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Back Again...Needing Guidance

JellyGirl84 posted 8/20/2019 23:50 PM

Hey, everyone.

It has been a while so, only the old-timers will remember me. I have returned to post about my current relationship and hopefully get the sage advice I am so accustomed to on this forum.

I don't even know where to start. I want to just ask: how does one know whether it is "worth it" to stay in a relationship versus knowing it is time to go? And then, I'd answer any questions you have.... but I know that isn't helpful.

I've dated my SO for 2 yrs 9 months. It has been rocky from the start but there has also been a big draw for both of us to stay.

I think the rockiness comes from us both being so stubborn, short-tempered, and of a certain age when our habits are not easy to change. I'm 35, he's 42 this month. We are both divorcees; our marriages each ending due to our partners' infidelity. Of course, like most people, we have our FOO issues as well. We argue over stupid things, just basic differences of opinion. We always seem to come back a little after an argument and talk it out.

My anxiety and his tendency toward being anal retentive are a big part of the mix. I'd say we are a lot like the Odd Couple except we're both messy (for as much as he makes a big deal about cleanliness, he's lazy at home-14 hour days at work does that to him). His job is one that has a high divorce rate for its employees because of the grueling schedules. But we need the money and he prides himself in the role of provider (although I DO work a good job).

I moved into his home in April when I decided, with the help of my then-IC, that risks are sometimes required for rewards. It has been a hard transition to go from living alone to being back in a house with a man.

::sigh:: I sometimes like to think about how some people in arranged marriages have made it work, short of physical/emotional abuse, of course. Running away isn't the answer. Relationships are hard work, I know, but I wonder how hard is too hard and how would I know the difference here? He and I went to a couples counselor one time recently but we haven't returned because he wants to make sure of how the insurance will cover it.

Whenever I feel like maybe this relationship is just too much to deal with; too stressful and I'm all PO'd, I think about how there are other men I could be with but they will all have their own issues. The grass is not always greener, as we say here....

There's so much I haven't said but my thoughts are everywhere and this is a start. Maybe some of you can help me get my head right.

sassylee posted 8/21/2019 00:08 AM

Sometimes I think if you’re asking the question - it’s probably time to go. Otherwise it would be a fleeting thought that you’d quickly talk yourself out of...like after a argument when you think in anger “grrrr! I’m so done!” But then realize it’s an over reaction. But if things are fairly “normal” and it’s something you’re weighing, then chances are you know it’s time.

JMHO - YMMV

JellyGirl84 posted 8/21/2019 00:12 AM

But sassylee, with me, I'm not sure this is necessarily true. I question every damn thing because I am such an over-thinker. And I have been through the ringer after my xwh and his infidelity. So, I really don't even know if I can trust my own judgement; I am so quick to want to throw in the towel at the slightest offense....

MakingMyFuture posted 8/21/2019 01:52 AM

There are a few things I use as a general guideline that may help. The first, is do you trust him and feel safe with him and value his integrity? Does he value you in the same way?

The second is, do you “fight fair”? It’s one thing to have disagreements or fights but are there vicious words that sting long past the fight? Do either of you bring up old slights to get in the last word and “win”? It may sound odd...but could you hold hands while you are fighting? (Yes this is possible even if you are frustrated...people who respect each other can disagree and even fights respectfully enough to look each other in the eye or recognize their partnership even in moments of frustration)

There is a great book. I think it’s called “Should I stay or should I go?” It has you ask a series of questions a therapist has distilled over time are a strong indicator of long term success or failure.

Are you happy? IMHO I don’t think staying because the dating pool is potentially worse is a good reason to stay. You should have standards in what you are looking for and be happy enough alone that you are willing to be alone and happy without someone who meets your needs. If he isn’t meeting them or can’t meet them, get out regardless of finding a “better replacement”.

Conversely are some of the challenges you gave based on temporary circumstances that won’t exist in the future or are active skills you are both working on?!?

Just some thoughts...hope it helps

[This message edited by MakingMyFuture at 1:53 AM, August 21st (Wednesday)]

Chrysalis123 posted 8/21/2019 06:09 AM

I agree with Sassy. Just the fact you are asking the question is a huge red flag.

Charity411 posted 8/21/2019 09:48 AM

I am so quick to want to throw in the towel at the slightest offense....

I think it's significant that you recognize this about yourself. Just like I don't think you should ignore red flags, don't ignore this either. If you do, and don't seek ways to overcome this, you could be setting yourself up for a lifetime of isolation and misery.

You may be entirely different, but where I get my opinion from is my sister. Whenever she feels she's been criticized she takes her marbles and goes home. It has not served her well. I am the only person left in the family she talks to, and for the last two years that has been minimal because I told her she was wrong about something.

In our small community, a group of us meet every Friday for a couple of drinks and dinner. A member of the group didn't agree with her about of all things, whether there are Bedouins in Jordan. She now refuses to go on Fridays or let her husband go, ever again.

She is extremely smart, and has served on various community committees and boards, only to abruptly leave them if her fellow board members disagree with her on an issue. She has a history of quitting jobs if the boss tells her to do something a different way. The boss becomes the enemy. So now she hasn't worked for 30 plus years.

Several years ago, her husband had an affair. You would think she would leave him immediately, after all, what bigger insult to her than that. But because she has cut herself off from everyone else that she perceives as having slighted her, she has no where to go. She no longer has any marketable job skills either. So in refusing to ever be wrong, she has wronged herself. So she stayed, and he travels for a living and she lives in constant fear that he's cheating again.

I'm not implying you are like her, I'm just giving you a cautionary tale.

[This message edited by Charity411 at 3:12 PM, August 21st (Wednesday)]

Chili posted 8/21/2019 10:15 AM

Hey JellyGirl:

You've gotten some really good advice from other folks about really taking a look at the relationship from different angles. I can tell you that after the debacle with assclown, I did a shit-ton of work on what I expected from myself in finding my own joy and if someone were to come into my life - what that would look like. And it is way way different than it ever was for me.

I want to plant a seed in a couple of ways: Do you know this relationship isn't for you but you don't want to end it because it will be "another failed relationship?" It took me a long time to realize that sometimes relationships (romantic or otherwise) aren't always forever ones. Sometimes they are enough for the time periods in which they last.

The other side of this is: Do you think the friction and you overthinking and arguments are because you are not really satisfied so this is the way you express it? Or that you just really want this one to be "perfect?" And when it isn't it makes you frustrated and you've got to call foul immediately on every little thing or it will lead to a big huge mess like it did with WH?

Or maybe you feel like since you did take the risk/reward of moving in with him, there's this pressure for the "investment" to be worth it? Like it better work now that you've taken this big step.

As for that whole grass is greener thing - take a good look at what Charity411 said. For me, it's dangerous to swing the pendulum to extremes in my own head. As in my only two choices are to:

1. Stay and suck it up (and never do any work on my own relationship skills).
2. Quit and run (and never do any work on my own relationship skills).

All that babbling above - only you know if you want to build a life with this guy. If he adds real joy to your new beginning. Deep breaths JellyGirl. There's always a ton of options in these sorts of things.

devotedman posted 8/21/2019 10:16 AM

Here comes the 2x4 of The Way devotedman Sees It. Remember, take what you want/need and leave the rest. (Also, great to see you again! Hi!)

Strategies are the things that we do, the plans and behaviors that we have, to get what we want.

You say:

I think the rockiness comes from us both being so stubborn, short-tempered, and of a certain age when our habits are not easy to change. I'm 35, he's 42 this month. We are both divorcees our marriages each ending due to our partners' infidelity. Of course, like most people, we have our FOO issues as well. We argue over stupid things, just basic differences of opinion. We always seem to come back a little after an argument and talk it out.

So, you both have strategies of stubbornness, short-temperedness, and blameshifting the inability/unwillingness to change on your ages.

How well are these strategies working to get what you want?

To answer your question, I think that you both want to be together. That's an assumption. I assume also that you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all and so thoughts of, "Oh, just chuck the whole thing and live in a nunnery!" are normal. A bit dramatic, perhaps :vD but normal. They're normal because you don't really like that particular status quo, but you also don't know how to get out of it.

Here's what I'd do:
First, sit him down and hold his hands (this is important, it creates and supports the feeling and thought that you are being sincere) and calmly say that you don't think that your communication styles are helping your relationship. Tell him that you'd like those styles to change, so that you can communicate better and more effectively and so that you can really enjoy your time together instead of just enduring your time together.

Second, start looking for books that discuss effective communication and working on effective communication.

Third, realize that anger is often a secondary emotion, a defensive attack. Try to work out why you're feeling attacked and ask him to do the same. Is it a reaction to not wanting to be hurt by an SO after you've both had WS-es? Are you both trying to push the other away a bit as a test? Are you both somewhat afraid of trusting again and anger works against trusting again?

Fourth, recognize that you're not too old to change and that if your current strategy is not getting you what you want, well, change that strategy!

By the above (fourth), I mean that your communication style isn't letting you figure out clearly whether to stay or go. Well, change to a communication style that will, or change to a style that'll let you and your SO figure out calmly whether or not to stay together.

Don't let a moment's pride and anger destroy something that you want. And, before it does, figure out whether you want the thing or not. I think that the above that I've posted should help with that.

I wish you the best of luck, jg84.

[This message edited by devotedman at 12:58 PM, August 21st, 2019 (Wednesday)]

Superesse posted 8/21/2019 12:36 PM

Hi, JellyGirl! For what it's worth, following up devotedman's post, my BFF happens to be a nun, for 25 years. After my D-Day 2, I half-seriously asked about joining their convent! (She said I was too old and set in my ways to gracefully submit to all the requirements. Their order won't even talk to new women over 35 who want to join!)

Now that I've known them for a few years, I have to say, I doubt I could hack that lifestyle. Her Superior plays power games all the time, about every little aspect of her life. Not at all the way most of us picture that lifestyle. So getting along with each other causes interpersonal friction, even in the convent! Just sayin'.

Pass posted 8/22/2019 09:33 AM

I think the rockiness comes from us both being so stubborn, short-tempered, and of a certain age when our habits are not easy to change. I'm 35, he's 42 this month.

A few thoughts just from this one statement:

1. Neither one of you are really old.

2. Habits aren't always easy to change, but that has nothing to do with age. You just need to put in some work.

3. Never mind blanket statements like "I'm just stubborn" or "I'm just short-tempered". We are able to change if we want to. Stubborn and short-tempered should be considered actions or reactions, not attributes.

It is important to have these labels, so that you can say, "I'm being stubborn at the moment" - giving you the opportunity to figure out why. But a blanket statement of "I'm/He's stubborn" is unhelpful. It's important to poke at these actions and ask the Five Levels of Why.

Start with "Why am I/are you fighting this?", then keep asking why until you get an actual answer that you can either work with, or at least understand why. Once you get used to poking at the motivations this way, maybe you can eventually curb some rockiness before it starts.

It's best to discuss this as a strategy some time when you're not arguing. You know it's time to reconsider the relationship when one or both of you are consistently unwilling to do the above work.

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