I am wondering what you know but are not noticing or telling me about. I hear you fought. I don't hear what you did to fight. I hear you had quiet times and wonderful times, but I don't hear that she thought they were wonderful times. Hmm. Me listening closely.
I missed a ton of signs I guess. When we fought it was usually about how to do something (both working on christmas lights together). I would say something like "what do you think about doing this..." rather than "I would like to do this". Her normal response was to say something like "no, I think it should be this way.." and she would do it that the way she wanted. My what do you think was passive, she ignored my suggestions most of the time. I would react OK the first couple of times during the day (we did Christmas lights big) then it would build up and I would get quiet. I also was quite negative, putting people down to build me up. I had very low esteem. Realizing the real reasons for this negativity now.I also was very opinionated on politics and other stuff. She has said she felt like she needed to agree with me and sometimes didn't, but did not want to say it because I would want to discuss it. She was right. so she never said much. If must have frustrated her. Passive aggressive was used by both of us.
On the other hand, what are the clues you choose to not notice? "If you are not hearing from your partner regularly about everything, you are in deep doodoo!" That's a clue. When she doesn't talk, you try to talk at her more? Well, that's dumb. Doesn't work at all, I found.
I guess I missed the clues of her silence. She really avoided conflict in outside activities. I have always been a leader. She would not want to discuss topics that caused her to feel uncomfortable. When I was negative she would defend the people I was criticizing. I see that now. Did not love myself much in the past.
What the heck did you do, by habit, that made her so unsafe?
I always stayed with a topic too long. I could not just drop something. I had to say more. Must have been tough to live with.
I think I am seen as her verbal abuser.
Hmm. You think she sees you as a verbal abuser or you think other people see you as a verbal abuser? That's not clear. Also what the heck to do you do that can easily be interpreted as verbal abuse?
Sorry, she read the book by patricia evans and decided I was a verbal abuser. Here is the check list In the book it is followed with, of course if you feel you are verbally abused, you are verbally abused. check list follows.
He seems irritated or angry with you several times a week. When you ask why he's mad, he either denies it or tells you it's in some way your fault.
When you feel hurt and try to talk with him, the issues never get resolved. He might refuse to discuss your upset feelings by saying "You're just trying to start an argument!" or claiming he has no idea what you're talking about.
You frequently feel frustrated because you can't get him to understand your intentions.
You're upset—not so much about concrete issues like how much time to spend together, but about communication: what he thinks you said and what you heard him say.
You sometimes think, "What's wrong with me? I shouldn't feel so bad."
He seems to take the opposite view from you on almost everything, and his opinion isn't stated as "I think," but as if you're wrong and he's right.
The church issues are a counselor their giving her a book on verbal abuse after one appt and not even knowing or seeking me out. We are Catholic so she is suppose to work at reconciling even under serious physical abuse situations (never any with us). Priest met with her before she saw the church counselor... he reccomended that my W see her. My W came away from that meeting with the priest thinking divorce was OK... Priest refuses to seek her out to explain she is wrong. He says she has to come to him... I have met with him twice, showed him the book (before he knew his in house counselor was using it) he said it was feminist garbage (his words not mine) he was shocked the counselor was handing it out. He asked that I tell my W that he wanted to see both of us in April. She said she would think about it, saw her IC the next day (from Church) and told me as soon as she got home that she was not going. The only thing that could have happened at the meeting was that she would be told she was wrong. By avoiding the meeting she avoided criticism.
Oh, wow. Read my stuff on Master/Slave - Topic #2. I believe people in The Catholic Church (many churches) are often a major source of verbal abuse. As a group they try to helpfully guide other people, but as a practice they often practice/teach bullying. Sounds as if she is reconsidering not just you, but The Church, her faith, (her family?) as well. Big glorious awakening stuff here.
confusing on my part, counselor was suppose to try and get us to reconcile, not my W. Catholic Church says couple should try and work things out.
My W told me she did not think she had and wanted counseling again. Her counselor suggested a counselor and she interviewed him as did I. He was sort of a counselor of last resort. Expensive but intense program. W saw forms she had to fill out and again said no to counseling and she wanted a D. This is when we met with the collaborative divorce counselor.
Good for her. She's not found the right kind of counselor yet. Help her continue to look.
Not clear again, my fault. The counselor we interviewed was a marriage counselor for both of us to see together. Saw the program and filed for divorce within 10 days of telling me she did not want counseling. Changed her mind 4 times in a month. She still has the same counselor she started with and refuses marriage counseling.
I see my W as more male in relationships than female. She really does let her opinion be known with me and stands up for herself very well. She is no way a weak person, avoider for sure, but not submissive at all.
This passage is so contradictory to what you've suggested before, that I have to ask about it. She's quiet and won't talk and is in no way a weak person. Hmmmm.
She is strong with me. She normally got her way and I got frustrated. She was quiet but still did things she wanted to do. She would be quiet when she was mad or mad at me for being upset because my thoughts were not discussed or considered. Many times it was her way or no way. I was too passive and then took it personally as her not caring about me and pouted.
I think she took greater pride in being a Mom vs a wife. Her love language was service. She volunteers a ton for jobs that have no risk but high praise. She puts herself in positions that almost have no risk (serving pizza to teens at church, being an adult chaperone at teen mission trips or retreats, boy scout leader etc.)
Interesting. She was trying to earn what? Praise, self-esteem? She avoiding judgmentalness? "Give me a simple job where I can be successful." Interesting, evolving gal.
She took great care in public life to avoid conflict. In marriage she avoided conflict by usually getting her way or I paid... no sex, no contact, her withdrawing. I also got to the point that I would do the same behavior. We were horrible at communicating and used passive aggressive stuff way too often.
So what to do? I fear she may be waiting for me to fight for her. To reach out for her and tell her how much I love her and want to have a new relationship with her. I have no interest in going back to what it was. I would rather D and that means being alone for the rest of my life (Catholic remember).
Boy! is this a place where I think the Catholic Church fails its congregations. I have no problem with asserting that people should work out their problems and stay together, but to tell them they "have to stay married" and then not help them with how to be good partners - tis very very sad. I've seen it a lot.
I was very disappointed and expected more from our church. They could have at least gotten us together and made us talk to each other in a safe place for her. Instead they expect her to come and seek them out. Not going to happen.
Family is interesting... Dad retired army, several tours to vietnam. Mom basically raised kids alone. Mom still dominates her Dad (my father in law). He retired in his 50's and they bought a house out of state. He would go there alone for months. I always thought that was weird but held my tongue since it was her dad.
You a critical cuss? hmm. If you had opened your mouth would a criticism of him have come out?
I would have said that when I retire I could not imagine not wanting my wife to be part of my life. ironic huh?
How to I handle this? Trying gentle pulling but she stonewalls.
Nope pulling is secondary, first you help her building her walls - so that eventually she doesn't have to build them in your direction, just toward other people. I think she is stumbling out of zero-boundaries into growing a sense of self.
If she is not open to talking how do I help her build her walls? Treat me like I am 4 years old... I am having real trouble grasping this and really need to understand it.
When you are not talking (that may be my error, giving her too much space... so she can exit...)how do you demonstrate empathy? I have shared some of my frustrations with the divorce paper work and stuff and asked her if she was doing OK with it. Her answer was "I am fine".
Well, if I remember rightly, FINE means Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional. Comes from AA.
By the way, you two have been in Door #2 for a long time and dealt with a lot of silence, is there addiction somewhere in you too or in your families. Sounds like alcoholism is around.
No alcohol at all. I have not had a drink for 20 years. Told myself that when I gained weight that I could not drink until I lost weight. Lost weight and decided to not start drinking again. Never had drinking problem. W also does not drink or hasn't drank in front of me for about 15 years. She never had over 3 drinks at a time after college years.
I have been practicing mirroring, asking if there is more, validating etc. My men's group is built on that. Great learnings there and a place to face issues with no spin. I am listening better and still working hard. It is really tough to listen when someone won't talk. HELP!
Hmmm. Actually easier to listen when someone won't talk. Listening to chatty persons like you or me can be a [Bleep!]. One use of Mirroring is there to help our listeners slow us down and give us practice at having to slow down and simplify. Of course if you are super needy/clingy of her talking, then her silence will drive you to distraction/nuts. Can't let your panic out at her.
Confused here too. If she won't talk there is nothing to listen to. She is happy to have things as they are. She deliberately does not discuss anything about D or marriage. I know I make her feel unsafe. How do you communicate with someone like this? I have avoided asking her questions to avoid pushing her away further. Am I wrong in not asking her stuff?
I guess she does not feel safe. I have not pressured at all in the last 4 months. I really feel she is not discussing the divorce or relationship because she doesn't want to change her mind.
Nope. I think you are way off. She probably doesn't wanna talk with you cuz she doesn't anticipate you will understand her. My guess is that you have the habit, from the past, of invalidating her. Gonna take a while before she believes you have changed. Talk with your men about this.
I agree I have not validated her. We both have not validated each other. I was horrible at her disagreeing but still not feeling attacked. We were bad at agreeing to disagree. We both pushed points to the place where we would just shut down.
She told me she had filed for Divorce yet wanted me to tell the kids. I found that interesting.
Then PreValidate her and seek to Validate her.
Not sure what this means...
I also see her avoiding conflict in her settlement offer.
My guess still is that she sees disagreement as a conflict. And so have you, in the past. With her dad in the military, remember that disagreement is a reason to be shot on a battle field. And then dad came home to his wife, a General! No wonder he enjoyed going out on maneuvers to the other house. But that meant he left the kids with the "General".
So what do I do now? I agree we both saw disagreement as conflict. I was very guilty of this.
I am losing hope fast and as the D progresses It is going to get tougher to reach her if she is an avoider. As we divide up the house stuff their is going to be some conflict. That may really drive her away.
Good chance to practice disagreeing in an agreeable fashion.
How do I do this with her when she avoids all talk on D or marriage? I fear she will see my not agreeing with her settlement offer not as taking care of myself and kids but as trying to hurt her. How do I position things so she does not see it as an attack... proving that I am an abuser and she is better off without me.
I love her with all my heart. I realize that more than ever. I want a new and improved marriage. I want my best friend back. I want to be the man she married but improved. We have great kids. The thing I hate the most is the impact this is having on them for the rest of their lives... In law are tough when you have a family and I have fantastic in laws. splitting holidays and vacations 3 ways is going to be that much more complicated than two ways. Plus our model for them is when things get tough, leave. I hate that. That is not what I believe.
So much nice stuff here. But the last bit caught me. Actions speak louder than words. Much better to say, I believed in leaving to avoid conflict, but I am learning better. Much better to say, I've learned to say one thing and do another. I'm working on this.
I was not clear again. I fear the kids will watch her leave the marriage and think when times get tough in their marriages that it is OK to leave rather than try and work things out and keep the family together. She has never taken any blame, only says it is me... Dec. to filing D, then switched to I can't change when I tried to discuss the reasons for the D. Not thinking at all about the kids in her settlement agreement. Wants college fund split 50/50 and most of the equity in the house... without realizing if she gets it I can't pay for their college Which she wants me to pay 70% of. No consideration for telling a 16 year old that he is better off not living with her.
We need help for sure but we can regain our marriage... if both of us work at it. That of course had to make sense to her... and it doesn't now..
Right now, I think of Validating yourself, and PreValidating her, and helping her build them walls, and pondering the lessons before you. [/quote]
What do I prevalidate? and help build walls while doing the tough part of dividing the property and ending the marriage. I need help here. I will do it but confused...
Thanks for your responses so far and in the future. I am working hard to understand and be a better husband and father. How do I get another chance?