My wife is in IC and basically always has been for generalized anxiety disorder. She works and has a job that pays well (she has an MBA and works in financial operations), but is a little more than half of what I make (I have a PhD and work in a specialized technical field).
On being a more than a wife and mother, I think that I have gotten a lot of different feedback on this. I think this goes into the whole comparison issue too.
So I think of myself as a good husband and father. But I also like that I am successful in my job and keep myself active and healthy as a person. My wife doesn't feel like she is keeping up in the same way. That she is both less successful at work and maintaining her personal health, and that the being a good wife and mother is being offered up as some sort of consolation prize. I do think her sharing her frustrations with me is an overall good sign, rather than sharing them with someone else, or especially another man.
here are 8 billion people on this planet. Has she invented something? Is she a committed and accomplished artist? Has she founded a new religious order? Written a well received novel?
Back to the comparisons, I have invented things, and recently got my first sole patent. I think of this as part of my job. Plenty of my coworkers have patents. I am of course proud of these sorts of things. But my wife then feels the pressure of being in the shadow again, even if she does celebrate my success.
She is falling back into the 'never enough' mindset. Your validation/attention is still not enough, or not good enough, for your WS.
I always want to be very careful with this sort of thinking because my wife would use "I'll never be able to do enough" as an excuse to not do more or improve. I think my wife has brought legitimate negative feelings to me, and there is probably more I can do about it than complain back to her that what I am doing ought to be enough for her.
I remember your R involved some rugsweeping. And now they're starting to surface again.
Her quoted words may be 1% of all she says, but that doesn't mean she's 99% inside.
Even if nothing has happened yet, this is a sign of something very serious in the future. She seems to be looking for an external validation again.
You should talk to her more deeply about her words. What does it mean to be a woman? Doesn't she see being a mother and a wife as part of being a woman? Most importantly, is this something you can give her? Or, as her husband and father of her kids, is it not possible for her to see herself as nothing more than a mother and wife next to you? If second, there is nothing you can do. Maybe it can be solved through counselling.
I think by being "seen as a woman", she means more sexually desired. It may also be due to a decrease in your sexual approach to her, but if there is no such thing and it is at a normal level, it means that she can only be satisfied by providing it externally.
I did feed her minimization for a variety of reasons at different points in time. We didn't ever rugsweep though. The affair is always a possible topic. But we have covered it pretty well. It only comes up on occasion now. I don't avoid the topic if I feel like talking about it.
I have recently decreased my sexual approaches. Mostly because she was rejecting me (because she is having negative body image issues, has been busy at work, and stressed about our kids summer camps and such). We have talked about this, and I do think it's a bit of a negative feedback loop we are both in. She feels not sexy enough and rejects me, so I don't approach her as much, and this makes her feel even less sexy. Standard issue long term relationship sex stuff, but with the history, yes this could be a red flag or slippery slope. I don't think that is the case based on the information I have (it would have to be underground).
What would it take for her to feel amazing to herself? Because that feeling of amazing doesn't come from external. That's an internal self worth thing. And a perspective thing.
Your fWW has major insecurity issues. External validation won't do diddly squat to fix them. That has to come from within. I hope she finds a good way to figure that all out and then find her own sparkle.
This is of course a recurring subject, and one that would be great to solve in a more permanent manner. Sometimes she sets a goal and sticks to it, like doing a long distance race. But even that is a sort of "external validation" when it's showing of the accomplishment that matters more than the actual accomplishment.
The fact that she is clearly jealous of your recent successes and is trying to take attention from those and put it on her - man, that's not good. If it was a friend doing that and not your ww, my bet is you would think it was pretty shitty (cus it is). She's your wife - she should be happy for your success and proud and happy for YOU.
She needs to grow up and stop expecting happiness and 'amazing' to be wrapped in a box and handed to her. Those things aren't presents - they come from one's self.
I really believe you hit the nail on the head here Ellie. That said, she does set goals, she does work hard, she does have a good career. It's not like she is sitting on her ass doing nothing wishing she could have things fall in her lap. She just sees me having more success under very similar circumstances and it is frustrating her.
That I need to remember to do something for ME.
Which we have always made time for! That the annoying thing to me about this. I support her goals just like she supports mine. I make sure she has time to herself to do a hobby, exercise, do some self care, etc. Our chore balance is pretty 50/50 just not on each subject.
Id serve your spouse with divorve papers.
You will never trust your spouse ever again. Your relationship will forever be changed.
I recognize the permanent damage that the A did to my M and have accepted that cost as part of R. It doesn't mean all trust is dead forever. Just a specific kind of naive and complete trust can never be restored. I don't think I would have that in a new relationship ever.
First off, your WW is trying to communicate her feelings to you. That's what spouses are supposed to do. That doesn't mean you own her feelings but you listen and try to support her.
Everyone jumping in here like she's doing something awful... I don't even understand that.
Secondly, it is super common for SAHM or even working moms to feel this way. The way she put it might be uncommon "I want to be something amazing" but the underlying feeling happens very, very often.
Being a wife and mother are very rewarding things, but she is also a woman. A person. An individual. Wife and mother roles are about giving to others, putting them first, almost always.
The woman in her needs to be fed as well. And yes, it is on her to figure out what that means and pursue it but telling her husband she has unmet needs is hardly a red flag. Isn't that what we say waywards should have done in the first place?
I think this is and excellent post and do want her to be happy and feel fulfilled and wanted by me. I think she is showing vulnerability instead of lying to me and just creating more emotional distance.
Once that’s established then you two can work on how to maintain the spark. That might be as direct as seeking guidance from a relationship consultant. It can be as indirect as establishing joint financial goals, going to the gym at the same time, sharing housework or taking walks.
We did establish this, very clearly, and in writing. I know that doesn't mean much to some people, but that was the breakthrough that led to several behavioral changes on her part. We are about as materially comfortable as can be reasonably expected. We do have MC and we are both in IC (I'm down to 1/mo).
Her lack of happiness is not for lack of trying.
If this need for validation led to the affair and she's feeling it now, how is it not a good thing that she is talking?
Her internal motivations were largely selfish, just feeling good off the new relationship high.
The external motivating factors were largely coming out of her crisis, and was partially driven by her fear of sharing her pain and vulnerability with me. I agree with you that her talking with me about it is much better than her not talking with me about it.
Wayward thinking is significantly founded on the need for validation....I'm not happy....I feel unappreciated..... your success makes me feel undervalued..........this is not a safe former wayward mindset.
And that is more or less why I posted here looking for some wisdom. I think it's a little debatable how much is good news she talked to me about it, and how much is bad news that she is feeling this way.
You're on vacation and that should be an exciting time. Time filled with joy, play, and hopefully great memories with the kids and family, but instead you're here typing about what your WW said, and you're not all that happy. Your body just feels ughhh. Maybe something to consider TIF. I think you were on the road to saying that cheating was going to be a deal breaker, and you landed back at R.
Lots of good memories on this vacation. Also a strained one. I suppose is worth bringing up in this thread. After the original post, I went swimming in the ocean and my wedding ring fell off as I swam back in. I went looking for it a few times, but it's gone. I'm very upset I lost it. A large part of the reason it fell off is all the weight I lost. I can't help but think my wife would read something into this.
Incidentally someone observed above that women at midlife struggle with feelings of attractiveness and mediocrity. I'm willing to bet that, as a betrayed man whose wife was prepared to throw him overboard, you have similar struggles. And yet here you are, day after day after day, eating that shit sandwich.
Do you feel seen as a man, TIF?
I actually haven't felt these struggles much at all. Maybe I'm not quite old enough to be middle aged. Maybe I'm just full of myself. I've always been pretty happy with my personal health and attractiveness, even before losing the weight. I don't see her A as a reflection on my attractiveness at all. It was, as it tends to be, cake eating. She wanted the new relationship and her marriage.
Another possibility that comes to my mind is, could these be exit steps from marriage?
Probably the opposite. I think she is worried that I might leave her. I gave her the divorce letter in the first place. She could be worried I feel my success is separating me further from her and that I will attempt to "trade up" if I feel she isn't keeping up. If she wants to go, she can go. I won't be happy about it, but I wouldn't do anything to stop her.
What you DO about them can be deemed right or wrong in terms of damage to yourself or others, so that's why you explore them further. Why do I feel this way? Is it appropriate to feel this way? Is it rational or fair? Are my feelings actually about something else? Who should I talk to? How do I fix this feeling? How do I get rid of this feeling?
I'll try to use some of these questions next time we talk about her feelings. I was just very much on the defensive last time, leading to the flooding/stonewalling.
I'd like to make it clear this isn't something that happens often. I haven't had much reason to post anything on my relationship specifically since about February. That's a decent chunk of time. Certainly the best stretch I've had since the A.
The implication of this sentence, TIF, is that “kinda fighting” during which she DARVO’s you is relatively commonplace now, to the point that you turn into a silent brick. Anything you say is turned against you? Sounds like you aren't dealing with an honest broker, and hasn't that really been the issue all along? How long was that going on in your marriage before you found out she'd opened the marriage unilaterally?
No it isn't, which is why I wrote the preceding paragraph. She was looking down and I asked her to open up to me and she did. Yes it became a sort of "fight" because as I pointed out, and others see, I was the subject of her negative feelings about herself by comparison. So I felt attacked and became defensive when I was just trying to show support. This is the first time since December that we had an poor and unproductive conflict. Many other times we have discussed things more reasonably and used the tools we have learned in MC to work through issues.
No one bothers to post when things just go OK. I think we are all aware that the filter of what gets on to this site is always slanted toward the memorable negatives.