs...and his OW was LBing right and left. So with a combination of love of his children, a guilty conscience, and feeling encouraged that WE could rebuild....he asked to come home.

In the last couple of weeks, he's been doing little tiny things that make me think that he's starting to feel SOMETHING for me again. The phone rang a couple of minutes ago, and he said "Hey baby" when I answered...its been YEARS since I have heard that!

Guess I better put down my copy of Love Busters and go steal my His Needs Her Needs back from my friend!

As for God, well, I'll keep plugging away at my 12 steps. Maybe one day I'll get this whole trust thing. You know, it occured to me one day, while sharing at an Al-Anon meeting about 'rejection', that I had made my H into "God". And perhaps that while I have the 2 separated now, I still havent sorted out all those emotions...

Thanks for the very thought provoking reply!

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Mrs. O ~

I see that you totally understand!! Our whole marriage WAS about control - I'd have to say that most if not all of our problems were a result of our unacknowledged war for power and control.

But I stopped dancing that dance. And when I moved the buttons that he had been pushing - that's when REAL trouble started!! I started trying to learn to take care of myself, rather than fight him for control over things that were his, or simply out of any control.

Setting boundaries are hard, which is why I thankfully had counseling and a sponsor to assist me...it can too easily become another method of control. I have to admit, even now, I still slip into the dance now and again. But I recognize, apologize, and start over. It's getting easier and easier!

My problem, I think, is that I keep forgetting that he hasn't done the growing, learning and experience that I have now. He's still trying to get me to come dance the old dance. I really shouldn't be shocked at the idea that his return home is because he didn't like things being out of his control.

As for counseling, I'm not in counseling ATM. I've got a very good Al-Anon sponsor, and you folks. I'll probably give Steve Harley another call on occaision too. My H is seeing a priest to work on his own stuff. I do believe that he'll be happy to go to counseling with me though, after he's sorted out some of his own issues. He was in counseling with me twice before this, and I'm don't think it will be hard to get him to go again.

LetSTry ~ yep, those darn old boundaries keep being interpreted as 'control'!! When I don't react to the old button pushing, it's as if he thinks I've won a round in the control game, and we can't let that happen now can we?

btw, I'm great at spouting off at other people...I can't seem to take my own advice. Us codependents are great at fixing everyone else's lives but our own! That's why my advice or opinions should ALWAYs come with a grain of salt!!

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Pain is a given, misery is optional.


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Lonesome ~

quote:
My C says H's first response to any request of any kind is resistance. (understatement!) I've modified some of my behavior that seems successful. I have a history of taking on too much responsibility while my H is carefree and oblivious.

This could be me and my H, that's for sure. I've also discovered that by giving options, that I get a much better response. Just like with my kids, I seem to need to give him a set of choices, and then all of a sudden, he feels in control or something...

So then, where are MY varied options and choices darn it?! I want a different menu too please!

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Pain is a given, misery is optional.


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