Are we doomed?
October 12, 2011 8:12 PM   Subscribe

Long-Married filter: Where do we go from here or might it be over?

We've been married 29 years and have been quite stuck for the past three. It's a case of opposites attracting then driving one-another nuts. DH is a middle child who's counselor once called me to make sure I understand how passive-aggressive he is. He physically squirms at the mere suggestion of talking about feelings or our relationship, then he does about a hundred things per day to underhandedly show his displeasure. As a survivor of childhood abuse I don't take underhanded-ness well, and I'm extremely sensitive to emotional nuances so little gets by me, which makes him feel defeated when I catch something so transparent. I believe deeply in making the unconscious conscious, even that this might be the very best of what relationships can do. So when he sabotages something important to us—after many discussions during which he's agreed that this is what he does and that he’ll be aware and not do it next time—I feel as if he’s doing it passive-aggressively to get me to "take" something. If I point this out he’ll get angry and "forget" to wash his hands after a doctor appt., or signal a lane change, or put pots in the right cupboard right after he meticulously asked me to show him where they belong.

After about 98% of our fights DH much later agrees that I was right and he was acting out. He’ll then talk in detail about all the things he could have done differently, yet this does not stop him from acting out ever more angrily next time. Clearly I'm doing something wrong. Today I’m realizing that in my insistence upon truth and consciousness he's not getting consolation and acceptance. It’s just so hard for me to accept negative behavior. Is this fundamentally what our men always want from us? Yet how can we do this without feeling superior to them? DH both wants me to be superior and rebels against it, much like he did with his mom. It’s as if he want to play out all manner of dramas while I want passionately to avoid them with thought and a good dose of sunlight. Yes, that’s it. Does any of this resonate with other long-marrieds? I’d be grateful for anything you’ve found in your experience.

I know you’ll suggest counseling. I worked with a Jungian Analyst for many years but am not presently. DH has had unfortunate luck with counselors. The second called him by two incorrect names and fell asleep during a session. The third just stopped showing up. Now DH’s doctor and I have stopped pressing him to go. Right now I don’t want to speak for fear of angering him and he’s sulking, as he always does before he emerges repentant. I truly think that joint counseling would harm his ego, which seems too fragile for that.

Is this dynamic familiar to others?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
How were things for the first 26 years? Given that timeframe, he's probably 60 or older and I think you might want to consider a physiological, as opposed to a psychological, reason for the change in his behavior.
posted by modernserf at 8:20 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is an extremely familiar dynamic to me, albeit with only 7.25% the longevity of marriage. Although I'd be more comfortable going on in detail with a throw-away email or me-mail message, I'll just put a few things out here. Many many many of these types of behaviors in my spouse were due, in part, to serious depression coupled to a lack of coping skills or mechanisms. You sound reasonably psychologically healthy and pragmatic, which is why your DH's behavior is even more upsetting. I can't offer too much advice except to say that much of these behaviors may be due to an internal (i.e. not your fault) issue within him, particularly the petulance, and that there isn't anything unreasonable about your responses. The fact that you see him as fragile right now suggests that you know that he's in a pretty tenuous state.

please memail me if you'd like some further commiseration/ideas about this. However, I should caution that you should not put yourself in the position of being his therapist.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:39 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I point this out he’ll get angry and "forget" to wash his hands after a doctor appt., or signal a lane change, or put pots in the right cupboard right after he meticulously asked me to show him where they belong.

Why would you care about these things? Caring about washing hands is something a mother does to a toddler. You do seem to have a parent child dynamic, especially when you characterise his ego as too fragile for counselling (!?). The constant positive regard of a therapist is the best thing for a fragile ego. There is a lot of contempt for him running through your narrative; I can't see how you can have a healthy relationship without respect for each other. Is he a partner in your conversations? Because it sounds like you just talk at him until you wear him down and then he agrees you are right just to make you stop talking. Yeah, I know that dynamic, that ain't healthy.

I think such a deeply entrenched dynamic can only be changed with the help of a skillful joint counsellor. As you have experienced, not all counsellors are a good fit, you have to keep trying until you get one that fits.
posted by saucysault at 8:43 PM on October 12, 2011 [34 favorites]


Yes, you sound like a (fairly contemptuous) mom in your narrative here, and you sound frankly exhausting. I suggest really putting some thought into choosing your battles here, and think about the fact that most folks don't want to deeply examine their relationship and motivations all day long. Sometimes, it's ok to just want to live your life unexamined-cook dinner together, put the pots away wrong, laugh, make messes. Do the hard work in therapy and let your husband just be a little. World's biggest control freak here, and sometimes I really listen to my constant picking and judging and just wear myself out.
posted by purenitrous at 9:08 PM on October 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


Mod note: answer question without name calling or keep on walking, thank you
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:18 PM on October 12, 2011


It sounds like you control his life, and while he resents this, he is not strong enough to confront you about it. Two options come to mind: One is to ease up on him, and simply let things slide; another is to start motivating him with positive and loving feedback, instead of having in-depth, somber discussions, which you say he does not enjoy.
posted by blargerz at 9:22 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"DH both wants me to be superior and rebels against it, much like he did with his mom."

A former friend of mine was a professional dominatrix, and once she pointed this dynamic out to me, I started seeing it everywhere. If you want to google around a bit, it's called "topping from the bottom." I find all manner of folks engage in this dynamic, not just people into BDSM!

I'm sure there are techniques you could employ to stop the pattern before it starts, but I'll leave that to others. Just giving you another perspective on the dynamic that further research might illuminate for you.

Yes, I think it's an unconscious and unhealthy way of interacting that people probably learn as children, and I try to avoid anyone who seems to be going down that road with me - including friends, partners, employees, and organizations.

Anyway. You're not nuts to be adverse to this. My friend learned to refuse to session with clients that had a bad case of this because they were always way more trouble than they were worth, and made her role unenjoyable.

A marriage is NOT the same thing as a Domme/sub professional relationship - so don't "fire" your husband!

Just telling you that you're not nuts to dislike this.

---

Upon preview... Yeah. You might pull back on playing the dominant role and see where that gets you.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 9:26 PM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


After about 98% of our fights DH much later agrees that I was right and he was acting out.

I doubt it. I think it's more like 2%, he can't swallow is pride and pretend he thinks he's wrong again. Also, don't use the phrase "acting out" in regards to adults; or at least don't let them hear you say that.

DH both wants me to be superior and rebels against it,

Honestly, he almost certainly doesn't. If he's letting you take the "lead" on things, it's probably because you care about more things than him. And he's probably learned it's unacceptable to not regard something as important that you think is important.

You've got a great narrative going that foists a deep-seated psychological drama upon him and makes you a martyr too. But a much simpler explanation is that you've got into some bad communication patterns and that you, or both of you, have starting making assumptions about each other as a shorthand, rather than actually trying to see the other's point of view.

I think a lot more "gets by" you than you think, and you probably should both see counselors, probably as a couple.
posted by spaltavian at 9:29 PM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I point this out he’ll get angry and "forget" to wash his hands after a doctor appt., or signal a lane change, or put pots in the right cupboard right after he meticulously asked me to show him where they belong.

Why would you care about these things? Caring about washing hands is something a mother does to a toddler.

---

Yes, you sound like a (fairly contemptuous) mom in your narrative here, and you sound frankly exhausting.


I came here to basically say these things. The story you've presented has tons of vague statements that can be summed up as "my husband is a rebellious child, and it's tough to be with him since I really have my act together." But you haven't given any specific details that actually tell the story - no specific stories that demonstrate the problem. You've given us three examples of him doing nothing at all wrong, and you present them as acts of passive aggression. It actually sounds like you are making a big deal out of absolutely nothing.

It's tough to tell what the problem actually is here since you've given us no information besides your overreactions. But I'll give you a next step that might help. Next time you are airing feelings and discussing "all the things he could have done differently," turn it around and ask him what you can do differently. Find out what he needs from you, and do it without reservation. I don't mean tit-for-tat, "If I do these things he will do other things for me," I mean "I want a harmonious relationship, and I am willing to compromise for my spouse's needs." Maybe he just needs space to fail to signal a turn or put the pans away incorrectly without it being a big deal. Maybe he needs you to treat him as an equal, adult partner. Maybe he would like you to express yourself differently, or to give him a little space to not talk about feelings. Whatever it is, try modifying your own behavior and see if you get a positive response. You might learn something from the experience that will help you live harmoniously with him in the future.

I was once in a relationship where we frequently had to talk about feelings and things that went wrong, and it quickly became apparent that these talks were only opportunities for me to learn how I was wrong and to change for my SO. My SO never offered to compromise and change, I was just supposed to understand how they felt and change. It's not hard to tell when your SO thinks you're broken and they're perfect and you need to compromise in many, many ways to fix how broken you are. And it makes it really difficult to get motivated to make any changes, even ones that you genuinely believe in, because you're the only one who's making compromises. I'm getting that vibe from your post, so you might try compromising yourself with no expectation of reciprocation to see if you get some engagement that way.
posted by Tehhund at 10:33 PM on October 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


To answer the question: Is this dynamic familiar to others?, yes, from the other side. The consistent criticism about things that had no significant operational impact on anything was exhausting, to say nothing of the fact that if things weren't said, it was clear that they were thought.

There was much a sense that there would always be these things, and that it probably wasn't about the things.

Who wants to be around someone who is consistently expressing displeasure (or clearly feeling it) with minor things they do or don't do?

I felt like I was under siege, tried to talk about this, got nowhere, ended the relationship.
posted by ambient2 at 11:03 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not to put too fine a point on it, but (regardless of who is right or wrong, regardless of whether he is being a passive-aggressive child or you are being too domineering) why stay together?

The relationship seems to be bringing neither of you joy or happiness. Maybe you just didn't feel like writing about all the good things, but is inertia the main reason you don't want to break up and set both of you free?
posted by zachawry at 11:15 PM on October 12, 2011


Is this dynamic familiar to others?

Yup.
posted by flabdablet at 12:05 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


It was asked earlier, so I'm repeating, but it's important: how was your relationship before? Has this dynamic - or your perception of it - only emerged over the last three years?
posted by likeso at 1:51 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if you posted this when you are angry? I would like to think that if my wife had to describe me to strangers she would at least start with "the man I love", "the man I have shared x years with" "the man who has been with me through ups and downs".

Your intro to your husband is: "a middle child who's counselor once called me to make sure I understand how passive-aggressive he is."

I'm sure you aren't a heartless banshee who screeches at him every time he doesn't follow your 128-Page-Indication-Procedure, but I don't see any love and respect for your partner in your question. In fact I don't see the word love once in your post.

Do you love and respect your husband? If not, can you get that back?
posted by Admira at 2:17 AM on October 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


My advice based on what you've provided us:

1) Put him in charge of how the pots are organised. Totally his thing, and with no requirement to explain or justify to you how his new system works. He's king of the pots, and you don't get to be boss there anymore.
2) If he's driving, let him fucking drive. I will just say that if you were married to me, you'd be getting a lot of exercise walking home :)
3) Do you smoke marijuana? If you do not, I would suggest you consider it - depending on where you live it may be possible to get it on the recommendation of a doctor. Describe to the doctor how stressed and fussed you are about your day to day relationship with your SO, and that you need something to take the edge off and allow you to chill out a little bit from time to time.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:24 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


1. Either accept him as he is or leave him.
2. I'm not seeing any real mention of the things you do that he doesn't like - are you really not aware of them, or what is going on there?
3. Be a caring lover, and if in your care for him you see he genuinely needs help (i.e. early Alzheimer's) then help him.
4. In my mid-sixties I see that those of my friends who stuck with their marriages through the bad/really bad times, are so glad that they did so - all of them. Most of those who divorced end up pretty lonely.
posted by nickji at 2:36 AM on October 13, 2011


On re-reading your message, I do hope you were joking about the pots in the right cupboard. I understand that small things can annoy a lot ('the balance of life is weighed in trifles', and all that), but pots versus a marriage? Surely not. Don't lose a 29 year investment over anything other than the truly deeply important aspects of life.
posted by nickji at 2:45 AM on October 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


"a middle child who's counselor once called me to make sure I understand how passive-aggressive he is."

This was a horrible, destructive, unprofessional thing for that counselor to do. It kind of sets you up to dismiss all of his concerns and his whole communication style.

I would start by erasing that as a data point from my world view. It's a very disrespectful way to assess a human being and he was betrayed by that phone call.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:07 AM on October 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


I have to ask -- are you supposed to wash your hands after a doctor's appointment? Because I've never heard that rule. (Unless your husband is the doctor, of course.) And how do you know he hasn't washed them?

The pots belong to you both, right? Decide together where they're going to live from now on.

Tell him to get another counselor, because it was extremely unethical (and possibly illegal) for his current one to discuss his condition with you in that way.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 3:27 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I once got some great advice for dealing with passive agressive people: Take their first answer as their honest response and then forget about everything that comes after.

My mother and I used to chase each other down a spiral before I implemented this trick:

"What would you like to do today in London?"
"Oh, I don't mind."
"How about we do X?"
"Sure, fine."

Followed by many exasperated sighs, petty asides and bitchiness that I failed to read her mind correctly.

I used to engage in this. But after I learned to assume her first answer as her truth, the onus was tipped over to her to make it clear from the start what she actually wanted. It gave me the freedom to enjoy myself and accept that she was an adult who could tell me what she needed or not, but it was her responsibility.

If you like, pm me. I got LOTS of tricks for dealing with passive agressive people. Lots of practice and all that :)
posted by katiecat at 4:00 AM on October 13, 2011


Maybe he's not passive aggressive and you're just reading into things. I tend to be somewhat spacy/forgetful and as such, frequently do things like put pots in the wrong cupboard. I once lived with someone who took these things like personal attacks...a sock that accidentally on the floor while carrying laundry became a sock that I have deliberately left on the floor to antagonize. In your post, you complain about him being negative but don't have one positive thing to say about him. I'm not putting the blame on you, but I do think the joint counseling recommended above is a good idea.

Also, it's unclear if this dynamic has existed for your entire marriage or if you husband's behavior has recently changed. If it's the latter, could aging or depression be a factor?
posted by emd3737 at 4:30 AM on October 13, 2011


This is awfully... overly theoretical and intellectualized. He's a middle child -- what is the import of this? You believe in making the unconscous conscious and that that's the best of what relationships do -- what does that mean? You're insisting on truth and consciousness and he's not getting consolation and acceptance -- huh? What men fundamentally want, being superior and rebelling -- again, huh?

The dynamic of one partner caving in and admitting after the fact that their behavior was wrong even when they may not believe it is familiar to me, yes. I don't think it's healthy. At some point the partner in your husband's position doesn't want to fight anymore and sees no other option.

But what really jumps out at me is that it would be hard for me to go through life as if I were constantly living in a psych paper. It is clearly hard for him. At some point, people don't care that they like pepperoni pizza because they are middle children who didn't get enough attention from mommy -- they just want to eat their damn pizza.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:00 AM on October 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I didn't read all of these responses, but I didn't see anything in the OP's story about attempting marriage counseling.

With the both of you and a neutral counselor, you could probably make progress, so long as one of you doesn't try to game the sessions in such a way that you feel you need to "win" the session. You've seemingly diagnosed your DH, but it takes two to tango and you're probably right in your assertion that you're doing something wrong. A good marriage counselor can help with this.
posted by PsuDab93 at 6:11 AM on October 13, 2011


washing hands, signal lights... why are you nagging him about these things? If someone treated me like a child for an extended period of time, I'd give up trying to "prove" that I am clearly an adult, and just act like a child. I'd do whatever just to get on your nerves because I am hurt by being treated with such contempt.
posted by Neekee at 6:33 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd give joint counselling a shot. I think you really, really need a third party here who can be objective and tell you both what you're doing wrong and help you improve the way you relate to one another. Forget the Jungian counselling, forget that your husband is a "middle child" and concentrate on improving your day to day dealings in practical, concrete ways.

If nothing else, please realize that you need to stop blaming everything on your husband and let go of this narrative in which you're superior and he's flawed because he won't fall in line with what you want. As others in this thread have basically pointed out, you sound like a petty tyrant, and I suspect if you stop trying to control your husband his "passive aggressiveness" will improve substantially.
posted by orange swan at 6:53 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe deeply in making the unconscious conscious, even that this might be the very best of what relationships can do.

Maybe so, but you've lost sight of the fact such discovery only happens in the context of a relationship that provides a safe environment in which each person can examine their own issues without fear of judgement, scorn or loss of love. It doesn't happen by having one partner beat their perspective into the other. The tone of your post suggests that this relationship is anything but safe, from your husband's point of view (maybe yours too?). You're participating in a dynamic that makes your idealized relationship goals impossible.

It’s just so hard for me to accept negative behavior.

And yet you yourself are coming off as having a pattern of behaving very negatively.

It’s as if he want to play out all manner of dramas...

Fussing over turn signals, hand washing and the organization of cupboards is unnecessary drama, and you seem to be the one driving it.

... while I want passionately to avoid them with thought and a good dose of sunlight.

Would that be the sunlight that illuminates your rightness and his wrongness?

I truly think that joint counseling would harm his ego

The way I read that statement is that you think a counselor would take your side on most issues. I suspect you are wrong.

You are nowhere near as objective as you think you are. Your years of seeing a Jungian analyst do not qualify you to diagnose and label your husband. Even if you were a mental health professional, you'd be far too close to the situation to make such judgements. You are stuck because your mental model of the situation is wrong. You can't describe the elephant because you are not only blind, but also superglued to the animal. Get outside help.
posted by jon1270 at 7:17 AM on October 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I know you’ll suggest counseling. I worked with a Jungian Analyst for many years but am not presently. DH has had unfortunate luck with counselors. The second called him by two incorrect names and fell asleep during a session. The third just stopped showing up

This is not the kind of counseling that we were going to suggest. In fact, there's a decent chance that all those years of Jungian analysis are feeding the problem here - making it so you automatically see events like not washing hands as indicative of some deeper, buried impulse.

What you need is to go together to a practically-minded marriage counselor. Because of all the problems that you have, the most pressing one is a communication problem. You need to learn how to interact without getting into the negative patterns that you seem to have established, and you need to learn some new patterns. My gf and I actually went to a session when we first moved in together, just to learn how to communicate about running the household, and it was great. If you live in NYC, memail me and I can give you the name of an excellent couple's therapist.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:31 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I worked with a Jungian Analyst for many years but am not presently.

In the nicest possible way, this is really obvious. Your post is all very airy fairy emotive language about motivations and feelings and triggers and all of that. At the end of the day, it is not your job to shrink your spouse and none of that list is your burden to carry. Stop carrying it. Get off the psychoanalysis couch and go back to basics. State clear expectations for tangible things. Make "I" statements: "It would make me happy if you signaled lane changes." "It would make me happy if you could remember to wash your hands." Whatever.

If this stuff is really important to you, you have the option of enforcing consequences where there are any. "I'm driving myself to X because I don't feel safe when you drive." "You re not putting your hands on my junk until you wash them." But geeze, some of this stuff - pots in cupboards? - pick your battles. It isn't important.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:41 AM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Passive aggressive behavior is ultimately aggressive behavior. Your spouse does not sound aggressive. He sounds like he doesn't give a atraight answer or do the right thing because he will always be wrong so he Just throws something against the wall and hopes it will stick. Being pinned in by someone who won't accept your honest answer is not passive aggressive. Seek therapy.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:36 AM on October 13, 2011


I recently moved in with my SO and we are going through the usual bumps of the newly cohabitated. I reorganized some stuff in the kitchen and that drove him a little bazoo, and I kept using the hand towel in the bathroom for a hair towel without replacing it.
I bring this up because after the third time he could not find the saran wrap or the third time he washed his hands and reached for a towel that was not there, he came to me and told me those were things that were driving him nuts. I'd had no idea. I promised not to steal the hand towel without replacing it, and together we agreed on places for kitchen items that we could agree on.

I bring this up because no matter what my opinion is on the hand towel or the location of ziploc bags, those were two things that clearly mattered to him. And he came to me and talked with me about this stuff without scolding me like a child, and he also acknowledged to me that he knows he can be irrational or snippy about things when they are not where he expects them to me. Also, and this is the big one, he only did that to me about those two issues. If he had had a snit about every single thing I moved, cleaned, rearranged, whatever, around the house and every thing I did was something we needed to have a Big Talk About How 8dot3 Is Doing It Wrong Again, I would be less inclined to acquiesce to his wants. I've dated people who criticized every thing I did and who believed they knew The One And Only Way to Cut Potatoes, and it's exhausting. Eventually you just stop giving a shit because no matter what you do, it's not right so hey why even bother to try.

Treat him like a partner, one with equal weight. Be a team, not leader and acolyte.

(And FWIW, I still think it's insane to place the saran wrap in the drawer above the one with tongs, can openers and the like. I mean, what the hell?!?)
posted by 8dot3 at 9:43 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a survivor of childhood abuse I don't take underhanded-ness well, and I'm extremely sensitive to emotional nuances so little gets by me, which makes him feel defeated when I catch something so transparent.

First of all, it's terrible that you were abused as a child. I'm sorry. I think experiences like that can shape our view of the world and human interaction for decades, and it can be very difficult to break out of less-than-helpful ways of seeing and interacting with others we love.

One thing that is commonly said about childhood abuse survivors is that they become hyper-aware and hyper-responsive to the emotional state of those around them. It's part of the way that kids learn to keep themselves safe (or as safe as possible), by being aware of and trying to avoid triggering unhappiness in their abuser. I suspect a bit of this might be going on in your relationship, and I'd bet this is part of the unhealthy dynamic that has evolved between you and your husband. If I had to spitball, I'd guess that you're hyper-aware of his emotional state and react when he does something to show he's unhappy; he has become suffocated under the weight of not being able to have upset/unhappy/angry feelings that will trigger a strong reaction in you, so instead of being overt when he's unhappy he's pushed it underground where it can sometimes leak out as passive-aggressive behavior or ignoring you or whatever; and now you have become really sensitive to his passive-aggressive behavior. Does that sound at all like it might be going on?

If so, I think that counseling could help, but like DarlingBri I agree that you need a different type of counseling that is focused less on feelings--after all, you're already hyper-sensitive and hyper-aware of that stuff, and making yourself more so doesn't seem like it's going to help the problem--and more focused on practical skills that will allow you and your husband to both modify behaviors (not feelings!) in order to get along better. Even before you get counseling, though, I think you could do yourself a lot of good by recognizing your tendency to be hyper-aware of and reactive to your husband's emotional state, and take steps to back down from your impulse to manage his feelings. His bad feelings are *his* to manage, and his alone: I bet you would feel a ton of weight lifted from your shoulders if you could internalize that and focus only drawing boundaries for yourself around behaviors that you don't find acceptable. Give him space to be upset or to have negative emotions without having to talk about them with you, and give yourself permission to ignore or disregard any upset feelings he has that he has not yet decided to bring up and talk to you about like adults.

The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results, so at this point you probably have nothing to lose by changing your own reactions to his behaviors, even if you have no hope of changing his behaviors.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:52 AM on October 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


Your description of your relationship makes you sounds very controlling. My guess is he's grown tired of this aspect of your relationship with him. He probably actually grew tired of it long ago but he no longer has the ability to hide that fact from you.
posted by dgeiser13 at 10:09 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have some instincts that you do, and a history of childhood abuse. The thing that really helped me see the limits of my responsibility, and as a result calm down and give people the sense of autonomy that they needed (which led to them being more gentle and giving and less instinctively combative and petulant), was Al-Anon. I don't know if that would be at all appropriate, but it really helped me with things that I didn't even realize were a problem. Good luck.
posted by asimplemouse at 10:55 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


As a survivor of childhood abuse I don't take underhanded-ness well, and I'm extremely sensitive to emotional nuances so little gets by me, which makes him feel defeated when I catch something so transparent.

I know you’ll suggest counseling. I worked with a Jungian Analyst for many years but am not presently.


Working with a counsellor/therapist/analyst/whathaveyou is not the same as actually getting counselling. Have you actually had any counselling for your childhood abuse? I don't mean agreeing with others in a polite discussion about it, but actual focus on your feelings, what was fair and what wasn't, and how some of this may have carried forward in adult life for you? Acting out doesn't just come in forms of "childish " behaviors, and it's very possible that your husband isn't the only one "acting out" in this marriage.
posted by human ecologist at 5:36 PM on October 13, 2011


Based on your description of the dynamic between you and your spouse, this post on the Good Men Project seemed pertinent.

Hugo Schwyzer:
"In my past, like a child, my basic approach to everything was “green.” In every area of my life, I waited for my partner to flash the yellow or the red light. She (whoever she was) was the one who would decide “how far we went” sexually, emotionally, financially, geographically. We would always both end up resenting the hell out of each other for the other’s role. I would always end up seeing my wives and girlfriends as controlling, mothering, and judgmental; they would always see me as irresponsible, dishonest, and childlike."

posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:15 PM on October 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


> Hugo Schwyzer:

That is an excellent quote and link whimsicalnymph. Thank you for sharing.
posted by dgeiser13 at 5:51 AM on October 14, 2011


« Older Are there still benefits to traditional publishing...   |   Camera stores in Seattle and Portland, suggestions... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.