I have always felt suffocated by people who seem to do things to curry favor from me. I see through it and resent it. I try to detach from what they are doing since they often deny the intention of their actions, but then I watch as these same people are often resentful or withholding when they don't get what they want from me. This happens when they buy me a gift, do me a favor, or offer me compliments. I can feel how they expect something in return--best friend status when we are not that close, a return favor that I am unwilling to do, or compliments and praise that I am uncomfortable giving (i.e. male coworker or whatever). It's manipulation, pure and simple.
You are right to be concerned by your WH's behavior. You are being manipulated in an effort to secure an outcome. And watching people behave inauthentically so that you "owe them" something in return--which is 100% what people who do this want whether they admit it or not--creates resentment in YOU! Because you know you are being manipulated.
There are only two ways that I have successfully handled this.
1. Tell him that you need authenticity in his behavior which means his behaviors should have a benefit to HIM and who he wants to be. When you doubt an action, ask him to explain how it was a benefit to him (and he can't say that it makes you happy because you two are not the same person). If R is about fixing yourself as a WS, he should be able to explain how his actions are proving he is a more confident person, that he is learning to be proud of himself for seeing the big picture, how he is enjoying different things in life and growing when he participates in a new behavior. Keep bringing him back to himself, not you or the M.
When he brings up a future goal for you two, ask, "How does this make you a healthier or better person? How does this help you not to be wayward?" I'd like to hear his answer because THAT should always be his goal in R.
I have found some success in drawing my husband's attention to his own need for authenticity and self-satisfaction (without hurting others, of course). He still occasionally just tries to make me happy because his codependency is innate. But he's working on it. It's better. And he definitely suffered from "I'm owed this sexy side stuff because I do SO much for my W!" So no, I don't want anymore of that either.
2. I also have had some success with intentionally not giving the person what they want right up front. It's hard, but I do it. If I think a friend buys me an unneeded gift to hear a gushing thank you and over-the-top praise, I give only a lukewarm thanks. If my WH expects warm affection and enthusiasm for doing something that I didn't really need or ask for, I offer a muted note of appreciation and move on. I have had some success with this because I feel I am teaching these people through my actions in a way that they refuse to understand with my words.
I cannot be bought.
I do think that codependency of this type ("all I want is for you to be happy with me!") is learned at a young age and absolutely does come with hidden resentments and an entitlement mentality that the codependent is not aware of. They do not understand that NOT making someone else happy and instead making themselves happy in that moment (by saying No, for example) often eliminates the need to act out privately. When you tell people to "do things for the right reasons," they often automatically assume that the right reason is making someone happy. Helping people and being seen as nice gives them such a high that they cannot even find another criteria to make a decision. Their own true feelings on the event are hidden behind their overwhelming desire to be seen as good and agreeable. Is your WH even in touch with other criteria for decision making rather than just pleasing you? Is he in IC? Because he cannot do what you are asking for if he has no idea what his own opinions and needs are. It sounds like he does not know how to work on himself.
[This message edited by OwningItNow at 12:47 PM, Sunday, November 20th]