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Discussion Starter #1
Hi. Just joined today so please be gentle.

The big question on my mind is how to make my family (starting with my wife) happy :smthumbup:

I have a marriage which has been dragged through hell but the fight is finally getting somewhere slowly.

Happy, healthy and confident parents are what my kids need so I keep going with that carrot ahead.

I don't depend on my wife to make me happy. Sure when she is in need, she loves my cuddles and kind words, but I feel like a failure when I can't make her happy during relaxed times.
I want to build...I think the next step is make her extra happy when the going is good.

One of the control methods and impacts of fear-based people became evident during our worse years. If they choose to go down this path, a spouse won't let you make them happy. They can also be in a state were they don't know what makes them happy so can't communicate it to you.

Has anyone literally been able to "learn" happiness and how to spread it throughout their relationship and family?
 

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I give you credit for wanting to teach, show, take responsibility for someone else's happiness, but I don't believe that is possible.

And it further takes away from your own efforts to have a fulfilling life. Sometimes being an example is the best thing you can be to anyone.
People will never get over fear and "learn" happiness as long as someone else is doing the hard work for them. While you are busy trying to make her happy, she isn't working on herself, and you aren't living your own life.
 

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Has anyone literally been able to "learn" happiness and how to spread it throughout their relationship and family?
Poet, it took me 15 years (with my exW) to learn that, unless someone is starving or needs shelter, it is impossible to make an unhappy adult feel happiness. That is something they have to learn for themselves, ideally during childhood. This means that, if you want a happy W, it is important to marry a woman who is already reasonably happy.

If you feel comfortable doing so, Poet, please tell us what you meant by "I have a marriage which has been dragged through hell." Specifically, who did the dragging and what dysfunctional behaviors -- if any -- did you observe in your W?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I just want both of us to grow up and commit to being happy before something bad happens like a serious illness. Why wait until some major event? Sure she has to do it for herself but I'm the only one with any real nuts here so I feel responibility to teach her while our life is basically very good. My Mother had nuts but let's not talk about that ;) ... I know women can be genuinely strong - my wife isn't. She's scared and she doesn't know what she's scared of!

The spooky thing is when my wife let's her guard down and we get closer, something bad always happens. LOL. The kids play up or there's a malfunction in the house alarm, or we discover a mouse infestation... it's a joke! Or a curse?!!

Generally only one of us can be happy at one time and it's hard to share happiness about the same things (kids being entertaining excepted). Or rather, she only seems happy if I'm not. That's rare now because I learned to keep myself happy.

I do feel down when she's happy but distant from me - not sharing.

I put it down to - "she's a taker, I'm a giver...."

The kids are different - day to day it's lovely when you can put a smile on their face. You're spot on. I can look them in the eye and feel true happiness laughing about anything - including grasshoppers :):):)


I guess I'm expecting responses along the lines of take control, be mean to be kind, deprive her of what she needs until she cracks.... but don't let my arrogance distract :)

Thanks for all the responses so far. I'd love to know if anyone got to the same stage - no hate, no blame, no more devestation, found new energy and wants to commit.... just need to make the most of the better days!
 

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I believe I had to learn how to be happy, but for a different reason. I have never been prone to fear exactly, but anger was a huge presence throughout my life.

I don't know if I have any good answers for you. I've written a bit on this, but it's for people who *want* happiness and know they need to make changes.

What YOU need to understand is that your acceptance of her unhappiness is a key to her feeling safer. As she feels safer and becomes more trusting and emotionally intimate with you, she'll feel happier. That doesn't mean she'll be a happy person, just that she'll feel better about life with you than life without you.

For someone who is chronically unhappy, having permission to be just the way they are is HUGE!

As you model what happiness looks like, she's also likely to take on some of those thought patterns, but you cannot force them.
 

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I'd love to know if anyone got to the same stage - no hate, no blame, no more devestation, found new energy and wants to commit.... just need to make the most of the better days!
I truly believe people learn to make the most of living in the moment and to find anything good when everything turns to sh!t. I had the bottom drop out of my life several times in a major way. I was either going to be sucked under or I was going to find some humor and goodness in what was happening ... if for no other reason than to maintain my sanity.

No hate, no blame? Uh, don't think it will happen as long as human life forms are on Planet Earth. We all get judgmental, hurt, hateful, angry, seek revenge, try to even the score; you name it, we humans do it in the name of "me." I KNOW what is right for the rest of you; I have the answers, my way is the best way, blah, blah, blah ...

I work regularly at releasing any animosity or resentment I have towards certain people who have been a part of my life. That does not make me morally or ethically superior to anyone here. It just makes me realize that I can hold a grudge as good as the next guy.

Am I responsible for "making" someone else happy? Nope. No way. Hapiness is an inside job. I can enjoy good times with family and friends. I can bring some joy into another person's life; however, I do not have the power to make anyone feel happy. My estranged husband is terminally miserable, I fear. Not my problem.

Be joyful. Share your joy. Just learn to accept that fact that not everyone is willing or able to receive it. Okay, I'm done with my philosophical rant.
 

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Its a myth that we need to "be happy" all the time. There are so many other emotions to feel in a relationship that are just as meaningful. And expecting or trying to "make some one happy" only sets you up for disappointment. It also leads to a bad dynamic of you being the rescuer and she being the victim. Classic borderline personality stuff.

You cannot make her happy. As another poster said, give her permission to be unhappy, then maybe she'll figure out that her own happiness can only come from within.

Most cultures around the world expect to be unhappy but have a much greater appreciation for the good times when they happen. Setting healthy boundaries in your relationship and adjusting your expectations for your wife's and your own happiness could actually make you happier.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
This might be a rubbish analogy, but in fertile soil, where there are no pretty flowers or plants, the weeds grow vigorously!

We are in our forties with little kids that are too young to leave home alone and we don’t really trust babysitters after various attempts. Not many shared hobbies.

Fear, anger and reasons to be upset are her safety cage. It’s a comfortable and safe "coffin"!!!

From experience she will stay in there forever if left to it or if I don't change something on my side.

The same mechanisms are increasingly being directed at the kids and that worries me greatly.

There are reasons that seem rational and real to her but she doesn’t want to deal with them.
Thanks for the responses I will run with them. If I read them right, will let her be angry or miserable without judging her and give it more time. Can't forget the place we've come from only 1 to 2 years ago. It's important to mention I've let frustration get the better of me over the years but much less now.

Aside from that I’d love to know what good stuff couples have found that brings them closer together day to day.
 

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I personally love to do things that make my hubby happy. However, I like these things to be a surprise and mix it up doing things out of the ordinary once in a while. My husband loves to do things that make me happy too.

My husband and I talk a lot! We have fabulous communication with each other. One thing I did ask was what where his needs that I need to meet. Then I told him what my needs were.

Another thing that really helps is acknowledging the hard work and effort my husband puts into our family. I do say thank you even for the smallest of things to catch him off guard. I appreciate everything he does for me, but I don't want to overdo it or smother my husband.

I have always had a few hobbies I like to do. When I get tired of one hobby, I move onto the next. I have a few unfinished projects.lol. I'll get back to them eventually(maybe).

Mainly happiness comes from within ourselves. Life often throws us curveballs and we need to deal with them the best we can. I've always tried to stay positive, but I do get PMS. I like to be left alone if the PMS is really bad.
 

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Fear, anger and reasons to be upset are her safety cage.
One important issue, Poet, is what the fear is directed at. For example, does she have a strong fear of abandonment? Or, rather, is it a vague generalized fear of anything and everything bad that might happen?
The same mechanisms are increasingly being directed at the kids and that worries me greatly.
When a mother has a strong fear of abandonment, she usually does well with young children but becomes verbally abusive when the kids get old enough to start thinking for themselves and being noncompliant, as typically occurs dramatically at puberty.
Can't forget the place we've come from only 1 to 2 years ago.
A second important issue is whether the fear and anger started right after the marriage (and thus likely were there since childhood) or, instead, suddenly appeared "only 1 to 2 years" ago. If the latter is the case, your W may be behaving strangely due to a recent hormone change (as can occur for two years following a birth) or unusual stress load. If the former is the case, however, she may be suffering from a personality disorder or other mental disorder that originated in childhood.

If you don't feel comfortable discussing your W's issues at this level of detail, that is fine. But please keep in mind that the advice given here for dealing with a temporary problem likely would be far different than that given for dealing with a long-term problem.
 

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One piece of advice would be to read His Needs, Her Needs and The Five Languages of Love.

The reason is that a person can invest a lot of time into showing a person love but if the recipient speaks a different language the effort doesn't register. Thus, you might try to show your wife you care for her by changing the oil in the car (act of service), or buying her flowers to surprise her (gift), but if what she really wants is to have you hold her hand while you are watching a chick flick or to have you teach your son how to throw a fastball (i.e, demonstrating that you are a good father) you will be at cross purposes.
The same thing works for children.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Couleur. Just waking up to this concept and realised that presents or expensive hotels or even helping with household stuff wasn't working. She's cold and tough towards me so she can get herself through the day, then she just wants me to hold her at night and be luvvy duvvy. I'd rather not go in to details about the sex life but it's frequent and willing, yet for me it's not passionate. I will look up those books now.


Uptown
The fear is all directed at me. There is always a "reason" for anything negative she says or does. Any blame on her is immediately redirected at me. The "reason" justifies the negative thing she just did.

I find the reason as irrational as the initial act, but she says it with such ferociousness and conviction, that nobody generally dares argues with her. I now argue, but not by shouting down or telling her she's wrong. I focus on the outcome we both want and explain the best way we might get there (at least when I'm in good form I am able to do this).


The behaviour was pretty much from the first month of meeting her but I've had my own faults like not realising how much of a threat my family was to her at the begining. I also didn't take her fears seriously as to me they seemed irrational.

Just read your post on BDP.

http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/33734-my-list-hell-2.html#post473522


I've having a think about whether it's her, me or both!

She is a little better now and I have to mention my own shortfalls which were driven by frustration. Keep working and keep building for the kids sake...that's the priority for now.

Apologies for not feeling comfortable with laying out all the details, but from where things are now, I want to try some positives and avoid conclusions for the time being. Even temporary positives will help :)
 

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When my wife and I went through our low periods sexually, there was obvious tension and resentment building up and I admit that I let it affect the rest of our relationship because of her LD. And tst led to fighting and the kids were aware of that and it obviously bothered them.

But when things picked up, we haven't had any arguments and we show constant affection towards one another all day long. I just hope our kids notice that as they did the bickering.

Is there a direct correlation for sex and happiness? In my case, yes, but I wish there wasn't. It's so much nicer getting along like we are now.
 

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I find the reason as irrational as the initial act, but she says it with such ferociousness and conviction, that nobody generally dares argues with her.
You seem to be describing a woman who experiences such intense feelings that she has great difficulty challenging them intellectually. Instead, she simply accepts the feeling as accurately reflecting reality. This "feelings are facts" view of life, if it is occurring, means you cannot reason with her rationally.

Significantly, this distorted view of other peoples' intentions (namely, YOUR intentions) is something you can readily identify with. It happens to you -- indeed, to all of us -- whenever we experience very intense feelings. When you get very angry or infatuated, for example, your judgment goes out the window. That's why, when you are very angry, you try to take no action and say nothing until you have time to cool down. And, that's why, when you were infatuted, you waited a long time before buying the ring.
There is always a "reason" for anything negative she says or does.
When a person is unable to regulate her emotions properly, her feelings become so intense that she is absolutely convinced they MUST be true. The logical part of her mind is therefore severely constrained. With her intuitive mind being fully in control, the logical part is given the silly task of coming up with a rational explanation for what she has already concluded must be true. And, if that shoe doesn't fit, she will quickly create another shoe, i.e., another rationalization.
Any blame on her is immediately redirected at me.
If she has a very weak self image, being "The Victim" is the closest thing she may have to a self image. If so, she will keep a death grip on that false self image by blaming every misfortune on you. As long as you are always "The Perpetrator," you will continually "validate" her role of being "The Victim."
Just read your post on BDP. I've having a think about whether it's her, me or both!
It's both. Because BPD is a spectrum disorder, we all are BPDers to some degree -- in the sense that we all occasionally exhibit all nine of the BPD traits. Such traits arise from our primitive ego defenses and, at low levels, they are essential to our survival.

They become a problem (i.e., become a "disorder") only when they are sufficiently strong to undermine our relationships by frequently distorting our perceptions of other peoples' intentions. Moreover, even healthy people can get flair-ups (from a hormone change, sudden trauma, head injury, or drugs) that are so strong that they temporarily behave like full-blown BPDers.
The fear is all directed at me.
If she has a strong fear of abandonment, that is exactly what you should expect. People fearing abandonment typically interact very well with casual friends, business associates, and total strangers. None of those folks pose a threat because there is no close relationship to be abandoned. They also do well with young children because the kids are so dependent on the parent that abandonment is not a real concern. When the kids get older, however, the fear usually extends to them too.

That said, Poet, I have the feeling I am going off-topic and not meeting your needs -- i.e., perhaps moving in the direction of "conclusions" and away from "temporary positives."
 

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Discussion Starter #17
That said, Poet, I have the feeling I am going off-topic and not meeting your needs -- i.e., perhaps moving in the direction of "conclusions" and away from "temporary positives."
:) You are definitely right and the comments are greatlfully recieved. I've learned a lot already from your insightful posts.

I could probably list 10 things about my wife that would result in you telling me to pack and run.
She could post 9 things about me with the same result (LOL I have to be one better).

But being right versus keeping my family together is no longer a question for me. I want to be there for my kids 24 hours a day and the bonus of finding a good version of me with my wife doing the same would be awsome. We need to introduce some highs and not feel defeated when we are letting our guards down. That hinders any progress.

The poster who commented about finding happiness and humour in everything you can is maybe on the same path.

I guess my question is how to get good karma so when we let each other in it feels good insted of the bad karma that seems to creep in.
 

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Poet, can you tell us more about the reasons that seem real to her?

So far, I can't really tell if she's got valid reasons to feel depressed or anxious or not. Yes, you say that they aren't valid, but your own self-protection might interfere with important information.

Throughout my life, I have had traits that could have been viewed as BPD. I do have cyclothymia, which is mild form of bipolar, which I had to learn to recognize and develop methods of preventing it from interfering. But at the same time, that doesn't mean my complaints were always wrong either. Now that I'm in my 40s, I'm able to look back on past relationships with a more objective view and most of the complaints I had continued to be part of my ex-partners' lives after I was gone and they'd gotten involved with new people.

In other words, you two might simply be emotionally incompatible and have faulty partner-pickers. Then again, she might have a full-blown mental disorder. There's nowhere near enough information and concrete examples to give any kind of evaluation, but I think that it would help us give you better feedback if you provided that info.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I read on TAM something about keeping discussions off PM.
There are some personal aspects to my wife that she would be mortified if I shared. If I don't tell her I shared them that would be lying (by my standards). She is (according to MC) clinically depressed and a "professional victim". I want to get away from blame and put some fun in to it. We'll get by...
 

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I could probably list 10 things about my wife that would result in you telling me to pack and run.
When children are involved, I never tell anyone to pack and run. Instead, I advise them to do whatever is in the best interests of their children. That should be a parent's primary objective. And the parent is in the best position to make such a judgment.
She could post 9 things about me with the same result (LOL I have to be one better).
I'm pleased to hear there are 10 things wrong with her and 9 with you. I say this because professionals have only found 8 things wrong with me, LOL.
The poster who commented about finding happiness and humour in everything you can is maybe on the same path.
That was Shirley Temple, I believe. But, yes, I see the point raised by "I'mInLove." And, with respect to you and your kids, I believe it is an excellent point. But, with respect to your W, I suspect that....-- oops, there I go drifting into conclusion territory.
I guess my question is how to get good karma so when we let each other in it feels good.
Good luck with that. In 15 years of marriage, I never figured it out for my exW and me. Our situation was far more difficult than yours. My exW had a great fear not only of abandonment but also engulfment (from intimacy). The problem, of course, was that the abandonment and engulfment fears lie at two ends of the very same spectrum. This means that, as I tried to back away from one fear, I was unavoidably drawing closer to triggering the other. I am hopeful you never find yourself in such a lose-lose situation. If you do, you may want to take a look at http://www.gettinbetter.com/waif.html.
 
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