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Old 01-10-2013, 03:05 AM
fishbonegeneral fishbonegeneral is offline
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Default Notes from The Ethical Slut

Canít say exactly what I was reading when this occurred to me, but I donít feel like itís ok for me to express my negative emotions. Itís ok for me to express happiness or contentment, but I feel like anything else puts an unnecessary burden on C, or that she doesnít want to hear it. C has a lot of emotional problems, some organic, others learned. A lot of my life is spent caring for her in both a nurse sense and in a protector sense. Both of these come into play on the issue of emotions. Not only does it create a literal mental problem for C when I express anything that is not a positive emotion, but in doing so, I am failing to protect her from outside forces, in this case myself. Admittedly, Iím a generally happy person, but on those few occasions when I was not, I received almost no support from C. When I became upset about this, I was told each time that she had her own problems and I was adding to them. That last is also a constant theme during our arguments. No matter what topic we are discussing or who started the argument, I am always made to feel bad for arguing or being angry. The impression that I get from this is that my emotions are not good, right or acceptable. Because C has the mental problems she does, I am expected to be the strong center, the unmoving dock to which she can moor her ship. The trouble is that Iím not unmoving. My emotions swerve around far more than might be expected from my exterior appearance. Still waters run deep and all that bullshit. In my unmoving-ness I am expected to change what I expect from C based on her whims, and if I have a problem with a decision she has made, I am told to ďdeal with itĒ far more often than the issue is discussed. Iím contemplating whether to show this document to C, and my biggest reason for not doing so is Iím afraid she will tell me that Iím asking too much from her, or that Iím just mad at her again and ďWhy are you always finding fault with every little thing?Ē But I donít feel as if I have any emotional support in my marriage. My daughter was in the hospital this past Christmas. It was her first time there since birth and it was Christmas and I couldnít be with her and I was scared. It was the only time since C and I have been together that I was really fucked up and I really needed her. I was less upset when my sister died. Iíll not go into the details, but suffice it to say that C spent most of the day focused on her other relationships. Even after I told her how much I needed her and that I wanted her to focus on me, she made it clear through her actions that she cared less about me than she did about her gentlemen. This was about two weeks ago, and she has apologized. But, like most of her apologies, it came only after much argument and attempts to defend herself. She maintains that she apologized and should be forgiven, even though clearly Iím not over the issue. Also maintained is the idea that she will never do it again, but this situation is unlikely to come up again. Iíve really only needed her the once, and she spent most of the time my daughter was in the hospital trying to re-schedule her dates. I don't know how to bring this issue up without it becoming a fight, but I don't feel fulfilled by my marriage.
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  #2  
Old 01-11-2013, 07:31 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I am sorry you are hurting.

I'm going to take the liberty of chopping that up a bit though so I can read it, ok? Not criticizing -- just have old, tired eyes.

Then I'll respond. But know I see that you hurt.

Namaste,
Galagirl

----------------

Quote:
Can’t say exactly what I was reading when this occurred to me, but I don’t feel like it’s ok for me to express my negative emotions.

It’s ok for me to express happiness or contentment, but I feel like anything else puts an unnecessary burden on C, or that she doesn’t want to hear it.

C has a lot of emotional problems, some organic, others learned. A lot of my life is spent caring for her in both a nurse sense and in a protector sense. Both of these come into play on the issue of emotions. Not only does it create a literal mental problem for C when I express anything that is not a positive emotion, but in doing so, I am failing to protect her from outside forces, in this case myself. Admittedly, I’m a generally happy person, but on those few occasions when I was not, I received almost no support from C. When I became upset about this, I was told each time that she had her own problems and I was adding to them.

That last is also a constant theme during our arguments.

No matter what topic we are discussing or who started the argument, I am always made to feel bad for arguing or being angry. The impression that I get from this is that my emotions are not good, right or acceptable. Because C has the mental problems she does, I am expected to be the strong center, the unmoving dock to which she can moor her ship. The trouble is that I’m not unmoving.

My emotions swerve around far more than might be expected from my exterior appearance. Still waters run deep and all that bullshit.

In my unmoving-ness I am expected to change what I expect from C based on her whims, and if I have a problem with a decision she has made, I am told to “deal with it” far more often than the issue is discussed. I’m contemplating whether to show this document to C, and my biggest reason for not doing so is I’m afraid she will tell me that I’m asking too much from her, or that I’m just mad at her again and “Why are you always finding fault with every little thing?” But I don’t feel as if I have any emotional support in my marriage.

My daughter was in the hospital this past Christmas. It was her first time there since birth and it was Christmas and I couldn’t be with her and I was scared. It was the only time since C and I have been together that I was really fucked up and I really needed her. I was less upset when my sister died. I’ll not go into the details, but suffice it to say that C spent most of the day focused on her other relationships. Even after I told her how much I needed her and that I wanted her to focus on me, she made it clear through her actions that she cared less about me than she did about her gentlemen.

This was about two weeks ago, and she has apologized. But, like most of her apologies, it came only after much argument and attempts to defend herself. She maintains that she apologized and should be forgiven, even though clearly I’m not over the issue. Also maintained is the idea that she will never do it again, but this situation is unlikely to come up again.

I’ve really only needed her the once, and she spent most of the time my daughter was in the hospital trying to re-schedule her dates.

I don't know how to bring this issue up without it becoming a fight, but I don't feel fulfilled by my marriage.
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  #3  
Old 01-11-2013, 07:54 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Again, I'm so sorry you are going through this.

Short answer? Assuming she is capable of delivering even with her medical condition?

Talk to her and ask if she's willing to meet your need for emotional expression (by listening), your emotional need for comfort (by providing support and nurturing things).

If she is not willing? Accept it. Or leave.

Long answer below.

Hang in there.

Galagirl

----------------

Disclaimer -- I'm sleepy and rambly. My apologies for novel.


HOW YOU COMMUNICATE

I hear WHAT you express. But I'm not hearing the HOW it was done. How you express yourself to your wife C with what words and gestures? Sometimes how things are presented matter. But since there's no verbatim examples, I cannot give feedback on the HOW of the communication.

WHAT YOU COMMUNICATE & RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT

You have every right to feel what you feel. I'm hearing that you wanted and needed her time and focus and requested it in the hospital scene. That's reasonable for the situation. Did you tell her HOW you wanted her to meet your need? I have two friends who will come when asked, but both are glued to their cel phones. They figure being there "in body" is enough. I have to specify "phones off please, do the ministry of presence to me. Be present here, not over there inside your phone. I need active comforting." They do not know this stuff intuitively. But once told what to do, they will deliver. Is she that type? Could she need more instruction on the how to meet your need?

You having anger or upset is human. Her wanting not to deal with you in this condition? Well, does your relationship agreement have the expectation of "each partner has the right to support and nurture in a appropriate ways from the other partner?" If so, it is understandable that you feel your emotional needs in the marriage are not being met. Because she's not meeting them, and she's not doing her partner responsibility of giving you the right to support and nurture.

Is it reasonable to expect this of her? You mention her condition and being a caregiver to her? My mom is dad's primary caregiver. He's our patient person now, and NO. He is not able. It is NOT reasonable to expect him to be a 100% health husband for her. It IS a one-sided relationship now. Mom learns to deal with this. I do not know the severity of your wife's mental issues. So I ask -- is she functional enough? If so, it is reasonable to expect things of her.

That is is not her fav thing to be doing because it is hard for her to do? Tough. Learn. Sometimes you do it anyway because you love the person and you are willing to do it for them. Take one for the team.

Is she just not willing? Call her into account for not holding up her end of the stick. Partners in a relationship have to hold their OWN baggage, and hold up their end of the "relationship responsibilities stick" at the same time. If your agreement expects stick holding, hold the darn responsibility stick on your end then, C!

I find not all people write it out -- their personal standard for relationship. Most assume it. And that works well if all players assume the same things and hold up their part of the stick. But most of the time, everyone thinking something else. Conflict arises because something is off because people did not take the time to calibrate first.

That's not a risk I'm willing to take in polyshipping. I need everyone to be on the same page, and be willing hold up the same values in polyshipping or else I don't want to bother.

To do that calibrating, we actually have to talk about the rights and resonsibilities and expectations and come to terms on what everyone's wants, needs, and limits are. Form the standard. Then be willing to be held accountable to that standard and hold each other accountable to that standard. Do you and wife have an agreed to shared personal standard for your relationship?

If not, could think about that. Otherwise you are going to suffer from mismatched expectations of each other. Or suffer one-sided relationshipping where one partner does most of the work holding that stick.

I'm hearing where she made apology, but to me that is a process. Apology is just the first step she could make. Then you have to see if you can forgive, and are willing for her to make amends.
  • Are you willing to forgive?
  • Are you willing to give her opportunity to make ammends? What behavior must she do to get back into right relationship with you?

Have you communicated your willingness to forgive and what she must do to make ammends clearly? If so, and she's giving that a lick and promise rather than serious consideration and action -- you could feel like you can't trust her with your emotional well being.

PRACTICAL HELP

Quote:
I’ve really only needed her the once, and she spent most of the time my daughter was in the hospital trying to re-schedule her dates.

I don't know how to bring this issue up without it becoming a fight, but I don't feel fulfilled by my marriage.

Conflict resolution skills can be learned and it doesn't have to be ugly if partners do not want it to be so and understand each others conflict styles.


Given previous experiences, this latest hospital thing is just one more. I would reframe that as "I've needed her emotionally before, but was willing to overlook her lack of response to my need. This time I really needed her and I'm more willing to call her into account. I'm even contemplating showing her this document."

It is serious to you because you are thinking about a new behavior -- showing her her the doc. Could try that and see if that serves you better in conflict resolution with her. Sometimes I resolve things over email with spouse rather than in face time because that helps keep the emotions from flooding.

She's does not seem to have been a partner that helps to create an emotionally safe environment for you in the past. You want her to be. Assuming she is capable and this is a realistic expectation here... you could ask her point blank --

"Are you willing to meet my emotional needs in this relationship? Yes or no?"
Then determine if the problem is...
  • She is willing but doesn't know HOW to do it. (A problem of your conflict resolution style and your communication style. New ways can be learned by both if willing to do so.)
    • So the solution could be you need to specify each time. (Like my cel phone addict pals).
    • Some other solution she suggests
    • Some other solution you suggest
    • Some solution you arrive at together
  • Or if the problem is basically "nope.... not willing to do it at all. Ever."
    • You could decide to accept this standard in your relationship.
    • Or not accept it, and leave this relationship.
It's hard to feel. But the step are pretty straight up there.
Hang in there.

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 01-11-2013 at 08:26 AM.
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Old 01-12-2013, 12:01 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaGirl View Post
You having anger or upset is human. Her wanting not to deal with you in this condition? Well, does your relationship agreement have the expectation of "each partner has the right to support and nurture in a appropriate ways from the other partner?" If so, it is understandable that you feel your emotional needs in the marriage are not being met. Because she's not meeting them, and she's not doing her partner responsibility of giving you the right to support and nurture.

Is it reasonable to expect this of her? You mention her condition and being a caregiver to her? My mom is dad's primary caregiver. He's our patient person now, and NO. He is not able. It is NOT reasonable to expect him to be a 100% health husband for her. It IS a one-sided relationship now. Mom learns to deal with this. I do not know the severity of your wife's mental issues. So I ask -- is she functional enough? If so, it is reasonable to expect things of her.
That's such a good point, something I can learn from also. My husband grew up in an emotionally repressive family. He still struggles to emote and to cope with the emotions of others. He's made a lot of progress, and I've found myself slipping back into assumed expectations instead of things we'd basically agreed to in the beginning of our relationship.

We moved away from my family about 4.5 years ago. That meant my support network was now 9 hours away. A phone call is not a hug.

It all came to a head recently. I told him that I need more support. He told me that he's doing his best, but that I knew when I met him that emotions were not his strong point, and that I'm expecting too much from him based on his capabilities. I realized that he was right, that my expectations had changed because our relationship had grown... but that doesn't mean he has kept pace.

And just like that, it's like a switch flicked in my brain. I suddenly didn't feel hurt or rejected that he wasn't being what I needed, because I realized that he couldn't. So I found other ways to get support. I remembered ways to help myself.

I've also found that sometimes I have to be explicit in the help I need. He's a problem-solver. If I tell him something is bothering me, he immediately starts looking for solutions. Sometimes, I just want him to assure me that doing bad on a test does not mean I'm a fuck-up as a student. So when I see that's where he's going, I try to cut him off and say "I don't need a solution. I just need reassurance." Once he realizes that, he says just what I need to hear.

Quote:
I'm hearing where she made apology, but to me that is a process. Apology is just the first step she could make. Then you have to see if you can forgive, and are willing for her to make amends.

Have you communicated your willingness to forgive and what she must do to make amends clearly? If so, and she's giving that a lick and promise rather than serious consideration and action -- you could feel like you can't trust her with your emotional well being.
Yup. Also true. It's not uncommon for people to believe that apologizing is enough. Sure, you realize now that you fucked up. But what steps have you taken to make sure you won't hurt me again? In the absence of your amends and solid commitment to do better next time, what steps do I have to take myself to make sure I won't allow you to hurt me again?
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