I don't know how long exactly, but it's been a while since I posted an update. I tend to update little bits of process, or progress (or lack of progress), or thinking as I respond to the posts of others.
Several months ago I reached a point of clarity about what I need from my husband to ultimately stay in my marriage. Mostly it centers around him doing his work consistently and authentically. Some of his work needs to be demonstrated to me: conquering avoidance and regularly initiating deeper and potentially difficult conversations with me (and others, like our kids). In his conversations with me, I like to know what he's reading, watching, journaling that challenges his past perceptions or gives him insight into his own thinking or behavior patterns. I don't need to know everything, but I do want to see him working on openness and vulnerability.
This clarity about what I needed to see was good for me. What's been tough is the delivery on his part. It's hard mental and emotional work. It's uncomfortable. But that's why it's growth and that growth is needed...at least for me to stay in the marriage.
Demonstration of the work has been inconsistent. This was a red flag for me.
I spent time soul searching, discussing with my IC and discussing with my H about the inconsistencies. Were my needs/expectations clear? Yes. Were they reasonable? Yes.
Was my husband not willing to do the work?
Was he not capable? (Was this the best he could do?)
My ultimate answer: I don't know and it doesn't matter.
What I do know is that I need these things to want to stay in the marriage. Whether he can't do it or won't do it isn't my issue to resolve. If it doesn't happen, I won't be married.
So, that was Clarity 2.0
And it was also helpful to me. I pulled way back emotionally and, thus, also sexually.
Since then, the work has been much more consistent.
It's helpful to see that more consistent demonstration of initiative and effort.
How do I feel about the fact that it took me pulling WAY back to see that effort? I'm hurt. It would have been great to see that effort because he knew I needed it. Now it's tainted by my perception (understanding?) that it happened because he needed it. He needed to do it to get what he wanted. He did it because it cost him if he didn't to do.
And isn't that still selfish thinking and motivation when what I really need to feel safe in this relationship is empathy and selflessness on his part?
So, I don't know how this "ah-ha" will sway my actions ultimately.
The other part of the inconsistent work conversation with my IC was about timeline: Was I expecting my H to work at my pace instead of his own?
The answer, again, is: I don't have to resolve that. I just have to know what I need.
Our kids are both in HS and both will likely be out of the house in a couple of years. So that's my loose timeline to watch his actions and make decisions for myself.
Right now, I'm still living a version of 180 in some ways because the more consistent effort I've seen hasn't lasted long enough for me to trust that this is a "new normal."
Yet, I live in peace and even joy within my house. Truly. My H and I like each other. We function on the day-to-day comfortably. We love each other too. (Even if we divorced, I believe would love him and wish him well.) I also believe that we both honestly would like to find true joy together again. I don't know if that will happen.
But I am at peace with what I know about what I need, and I'm at peace with what will still be resolved as time moves forward.