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Spiraling into the Upside Down #2

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Responding to a bunch of recent replies

LH19, MLCxH, IW, D - I agree that I have little to no control of the situation.

In an ideal world, we would go to one counselor for co-parenting/separation coaching, and a separate counselor for MC. Unfortunately it is all merged together.

At some point, Iíd like to transition from S coaching (which only needs to take a finite amount of time) to working on the MR. If it doesnít, then I will walk away from MC. I would like that transition to happen soon, but I have an open mind and donít have a specific session in mind (yet). I have stated this in MC twice now, in a non-threatening way. Itís clear to the counselor and my W that I am not willing to operate on an indefinite timeline.

I also need to differentiate ďworking on the MRĒ vs. ďW wanting to work on the MRĒ. I think itís impossible to determine her motivation level. Letís say we go to MC next week and dig deep into relationship issues. That would be a starting point for working on the MR. But even if we do that, it does not make clear whether or not my W actually wants to work on the MR. She could be ticking a check-box, or feeling cautious, or being completely open but not wanting to say. I donít know and I donít care - provided I feel we are working through our issues, and that I have a voice (not just going over her issues with me). Look at SteveSís situation - they are Síd, going to MC, digging into relationship issues, and itís completely unclear what his W is thinking. Gauging motivation would be very tricky. I know what is the most likely case, but mind-reading gets us all into trouble.

As for telling the kids and family we tried, it doesnít really move the needle for me. Family I donít care. Kids I do care, but I think itís much more important I focus on being a great father. Iím not trying to win a battle with my W for the heart of my kids. That attitude alone will guarantee failure. I know down the road my W could morph into a vindictive person who tries to pit our kids against me. I can't control that, and whether or not we continue with MC, I'm sure she would gather enough ammo to justify her actions.

NowÖ what is ďworking on the MRĒ? I think we are at an impasse until/unless my W is willing to hear my input on our issues. That is the first step. MC is the only forum where I think this can happen. Next week we are supposed to try out a listening activity where, if I am the speaker, it would be the ideal place to start. Why not tell her what I think? I have nothing to lose.

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What you're going through is why MC is a slippery slope.

I would flat out say in the next session the following things:

1. How many sessions do we need to improve our communication issues around the kids?
2. Beyond that, you will only participate in any future MC sessions if W wants to work on the marriage. Not in some superfluous way, but in concrete terms.

If I were in your position, I would actually walk away from MC and say that you're willing to go to MC once W does IC and still wants to save the marriage. If she does, then you're willing to go back to MC.

You have zero need to give your input into anything. Your W needs to be in a place to 'hear' you. You want to be vulnerable and open, and that is awesome, but it will most likely be counter productive at this stage.

You have nothing to lose by stating what you would need from her to save the marriage. What is that? IC would be the minimum on my list.

Take all the mind reading out of this and state it as clearly as possible. No need to gauge her motivation or what not - it is totally irrelevant at this point.


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I just don't see why you would pay someone to coach a separation. Seems easy enough to handle. The fact that you are going makes it seem like you're desperate. If you decided you have a handle on this and don't need a separation coach, it makes you look like you are not desperate at a minimum.

When/if your W wants to work on the marriage, you'll know it!

Originally Posted by Maika
1. How many sessions do we need to improve our communication issues around the kids?


None! I think U can work on this by himself and have better results. And truly, if communication was the biggest issues, he would be better off not worrying about this divorce/separation b/c I can guarantee all this stress has not helped.


H 34
W 29
BD 3/12/18
Divorce Busted Spring 19

It is not things that bother us, but the stories we tell ourselves about things.
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Originally Posted by Maika
I would flat out say in the next session the following things:

1. How many sessions do we need to improve our communication issues around the kids?
2. Beyond that, you will only participate in any future MC sessions if W wants to work on the marriage. Not in some superfluous way, but in concrete terms.

If I were in your position, I would actually walk away from MC and say that you're willing to go to MC once W does IC and still wants to save the marriage. If she does, then you're willing to go back to MC.

You have zero need to give your input into anything. Your W needs to be in a place to 'hear' you. You want to be vulnerable and open, and that is awesome, but it will most likely be counter productive at this stage.

You have nothing to lose by stating what you would need from her to save the marriage. What is that? IC would be the minimum on my list.

Take all the mind reading out of this and state it as clearly as possible. No need to gauge her motivation or what not - it is totally irrelevant at this point.

Maika - Thanks, I like your 2 numbered points a lot.

My W has been in IC since February and continues to go. She mentioned in MC this week she will continue to go to work on "healing." I don't ask what they cover, but the evidence suggests she has not been digging into her own issues and contributions to the failure of our MR.

I still fundamentally don't understand what "working on the MR" looks like. Example: Communication has been a huge problem in our MR. I have been conflict avoidant, and my W has withdrawn and built up resentment. We are working on communication in counseling -- partly (but not exclusively) in the context of communicating concerns about the kids as co-parents. So is this working on the MR, not, or somewhere in between?

BTW I've been bingeing the Aubrey Marcus podcasts, really good stuff.

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Originally Posted by ovrrnbw
I just don't see why you would pay someone to coach a separation. Seems easy enough to handle. The fact that you are going makes it seem like you're desperate. If you decided you have a handle on this and don't need a separation coach, it makes you look like you are not desperate at a minimum.

When/if your W wants to work on the marriage, you'll know it!

Originally Posted by Maika
1. How many sessions do we need to improve our communication issues around the kids?


None! I think U can work on this by himself and have better results. And truly, if communication was the biggest issues, he would be better off not worrying about this divorce/separation b/c I can guarantee all this stress has not helped.

ovrrnbw - One would think this stuff would be easy, I agree. I should give an example of what's happened so you can understand why I say MC has benefited us.

For instance, it took a couple MC sessions for my W to fully get that yes, we need a calendar with dates and times for drop-off and pick-up to avoid confusion and unnecessary conflict. She literally did not get that. When I asked for it, she was getting irritated and withholding stuff. This is where the counselor has helped. My W also didn't want to tell me the kids extracurricular schedules, or doctor visits, because she's used to handling that stuff. Well... things changed, I need to know what our kids are doing. I won't be seeing them every day to hear about swimming lessons. I want to know, I deserve to know, I'm their father. Why is it like pulling teeth? In that sense, MC has defused the drama and the counselor has given my W some clarity that she can't just run things the way she wants. Yes, internally I am eye-rolling quite a bit that we have to pay money and waste time on this, but I think a few sessions have been necessary to bring things together. It is absolutely annoying to waste time and money on information you can find in any internet article about separation or divorce. Or just by using common sense.

Phew... okay... got some frustration out.

Back to "working on the marriage" -- many people say going to IC and MC are steps to working on the marriage. Technically we are kinda doing that (MC goal is debatable).

I think your point is that in whatever form, if my W chooses to invest time and energy into actually trying to work on the marriage, it will be clear. And my current doubts are indicators that she is not invested. I can go to MC and take advantage of the forum to air out my grievances or the things I would like to see change if we are to work on things, but that's different from actually working on things. "But we ARE working on things, we are working on communication!" is not really meeting my needs. When she says things like "I know you feel like you need to be heard" - that also tells me she is not interested. Everybody in a relationship wants to feel heard!

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U,

For an example if you are working on the marriage itís very common for the MC to have you read the 5 Love Languages and take the test. Once your LL is established then they will have you speak to each other in your LL. You will know if your W is participating or not. Mine didnít so I stopped going after 3-4 sessions.

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Originally Posted by LH19
You will know if your W is participating or not. Mine didnít so I stopped going after 3-4 sessions.

Pretty sure this MC won't use 5LL, but he did talk next week about working an exercise on communication (not about the kids, but about, well, anything). This will be an opportunity to gauge my W's participation. It is an opportunity for me to air out what I am feeling, really anything I want to say, and her job as listener is to just listen.

On that note, I do have to consider what I would talk about. There's so much that could be said, but the more words, the more it dilutes the message.

I'm fairly sure I will bring up an incident about 7 months ago, long before I realized I was in limbo. W and I were having a chat in the living room, and she transitioned into unloading on me for, by my count, at least 12 different things she was upset about. It was a verbal barrage. Then she just got up mid-conversation and went to sleep and left me there. She was upset about: Xmas gifts, lack of emotional intimacy, feeling I made no progress in IC, accused me of a PA, accused me of a porn addiction, said I was financially controlling, all the changes I made from MC1 were not helping, on and on and on. I call this the sh*t tsunami. She tied it off saying this is why she felt no desire for physical intimacy (knowing that was something I was missing).

It perfectly encapsulates the important issues I would want her to address:

- Quietly stewing, mind-reading, building up resentment, then periodically erupting, then acting like nothing happened. Repeat.
- Complete lack of communication - no willingness to find common ground, or work through conflict, or talk about serious issues with an open mind and heart
- Trust issues
- Ignoring or diminishing my needs

Finally, there is a tinge of her tendency to "therapize" me -- and that alone may be enough to say this MR is over. That is a power dynamic that really makes it impossible to have a loving relationship.

Oh, and all this happened while fireworks were going off in the distance. It was NYE. I recall lying in bed wide awake for a couple hours thinking: "Something needs to change, I can't keep living like this."

At the time, I handled this fairly well I thinkl. I was not in "fear of losing the marriage" mode. I listened non-defensively, validated, stayed calm. I had been reading a lot about couples communication the prior several months during our first MC go-round. I responded the next day with an e-mail to acknowledge what I heard, let her know I cared about her feelings, suggested we work on how to address some of the items, and that I thought we should go to a new MC. No response. No acknowledgement that I even responded.

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Journal -

Good IC session for me yesterday. I have spent so much time there talking about my sitch, yesterday I decided I wanted to focus 100% on myself.

Spent last night at home in my garage working on a little kitchen table I'm building. It's turning out fantastic. Maybe I'm chasing the high of accomplishments, but I'm okay with that. It's fun to learn new things.

Took a day off exercise yesterday because weightlifting on Tuesday destroyed my body. Soreness all over. Soreness feels good. Somehow today I need to drag my bag of bones over to the gym and do it again.

After two weekends with the kids I am off this weekend. Going to try surfing with a buddy for the first time in 3 years. I've never been very good, and usually end up gasping for air most of the time. But when you see a wave cresting, and you have to furiously paddle just to survive... there is no other experience I have felt that just puts you right there, in that moment, forgetting everything about the past, the future, nothing. Out in nature, enjoying the views of the coastline... Sometimes after a 2 hour session I remember getting out of the water feeling completely refreshed, rejuvenated, like a new person. And every once in awhile, if I'm lucky, I catch one of those waves, and I swear it can be better than... yup.

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Aubrey's podcast is awesome. Others that are on top of my list are the Rich Roll podcast, Impact Theory, the Angry Therapist, and Single Daddy Daily.


No one is coming to save you!

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