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Nirvana,

Take a bow. This was a HUGE step forward.

The next stage of this development will be when your W is frazzled and in addition to remaining calm, you help her out.

So - when she's mid melt down at the doctors and asks you to take the kids to the next appointment - you ignore the tone - assess the substance and respond with:

Let me see if I can reschedule my dinner plans. I'll let you know later. And thanks for taking child to the doctor tonight.




Thanks everybody for your replies. I will reply to them later.

My new way of dealing with this situation seems to be working better. In short, I just work on myself, not on my wife. I change my behavior and response, not demand that she do anything to change the way she behaves.

This is a major shift for me because I tend to respond to everything in some way or other. I can tell that my wife has also been confused as well. I spent a lot of time with the kids this weekend, played tennis, got them to do some house repairs along with me, some school work etc. In spite of that, something was troubling her and she decided to unload on me in the morning. No response from my side. So she escalated and said a lot of mean things and I just listened with no facial reaction, kept loading the dish washer and asked if she wanted coffee because I was making some. She could not believe it. Then she went for broke, she threw in a nuke "I don't know what I have done to deserve a life with a person like you". Hmm ok, I let that fly past as well. A lot of grumbling about how busy she is, how I "make her" work in her job (false, she works because she wants a career), how I "make her" do things for the kids etc etc. I know she as doing it to get me to explode, contest her illogical statements and say something nasty so what she just said could be justified in her own mind. None of that was happening which was weird.
Then she was tired, so sat on the couch and I got her some coffee, put my arm around her in a loving non-sexual way and began to talk about some other topic. I could tell that she was thrown off by what was happening. 10+ years of living with me and she thought she knew me by now. How was I not responding with silence? She made some positive movements towards me during this time. Later we went out to the park, all of us and played and she was back to being her happy self again.

There is no way I can fulfill all her desires in life because life does not work that way. If I could decide, I would quit my job, spend a lot of time with the kids and her, and travel the world and do things I wanted to do. Not go to work every day and worry about retirement, kid's college expenses and all that. I really wish I had 10 million dollars! For some reason, she thinks it is okay to unload on me and blame me for all the stresses she faces in life that I didn't cause. A better way for me to deal with this is to just let her vent and not react or give advice/comments. She is a good person at heart, a very good mom, hard worker, a good employee, great cook, great nutritionist for the family, intelligent and beautiful on the positive side, but lacking empathy, focused too much on the kids at the cost of husband, narcissistic and credit-grabbing on the negative side. She does have a conscience and she probably felt bad for the things she said that I did not respond to. I would feel bad if the reverse had happened.

Let's see how things goes. At our ages, neither of us can change a whole lot, but if we accept each other for what we are, we have a better chance of being happy rather than constantly trying to change the other. I need to keep doing what I just did yesterday. I might have a lapse, I hope not.

PS: She packed my lunch and ironed my clothes this morning. Those two things are signs of her feelings towards me in the mornings.
 

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Discussion Starter #62
Two things. One, she's responding positively to your changes. Just remember that women are SLOW to change their mind. So she won't trust that this new improved you is the real you. It will take a long time before she believes the change is permanent, so you'll get a lot of sh*t tests along the way. And you did excellent, by the way! IMO, you're the BEST example I've ever seen here on learning how to change for the better.

Two, the reason she unloads on you is because she loves you and trusts you. You are the SAFE person in her life. Strange as it sounds, we treat the one we trust the most, the worst. Because we know they love us, aren't going anywhere, and will take it. So feel good about that.

Actually I don't think I changed a lot except in one major area.
I did not respond to her $hit-tests (for many years, I was unable to recognize them for what they were) and I did not escalate when she was itching for me to. I hope I can keep this up but yesterday I told myself to keep my ego out of it so when she said some mean things, it seemed like a child saying it and I was able to laugh it off internally, keep calm, and not take it seriously. It worked and it didn't seem that hard to do.

As the spouse who has to take a strategic view of things, I still have to do the unpleasant things I have to do like saving, planning etc. Some of what she said was totally mind-blowing. Like "you make me work at my job". She enjoys being a working woman and while it is stressful like any job, she does not want to go back to being a SAHM. Then why say this? The only reason that I can think of is she is getting me to react because I will say angrily "What do you mean?? You work because you WANT to work!!" and it goes on and on from there followed by 2 days of ghostly silence at home, then her cribbing that the house is silent and blaming me for it. This time I talked like everything was normal, so no excuse that the house was silent.

As far as I am concerned this experience was a success. I just have to watch out for when she is getting in her mood and flip the switch in my head. Of course, this also means that I have to be calm and non-confrontational from my end too when I am stressed out.
This is not a silver bullet, but i think there's some progress.
 

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Discussion Starter #63
I am a woman. I'm not saying your wife is right, because she needs to work on her communication. She seems to have a HUGE resentment toward you that involves work around the house.

Why? You say that you do a lot. She says you don't. You guys need to sit down and write a list of what you each THINK you do around the house and with the kids (and write when you think the last time you did it was). Show it to each other. Discuss.
I think the main reason is she doesn't consider the work I do as important as the work that she does.

We both do different things which are all important. She does most of the short term things and I do the long term things. I also do the things that need to get done outside the house like the lawn, trash etc. She does her chores, I fully agree. I think it is disrespectful on her part to say that I don't after enjoying the benefits of my efforts and building on it to get her tasks done. Another issue is she gets resentful and even says that the things I do don't help her. It's my duty to do things that help the family out long term, not just help her out from the millions of things she signs up for. If I did that, then I would never be done and she will still be unhappy, and the important long term things won't get done.

What I'm picking up here in this particular instance is that she wants you to be a decision maker - even if it's just something small. If you wanted to go, you should have said...okay I am going to pick up a pizza - I will get it on my way. She said she would come too, you should have just said okay, awesome. I'm not sure why she asked you if you wanted to come...unless you didn't give her a definitive answer the first time. Did you mean she asked you if you wanted HER to come? Sorry I am a little confused when you said, " Then she asked me if she wanted me to come."

Answers like "anything you want" can come off as, " I don't really care if you're with me or not". She seems to only understand straight forward answers. Do that from now on if you can. Yes. No. If she asks what you want for dinner, tell her something specific. If she argues it...tell her to make a decision - etc.
In this case, I was going to go pick up the pizza and the sugar by myself. Not a particularly exciting drive. Then she said we all should go. Ok. Then she asks if she should come.
Me: ???
That is when I said it was up to her, it was just Pizza Hut and Target, not Switzerland (I did't say the last part). This was not a "you or me" decision. Please note that I did say "ok" the first time.
I think it was a $hit-test/fight-bait and I fell for it. :( I kept kicking myself as I drove off. She got an excuse to say how rude I was. She was stressed about other stuff like kids not doing their workbooks, so she wanted to unload on me I suspect.

Now, on to the 4k. Let me first just say that if I ran a 4k...I would be praising myself too. It's okay for people to praise themselves a little bit. Maybe she was even looking for you to notice as well. Her fishing like that, makes me wonder if she feels like you don't notice her hard work. She works, she takes care of the house, she takes care of the kids, She cooks, cleans, etc....AND she is keeping her health up. She IS doing a lot. It sounds like she just wants someone to notice that.
She is well past a 4k. She did a 15k this weekend. I praise her a lot. There is another thread I opened asking if there was something like too much praise. I think I might have praised her too much and she is now in a "I am better than you" mindset. She keeps hinting about how I am weak, not bold, has a habit of giving up etc and how our kids are not like that (due to her upbringing). Yesterday after our daughter did roller skates, she started praising how SHE trained her. I don't really care who does it as long as our kids and we benefit. Should I say "I make 6 figures!" and "We live in this nice house because of ME!" because that is actually the truth. Who cares? Life is not clear cut and credit is not solely due to one person. Yesterday when she did that, I just let it slide by without making any comments. I don't think she was fishing for me to compliment her, it was more like giving herself an ego boost. Her dad and sister are the same way.
She does not notice anything I do. Don't you think she should make me feel nice as well? That seems reasonable to me...

So, with you not saying anything she moves on to try and get something, anything out of you by asking you if you're tired. Now, before I go any further...my H is the runner in our relationship. He has to be for his job. So, when we go to the track and run together...he overlaps me twice, sometimes 3 times lol. It's embarrassing. He makes fun of me. I'm halfway dying and he's still got enough air in his lungs to laugh. The nerve! But it's okay. I don't care because I KNOW he's better than I am in that particular case. He can prove it all day long ha! It does not bother me. I laugh with him (when I catch my breath).
Well, I've done a half marathon length (21.1k) and she's done a max of 18k. So I am "better", but I think it is petty to think in those terms. She is fit, but I can beat her if we raced.
It's just one of her things to make herself feel better, and to manipulate me into doing what she wants me to do. That is the reason why she had started comparing me to "other dads" when it came to child-raising. You know, men don't like their wives comparing them to other men. They are all her friend's husbands. One of the guys spends all weekends watching football. Another is a party boy. It's their life, but this comparison is silly. When she does that again, I just ignore it rendering it ineffective.

You think she has a self delusion about your life being relaxed. Prove to her that you do just as much as she does. If you don't do just as much...that's still okay. There are certain aspects that are simply on her to change. For example, housework. If she is trying to keep the house completely spotless, nothing out of place, clean...then that's on her. She can change that. The problem is she was a SAHM for 10 years. That's kind of like you being a professional basketball player for 10 years and then going in to be a Ballerina instructor after that long. She is only ONE year into her her new job. Her adjustment on that is going to take some time.
In the mean time when she is acting out at you, call her out immediately. Tell her if she has a problem with what you're doing (or not doing) she needs to say it outright. Let her know that from now on if she doesn't at least respectfully ask you do help her, you will not be doing it.
I'm not talking about quitting all household responsibilities either. The house does need to be cleaned, laundry done, kids needs to go to their appointments....
She is not a good housekeeper. The house is usually a mess. If we tidy it up she lets the kids muck it up again. She thinks it keeps them creative. She likes to read articles and implement them. I have given up on that aspect. Then she invites people home and runs everyone batty because the house is in a bad shape. I think the biggest problem is she is trying to do TWO jobs at the same time and feeling like she is not able to, getting stressed, then blaming me. I tell her to chill out, relax, nap on Saturday afternoons, but she refuses and says she isn't lazy. Then she does more, gets stressed and mor resentful. I don't thinkshe is always logical or even rational. Yesterday she said she hated being with me, and later that night I am sure I could have had sex with her if she wasn't genuinely tired.
Maybe time is the best teacher here.

And let me just say, if my H chose to go to a dinner over taking our kid to the Dr. I would have been p*ssed, too. If he had a dinner scheduled, he would changed it without me even knowing because the kid going to the Dr. is more important and it's higher on the priority list. He wouldn't play a game with me by first telling me he had a dinner and couldn't take the kid...then changing the dinner and not telling me. That's immature. You shouldn't have done that.

Other than that, I think you guys need to learn to talk to each other. If you can't talk to each other and see the problem...write it down so that it's physically right in front of you and you can discuss each issue one by one. Remember to make a list of what you think you do (and the last time you did it) that way each of you can see how you see things.
That is not what happened. Of course, the doc appt is more important. In the past, I have skipped work when my son fractured his arm and my wife had to go to work (she was an hourly contractor). Should I accuse her of loving her job more than her kid? But this time she planned the doc appt around her schedule choosing from dates that she was free. She did not ask me. Then she suddenly decides that I could do it and then gets angry that I had something else planned. It's not just me, I have to make sure my friend is free too. That isn't fair. It's not that I had a dinner planned first, and the doc said only that day was available and my wife was working late. In this case, she just felt like she didn't want to do it. Even then she could have asked me nicely instead of trying to bully me.

I had thought of making a list some time ago, andeven made a template but didn't move forward. Seems like a good idea.
 

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I remember a particular occasion during the early years of DH and I being married where I was feeling frustrated and upset and said something angry to him, and he laughed at me. Sort of like how you'd laugh at a puppy getting frustrated at you, so cute and adorable. I suppose what I was doing would've been classed as a $hit test, but it was really just me struggling to cope with a situation, and struggling to communicate with him. I remember being taken aback, but I ended up laughing too. I wish I had done that for him more over the years. Not responding to the "$hit tests" as people like to call them, but I think of them as peaks of stress/anger/anxiety that happen throughout life, in a way that doesn't make your spouse feel unimportant/unloved/ignored is a great skill to have.
 

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Discussion Starter #65
Now that I know what a $hit-test is, I see my wife doing that all the time and for a long long time.

This morning, she came up and asked me about what vacations I had planned. At this point, I am going through some career uncertainty and I might switch jobs or even switch cities in the coming weeks or months. I had talked about her lack of empathy to people, and this came through again. She demanded:
When are we going to visit my sister (in another country)?
When are we going to Disneyland?
Why don't we go downtown for our son's birthday?
When are we going to the ATP tennis tournament?

She knows that our son's passport had expired and it is in process so we cannot go visit her sister until then. I have some interviews coming up so I have that on my mind. If I switch jobs, then I will have no vacation days saved up. Disneyland will take a whole week and about $5k. We just went to 2 vacations costing a total of about $2500 this summer. Then she said "I want to take the kids". This is a $hit test and a jab trying to say that she will take the kids and I am not needed. I had another slight lapse at this point when I said "you want to take the kids and go? you are free to". I should have let that slide and been calm. That gave her the excuse to let loose a torrent of *****ing about how stingy I was, how I will not take the money anywhere when I die, how she will make her son "fun loving" unlike a boring person like me... etc etc. She wants to go to the beach but our son hates it since he has grown out of it. Our daughter still likes it. My wife is now trying to force feed our son and tell him what he should like! He is approaching teenage and will get more and more independent and former SAHMs who are control freaks will have a hard time. I will stay out of this and let her deal with it, otherwise knowing her crazy mind, she will blame me and make me the reason why her son does not want to listen to her so she is now the good person and I am the reason why her harebrained plans fail. The other day she was angry that he did not want to fly kites and wanted to drag him to the park when he wanted to play tennis. I see this behavior in a lot of SAHMs in our circle. They make their kids their everything and try to control them because they have nothing else and then are angry when the kids grow up.

I am beginning to suspect that she is heading to some sort of mid-life crisis. She is talking about wanting to have "fun" and what kind of awesome fun loving person she is and how I am holding her back etc.

Anyway so I composed myself as I showered and then got back on track mentally. Keeping calm is a hard thing to do when faced with an unbalanced unreasonable selfish person, but that is what I have to do.
 

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You're doing well. Couple of suggestions. One, talk to your kids A LOT about things, about how their mom means well, she just has different views, etc. I had to do this with DD24 growing up so she wouldn't absolutely hate her dad - help her see that he's a good guy, just sees things differently than us. And help your son find healthy ways of dealing with her crazy so he DOESN'T rebel.

Two, try to start finding ways of talking to your wife. She is SCARED SH*TLESS right now about this new version of you. Like you said, she's been treating you a certain way all your marriage. And suddenly this stranger walks in and pulls the rug out from under her. You have to expect her to rebel at YOU, for 'doing this to her.' So any time you see an opportunity to provide a little more information about WHY you're reacting differently - without getting into an argument - do it. Reassure her you're not going anywhere. Like with the vacations. You have perfectly valid reasons but you didn't GIVE them to her. Maybe send her a text later explaining it all.
 

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Discussion Starter #67 (Edited)
You're doing well. Couple of suggestions. One, talk to your kids A LOT about things, about how their mom means well, she just has different views, etc. I had to do this with DD24 growing up so she wouldn't absolutely hate her dad - help her see that he's a good guy, just sees things differently than us. And help your son find healthy ways of dealing with her crazy so he DOESN'T rebel.

Two, try to start finding ways of talking to your wife. She is SCARED SH*TLESS right now about this new version of you. Like you said, she's been treating you a certain way all your marriage. And suddenly this stranger walks in and pulls the rug out from under her. You have to expect her to rebel at YOU, for 'doing this to her.' So any time you see an opportunity to provide a little more information about WHY you're reacting differently - without getting into an argument - do it. Reassure her you're not going anywhere. Like with the vacations. You have perfectly valid reasons but you didn't GIVE them to her. Maybe send her a text later explaining it all.
Thanks turnera.
I am not sure if I can cause her attitude to improve, but at the minimum, I think I can prevent her from causing damage to me. I am not sure I should interfere in how she is interacting with the kids. Maybe a dosage of rebellion will put her in her place and realize that her family are not her pawns.

She tends to look at everything in a single lens. "What can I do that the kids will enjoy?". She looks like she is going out of control on that and getting mad that I don't share the same passion. She tries to paint it as if I don't love our kids as much as she does. She doesn't get it that people love in different ways. Frankly, this is highly annoying and pi$$es me off.

Anyway, I think the next few weeks, she will continue to try to bait and poke me to get me to explode on her so she can rationalize her behavior to herself. The key for me is NOT to get angry, NOT to say anything nasty and NOT to get into an argument. It's just 3 things. I've noticed that she does try to engage me into an argument and then throws things that happened 15 years ago at me and claim that it is pent-up anger. Whatever.

The problem I see with telling her why I am allowing her to be a @#$!# without me reacting like I do always is that she will use that information to come up with something else to trigger me and the cycle will repeat. At least now she appears to be confused.

Instead of worrying about how she feels, I think I need to focus on training myself to not get affected when she behaves badly. It's not easy when someone supposedly close to you is trying to rip your very being into shreds. She can manage herself.

I've made the mistake of talking to her over email/text before and its worse that talking to her in person because she is 10 times more ilogical. When she tries that, I just ignore it. If she wants, she can talk to me in person.
 

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Discussion Starter #68
I had texted her about the tennis tournament and she called me during lunch break. I told her about the uncertainty and how we could potentially go. The conversation went nicely until I was telling her about the friend I was going to meet, and she began to sigh loudly so I could hear. I asked her what the matter was and she began to tell me how busy she was, how much work she had etc etc. She knows this friend I am going to be meeting but the way she behaves is very disrespectful. I quickly put an end to the conversation. Then she sends me texts about how I make it sound like she is nagging, and how I act like I am doing her a favor... she grew up traveling and wants our kids to be that way etc etc. Oh what a nice mom. And an evil dad who is always getting in the way.
Reality? Her dad worked in a Government job and had travel perks. Use it or lose it. So he would take the family traveling and the company paid. But I don't work in a Govt job and have no such perks. I have to pay for this myself. She fails to see the difference. Years earlier, she compared me to another family who traveled a lot. Reality? He worked for a prominent airline and so tickets were free on standby. So they were able to travel more on his low salary since they only had to pay for hotel and car rental. I have to point this out else she just does not understand.

Needless to say, I am not responding to her text since she is itching to pull me into her vortex.
 

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Discussion Starter #71
You could always include her in budget discussions.
I've invited her but she doesn't care about that. I've told her about our net worth milestones that we cross and she turns that against me when she is angry. Oh boo hoo... what is the use of having x thousand dollars when we don't even spend it boo hoooo!

You know what? I am just realizing that I have been $hit tested for ever and ever! And I have mostly failed. I am not talking about the sweet "do you love me" kinds. This is hard core manipulation by a woman for selfish needs. This was probably obvious to most posters here. The comparison with other guys when they played with their kids etc etc. It is devious and I was naive. I knew it to be "emotional blackmail" as they call it in her family, but it is plain old $hit testing. :mad:

I am reading up on it and how to best respond. My current plan seems to be inline with it (ignore her ranting, pretend as if everything is normal, never get angry or argue). I wonder if there are some more tips I can pick up. Any material available?
 

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Have you read No More Mr Nice Guy?

I also really like Hold On To Your N.U.T.S. as well as the website that the author has. He even has seminars for men. You might want to look into it.
Better Men Life Coaching | Los Angeles Life Coach for Men
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8YSZdC_4Ek
http://www.amazon.com/Hold-Your-NUTs-Relationship-Manual/dp/0979054400
http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/03/23/8-tools-that-will-change-your-life-the-hold-on-to-your-nuts-book-giveaway/

Basically, what you'll learn is to make sure that you MATTER. Get a life. Keep your friends. Do what you've always wanted to do. But at the same time, romance your wife, date your wife, show her you're invested in her - you just won't take crap any more. She's free to throw her fits; you just won't engage any more.
 

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I will second N.U.T.'s. It was the best of the self improvement books I read.
 

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Yeah, she is resentful, but then I think all wives are over some reason or the other. All my friends have similar issues.
I guess that's ok then. Where is the problem?

You don't want to get sick by doing all the things she wants you to do. So who does those things that have to be done anyway?
 

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Probably. She needs to understand that she cannot run roughshod over everything. She needs to learn to be nice to me.
She can actually have me do 99% of the things she wants, she just has to ask the right way and be respectful.
Do you respect her? Because your posts do not show that.
 

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Discussion Starter #76
Do you respect her? Because your posts do not show that.
I do.
And I have shown it in concrete actions, not just idle talk.
My posts deal with my problem which stems from what I am unhappy about. So obviously it is about things that she does that I do not like. What did I say here that makes you think that I do not respect her? What does respect mean to you?

Please don't use turn this on me and make me defend myself. My wife does this to me all the time.
 

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I do.
And I have shown it in concrete actions, not just idle talk.
My posts deal with my problem which stems from what I am unhappy about. So obviously it is about things that she does that I do not like. What did I say here that makes you think that I do not respect her? What does respect mean to you?

Please don't use turn this on me and make me defend myself. My wife does this to me all the time.
the way you write about her. It shows frustration and venting, but also gives away some vibe of lack of respect. Which I think is mutual in your relationship, and you both feed on this, and escalade the conflict.
 

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the way you write about her. It shows frustration and venting, but also gives away some vibe of lack of respect. Which I think is mutual in your relationship, and you both feed on this, and escalade the conflict.
I agree.

And please understand that's a very human thing to do - lose respect for the one person you marry, expecting to love and nurture you but who turns out not to do so. The problem is that, you get what you give.

Have you read His Needs Her Needs? It's the most outstanding book about marriages and relationships I've ever seen. It is SO on point. It's basic psychology, and that's why I like it so much. I firmly believe in listening to psychology because, well, we all follow the laws of psychology unless you're a psychopath.

Anyway, the basic tenet of HNHN is that every one of us has certain Emotional Needs that feed our feeling of being loved and certain Love Busters that - if our spouse does them - make us feel UNloved. The further tenet is that it's your responsibility to ensure that you know your spouse's ENs and LBs and are meeting those top ENs and NOT doing those top LBs. And the last tenet is that, if you DO do this, unless your spouse has significant mental issues/FOO problems, they will RESPOND to this, to your nurturing of them, and do the same for you.

Now, IMO, what HNHN does NOT cover is what's inside No More Mr Nice Guy; meaning, men today are often driven to be TOO nice to their woman, which confuses women and ANGERS women, because they psychologically (without even knowing it) want a strong man. A man who doesn't take their crap, who ignores the sh*t tests.

Now, you're getting the NMMNG part down right now, you've stopped accepting the sh*t tests. But you're not following the OTHER side of it - meeting the ENs and stopping the LBs.

So all she's getting is feeling like you don't give a damn. It may stop the sh*t tests, but it won't engender feelings of love for you - only hatred.

Which is why I kept telling you to stop and EXPLAIN to her why you're doing what you're doing. The fact that you don't WANT to tells me one of two things - either you have no respect left for her and frankly don't care if she's happy, or that you're not really secure in your 'no more sh*t testness' and are afraid if you open it up for discussion she'll railroad you. Which is fully understandable. Like I said, I've never seen anyone take to the 'no more sh*t testness' quite as quickly or firmly as you. But it does lead me to those two possible conclusions.

But the bottom line is this: if you want to stay married to her, throw her a bone. Meet those ENs. TALK to her. Or else she'll just decide you hate her and leave you.

I hope all this made sense.
 
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