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Putting it back together, but SSM issues linger #2197555
11/08/11 02:18 PM
11/08/11 02:18 PM
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Accuray Offline OP
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Journaling here as much as anything else.

After a long roller coaster ride, W and I have been putting things back together. After a terribly low low, we had a generally positive recovery period and piecing, and I feel like we're now anxious to establish a new "norm" but haven't figured out where that is yet.

So what's going on? I have figured out I have issues, and I'm working on addressing them. I'm doing a ton of reading and going to IC. Intellectually understanding these things is one thing, actually making life changes to address them is something else, but I'm trying!

I have figured out that my primary love language is "words of affirmation", I feel loved when W compliments me, tells me how much she loves me, etc. I also want to feel needed, both in the relationship, and sexually. I have identified that I'm needy in this regard -- I need to get better at being OK with me, without W's validation. I am a "giver" and I am driven to please, and to be acknowledged for my giving, which is ironically a selfish act in many ways.

My W has low self esteem issues, but copes with them effectively. She puts up a wall and doesn't let people in, because she doesn't want to be "in" herself. She comes across as very together and business-like, while under the surface, she's dealing with feelings of inadequacy and anger.

Consequently, she is not giving. She does not give "words of affirmation", she does not seek to do the things she knows I like. However, it's very important that I not be disappointed with her. She will essentially neglect my needs until the point that I start to get sad, and then she'll have a breakdown and cry about the fact that she's not worthy, and start to make an effort, but when things level off, the effort disappears. This is hugely frustrating to me -- the pattern of NOT doing something, then getting upset that you haven't done it. Why not just do it in the first place?

When things happen in our marriage, or there are decisions to be made, her criteria seem to be (1) how she feels about it and (2) making sure I accept how she feels about it. My opinion is ok if it supports her feelings, but if it doesn't, then the only thing important about it is how it makes her feel. I believe this to be narcissism, but I'm not a professional and probably not qualified to conclude that.

This doesn't have to be major things. I like spending time with my W, and I also like being out of doors. I like to bike ride, swim in the ocean, go sailing, go skiing, kayak, etc. My W will not do any of those things with me. I admit I get resentful -- what would it cost you to go on a 10 minute bike ride with me? You don't like to ride a bike, but doesn't the fact that I'd like to share that experience with you matter? I have made an effort to spend quality time with her doing the things that she enjoys, but she doesn't really engage in any activities.

Sexually, we've had a desire gap since we had kids 13 years ago. As detailed in my other post, this contributed to many negative issues that eventually derailed our marriage. I read SSM and identified with it completely. I insisted that W read it as well, and to her credit, she did that for me. I know that my situation was not nearly as challenging as other people on the board, some may not even consider the marriage sex-starved. What I picked up with in SSM is that sex-starved doesn't have to do with frequency, it has to do with desire gap. If one person wants it 7 days a week and the other wants it 4, and the gap *bothers* the 7 day person, then you have SSM issues.

After her EA, she did not want me to touch her. She wouldn't kiss me, ML was out of the question, etc. This made me feel rejected and worthless, but I kept at it -- I would DB, give space, not pursue, etc. Eventually this paid off as W slowly started to come back emotionally. We agreed that I would not escalate physical affection, and that she would initiate all ML, with the understanding that we'd try to keep to a once per week schedule (Ideally I'd like twice per week, W would like once a month or once every couple months).

This worked really well for a while, and twice I felt that W really "wanted me" and was enjoying the experience. This unfortunately delivered exactly what I have wanted for so long and established how good the experience can be.

W has never had an orgasm while ML. I have often thought that if I could deliver that for her, she would like ML more and our experience would improve. I have often asked her to tell me what makes her feel good, what I need to do to get her there, etc. but she is entirely unwilling to discuss. She says that even talking about details of ML make her want to cry. (???) I have tried oral, hands, etc., but mainly she's very rigid and obviously uncomfortable with anything but more traditional ML.

She says that she does enjoy it once we get started, but it's hard for me to understand because she never indicates when it's good for her versus not, and I can definitely tell that in many cases she's just not into it, and that makes me feel dirty and badly about myself afterwards. Our marriage was characterized by my W's passive aggressive behavior and attitude toward ML for so long that I'm definitely scarred by it. I never want to be in a position where I feel I am "taking" versus being given.

I have stayed with the "no escalation" policy religiously since we agreed to it. A few weeks ago, I did indicate that I'd like to go on my schedule for a while with regard to initiating. That was a big mistake -- I couldn't handle it. I would feel guilty whenever I started, I felt like I was "taking" when I wanted to be receiving. I eventually told W I couldn't do it and needed to go back on her schedule, and that's where we are now.

I have been reading "Passionate Marriage" which is a very interesting book. What I've taken from this is that there is nothing I can do to make sex better for W if she will not let me. The reason she doesn't enjoy sex is that she doesn't feel good about herself, and there's nothing I can do about that.

I have also identified that I feel a lot of anxiety related to our desire gap. For years I was always afraid that each time we ML would be the last. Passionate Marriage talks about a "trained chicken" syndrome with low desire. The LD spouse will eventually consent to sex when they feel sufficiently guilty because they have rejected so many advances. This can condition the HD spouse to initiate much more frequently than they would really like, because they have to get enough initiations in to get the guilt level high enough.

He likened this to a chicken trained to peck a lever to get a pellet. Initially they get a pellet each time they peck, but over time the pellets get less frequent, but still come after "enough" pecks at the lever. In this scenario, the chicken's cage can be full of pellets, and they'll have pellets in their mouth, but they'll still furiously peck away because they don't know how many lever hits it's going to take to get the next one.

I definitely did not "over initiate" historically because I couldn't deal with the rejection. I waited until things were so bad for me that I had to initiate, and that would make the rejection so much worse. I did, however, identify with the anxiety issues above of not knowing when your next ML was going to happen and not being able to deal with that. It makes me fixate on ML, which is not a healthy dynamic in our marriage.

My DB Coach told me that my W may never be giving -- she may never meet my needs in the way I want them met. Therefore, she said that I have a choice, I can either decide to leave, or I can accept things as they are and try to make the most of them.

I've opted to stay and work on accepting, but I want to get to a place where I'm happy, satisfied, and am not projecting an aura of unmet needs to W. How do I do that?

Accuray


Married 18, Together 20, Now Divorced
M: 48, W: 50, D: 18, S: 16, D: 12
Bomb Dropped (EA, D): 7/13/11
Start Reconcile: 8/15/11
Bomb Dropped (EA, D): 5/1/2014 (Divorced)
In a New Relationship: 3/2015
Re: Putting it back together, but SSM issues linger [Re: Accuray] #2197637
11/08/11 07:34 PM
11/08/11 07:34 PM
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Hopeful321 Offline
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I wish I knew what to say, but I don't. See I am the opposite. I want to have sex every other day. I would try to approach my H and he would reject me. But when we did have sex, it was great.

Maybe fix her a nice candle light dinner with some nice music and see where that gets you. Hey you never know, he might go to sleep a happy man.


H: 49
W: 47
D: 6
M: 6 1/2 yrs
H: Bomb #1 6-2010
H: Bomb #2 7-2011
H: Separated: 7-11-11
Reconciling 2-2012
Separated: 1-31-15 (I asked him to move out)
Re: Putting it back together, but SSM issues linger [Re: Accuray] #2197897
11/09/11 08:10 PM
11/09/11 08:10 PM
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adinva Offline
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Hi Accuray! Your story gives me hope, and I'm happy for you that you're having success and learning from all this. I had lots of thoughts while reading your post so I'm going to chime in, as much to test some of my thoughts about my H and I as to hopefully be helpful to you.

Originally Posted By: Accuray
we had a generally positive recovery period and piecing, and I feel like we're now anxious to establish a new "norm" but haven't figured out where that is yet.

What "worked"? What did you do that made her feel safe or encouraged or interested in working things out with you?

Originally Posted By: Accuray
I have figured out I have issues, and I'm working on addressing them. I'm doing a ton of reading and going to IC. Intellectually understanding these things is one thing, actually making life changes to address them is something else, but I'm trying!

This shows such strength of character and humility. It's frustrating when the changes you're trying to make are internal - you can't measure you're progress or "see" the changes. Your W is lucky to have a H who's even willing to think about things like this, and you're reading and going to IC?! Good for you.

Originally Posted By: Accuray
Consequently, she is not giving. She does not give "words of affirmation", she does not seek to do the things she knows I like.

This and the not learning how to enjoy sex, I read as an act of aggression. I believe there was some of that lurking in my own issues (replace acts of service for words of affirmation and you have what I was not doing for my H even though I knew better. And couldn't explain why I felt so "lazy"). I also had a lot of trouble having conversations about sex, but if it was important to H and I could make him happy and chose to put up a wall of fear and anxiety to prevent us from enjoying each other more...well, to me that sounds subconsiously on purpose. Not all low self esteem. In fact, controlling how giving she is may be a way of putting herself one up from you, so she feels more in control or whatever. If you feel bad about not "performing better" and so you become hysterical and upset, you can shut down the conversation so you don't have to try to do better. I can tell you, I have cried about comments H made regarding sex in the past, and let my sorrow and bad feelings get in the way of trying. I'm sorry I did that now. I think I had to get to this brink to realize I need to set down all of my pride, my ego, and get to work finding out how to be a better partner. It may be too late for this one.

I'm not saying my psychoanalysis of your W is on target, but some of your words hit home for me.

Originally Posted By: Accuray
start to make an effort, but when things level off, the effort disappears. This is hugely frustrating to me -- the pattern of NOT doing something, then getting upset that you haven't done it. Why not just do it in the first place?

yep, I can put myself in your W's place there, and in fact have probably heard "why not just.." a bunch of times from my H. I can say, sometimes I almost could tell that I was sort of testing him by being so "bad", did he still love me? I didn't go through that exact thought process, but I could liken it to the feeling of when I was a kid, disobeying my parents' rules or just sort of intentionally not living up to their expectations. Something that kind of enlightened me about that was a book on birth order, might have been The Birth Order Effect, in which I related to the "disappointed perfectionist." The gist of it is, it's not going to be acceptable so why even try. I wonder if there's some of this going on with your W.

I know I would respond well to very enthusiastic praise for small achievements and letting a lot of slips go unmentioned. Be very very very patient. Forgive, forgive, forgive, and PRAISE. Don't have uncomfortable talks, and totally stop trying to force an "O." Just show lots of appreciation for even the smallest flicker of interest or skill. And not with a slant of "this is just a tiny step in the huge pyramid of what I want you to really do" but with a "I'm really happy about this one thing, that's it, just really happy." Just a few thoughts.

Originally Posted By: Accuray
When things happen in our marriage, or there are decisions to be made, her criteria seem to be (1) how she feels about it and (2) making sure I accept how she feels about it. My opinion is ok if it supports her feelings, but if it doesn't, then the only thing important about it is how it makes her feel. I believe this to be narcissism, but I'm not a professional and probably not qualified to conclude that.

Is she interested in staying married, not just on her terms but for the good of both of you? It doesn't seem unreasonable for her to want to try learning your needs and negotiating them to fit around hers. This may be too soon to start working on negotiating, but down the road it sounds like you need to do that.

Originally Posted By: Accuray
This doesn't have to be major things. I like spending time with my W, and I also like being out of doors. I like to bike ride, swim in the ocean, go sailing, go skiing, kayak, etc. My W will not do any of those things with me. I admit I get resentful -- what would it cost you to go on a 10 minute bike ride with me? You don't like to ride a bike, but doesn't the fact that I'd like to share that experience with you matter? I have made an effort to spend quality time with her doing the things that she enjoys, but she doesn't really engage in any activities.

This again sounds almost aggressive to me (on her part). You'll need to negotiate a give and take in your marriage. Maybe when you're meeting more of her needs and she feels more goodwill, you'll be able to start asking for more of your needs to be met.

Originally Posted By: Accuray
I insisted that W read it as well, and to her credit, she did that for me.

That's impressive, and a big change from what you described about her. Did you show a lot of appreciation for her reading it? Did she provide any response to it? Did it make her feel pressured or uncomfortable, or the positive feeling of knowing lots of people have overcome similar challenges? Just curious whether the book was helpful.

Originally Posted By: Accuray
This worked really well for a while, and twice I felt that W really "wanted me" and was enjoying the experience. This unfortunately delivered exactly what I have wanted for so long and established how good the experience can be.

Good for you! I would encourage you to be more patient. If she enjoys it once and you take that as proof that she should now want it all the time, she'll likely take a step backwards. I think your giving her the control over escalating was brilliant and she responded to it really well, in my opinion.

Originally Posted By: Accuray
she never indicates when it's good for her versus not

Maybe this sounds weird but how about a silly code system so that, I don't know, turning her head left means oh yeah that's good. and how about if there was a code for no offense but I'm not into this could we take a rain check. It would be nice to have the power to just STOP and watch tv instead without feeling like you've crushed someone. I can't imagine a guy being willing to go along with this, but talk about letting her call the shots, wow.

Originally Posted By: Accuray
The reason she doesn't enjoy sex is that she doesn't feel good about herself, and there's nothing I can do about that.

This sounds mean but you might understand it as a fellow DB'er. When there's nothing you can do, there's nothing you can do. But when there's something you can do, you feel empowered and take action and make your life better. There's something you can do. I don't know what it is. I mentioned above that there could be an element of punishment or control to her using low self-esteem to mask her insistence on not meeting your needs. Keep looking for what you can do differently that makes you a better person and more attractive to her, and that generates her goodwill. Keep working.

Originally Posted By: Accuray
I've opted to stay and work on accepting, but I want to get to a place where I'm happy, satisfied, and am not projecting an aura of unmet needs to W. How do I do that?

I'm in the same boat here. My T has explained to me lots of times that I may succeed in saving the marriage (it's a long shot, she says) but I may realize in the end that I'm not satisfied with staying in it. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. Right now, I've put ALL my needs on hold. I'm not getting ANY of them met by my H (well, other than the paycheck he brings home). Not ANY. Obviously, that's not a marriage I want to be in. I'm fighting tooth and nail to get him to want to stay, and then little by little, I'll have to negotiate with him that if he really wants to stay he needs to do X and ask for Y. Since he doesn't want to stay at all right now, the negotiating is premature. You're getting there because your W wants to be married to you for some reason and so she must be willing to do something to maintain that. But the more goodwill you generate, the more you can erase past resentments and be a better partner, the more likely she'll come around to wanting to meet you halfway.

Thanks for visiting my thread the other day, and good luck! You are doing amazing acts of love in this process. I admire you.


Adinva 51, S20, S18
M24 total
6/15/11-12/1/12 From IDLY to H moving out
9/15/15-3/7/17 From negotiating SA to final D at age 50
5/8/17-now: New relationship with an old friend
__
Happiness is a warm puppy.
Re: Putting it back together, but SSM issues linger [Re: adinva] #2198056
11/10/11 04:39 PM
11/10/11 04:39 PM
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 2,502
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Accuray Offline OP
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Accuray  Offline OP
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Thank you so much Adinva, your thoughts are really so helpful. Some additional thoughts and follow-up below:

Originally Posted By: Adinva
What "worked"? What did you do that made her feel safe or encouraged or interested in working things out with you?


We had the ILYBNILWY, EA, D crisis that so many people have on this board. The fundamental problem in our marriage was that we were not connected. Both of us wanted to be, but neither of us knew how to make it better, thought the other person incapable or disinterested, etc., so we also never talked about it.

Historically, I *would* get a spark of that connection when we would ML, so that became a very important thing for me in our marriage -- it was one way I could connect, and I think it became overly important for me. There were so many places I was giving up my needs, putting myself in the backseat, etc. (in my view), but I was willing to deal with that and still stay in the marriage. I kind of decided that ML was one place I would not yield and WOULD be willing to walk eventually if needs were not met.

Based on how I felt about ML, I convinced myself that if I could make the experience better for W, that she would also feel more connected and everything would start to improve, so I probably put even more pressure there.

What I have learned is that W would NOT feel more connected through ML, W needed "quality time", and I wasn't giving her any.

When the bomb dropped I made the typical immediate mistakes (confront about EA, confront OM, beg/plead/reason about divorce, pursue, etc.), I was able to turn that around pretty quickly because I found this site, read the books, etc. and that helped to not push W away further, so I was able to stabilize pretty quickly. I also caught a huge break because the EA was over a few days before I discovered it, and was broken off by OM who went completely dark in order to save his own M -- I got VERY lucky there.

What "worked" was in many ways basic "DB" -- don't do or say *anything* to create resentment, don't bring up EA or OM, don't be angry, plan to do all the work myself, etc. I did make sure my W understood the financial realities of D, *why* I was interested in working on the M, etc. One thing I told her is that from this point, she could go forward with me, or find someone else and go forward with them. There was no guarantee that she'd be happy in either scenario, but if there was even a chance of finding happiness with me, wasn't it worth giving it a try? There is so much upside with regard to the kids, financials, shared history, etc. If there's even a slight chance it works out, let's see if we can do it!

Then, I made it my mission to understand what W needed from the M, what made W feel loved, and I set about making sure I provided that.

Although W was dead set on leaving, she slowly came around and very slowly started to engage until she was also "in". That was very trying to go through that for me.

Originally Posted By: Accuray
Consequently, she is not giving. She does not give "words of affirmation", she does not seek to do the things she knows I like.


Originally Posted By: Adinva
This and the not learning how to enjoy sex, I read as an act of aggression.


Why do you view that as aggression versus just neglect? Tell me more about that please! What do I do about it?

Originally Posted By: Adinva
In fact, controlling how giving she is may be a way of putting herself one up from you, so she feels more in control or whatever. If you feel bad about not "performing better" and so you become hysterical and upset, you can shut down the conversation so you don't have to try to do better.


So you're saying that by not giving, she derives a feeling of control in the relationship. When I challenge her about the lack of giving, her breakdown is a way to prevent me from pushing it so she would have to try?

Interesting! What do I do about that? Since I had a WAW, I have some fear that she will walk away again, find another OM, etc. That's there every day. She's already established that she's willing to let everything go, so how much leverage do I really have to push her? Am I looking at this wrong?

Originally Posted By: Adinva
yep, I can put myself in your W's place there, and in fact have probably heard "why not just.." a bunch of times from my H. I can say, sometimes I almost could tell that I was sort of testing him by being so "bad", did he still love me? I didn't go through that exact thought process, but I could liken it to the feeling of when I was a kid, disobeying my parents' rules or just sort of intentionally not living up to their expectations. Something that kind of enlightened me about that was a book on birth order, might have been The Birth Order Effect, in which I related to the "disappointed perfectionist." The gist of it is, it's not going to be acceptable so why even try. I wonder if there's some of this going on with your W.


I will look up that book as well. My W and I are both first borns, and she has told me outright that she feels competitive with me, and it bothers her that I am a better communicator, figure things out faster, etc. I don't feel competitive, but I'm very conscious now about not doing anything that would make her feel second rate.

I was thinking about this "testing" notion as well. To some degree, she's done the worst thing to me that she could possibly do, and I'm still here, so can't she move beyond that now? If I haven't proven I love her by sticking with her after an affair, changing myself, and putting my wants in the back seat, what else could I possibly do to prove it?

Originally Posted By: Adinva
I know I would respond well to very enthusiastic praise for small achievements and letting a lot of slips go unmentioned. Be very very very patient. Forgive, forgive, forgive, and PRAISE.


Praise drives her crazy. She gets extremely angry when she feels I praise her. I told her the other week that she's a good wife and she got angry. Not sure what that's about, other than that she doesn't like to feel evaluated or graded, and praise makes her feel that way.

Originally Posted By: Adinva
Don't have uncomfortable talks, and totally stop trying to force an "O." Just show lots of appreciation for even the smallest flicker of interest or skill. And not with a slant of "this is just a tiny step in the huge pyramid of what I want you to really do" but with a "I'm really happy about this one thing, that's it, just really happy." Just a few thoughts.


Yeah, I've given up on the "O", although I would love to work on it. It just makes me sad to think about going through the rest of my life with no effort or interest on that front. I will try your suggestions here for sure, being careful not to give praise, but to express appreciation.

Originally Posted By: Adinva
Is she interested in staying married, not just on her terms but for the good of both of you? It doesn't seem unreasonable for her to want to try learning your needs and negotiating them to fit around hers. This may be too soon to start working on negotiating, but down the road it sounds like you need to do that.


She wants to live with no expectations. She wants me to view anything she does for me as a gift. She wants me to expect nothing. To be fair, she tries to treat me that way. She really never expresses an expectation and makes very few requests if any. I don't like that of course, because I like to provide and I like to feel needed and wanted. Like most people though, she is giving what she wants to receive.

That said, historically she DID expect me to "read her mind" with regard to how she was feeling and act appropriately, and when I didn't, she would get resentful. She doesn't *really* live with no expectations, she just doesn't express them and pretends that she doesn't expect me to do anything, but she does.

As The Captain pointed out on my original thread, asking me to have no expectations is actually setting a huge expectation of me to be able to live that way.

Her view of marriage is that we should each be 100% self reliant, and not *need* the other person at all, and that what we get from the marriage is a bonus.

I told her I like to view each individual as 80%, and the marriage provides the last 20% of happiness in our lives. We fundamentally have not agreed on that point.

Originally Posted By: Adinva
You'll need to negotiate a give and take in your marriage. Maybe when you're meeting more of her needs and she feels more goodwill, you'll be able to start asking for more of your needs to be met.


She tells me I am meeting 100% of her needs. She tells me her "love tank is full" per the 5LL's, and that she has the relationship she's always wanted. The only thing she doesn't like is that she doesn't feel I'm happy with what she's currently bringing to the table, and she wishes I was. That's the last piece that's missing for her, that I be 100% happy with whatever she chooses to provide, versus asking her to provide something that I would like. I don't see how that's a realistic perspective, but maybe I'm off base there. She certainly tries to live that way with me, although she is not happy with herself.

That's why negotiating doesn't work, she doesn't ask me for anything -- there's no "I'll do this for you if you do that for me". Her response will be "do what you want to do and don't do it for me", so there's no sense in making a reciprocal ask. See where I'm stuck?

Originally Posted By: Accuray
I insisted that W read it as well, and to her credit, she did that for me.


Originally Posted By: Adinva
That's impressive, and a big change from what you described about her. Did you show a lot of appreciation for her reading it? Did she provide any response to it? Did it make her feel pressured or uncomfortable, or the positive feeling of knowing lots of people have overcome similar challenges? Just curious whether the book was helpful.


Yes, she read it and took it to heart. I think she understands that it's a huge issue and a deal breaker for me, and the message in the book for the LD partner to "step it up" resonated with her, so she is making an effort there. That is the best thing that's come out of this whole crisis from my perspective is that my sex life is A LOT better, just not where I'd like it to be because I'd rather have a completely willing partner than someone who is there "to serve" if that makes sense. This is one area in our life where she HAS stepped up, and that's made me feel good about staying the course. I just hope it keeps up, because her pattern is to back off once things get good for me.

Originally Posted By: Adinva
I think your giving her the control over escalating was brilliant and she responded to it really well, in my opinion.


It was her idea, I can't take credit for that, and initially it was painful for me but I got used to it.

Originally Posted By: Adinva
Maybe this sounds weird but how about a silly code system so that, I don't know, turning her head left means oh yeah that's good. and how about if there was a code for no offense but I'm not into this could we take a rain check. It would be nice to have the power to just STOP and watch tv instead without feeling like you've crushed someone. I can't imagine a guy being willing to go along with this, but talk about letting her call the shots, wow.


Yeah, we've done that, we've come up with some code words for "do you want to ML tonight" but she's not willing to go any farther with the communication, code words or not.

Originally Posted By: Adinva
I'm in the same boat here. My T has explained to me lots of times that I may succeed in saving the marriage (it's a long shot, she says) but I may realize in the end that I'm not satisfied with staying in it. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. Right now, I've put ALL my needs on hold. I'm not getting ANY of them met by my H (well, other than the paycheck he brings home). Not ANY. Obviously, that's not a marriage I want to be in. I'm fighting tooth and nail to get him to want to stay, and then little by little, I'll have to negotiate with him that if he really wants to stay he needs to do X and ask for Y. Since he doesn't want to stay at all right now, the negotiating is premature. You're getting there because your W wants to be married to you for some reason and so she must be willing to do something to maintain that. But the more goodwill you generate, the more you can erase past resentments and be a better partner, the more likely she'll come around to wanting to meet you halfway.


Thanks Adinva, I hope your H turns things around, I wish I could talk to him! You're a good person for putting so much effort into this and putting your needs in the backseat for so long. I know exactly how that feels, although I didn't have to endure it for nearly as long as you have.

Your comments here are most appreciated.

Accuray


Married 18, Together 20, Now Divorced
M: 48, W: 50, D: 18, S: 16, D: 12
Bomb Dropped (EA, D): 7/13/11
Start Reconcile: 8/15/11
Bomb Dropped (EA, D): 5/1/2014 (Divorced)
In a New Relationship: 3/2015
Re: Putting it back together, but SSM issues linger [Re: Accuray] #2198103
11/10/11 07:58 PM
11/10/11 07:58 PM
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She tells me I am meeting 100% of her needs. She tells me her "love tank is full" per the 5LL's, and that she has the relationship she's always wanted. The only thing she doesn't like is that she doesn't feel I'm happy with what she's currently bringing to the table, and she wishes I was.

I don't get what she's bringing to the table. What does she think she's bringing to the table? Just more ML?

Quote:
She wants to live with no expectations. She wants me to view anything she does for me as a gift. She wants me to expect nothing. To be fair, she tries to treat me that way. She really never expresses an expectation and makes very few requests if any.

Assuming you're talking about your basic human emotional needs, I think you're missing something. She's denying that she has any emotional needs that she looks to her H for. While I'd argue that she's probably in denial about that, that all humans have emotional needs, just the fact that she had an EA suggests it's untrue. What did she get from the EA? She might benefit from counseling to figure out why she wants to avoid emotions, but she'd have to want to do that. Coming from you it would sound like pressure. (Where I'm getting this is that my H seems to be similar. While I always thought he was unemotional he really was just not expressing his emotions and then resentment would bubble over. My T pointed out that because he got angry with me I could see that there really were emotions there.)

Quote:
Yes, she read it and took it to heart. I think she understands that it's a huge issue and a deal breaker for me, and the message in the book for the LD partner to "step it up" resonated with her, so she is making an effort there.

Well, ok. She learned there was a deal breaker and she did something about it. Maybe you go along with status quo until you discover that you've come to another dealbreaker - maybe with the physical needs being met better, you can be OK without the emotional part. Are you OK with that?

I still don't get what she values about your R that caused her to turn around on the ML issue. You presented a rational argument, the finances and why-not etc, and it worked - wow. For me, the rational arguments aren't enough - my H is in a fog about that stuff and just wants o-u-t. I'd still wonder what she was looking elsewhere for, just so you can improve on what you have with her.

Re my "aggression" comments. I'm projecting onto your W what I've learned about me. It may not be a fit. I always thought of myself as the better half of our relationship. I communicated, I was flexible, I was understanding and tolerant, while he was increasingly rigid, complaining, and difficult. I stated upfront when I needed him to be more respectful, affectionate, communicative. I really thought he had all the problems and my flaws were minor. I have since learned that my "minor" flaws were major in his value system, which is just as legitimate as my value system. My "minor" transgressions were creating a miserable existence for him. My excusable and understandable, and fixable, intimacy issues may have been destroying his love and respect for me. He wasn't communicating any of this so I thought we were happily married until he told me that he wanted to separate and get divorced. Not to go through every detail of our sitch, but in retrospect I think I was actually a lot more resentful and angry at him than I was willing to admit to myself or anyone, and I subconsiously took it out on him at every opportunity. The ways I did this were so innocuous as to be unrecognizeable - getting caught up reading the internet late at night, being right in the middle of something when he pointed out things that he wanted done, not fixing a food he remembered liking because I didn't think it would be good. Just little tiny ways of saying without speaking, "I do not care about you." In other words, my failures to meet or even understand his needs were acts of aggression I didn't even know I felt.

So when I hear someone won't go for a 10 minute bike ride because they don't like to bike...or kayak...or walk...or ML...it sounds kind of like aggression to me. If I can't get outside of my self-consciousness to do something my H would really love in terms of ML, well, again it sounds like resentment to me. In my case it was. I always planned that when my issues became a real problem for us I'd go get help from a sex therapist. But that time should probably have come a long time ago - my H just wasn't telling me that he was bothered. Instead he just decided the problem was that he wasn't attracted to me anymore.

I guess what I'm trying to say to you is that your wife sounds angry or resentful by withholding her needs from you and withholding her fulfillment of your needs. What she says on the surface, that a marriage shouldn't involve needs, doesn't ring true to me. But it takes all kinds. The real question for you is probably is your marriage enough to fulfill you now or how can it become fulfilling for you.

Rambling a bit today. Rooting for you, and happy about your major success so far!


Adinva 51, S20, S18
M24 total
6/15/11-12/1/12 From IDLY to H moving out
9/15/15-3/7/17 From negotiating SA to final D at age 50
5/8/17-now: New relationship with an old friend
__
Happiness is a warm puppy.
Re: Putting it back together, but SSM issues linger [Re: adinva] #2198137
11/10/11 10:59 PM
11/10/11 10:59 PM
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Accuray Offline OP
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Thanks again Adinva, this is super-helpful, I've been searching for someone who can give me your perspective as a historically LD wife! This is great.

Originally Posted By: adinva
I don't get what she's bringing to the table. What does she think she's bringing to the table? Just more ML?


Yes, good question. Sometimes I think she feels that she always had the marriage figured out and that I've now gotten on board, so she doesn't have to do anything new.

Other times, she gets sad that she's falling short, and I have felt like she's daring me to leave the marriage. I don't know if that's because she still wants out, but wants it to be easy because I'll be the one to leave? She denies that, maybe I'm paranoid. She told me that ending the marriage now will be "up to me", meaning she won't walk away again.

She has also told me that I'm "unlucky" to have her. I think she also fears that I'm with her just because I'm attracted to her physically. She's unhappy with herself, and has a hard time understanding why I'm so committed. In many ways it's the "not going to put in the effort and then be unhappy with the results" syndrome.

What's interesting to me is that she was able to get OM interested, and I'm still interested, so why does she have a hard time understanding why she's desirable? I think that's been validated.

Quote:
Assuming you're talking about your basic human emotional needs, I think you're missing something. She's denying that she has any emotional needs that she looks to her H for. While I'd argue that she's probably in denial about that, that all humans have emotional needs, just the fact that she had an EA suggests it's untrue. What did she get from the EA? She might benefit from counseling to figure out why she wants to avoid emotions, but she'd have to want to do that. Coming from you it would sound like pressure. (Where I'm getting this is that my H seems to be similar. While I always thought he was unemotional he really was just not expressing his emotions and then resentment would bubble over. My T pointed out that because he got angry with me I could see that there really were emotions there.)


Yes, good point. Historically she kept everything in. She didn't feel it was her place to ask me to change or do anything to make her happy, that she should be responsible for making herself happy. She kept everything bottled up and eventually couldn't take it. When she realized she'd crossed the line with OM, she did go to counseling, but specifically to decide what to do about her feelings about me. She didn't even tell the IC about OM or the EA. The IC kept recommending that she talk to me, but she never did, she just told me she wanted a D with no chance to reconcile.

After the bomb, I started going to IC (the same person that W saw, who shared her diagnosis of my W with me despite the fact I kept asking her not to). The IC was angry when she found out my W hadn't let her in and told her about OM, I eventually had to change therapists. My W is dead set against continuing her own IC, or going to MC. She said it's hard for her to keep it together, and she doesn't want to feel worse.

Originally Posted By: Adinva
Well, ok. She learned there was a deal breaker and she did something about it. Maybe you go along with status quo until you discover that you've come to another dealbreaker - maybe with the physical needs being met better, you can be OK without the emotional part. Are you OK with that?


I don't know. The fact that I'm posting here to talk about it tells me probably not. Many of the books I've read talk about the fact that a good sex life is essential for a happy marriage, the two mirror and reinforce each other. I do believe that unless the sex life is *good* there will always be a tax on the M. Based on all the pain I went through, I want the best M I can have. I don't want a 7, I want a 9.5.

Originally Posted By: Adinva
I still don't get what she values about your R that caused her to turn around on the ML issue. You presented a rational argument, the finances and why-not etc, and it worked - wow. For me, the rational arguments aren't enough - my H is in a fog about that stuff and just wants o-u-t. I'd still wonder what she was looking elsewhere for, just so you can improve on what you have with her.


Don't get me wrong -- the rational arguments did very little, that's just negative reinforcement which isn't enough to change anything. I think it just gave her pause. It did a little to dispell the fantasy that everything would be better with me gone. The rational arguments would never be sufficient to change her mind however.

I also talked to her about what I wanted our "new" marriage to be. I convinced her that I didn't want to go back to what we had. I told her that we had an opportunity to start over, that there were no guarantees, and that if it didn't work that was OK with me too.

I also figured out on my own that what she wanted was *connection*. That's what she got from OM. She also wanted to feel that we were working as a team, that I wanted to spend time with her, that I would choose her over my hobbies, etc. That was the positive motivation.

Initially however she was so burned up she wouldn't let me in. She had constructed an intricate model in her mind of who I was, what I represented, what I would and would not do, etc. and a lot of it was just in her head. She had convinced herself of my badness to feel good about being with OM. I had to slowly demonstrate through action that she was inaccurate in how she viewed me, that she had constructed a caricature of who I was. That was the hardest part. She had her mind totally made up, and had added on layers of reinforcing beliefs that had to be stripped away one by one.

I had to be patient, supportive, and had to give her space. Basically it was everything you read in DB, 180's, act as if, etc. The only thing I didn't do is GAL, because historically I would GAL too much!

What did I do specifically? Right away I stopped pursuing about 95% of my hobbies, sports etc. Just quit cold turkey. Cancelled music lessons, dropped out of activities, etc. I started spending as much QT with her as she wanted. I had meaningful discussions with her. I treated her like we were dating. I used to come home, make small talk, eat dinner, spend time with the kids, then retire to the "man cave". I stopped doing that. Instead I would spend time with the kids, exercise, and then QT with W -- every night. I would IM with her from work, send her e-mails, up the communication.

I'm naturally a night owl, but I made it a point to go to bed at the same time every night. I changed my attitude towards the M. I started doing the dishes, I started doing the kids laundry, I picked up the clutter around the house that I knew bothered her.

I looked at every task in our lives necessary to keep the family going, asked myself if I just "assumed" that she owned it, and then challenged why I felt that way. I was no slouch before, I definitely did my share, but I definitely also had unspoken assumptions about things she was responsible for, and I rethought all of those. I particularly tried to pick up the things that she liked the least, or that caused her the most stress.

There was no "one thing" that worked, it took everything, and I can tell you it took every ounce of what I had to give to make it work. Nothing about it was easy -- and the whole time I was burned up inside! I wanted the apology, I wanted the remorse! I wanted her to care about MY needs! I had to smash all that down and it was very, very hard.

Originally Posted By: Adinva
Re my "aggression" comments. I'm projecting onto your W what I've learned about me. It may not be a fit. I always thought of myself as the better half of our relationship. I communicated, I was flexible, I was understanding and tolerant, while he was increasingly rigid, complaining, and difficult. I stated upfront when I needed him to be more respectful, affectionate, communicative. I really thought he had all the problems and my flaws were minor. I have since learned that my "minor" flaws were major in his value system, which is just as legitimate as my value system. My "minor" transgressions were creating a miserable existence for him. My excusable and understandable, and fixable, intimacy issues may have been destroying his love and respect for me. He wasn't communicating any of this so I thought we were happily married until he told me that he wanted to separate and get divorced. Not to go through every detail of our sitch, but in retrospect I think I was actually a lot more resentful and angry at him than I was willing to admit to myself or anyone, and I subconsiously took it out on him at every opportunity. The ways I did this were so innocuous as to be unrecognizeable - getting caught up reading the internet late at night, being right in the middle of something when he pointed out things that he wanted done, not fixing a food he remembered liking because I didn't think it would be good. Just little tiny ways of saying without speaking, "I do not care about you." In other words, my failures to meet or even understand his needs were acts of aggression I didn't even know I felt.


You *may* be too hard on yourself here. If you were in the middle of something when he made a request, you were in the middle of something! It's not like you did that to spite him unless you could see the future. It's hard for me to see the balance between looking out for your own needs versus being passive aggressive about H. You may be taking on too much responsibility here.

You can't be a good relationship partner unless you're good with you, and to do that, you have to see to your own needs too.

One thing my DB Coach and my IC both keep telling me is that I cannot own my W's issues. Those are hers to deal with. If you were not meeting your H's needs, I would have to think it's because he wasn't meeting your needs either.

One thing I liked about the SSM book is it made me understand cycles in relationships. If you do a positive act, you get a positive response, then you do another positive act, and pretty soon you're both spinning in a good direction. The opposite is also true -- you reject H for sex, he withdraws and does not spend QT with you, you get resentful and dig in even harder on no ML, he feels even more resentful and hurt and withdraws even farther, or gets critical, and you're in a full scale negative hurricane.

The point is, you don't do that by yourself. If H was giving you what you needed, you would have stepped up for H. That's how it works (or should work, I seem to be having issues with W in that regard!)

Originally Posted By: Adinva
So when I hear someone won't go for a 10 minute bike ride because they don't like to bike...or kayak...or walk...or ML...it sounds kind of like aggression to me. If I can't get outside of my self-consciousness to do something my H would really love in terms of ML, well, again it sounds like resentment to me. In my case it was. I always planned that when my issues became a real problem for us I'd go get help from a sex therapist. But that time should probably have come a long time ago - my H just wasn't telling me that he was bothered. Instead he just decided the problem was that he wasn't attracted to me anymore.


I wish my W would go to a sex therapist. There is no way. She told me that her LD doesn't bother her at all, so she has no reason to work on it. I think that she feels as long as she steps up the frequency, that's good enough -- but it's not! I'm not looking for anything crazy, I just want intimacy and connection, I want mutual desire.

My MIL is a narcissist. Everyone recognizes that, including W. It's all about MIL. I think my W has some of that going on, but then has episodes of realizing it and feeling badly about it, but those episodes aren't enough to motivate any change. I don't know what to *do* about it, that's what's frustrating.

Originally Posted By: Adinva
I guess what I'm trying to say to you is that your wife sounds angry or resentful by withholding her needs from you and withholding her fulfillment of your needs. What she says on the surface, that a marriage shouldn't involve needs, doesn't ring true to me. But it takes all kinds. The real question for you is probably is your marriage enough to fulfill you now or how can it become fulfilling for you.

Rambling a bit today. Rooting for you, and happy about your major success so far!


Thanks Adinva. I feel like I was resigned to mediocre before. I figured out how to cope, and I was going to make it work. Now that I've been put through the wringer, I want great! If I'm going to do all this work and make all these positive changes, why stop at "good enough"? Let's take it up a notch, you know? Wish W would join me on that mission, it would be better for both of us, I know it would.

I realize I'm lucky, there aren't a ton of success stories. I should be very glad with just having W back. I should be proud of what I've done already. Instead I feel like it's not enough. My goal in IC is not to deal with my crisis anymore, it's to be the best marriage partner I can be. I told IC I want to turn over all the stones and work out whatever I need to work out. I'm all in.

I guess I choose to keep going.

Accuray




[/quote]


Married 18, Together 20, Now Divorced
M: 48, W: 50, D: 18, S: 16, D: 12
Bomb Dropped (EA, D): 7/13/11
Start Reconcile: 8/15/11
Bomb Dropped (EA, D): 5/1/2014 (Divorced)
In a New Relationship: 3/2015
Re: Putting it back together, but SSM issues linger [Re: adinva] #2198152
11/11/11 01:18 AM
11/11/11 01:18 AM
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BklynMom Offline
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Thought I would add my 2cents.

I can relate to how your W feels. On occasion I have had similar feeling (although my feelings only last 2-3months). For me it was some type of your depression.

Does your W see a T or has she tried AD? I know its hard to suggest these things when you are trying to put things back together but those things may help.

It seems obvious but I think she needs to get in touch with herself more before any chance of a big O


----
M 39
H 35
D5,D4
M 4
T 9
ILYBNILWY 5/18/11
Left 7/11/11
Divorced 12/1/13

Re: Putting it back together, but SSM issues linger [Re: BklynMom] #2198162
11/11/11 02:45 AM
11/11/11 02:45 AM
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Hi - I think by aggression I should have made clear it was in response to things H wasn't doing. We definitely cycled negatively just like you described. I was angry and didn't know it. I said ILY and spoke my love language, but underneath I had felt neglected for so long that I was really angry.

In this situation we're in now, I basically dropped all of it. Forget the anger, forget the unmet needs, just see if we can get to where we want to stay together and then improve things from there. That sounds like where you are now.

In a million or more words, I guess I've been thinking, is there something your W has been angry about that she doesn't even know about? That's hampering her interest in ML as well as other acts of emotional caring.

The DB way, I think, is not to look so hard at the past, just find what works and do it. You're doing that!


Adinva 51, S20, S18
M24 total
6/15/11-12/1/12 From IDLY to H moving out
9/15/15-3/7/17 From negotiating SA to final D at age 50
5/8/17-now: New relationship with an old friend
__
Happiness is a warm puppy.
Re: Putting it back together, but SSM issues linger [Re: BklynMom] #2198170
11/11/11 03:26 AM
11/11/11 03:26 AM
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Accuray Offline OP
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Accuray  Offline OP
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Thanks BklynMom! I appreciate your help.

Originally Posted By: BklynMom

Does your W see a T or has she tried AD? I know its hard to suggest these things when you are trying to put things back together but those things may help.


No, my W refuses to see a T or to consider AD, even though her mother and sister take them. She is very proud and stubborn and I think she refuses to think that she needs any help. She is extremely stubborn!

Quote:

It seems obvious but I think she needs to get in touch with herself more before any chance of a big O


Agreed, I just don't know how to encourage her to do that, she's not interested.

The way I discovered OM was that I found her email and IM correspondence with him. She was very affectionate and loving. She was much more vulnerable than she has ever been with me.

What makes me crazy is from reading that, I know she's capable of being warm and affectionate, I just don't inspire that in her, or she won't give that to me and that hurts -- a lot.

At one point I asked her about that (mistake). She said that OM had no expectations, so she could be affectionate. I don't have high expectations! So much of it is in her head. I think the truth is that OM made it clear his W came first, so my W had to pursue. When I try to give space and let her pursue me she just starts crying.

I'm not sure what to do, but I hate feeling this way.

My W loves a TV show that's on Thursday nights. I have been watching it with her although it's not something I would choose to watch. It makes her happy and I like being part of that. Tonight I suggested we watch one of my favorite shows too and she agreed. She sat there the whole time with an angry/disinterested look on her face, and at the end told me it was awful, then we watched her show.

Really?

Accuray


Married 18, Together 20, Now Divorced
M: 48, W: 50, D: 18, S: 16, D: 12
Bomb Dropped (EA, D): 7/13/11
Start Reconcile: 8/15/11
Bomb Dropped (EA, D): 5/1/2014 (Divorced)
In a New Relationship: 3/2015
Re: Putting it back together, but SSM issues linger [Re: Accuray] #2198210
11/11/11 01:21 PM
11/11/11 01:21 PM
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Accuray Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: Adinva
In a million or more words, I guess I've been thinking, is there something your W has been angry about that she doesn't even know about? That's hampering her interest in ML as well as other acts of emotional caring.


Yes, although I don't believe I'm the root of that anger, I think that goes way back. She does have a hair trigger on some days, and often her reaction to the kids is out of proportion to the offense. I realize that unpredictability in a parent is not a good thing for kids, but it's not so bad that I think it's really causing issues, it's fairly rare.

She knows she's got issues, but she's not willing to address them. She says she's satisfied with the way she copes, and it's not worth the pain to dig down, I don't believe she thinks its fixable, or if it is, it's not worth the effort.

The the spirit of DB, the question is what do I *do* about it? Is it OK to have R talks now that we're on a good path to reconciliation, or is that still to be avoided? The DR gives you a seven step program to get back from the brink, but once you hit the starting line to reconciliation, it's uncharted territory. Glad to be here, what do I do next?

Thanks,

Accuray


Married 18, Together 20, Now Divorced
M: 48, W: 50, D: 18, S: 16, D: 12
Bomb Dropped (EA, D): 7/13/11
Start Reconcile: 8/15/11
Bomb Dropped (EA, D): 5/1/2014 (Divorced)
In a New Relationship: 3/2015
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