When communicating seems to make it worse
August 14, 2017 2:10 AM   Subscribe

I tried to be open with my wife about my feelings for another person and it went wrong. Help?

I'm male, bisexual but married (no kids) to a female, have been for about a year, having dated and then lived together for several years before that. We had discussed our feelings around cheating, affairs and other partners before. This was never explicitly in terms of an open relationship, but we agreed: if either of us ever wanted to see someone else, we would both be OK with that, as long as we openly communicated about it and agreed it. We had a similar discussion, I am sure, on at least three occasions.

Our marriage definitely isn't open, but as a result of these negotiations I thought there was a line of communication if either of us wished to bring it up. I would never do anything without discussing it first; I am from a background where being poly is commonplace, even normal, but it was not something that ever seemed an option for me; my wife has a more conservative background in some regards. Anyway, at no point did I concretely want an open relationship.

Fast forward to last week. A friend who occasionally visits my town expressed interest in me, I determined that their partner was aware of this approach and that they seemed to have a settled, comfortable and open relationship. I was flattered and impressed by the couple's communication skills. The interest was mutual, but I said that I would need to discuss it with my own partner.

I summoned up the courage to tell my wife, hoping that she would have the same open perspective she had had in the abstract, but fearing the worst. I mentioned being approached, she asked me how I felt about being approached by this person - I said, "I'm not sure" - and seemed very disappointed. I apologised profusely, backpedalled furiously, explained it in the context of currently being very stressed, and things are a bit better now. She later explained that she had meant the previous discussions about other partners in the context of a hypothetical 'seven-year itch', as it were, not something at such an early stage of our relationship.

My wife sees this as a self-esteem issue, that I crave the attention, that this is a problem that will go away in time if I have the maturity to overcome it and accept that I'm in a monogamous marriage. I'm forcing myself to accept this view, because I truly love her, but we have had bad patches even before we were married, and she is often very critical of everything I do, has less patience for new things, is frequently disappointed in me and seems to criticise me more and more with every passing month. The friend is very dear to me, we have a lot more in common than I feel that I do with my wife nowadays, but they are happy with their partner; I doubt that will change and nor would I wish to ruin it.

Although my marriage seems to be getting tougher over time, the past week had been quite good, until I ruined it by raising this with my wife. So, what do I do? I'm really lost. There's no way I will get her to couples therapy, but I'd consider something for myself.

Throw away email: tttggghhh66@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Option A,
Stay in a monogamous relationship and do so in a sexually faithful manner
(Sounds like you could do with some therapy help)

Option B,
Leave the monogamous relationship with this person and pursue your sexual life in a more poly manner once you have exited

Option C
Lie about sexual monogamy and keep extramarital sex a secret.

I'd not like it if my partner and I had discussed theoretical positions on monogamy over a few conversations during several years, came to a mutual conclusion that it's important to talk about possible extramarital sex (seven year itch thing she mentions) openly as much as possible, I'd find it damn confronting to have a conversation 12 months later that is saying 'I am wanting to sleep with others now.' It sounds like you two heard different conversations. That's not really a solid foundation to drop this on her when you've already got some lovers lined up.

And you're being two faced. With your possible paramours you are saying you're merely going about the task of asking your wife for permission to play, pretty common poly etiquette, but you're not. Do they know the difference that you know? That's not open and fair communication.
posted by honey-barbara at 2:59 AM on August 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

I think you're on the money with your instinct to talk to a therapist. It's hard to know what advice to give you, because even in this brief description you seem quite conflicted about what you want. It seems clear that when you had previously discussed seeing other people, your wife was okay with it because it seemed abstract and distant, and perhaps she imagined that she wouldn't feel threatened by it. Confronted with the actual possibility --- a real live human who wants to have sex with her husband --- she does feel threatened.

It's far from ideal, that she said one thing before you were married and she's singing a different tune now. Humans are far from ideal though; we lie to ourselves all the time. The bottom line is, whatever she said before, she's not actually okay with opening up your relationship and the idea of doing so makes her feel hurt and angry.

What seems far less clear is what you actually want in all this. On the one hand, you seem flattered by the other couple's interest, as anyone would be. But you don't talk about wanting to do this in terms of satisfying your own strong sexual desire for this couple. Instead you speak of admiring the strength of their relationship, of feeling like you're not getting your emotional needs met in your own marriage, and of fearing your wife's anger. If what you desire in another relationship is to feel a sense of love and support and warmth that you're not getting in your marriage, that seems like starting down a path that could lead to its dissolution.

I dunno though, all I've got is a few paragraphs of text to go by. It really seems like you could benefit from talking to someone that could help you figure out what you actually want and perhaps most importantly, how to talk to your wife about it. Because it does seem quite clear that you find it impossible to be open with your emotions with her if you fear they would make her angry, and that's going to be a problem in your marriage whether or not you decide you're comfortable with monogamy.
posted by Diablevert at 3:01 AM on August 14, 2017 [14 favorites]

Since the "three occasions" in which you discussed the possibility of extramarital sex are suffering from the Rashomon effect in how differently you and your partner both experienced the conversations at the time and how you are remembering them currently, take this opportunity to write her a letter that explains your own understanding of what has been discussed and your own current feelings.

What do you imagine for your marriage? What did you want to happen if you slept with this other friend? I think she feels blindsided by your question, but I also think its a bit unkind (even if true) to say this is a self-esteem issue. Is she right that you want to feel boosted by someone else's desire? What does being able to act on your attraction to other people mean to you? Would it have to be sexual in nature or would non-sexual physical affection be also meaningful?
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:30 AM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think you need to consider couples counseling, or spend some time thinking hard about if you want to be with your wife at all, because it doesn't really seem like you do, and this is more important than the friend that you're fixating on sleeping with.
posted by faustian slip at 3:49 AM on August 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

How do you know couples therapy is not an option? Your relationship will fail if you guys don't get some kind of support. You're not getting along! Reach out and get support!

It sounds like you don't want to be married to her, is it possible you've been acting out a lot in an effort to avoid your feelings? Spare yourselves the trauma of trying to make it work if this just isn't right for you and break-up now. That you were trying to hook up with someone while there are so many problems at home is not not not how you do poly, and it's very much not how you deal with problems at home.
posted by jbenben at 4:36 AM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I can't pretend I'm an expert in poly relationships, but the information I've picked up here and there suggests that seeing new people when your primary relationship is in a vulnerable place is not considered a best practice.

Couples counseling seems like a good idea. You say there's no way she would go - have you told her you're concerned about the health of your marriage? Not because she doesn't want you to sleep with someone else, but because you're both having a difficult time.
posted by bunderful at 5:18 AM on August 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm the poly person in a poly-mono, monogamish relationship. I would have liked a more open relationship, but my husband said no, and that is where we are at.

First, it doesn't matter who is in the right -- it matters that your wife has expressed a boundary and now as a matter of respect to her you need to work inside that boundary. So obviously for now this relationship is off the table until you work some things out.

In terms of working it out, I have a few questions. You're pretty recently married, and it sounds like you really only had very abstract discussions about this question. In your marriage vows, did you have the traditional phrases like "foresaking all others"? I'm not asking because I think that's the critical question in terms of vows but because...if you did not make your actual marriage vows explicitly open, at least between the two of you, then I think your wife is generally in the right here, and you need to approach it that you have mislead her a bit about your needs and feelings.

If you had a conversation where you said "I absolutely cannot marry you unless you understand that one day fairly soon I will have another lover," then you are more in the right, and you can approach it as though she has mislead you.

But it has to be in that context. My husband and I discuss all kinds of things like running away to Thailand for a few years, but if one of us quit our jobs without a more serious discussion it would be shocking. I understand where the gap came between you, but you really need to have this conversation first before you start lining up dates.

The root question is not how can you get her to be okay with you sleeping with other people; that may or may not ever happen. The question is, can you create a marriage that meets both your needs. It sounds like you need to really sit down and go over this, maybe rewrite your vows.

From the way you are talking about your marriage I do think you would also benefit from some individual therapy.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:11 AM on August 14, 2017 [13 favorites]

My wife sees this as a self-esteem issue.... I'm forcing myself to accept this view, because I truly love her

Being monogamous may be a condition of staying in a marriage with your wife, but that doesn't mean you have to agree with her views of monogamy or anything else. You can agree to disagree (although in this case I'd personally be troubled by how dismissive she is of your feelings and maturity).

I think individual therapy would be a good idea, even before couples. It doesn't sound like you're happy with your marriage, even before the confusion re: monogamy. And in general your communication styles are at best mismatched. You bring something up, but then back pedal as soon as it looks like she's not fully on board. That doesn't really give her a chance to fully consider your view and possibly adjust her own. I'm not sure if that's a you thing (you're conflict avoidant), a her thing (she shuts down all disagreement), or a you + her thing. I think a neutral third party could help you tease that apart and also help you figure out what you want/need in a relationship vs what you think you can force yourself to live with because love. Because the latter is how you burn yourself out.
posted by ghost phoneme at 7:12 AM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

if either of us ever wanted to see someone else, we would both be OK with that, as long as we openly communicated about it and agreed it.

I think you're remembering what you want to remember from these conversations. You openly communicated about it and she didn't do the second part-- agree. That's her right and you should have known that was possibility. She has agency; she can't "pre-approve" something that hasn't come up yet. It's one thing to have a philosophy of relationships but the reality is quite another. Part of communication is accepting and understanding the other person's response. It's not a vending machine where you deposit your desire and she dispenses it.

we have had bad patches even before we were married, and she is often very critical of everything I do, has less patience for new things, is frequently disappointed in me and seems to criticise me more and more with every passing month
Is it possible you're looking for a way out of this relationship without having to confront your issues?
posted by kapers at 7:20 AM on August 14, 2017 [21 favorites]

I don't know you, or your wife, or the content of your earlier conversations about non-monogamy, but I suspect that this is what your wife thought she was agreeing to: that if one of you felt so constrained by the monogamous nature of your relationship that it became a threat to the rest of your relationship, that that was something important and worthy of discussion. I suspect that she did *not* thinks she was agreeing that everyday, "just because it seems interesting" non-monogamy was OK with her.

I could be reading that part completely wrong, but even if you and she did have the exact same takeaway from the discussion, and she thought she would be OK with a monogamish relationship, it's one thing to agree to something in the abstract and another to actually experience it, and maybe when she was faced with this in real life she felt differently about it.

Do you want to be in a monogamous marriage? Do you want to be in *this* monogamous marriage with your wife? It really doesn't sound like it on either front. It sounds like you guys probably love each other, but that you have really different ideas about what your relationship should be like, and that you are bad at communicating with each other (probably because you one or both of you are bringing a lot of assumptions into the discussion and/or agreeing to things you don't really want for the sake of getting along).
posted by mskyle at 7:20 AM on August 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

FWIW, if I was in her place (and background-wise, I'm in a similar place to her), I would feel very differently about a conversation that started out with "Hey, I'm feeling a lack of x in our relationship, how would you feel about me seeking that out?" vs. "Hey, someone I've known for longer than I've known you is in town and wants to hook up before they leave, can I?" The first feels more like a considered idea of what you need to preserve the relationship long-term. It can move slowly. She could take her time in laying further ground rules, asking questions, or getting comfortable with the idea. The second feels like grabbing at an opportunity the first time it presents itself. It has long-term effects on your larger social network. It sounds like she needs to decide soon, before they leave town. I would probably default to "no", as well.

I think it's okay for this to be a dealbreaker for you, but it's also okay for it to be a dealbreaker for her. As other people mentioned, both partners giving permission was part of your initial agreement. Her not giving permission doesn't mean she didn't make that agreement in good faith.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:07 AM on August 14, 2017 [15 favorites]

The advice I have always seen and believed was that you have the DETAILED discussion about openness completely separate and in advance - not a vague hypothetical, and rules determined well in advance - of coming home wanting to bang someone. It's just not good faith, and humans want to get their way and you can't be trusted to negotiate what you think is actually right and fair and suited to your actual relationship, but only to negotiate to get what you now want. You basically brought a third person into the relationship without her permission, in order to get her permission.

This is a very difficult thing to undo.

And I guess the question is: what's your priority? Do you want to try fixing the damage done, or having already done it, do you not want to make that effort? Your partner may make that decision for you, but if you simply cannot stand to be in a monogamous relationship, it seems like your decision is made.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:21 AM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

She later explained that she had meant the previous discussions about other partners in the context of a hypothetical 'seven-year itch', as it were, not something at such an early stage of our relationship.

I mean, she has a point. You've been married for a year. Things shouldn't be boring yet, IMHO, at least not in an ideal world/marriage. She has a point about motivations - opening up the marriage because your sex life with her is old/stagnant/boring/she's no longer interested or can't meet your needs is one thing. Opening it up because you're flattered someone else likes you is quite another.

My wife sees this as a self-esteem issue, that I crave the attention, that this is a problem that will go away in time if I have the maturity to overcome it and accept that I'm in a monogamous marriage.

Although the source is very biased here, I think she has accidentally hit upon a vein of truth with the "self-esteem" bit. It seems to me that a great, great deal of flirting/affairs/etc. does in fact revolve around ego more than just purely sex. That people need to feel needed, wanted. Perhaps your wife is not seeing you in a starry-eyed way as much anymore, you're not that stranger who she only sees the good in. I understand the craving to be seen that way once again.

I truly love her, but we have had bad patches even before we were married, and she is often very critical of everything I do, has less patience for new things, is frequently disappointed in me and seems to criticise me more and more with every passing month. The friend is very dear to me, we have a lot more in common than I feel that I do with my wife nowadays, but they are happy with their partner; I doubt that will change and nor would I wish to ruin it.

WHOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAA. BACK UP. Problems in your marriage and you want to open it up? No dude. You think this is justifying you in going outside the marriage. Actually, it's a huge neon sign showing that you SHOULDN'T do this. If you're feeling resentment/whatever in the marriage this is virtually 100% guaranteed to be an absolute trainwreck. I promise you.
posted by stockpuppet at 8:24 AM on August 14, 2017 [22 favorites]

Your last paragraph or two are so much more important than I think you give them credit for. They read sort of like... "I am having a bit of trouble spinning this plate, SO I think I'd like to try spinning two at the same time".

By which I mean, a rough point in your marriage is not the time to try adding another person into the mix. And a week of good times is nowhere near enough to call things fixed.
posted by greenish at 8:47 AM on August 14, 2017 [8 favorites]

You jump very quickly from "I'm curious about having sex with my old friend" to "and also I'm not feeling great about my marriage."

If you want to leave your marriage because your wife is impatient and critical of you, that's your right. There's a reason the term "starter marriage" is a thing.

But separate that impulse from wanting novelty sex. If your marriage needs work, novelty sex with old friends won't help you improve it. If your marriage needs to be jettisoned, novelty sex will only cloud, confuse and embitter that process.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:49 AM on August 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

Although my marriage seems to be getting tougher over time, the past week had been quite good, until I ruined it by raising this with my wife.

I think this sentence is so important to your question, but there's not much here to go on.

Generally, if you are evaluating your marriage on standards like, "we had one good week" this (month/year/whatever) things are really not working.

What is going on with your marriage that is so tough? Have you and your wife been able to discuss it and work together on solutions? How is your communication in that area? Setting aside this incident of you hurting her feelings, how are the two of you working on things becoming "tougher"?
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:40 AM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seems to me your options are you accept that you are in a monogamous relationship with your wife or you leave her.

Your worries about her criticizing you and being impatient sound a lot more like justification for seeking out another partner than they anything else. If you do have actual concerns about your relationship with your partner, you should address those with her instead of running into the arms of someone else. Sleeping with someone else is definitely not the answer to fix any problems you have with your wife, and if you decide to go sleep with someone else, there's a good chance you are giving up on your relationship with your wife entirely. I think every marriage has bad patches, or at least isn't perfect -- that's normal, but now you are hoping to use this as justification for sleeping with someone else without addressing them with your wife, which I don't think is the best way to go about it, personally. If you aren't compatible with your wife and it's not a good relationship, that's fine, but you don't really seem to indicate that.

I get that you enjoy the feeling of being wanted by this other person, but I wonder if that is really worth throwing away your relationship with you wife? If your friend is very dear to you, wouldn't it be better to keep them in your life as a friend anyway? I come at this from the standpoint of someone who is monogamous and would never do an open marriage or anything like that, but this whole question comes across to me as if the flattery of this friend hitting on you has taken over everything. If you love your wife and she set a boundary, I wonder why you seem to still be considering this? I don't know if I'd call it craving attention, as your wife did, but it does sound like you really want to feel wanted and maybe your wife hasn't done that enough for you.

So assuming you wish to stay with your wife and your question is what you do about that (you are really unclear in this question), then I would simply accept the boundaries of the relationship, apologize to her/let her know she's the only one you want, and do a better job of communicating your needs in the relationship within the boundaries that have been set. If that's feeling wanted or trying to have special date nights or whatever it is, then you should talk about it. Nothing about your marriage sounds irreparable, at least based on this question.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:14 AM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

is often very critical of everything I do, has less patience for new things, is frequently disappointed in me and seems to criticise me more and more with every passing month.

It doesn't sound like being with this person is better than being alone. I know marriage is a promise and a commitment and all that, but it doesn't mean it's a license to treat your partner poorly. You may love her, but I believe that love and this kind of criticism/disappointment are mutually exclusive. It sounds like this person wishes you were someone else.

My personal experience in a situation like this was to tell my partner that I was hurt by the damning statements they regularly made about me. Their response was essentially "you deserve it." This indicated that either they did not love me or that our ideas about what love is are fundamentally incompatible. I think you might be in for a similar reality check.
posted by seiryuu at 11:30 AM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Wowzers, I agree with all the comments plus more:
  1. If your relationship isn't feeling strong then that is literally the worst time to bring this up. If you're in an extremely difficult class and struggling, is your response to take up another extremely difficult, unrelated class?
  2. Discussion about opening a relationship is a hell of a lot different than actually doing it, and like other people said, it sounds like the two of you were having different conversations. You heard "Hey, this is cool as long as you give me a heads up." She clearly heard something different. The seven-year itch, as she mentioned, or maybe if one of you wasn't able to have sex for some reason. And perhaps she was envisioning one night stands, not hookups with people you're emotionally tied to.
  3. If you think couple's therapy is not an option, that in of itself does not bode well for the future of your relationship. Did she turn this down in the past, or are you assuming these are her feelings?
  4. Related to #1--with respect to the insecurity honestly consider in this context, at this time she might have a point. I don't mean overall in that polyamory is a direct response to insecurity. But you have to ask yourself whether part of the appeal of this relationship right now is that it feels like an opportunity to get uncomplicated, unquestionably supportive emotional and physical romantic attention from someone else.
This seriously sounds like a need for couples therapy. And I don't mean about working through this particular issue, I mean in figuring out what's going on with your communication skills and what's beneath the surface of your marriage.
posted by schroedinger at 2:45 PM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

she is often very critical of everything I do, has less patience for new things, is frequently disappointed in me and seems to criticise me more and more with every passing month.

This sounds very bad but I have never seen a vaguer list of complaints. specifics always change things.

like: is she frequently disappointed in you because she likes to find fault and feel superior, or because you disappoint her frequently in some fairly objective way? were her disappointed expectations fair or unfair? and what are these "new things" she has no patience with, is she getting boring and set in her ways or does she just prefer her own interests and hobbies to yours? or is this code for sexual incompatibilities?

what is her criticism actually of? is it of things you agree you do, but don't believe are bad? of things you don't do, that she invents in order to have an excuse to pick at you? Of things you do, that you agree are bad, that you simply don't want to be criticized for?

all the answers are your private business, but they make such a huge difference to how bad the problems are and how much is in your power to fix. plus, at least invite her to couples therapy before writing it off as a lost cause. for your relational issues, not to discuss opening the marriage. it sounds a little like you're the one who isn't interested in it because, like your title says, communicating seems to make it worse -- meaning she doesn't agree with you and is sure she's right, not that she won't talk about her perceptions and opinions. a therapist can work with that.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:11 PM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Based on what you've said I wonder if what you interpret as your wife always criticizing you is her expressing needs and frustrations you don't want to hear. I'm sorry if this is harsh but based on what you've said I would really question your judgement; your marriage is in rough shape and your solution is to suggest to your wife that you hook up with a long term friend you basically describe as liking more than her and if your other marriage ideas are along these lines I think maybe it's worth listening to her criticisms and seeing if she has a point. Maybe she has needs that aren't being met like believing you care about her and are attracted to her and her criticisms are an attempt to get you to listen. If you don't want to be in this marriage that's fine, but this is not an appropriate way to handle that. If she really won't go to counseling that's a big problem and worth considering in your "is this marriage worth it?" decision, but I also think it's very possible that she's hurt and frustrated and doesn't feel like you listen to her (which, based on this communication, might well be the case) and she doesn't know what to do.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:25 AM on August 15, 2017 [7 favorites]

I also (and apologies if I'm overstepping, I'm just basing this on what you wrote) think maybe what you actually want that you don't have isn't sex with your friend but a relationship as strong as theirs. Possibly you believe that if you were to hook up with them you would magically get that, but the opposite is true. If this person is in a strong, healthy poly relationship it is because they have done (and continue to do) a LOT of work, especially communicating, discussing boundaries, checking back in to make sure everyone is happy and comfortable with what's happening, being willing to back off or compromise on difficult issues, &c. You aren't listening or doing work on the relationship you have now and if you (and your partner) aren't willing and able to put lots of work into something then you will never have the strong, healthy relationship you want.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:41 AM on August 15, 2017

To echo what Mrs. Pterodactyl says, I'm wondering what you thought marriage would be like vs. just being in a relationship? Marriages do involve a lot of work. It's very difficult to balance each other's needs and to adjust living full-time with another person.

I'm also wondering what her complaints and criticisms are and how you're addressing them? Because something that starts out as a preference or a need will eventually escalate into a complaint or a criticism if the partner feels as if they're not being heard or their need addressed. Being ignored or brushed off just adds a layer of hurt or irritation to the need.

From reading your posting, it does sound like you don't really enjoy being married very much. Maybe you don't like being married to your current spouse and you're a fit for each other - but, no matter who you're in a relationship with, eventually things stop being perfect and easy, and require work, honest communication, and meeting in the middle.
posted by dancing_angel at 12:52 PM on August 15, 2017

I re-read your question and one thing that really struck me is that you seem to be positioning yourself as the victim of a controlling and critical wife who wants to prevent your happiness for little discernible reason.

In your description, you make it seem as though you're doing everything you're supposed to, and she's the one breaking the marriage contract, not being a good spouse, and ruining things.

-You "share your feelings" and "communicate" like you're "supposed to" and this makes it worse- subtext: you're doing the right thing and she isn't.
-You "summoned up the courage" to tell your wife- you're brave and doing the right thing, again, she's terrible and irrational
-You "apologised profusely, backpedalled furiously, explained it in the context of currently being very stressed"
-You're "forcing yourself to accept her view" - you're making the huge sacrifice, she's again unreasonable

Look, I don't mean to be harsh with you. I've often felt in life (wrongly) that I was the victim in some interpersonal conflict, and it's strangely comforting in a way - you get to shrug and feel powerless and like the locus of control is outside of you. If you're the victim, you're not responsible. Being personally responsible for everything is a huge burden and it sucks and it's hard and it makes you say "I hate being a grownup" and I get that, I really do. I am honestly sympathetic to the urge to just retreat from that and blame something/someone else outside of you. It's easier and I'm guilty of having done this, too.

My parents are divorced and I was forced to see a therapist to work through my feelings about it. (This is a tangent, but stick with me) At first, I often saw one parent as the "aggressor" and one as the "victim" - it's all dad's fault. No, I was wrong, it's really all mom's fault! Etc. One thing that will forever stick with me from this particular therapist, is that he caught me doing this and said to me,

"Listen, I promise & guarantee you, it is partially your dad's fault and partially your mom's fault. It ALWAYS takes two to tango. In adult relationships, there is ALWAYS some amount of mutual blame. I have never seen a situation in which is was entirely 100% one person's fault in my career. It's a sign of being healthy and mature when both people in a relationship recognize this, and the same is true for you as an outside observer. Yes, at some point your dad was the "victim" and at some point your mom was the "victim" and there are more and less egregious examples of this. But overall, they both participated and they both bear some blame for the way things turned out."

It was like the heavens opened up and I was struck by lightning with this revelation, honestly. It changed the way I think of relationships between people and made me realize there doesn't have to be a "monopoly" on blame. I suggest you take this to heart and recognize that you and your wife are stuck in a type of dance. No doubt she is not blameless for some things, but you are also choosing to be part of this and any real learning & revelation you takeaway from this relationship will involve admitting at least partial blame on your end too.
posted by stockpuppet at 2:32 PM on August 15, 2017 [6 favorites]

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