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Digging for Whys

MIgander posted 2/2/2020 15:59 PM

So, been a while since I've posted. Been through the mill with major depressive episode, anxiety attacks, suicidal ideation, flu, sinus infections... you name it, the mask finally came off the shit storm of worries I was holding inside. Got a good IC therapist, finally on some good meds and just now able to look around and see where we really are.

And that's on the verge of divorcing... get to that later.

As for my why's, I've come to find out that due to FOO I've felt insecure about my own value and worth and used various things (academic, job and worldly success and later "spiritual understanding") as ways to win approval of various other people in my life (mother, father, finally husband and his family). Turns out my father had affairs on my mother, belittled her enormously and enabled her crazy behavior (her temper tantrums and screaming and name calling). So, I turn out to fall for a man who I allow to belittle me and enable via making financially unsound decisions. Sometimes I think my dad would provoke my mom into her tempers so he could sit back and say to himself, "see honey, you're just overly emotional and therefore anything you have to say is worthless." Which was exactly what my husband does to me...

Sooooo... felt devalued and worthless in his eyes, anxious over finances and felt powerless to change anything, NEEDED validation and someone to pursue me. Along comes AP with his sweet talking ways, understanding kindness and LOTS of compliments. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but at that point in the marriage, I no longer cared. And that's the thing I've got to work on- feeling so powerless to change anything and so hopeless of ever being good enough for my husband that I would be willing to go behind his back to get what I need instead of challenging him up front and making changes for myself.

It's really eye opening lately, reading the covert narcissism and codependent pages here... it looks like he's covertly narcissistic (nothing I do is ever good enough, not allowed to "feel" a certain way about something, constantly invalidated in my opinions and worth) as well as my own level of abuse to him- jealousy of his carefree spending, jealous of the women he gave his respect to and jealous of those women he compared me to. We have both been abusive to each other to a certain extent.

Only now, after being in IC, I'm learning I don't have to rage like my mother or enable like my father, that I can assert myself in the relationship. This makes my husband upset and insecure. He wants me to do everything for him to make him feel better- dye my hair, wear heavy makeup, plan date nights, show more interest in building the basement. All of these are good things. I've done the date nights, makeup, etc, but each time it's not enough for him. Each time he says that they are selfish in the way I do them. I suppose I am trying to reconnect with who I am and see if he can connect with me as I am, so I plan an outing with a concert I like, a dinner he likes and wear the hair/makeup/dress he likes. Because I put the concert in there, I'm selfish and doing the whole thing for me. I also find it hard, after long days at work and cleaning and cooking and homework with the kids to be interested in building in the basement when the work I do is not to his standard, or there is little for me to actually do. So, I don't go down there and help him. That is selfish. Can't get around that.

He wants to feel a sincere apology for what I've done. I've begged him on my knees not to go, cried, ended friendships, gone NC with other ex-male-coworkers, started pursuing friendships with female co-workers instead and in general examined why I do things and why I talk to the people I talk to. I've stopped complaining to my female friends about him (although I do still share difficulties with my sisters who love him and my best friend who likewise loves him). I've worked very hard to get where I am. Now I'm at the point where, when he says I don't make him feel loved or feel appreciated or feel like I'm sorry, I stop the conversation, remind him of the apologies and or changes I've made, and remind him that "I can't MAKE you feel something." And refuse to get baited into the dynamic where he PUSHes and PUSHES and PUSHES me until I snap and go crazy yelling like my mom did. I remind him of this too when he claims I'm too unemotional- I say to him that I'm trying to change the way we interact, that I'm feeling a lot on the inside, but I don't like becoming a crazy yelling monster and am keeping a tight reign on my temper. I do remind him that, if he likes, I can yell again if that makes him feel better... but in the end, all it does is make me feel disappointed with myself and put me further in the hole.

My husband says my actions are shit and my words are shit (and he has good reason to), but then wants me to make him feel loved and appreciated and to heal him. I tell him I feel like I'm at the bottom of a well holding a spoon and he's asking me to dig myself out. He wants me to things for him selflessly and unconditionally, but I don't think I have it in me to give like that. I've told him that I can only give to him out of what I have as a person (ie: share the interests I have, listen and share in on his and generally encourage each other to be better people).

I feel like for so much of our relationship, I've put my interests (ie: concerts) as a backseat to his interests (ie: clay shooting, which I do enjoy) and put his "needs" (fanciest house in family, impractical and unaffordable sport car) over my needs (paying bills on time and not getting said car repoed and or having foreclosure notices in the mail and shut off utilities). I think that's where the resentment came from- all the anxiety I swallowed over the unsafe financial situation (the kids' school wasn't going to let us re-enroll until we paid our bills- my kids were going to be kicked out of school!!). It lead to resentment. I resented my husband so much (and still do since the situation has not changed financially, nor will in the near future) and felt so enmeshed and helpless to get out that I decided it was ok for me to have an affair (since he got the car...)

Sigh. All this to say, the finances, the belittling, the discounting have all not changed. I'm coming into an understanding of the holes in my soul and doing what I can do and need to do to patch them. I can definitely do more to make myself a safe partner. I'm going to read the "how to help your spouse heal from an affair" and "not just friends" to better understand what I can do for him. It's been about 6 months since DDay and definitely not been a straight line since then. Finally feel well enough to tackle my end of the business in regards to what is owing to him.

At the end though, will it be enough? We are seriously contemplating divorce right now because of my lack of "selfless giving" and submission to him, my remaining distrust and anger toward him (how can you submit your will to someone who puts you down and neglects to make you feel safe??). He feels the relationship is very one sided (he gives and gives... what I see as appropriate levels of care for children and spouse are taxing to him) and doesn't feel the same from me. Whenever I try to give to him of myself, it's not what he wants. If he doesn't want what I have to give, then what are we really doing together??

I don't need validation so much from outside sources, God made me who I am and is pleased with His work, I'm trying to make my life more of a gift to Him as a way of being thankful to Him for making me. At the same time, if my husband ultimately doesn't want what God's put in me, should I stay?

Stay or go... Any thoughts?

irwinr89 posted 2/4/2020 09:29 AM

WS Only

[This message edited by SI Staff at 3:08 PM, February 5th (Wednesday)]

Zugzwang posted 2/4/2020 17:39 PM

Is he talking about submission as in beg him? Or is he talking about you owning your whys? Where are you on the FOO stuff? Have you told him everything you just typed? Been that vulnerable? Or are you still where you were on your last posts about fixing the marriage? Too much focus on the marriage and the marriage being bad as to why you cheated, makes it still blameshifting and not owning it. Many new WS (which you still are being only last summer) try to put the cart before the horse. It isn't unreasonable to see that some WS can't heal and grow to truly change in what might have already been bad marriage. You can't make him heal any faster than he can choose to heal himself. Considering if I remember correctly, you had an exit affair and your resentment for him led to you in some way...having an affair to teach him how to behave and treat you so he would change...I can see why things aren't progressing the way you wanted them to. You made a person that was already having issues...worse.

MIgander posted 2/5/2020 10:20 AM

Thanks for the responses Zug and Irwin, both are helpful in clarifying a few things.

As to submission, my husband says he wants that more in the form of me spending time with him and submitting my will for the extra time I do have in the day (about an hour after kids are in bed) to pursue companionship with him. That and he also has some issues around his ideas being the ones we follow in our marriage- re finances. I do have trouble with that since I have allowed him to belittle me for so long and watched my dad do it to my mom and thus have little patience for it myself. He wants to feel loved on a selfless level by me. The ways he's asked it of me sound more like self effacement (giving up pursuits of my own to pursue his wholeheartedly) than self sacrifice (putting aside a night or two a week for his stuff).

I'm looking to give of myself without losing myself. I used to put my interests and talents aside and deny my interests from two fears, 1. that if I didn't do as he desired, he wouldn't desire me and 2. if I really showed him what I liked, he would belittle me and reject me. I'm working on opening up to him about my real interests and not worry so much about him desiring me.

You're right about the affair being a completely lousy choice in terms of him changing his behavior. In a way I had lost hope of him doing that, since the times I did bring things up to him, he has a hard time hearing it and has extreme difficulty in admitting when he's wrong (which, although rare, does happen). Truly though, he's a good person in the main and problems typically with him stem from a lack of bedside manner instead of a lack of good intent. I think it's his narcissitic tendencies that hurt him in that regard. He usually (except for in financial matters) has good judgement, and thinks that, since his judgement is sound, his methods are impeccable too. Which is where my frustrations come in...

On a side note, he is taking more responsibility for the financial stress placed upon our family by our joint decisions (my okaying the frivolous spending...) and is working on rectifying that. He's finding it difficult to accept that there's likely no expensive watches, shoes or clothes coming his way for quite some time and has worked to file our taxes from last year and getting more into the previous years we didn't file. In turn, I've been working out my FOO issues which allowed me to enable in the first place. I had learned to be such an appeaser under my mother (my job in the family was to calm my mother and make my father proud...), that to feel affection to validate my worth, I was willing to do ANYTHING to get it. After a while in our marriage, that looked like consenting to things I did not really consent to and "buying" my husband's interest and affection with new stuff or hunting trips or... the list goes on. Since then, I've been firm on what I will and will not put up with and have stopped passively accepting any kind of affection which comes my way as I am no longer desperate for it.

Example: husband comes home from SuperBowl party drunk and started getting lovey dovey with me. I asked him at one point if it was because he was happy to see me (I stayed home sick with flu) or because he wanted something. He said he wanted to show me what I would be missing out on if I divorced him . After that I pretty much walked off saying I had enough (after he called me back). I'm not going to allow him to manipulate me anymore. Ironically since I'm not allowing the manipulation (either into caving in or into becoming a raging monster), I've felt less resentment toward him since... well, a LONG time :). Call that 2 FOO issues ironed out (desperation for affection and acknowledgment of worth and the lovely ranting behavior my mother modeled to me as an appropriate emotional response...).

On the parental front, he's made progress with our son, getting closer to him (my son asked me to divorce his dad on Father's day last year!). He's now active in one of my son's interests and has changed his manner from harsh and demanding to calm and encouraging (son is a sensitive soul and very anxious to please- oh boy... here we go again...). These are all good things. He's made progress with kids and finances, now I'm hoping we can make progress between the 2 of us.

As for husband hearing what has been written here, yes, I've been bringing up these things (and others... I've brought up the comparison to other women, the shaming and disloyalty in front of friends over breast implants- mainly me not getting them for him and others). He's also been in some counseling sessions with me where we've gone through FOO issues too and is starting to understand better where all this is coming from. We've had a lot of good talks about these things.

He's read what I've posted here (he reads everything on my accounts- fine w/ that). He's not happy with what I've posted here, is uncomfortable that I'm "spreading bad stories about who he is as a person" and was incredibly shocked and upset that I would want to divorce HIM. It's to the point where he is so uncomfortable around my sisters and best friend that he doesn't want to hang out with them. These specific people who he has individual loving relationships with who know both his good and his bad, he's uncomfortable socializing around... he has problems with control over social perception to an alarming degree- to the point where he would rather keep relationships superficial than risk intimacy and potential that they may discover something unflattering about him. Sigh.

So, we have some attachment to worldly opinion to work through on his side and some boundary issues to work out on mine. My current questions whether he is allowed to control what I discuss on an anonymous forum dedicated to the sifting of one's personal garbage for the intent of personal improvement. He has enormous difficulty processing the idea that good but wounded people do painful harmful things to each other. He says that we should call a spade a spade and that a cheater is a bad person. Pretty simplistic view of humanity in my mind...

Zug, you're right, having the affair was not going to motivate him to change. I'm working on changing myself and seeing some progress there. I can only hope he chooses to dig more deeply and fix himself too. I'm seeing some progress there on both our ends and have some hope for us.

MrCleanSlate posted 2/5/2020 14:49 PM


Going back a few years before my A I can honestly say that my marriage was badly damaged by neglect by both my BW and I.

Instead of dealing with things, I went and had an affair.

Now after the D-Day and a lot of effort to deal with the aftermath of the A, my BW and I have been also working on fixing our M. It is a joint effort. My BW acknowledged that she need to change for us to proceed with successful R. And she has, and her changes are helping me be a better H as well, so we are both growing as people. Amazing how it is a continuing education thing.....

One thing is so many people have issues in the M, whether infidelity occurred or not. Sometimes the betrayed is an asshole too. You can't change someone else, all you can do is try to fix yourself.

I've never subscribed to the 'you've sinned' so you owe me everything I demand way of thinking.

Yes you made a really bad choice by having an A, and you need to deal with that, but if you don't fix the issues in your M then you are not likely to succeed in R.

JBWD posted 2/5/2020 16:34 PM

Asking him to fix himself comes off as premature to me. I think it’s worth remembering that his recovery starts FROM ZERO at DDay. So while the resentments and prior concerns may have certainly been there as existent issues in the M, you had the “luxury” of knowing that you used them to rationalize your cheating. Same thing with calling him out for not being vulnerable- Gotta admit being vulnerable bit him pretty badly in the recent past.

I really think the perspective should rely on the fact that this may take him a chunk of time to process, and that while it looks similar to how you interacted pre-A, the situation merits time to assess. As it’s described here, it sounds like he’s still reacting out of fear, and if you want to dismiss him before allowing him to work past the absolute terror you’ve placed in his life, then I think that should be how you understand the decision to go right now.

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