Talk About Marriage banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,517 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So seriously dumb question here. When undergoing MC, and you start thinking about things that were brought up and you want to talk about them later, or more accurately, expand on them, move the conversation along... but it's a source of pain... better to wait until the next session? I feel that she feels, heck, even I feel, "safe" in our counseling sessions, bringing painful stuff up. But it's kind of strange keeping things bottled up until the next time.

The very act of engaging a MC would seem to be partly about establishing safety for the painful stuff. So does it go against the grain, perhaps even negate the benefit of MC when you have that painful conversation separately, with your husband or wife?

Thanks-
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
244 Posts
So seriously dumb question here. When undergoing MC, and you start thinking about things that were brought up and you want to talk about them later, or more accurately, expand on them, move the conversation along... but it's a source of pain... better to wait until the next session? I feel that she feels, heck, even I feel, "safe" in our counseling sessions, bringing painful stuff up. But it's kind of strange keeping things bottled up until the next time.

The very act of engaging a MC would seem to be partly about establishing safety for the painful stuff. So does it go against the grain, perhaps even negate the benefit of MC when you have that painful conversation separately, with your husband or wife?

Thanks-
You are the only one on this web site that knows how you and your wife communicate. It seems like you want to work on things and move it along. How will your wife respond to that? Will she feel the same way? Will she feel attacked? Will she feel safe discussing these things?

Being in MC might indicate that you and your wife are not communicating effectively. In which case it is probably best to wait.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,083 Posts
I'm wondering if IC for you would help you deal with painful information in a way that would not interfere with MC. It will be hard to ignore what is consuming your thoughts,

Seems you need to talk about this. You could set up appointments to fall after MC visits. Your therapist could advise on proceeding.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,517 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Looking back at my post, pretty sure I came to this conclusion myself. :)

You are the only one on this web site that knows how you and your wife communicate. It seems like you want to work on things and move it along. How will your wife respond to that? Will she feel the same way? Will she feel attacked? Will she feel safe discussing these things?

Being in MC might indicate that you and your wife are not communicating effectively. In which case it is probably best to wait.
My wife responds far better, and seemingly with more honesty, in the MC setting.

I'm wondering if IC for you would help you deal with painful information in a way that would not interfere with MC. It will be hard to ignore what is consuming your thoughts,

Seems you need to talk about this. You could set up appointments to fall after MC visits. Your therapist could advise on proceeding.
TAM is an outlet for "talking" that helps reduce the over-talking/over-thinking in discussions with my wife. Regarding IC specifically, it was my IC that suggested MC would be more beneficial, because her IC wasn't creating the sort of shared accountability that would be seen with MC.

Conclusion: Best to save the tough topics for MC. Let the MC decide what to "take home" with us and talk about. Makes me not seem like the bad guy, and a less-defensive posturing on my wife's part definitely helps with discussion.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
12,751 Posts
Casual,

Your question is not dumb at all. It’s an excellent question clearly framed.

What I’ve learned from M2 during my thirty years with her. All conversations directed at your partners behavior have a temporal (past, present, future) component. For example:
1. You (are not a very good partner) because you did or did not do xyz in the past. I call this style: you suck because
2. The present - I break these into two buckets,
a) security related such as the real example of: (sharp voice) Babe, step back (from the giant possum) that just crawled out of the wood pile we were moving. Followed by (disapproving voice): Rabies
b) emotionally sensitive topics: I want to talk about this emotionally loaded topic now
3. It would be nice if: For example... It would be nice if we got to a place where we could discuss X or Y or Z, when it’s just the two of us.

All that said, M2 has mastered a remarkable economy of speech. She is easily able to clearly express her point in a sub thirty second sound bite. I have discovered ‘the joy of brevity’ when you are on the receiving end of a: personal improvement plan (PIP) request. Brevity plus future tense can be very powerful.

Past tense comes dangerously ****ing close to asking someone to apologize for who they are.

Future tense - framed properly - is asking someone you love to try to take an intentional step towards you and deeper into the marriage.


So seriously dumb question here. When undergoing MC, and you start thinking about things that were brought up and you want to talk about them later, or more accurately, expand on them, move the conversation along... but it's a source of pain... better to wait until the next session? I feel that she feels, heck, even I feel, "safe" in our counseling sessions, bringing painful stuff up. But it's kind of strange keeping things bottled up until the next time.

The very act of engaging a MC would seem to be partly about establishing safety for the painful stuff. So does it go against the grain, perhaps even negate the benefit of MC when you have that painful conversation separately, with your husband or wife?

Thanks-
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,056 Posts
An important component to the answer is how much you think the discussions in the office lead to changes in your regular lives. If the office is like a separate world were the discussions happen in isolation and then your normal lives never change, then I would probably discuss things out of the office. But making the day-to-day life of your spouse contentious can be a problem all by itself. If instead the day-to-day is happy (even if it's phony because you're waiting until therapy), it can help the times at home be a lot easier and more fun.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
12,751 Posts
And I forgot one important point.

Anxiety is:
- not easily concealed
- highly contagious
- extraordinarily likely to distort both transmission and reception of messages
- often auto-converts into irritation or anger

Being genuinely calm at the outset of a partner conversation and remaining that way - is essential - unless you want to create a strong negative emotional response to you topic....


Casual,

Your question is not dumb at all. It’s an excellent question clearly framed.

What I’ve learned from M2 during my thirty years with her. All conversations directed at your partners behavior have a temporal (past, present, future) component. For example:
1. You (are not a very good partner) because you did or did not do xyz in the past. I call this style: you suck because
2. The present - I break these into two buckets,
a) security related such as the real example of: (sharp voice) Babe, step back (from the giant possum) that just crawled out of the wood pile we were moving. Followed by (disapproving voice): Rabies
b) emotionally sensitive topics: I want to talk about this emotionally loaded topic now
3. It would be nice if: For example... It would be nice if we got to a place where we could discuss X or Y or Z, when it’s just the two of us.

All that said, M2 has mastered a remarkable economy of speech. She is easily able to clearly express her point in a sub thirty second sound bite. I have discovered ‘the joy of brevity’ when you are on the receiving end of a: personal improvement plan (PIP) request. Brevity plus future tense can be very powerful.

Past tense comes dangerously ****ing close to asking someone to apologize for who they are.

Future tense - framed properly - is asking someone you love to try to take an intentional step towards you and deeper into the marriage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,517 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Yesterday something came up, as we were driving to Home Depot, that fits nicely into the category of something I shouldn't discuss with her until we see the MC again. Out of the blue, she tells me about this close childhood friend of hers from grade school, a boy, that later went to a different school and then when she was 12, they crossed paths again. She went over to his house and they played some card games and watched TV (she had very strong memories of it), absolutely nothing sexual (her words, and I believe it) as this was before her "awakening" to boys, which was about 15. She invited him to come over to her place sometime, and was a bit sad he never did. She might not have seen him again. OK... then she tells me she saw his name somewhere 20 years ago and that he was now in Ohio (we're on the left coast). So she writes him to see if it's actually the same person. At that point we'd have been married 20 years. He didn't write back.

I just went along with it as being an interesting story, but in the back of my mind I'm thinking what the heck? First, here's my wife talking about something from the way back days where she remembers every little detail, which is generally the case for everything for her from the way back days, with the exception of anything having to do with the guy she left out of her narrative, the guy immediately prior to me. So my wife has no recollection whatsoever of plans to lose her virginity with that guy, but remembers everything about everything about everybody else. But second, why would she try to connect with this guy, what was going through her mind back then? It's odd. I wouldn't have felt comfortable doing the same thing myself; I'd be questioning my motives at least, and maybe/likely mention it to my wife first to get her support. Then again, is it that much different from Facebook?

It's also the case that, according to my W, 20 years ago was the center of our "dark" years in which she was actively building up resentment towards many things in our relationship. I was paying too much attention to the business, and she was raising an 11 and 6 year old. I didn't become a very highly-rated "dad" for another 7 years I think.

So this is something I don't think I can talk about separately with my wife, in a constructive fashion. But with the MC, yes. There's a certain peace that comes from knowing we see her Wednesday. Otherwise I'd really be over-thinking this one and letting it get to me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,640 Posts
So seriously dumb question here. When undergoing MC, and you start thinking about things that were brought up and you want to talk about them later, or more accurately, expand on them, move the conversation along... but it's a source of pain... better to wait until the next session? I feel that she feels, heck, even I feel, "safe" in our counseling sessions, bringing painful stuff up. But it's kind of strange keeping things bottled up until the next time.

The very act of engaging a MC would seem to be partly about establishing safety for the painful stuff. So does it go against the grain, perhaps even negate the benefit of MC when you have that painful conversation separately, with your husband or wife?
Thanks-
Serves no real advantage to do a "dress rehearsal" prior to seeing the MC!

Digest it, make copious notes, then if it's bad enough, slam her with it with the MC!

And feel no shame in doing it!

She'd do the same thing to you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,753 Posts
CO, is it possible that this could be a passive aggressive by your wife what do you think? Trying to get your goat?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,268 Posts
My recommendation would be to first ask yourself what is it that you want to get out of the conversation? What truth are you seeking?

why would she try to connect with this guy
I think this is the key question, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, you have a good working hypothesis here:

20 years ago was the center of our "dark" years in which she was actively building up resentment towards many things in our relationship. I was paying too much attention to the business, and she was raising an 11 and 6 year old. I didn't become a very highly-rated "dad" for another 7 years I think.
Beyond that what is it that you want to know? If she thinks it's ok for her to connect with this guy now? Or was it because of what was happening at the time?

And then once you get the answer, what are you going to do with it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,517 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Serves no real advantage to do a "dress rehearsal" prior to seeing the MC!

Digest it, make copious notes, then if it's bad enough, slam her with it with the MC!

And feel no shame in doing it!

She'd do the same thing to you!
I agree with everything but the need to "slam" her with it at MC. I don't think that would go over very well with the MC, and if things were reversed, I assume (and I could be totally wrong) that the MC would see such a tirade on my wife's part as evidence something is more emotional than factual. I have gotten past the "shame" part though. There is no shame in doing what's required to create a better marriage. If I go too far, I assume the MC will provide correction.

CO, is it possible that this could be a passive aggressive by your wife what do you think? Trying to get your goat?
I don't think so. I think she's heavily into retrospective thinking. Even her dreams are always about things long-past. She cherry-picks past life experiences, looking to find the best & the worst. I think you learn from the past; she thinks... I'm not really sure what she thinks the past is all about. But if she wants to make a case that life sucks today, then she'll pull from her reservoir of past memories in which life didn't suck, to prove that it does today. If she wants to make a case that life is good today, she'll pull from her reservoir of past memories in which life was bad.

did she say that they corresponded at all? or did the story end there?
The story ended with her never-answered letter. I think it was, to her, a sad conclusion.

My recommendation would be to first ask yourself what is it that you want to get out of the conversation? What truth are you seeking?


I think this is the key question, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, you have a good working hypothesis here:


Beyond that what is it that you want to know? If she thinks it's ok for her to connect with this guy now? Or was it because of what was happening at the time?

And then once you get the answer, what are you going to do with it?
I'm going to bring those questions up at MC (guess that answers the question of what I'm going to do with it). I'm going to point out how puzzling it is that a memory like that surfaces now. That it put me into a really awkward state, that she said it without any context for what she was looking to get from me. I'll explain that I don't at all think she said it with any malicious intent, but that it's surprising how she doesn't understand, when she says things, to me, that I'm not just a best friend or her therapist. I'm the guy she's been married to for 40 years and she brings up something that happened first 50 years ago and then updated 30 years ago. And she's all over my case for expecting her to help reconcile things affecting our relationship for 42 years ago and continuing many years after that.

I'll also point out that it's something I would have not felt comfortable doing (connecting with a woman from the way-back days like that, especially without letting my wife know). And see where it goes from there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,640 Posts
I agree with everything but the need to "slam" her with it at MC. I don't think that would go over very well with the MC, and if things were reversed, I assume (and I could be totally wrong) that the MC would see such a tirade on my wife's part as evidence something is more emotional than factual. I have gotten past the "shame" part though. There is no shame in doing what's required to create a better marriage. If I go too far, I assume the MC will provide correction.
There are two distinct ways of "blasting" someone you're married to who has clandestinely and unconscionably cheated on you: (1) With the flamboyance of a seasoned courtroom prosecutor who has all of their nasty cards laid out, and (2) Very subtlety, and very collectively, so as not to embarrass the MC, but to totally embarrass the unwitting cheating spouse!

I would always choose the latter!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,517 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Not a fun meeting at the MC today. My wife felt totally picked on, sees me as the bad guy for bringing things up, but loves the MC. And here's the thing- she felt really picked on because the MC, whom she loves, took the ball and ran with it on the things I brought up. I don't get it. The MC was asking the painful question but I get the blame. :)

I think we are getting somewhere though. The MC is willing to do separate sessions with my wife, dealing just with her depression. This is something our HMO has not been good at; neither her past therapist nor psychiatrist have asked or tried to get to the root of her depression. They just prescribe pills. The MC is willing to dig deep. That's much safer than me trying to do the same (which I have, and which is why we're in MC, so it's probably a good thing that I did).

My wife still doesn't get that being married 40 years doesn't have too much meaning beyond being married 40 years. I mean, it does, but it doesn't mean that momentum will carry things through until the day you die. We're doing some hard stuff now that we should have been doing years ago. It sucks to see my wife cry, but it sucks even more to see her cry without anything coming from it beyond "Why do you *want* to make me cry???" At least, crying in front of the MC, she can learn that crying is partly happening because she has unresolved issues. The answer isn't to ignore them. The goal is to fix them.

Thanks for letting me wear my life on my sleeve here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,517 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Something I forgot to mention. I brought up that my wife never initiates. My wife responded that's not true; she does initiate. MC asks her how she initiates. She said, she'll tell me that she's available. MC kind of shook her head and said that's not initiating sex. Unbuttoning his shirt, stroking his shorts, that's initiating.

Didn't go over very well with my wife. Basically someone's telling her what I've been saying for ages. Now, if my wife said "I'm available" by greeting me in her Kimono, opening it up and stroking herself, hey, that works too! :) A very different way of saying "I'm available" than me coming into the bedroom, she puts down her iPad and says "I'm available" in a reluctant sort of way.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,454 Posts
@Casual Observer

I just had an interesting thought: in MC your wife said that “saying she is available” equals “initiating sex” to her. In her mind, I wonder if she thinks that the only way sex isn’t started is by being “unavailable.”

I’m not sure I’m saying this well, but did you get a glimpse of what I mean?

When she is not “initiating sex” she is unavailable to you or anyone (including herself)! Imagine living you life in the frame of mind where merely being available means that you’ve made a move to start sex! :-0
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top