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Originally Posted by tom_h
Roger, Scout. But I am a bit touchy about this now. If I reply to someone else's comment about sex, the ire comes at me, not at the one who originally made it! Also, I did not imply what Steve said. I even qualified my comment! I was asking for perspective. So, please, empathy (and careful reading) both ways?


I don't see where he implied that you said it. He saw something interesting to him, and he commented on it. Also, I didn't feel ire coming from him. Again, just a response to something he found interesting. I'm not one to pile on, but you give off an aura of being thin-skinned. My XW was like that. She took things that weren't even remotely critical and felt criticized--which is probably why I always walked on egg shells around her. With all due respect, it might be something worth working on.

I've tried to see your point of view. I've praised your vulnerability. I've empathized with your post regarding the sexual desire gap. I hope you take this the right way--because I value a lot of what you bring up and would like to see you continue to post and continue to better yourself. We all have negative personality traits that we can work on.

Last edited by harvey; 12/16/20 10:14 PM.
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Originally Posted by tom_h
What do I do to ensure that she doesn't fall into that trap? Thanks for comments.
Like steve85 said, it is a chicken and egg problem. I definitely relate.

Men are microwaves. Women are crockpots. It is all the little interactions that make the difference. Building up the sexual tension over the course of time. Consistently behaving in attractive ways. Men are typically seduced by the visual. Woman by the verbal. My behavior and my words are extremely important.

As the man, I am in charge of the sex and romance department. Her decrease in desire typical correlates to my decrease in attention, romance and/or seduction. Flirting and teasing and making her laugh. Helping her relax. Listening with undivided attention to her stories. Even if that is for 5 minutes between tasks at the house.


Right now, you can build a solid foundation. I was reading anything and everything.


"What is best for my kids is best for me"
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Originally Posted by harvey
We all have negative personality traits that we can work on.
I resemble that remark.


"What is best for my kids is best for me"
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It's probably only fair if I lay some of my negative personality traits out there.

I'm overly competitive. I'm a procrastinator.

I lack empathy--which I feel is my worst trait and the one I've tried to work on the most since my divorce. It's an ongoing process though, and I have a long way to go before it becomes second nature. I've focused on putting myself in somebody else's shoes when I'm listening to them. I've focused on thinking before responding.

Most of my Mom's side of the family have some common personality traits (good and bad) that we got from my maternal grandmother. She was about as blunt as they come, but she had the ability to laugh at herself. We are thick-skinned, forgiving, and self-deprecating on the plus side, but we also lack empathy.

I've also realized that I'm more self-centered than I thought. The whole sexual desire gap in my marriage is a good example. I wouldn't say I was in a sexless marriage by any means, but I wanted it more. I got caught up in thinking about how it affected me, but I didn't always look at it from her point of view. I didn't strive to understand the root of what caused the desire gap on her end.

I think that's the good that has come from my divorce. I've taken a look at my flaws, and I have worked on many of them. I'm a better person having gone through it. Increased empathy has made me a better father to my two daughters.

Last edited by harvey; 12/17/20 01:03 AM.
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Originally Posted by tom_h
R-E-S-P-E-C-T

On to another of my 180s, on my list. We've been sort of handling empathy and vulnerability together over the last 50 comments, yet maybe I should bring up another one now: Respect, especially mutual respect.

There is no doubt that there had been a dearth of respect, in either direction, by the time my STBXW walked out. I had been beaten down by the personal fights I was having (lawsuits, mentioned earlier) and I believe in my heart that she had difficulty respecting this man, her husband, who didn't convey strength, especially in times of adversity. In a sense, I can't blame her -- I was always the one who took on the hard challenges. Countless times, whether it was her getting laid off when she was pregnant (yes, that stuff still happened in 1995) or getting her through planning her parents' funerals. She had married me because I projected strength, projected confidence and vision, and here I was not projecting such. I couldn't earn money while I fought off the lawsuits, so the financial impact was twofold -- no income coming in, and money going out to pay for lawyers. An older, far more traditional friend of mine, in his late 70s, quickly guessed that this might have been part or all of the problem. Another friend said that financial issues are the cause of 50% of divorces, according to surveys. [But that doesn't seem to be the case for DBers here on the forum.]

But the lack of respect went the other way, too. Guilty as charged. The SSM began within months after we came back from our honeymoon. Now, looking back, I can see that -- if our marriage was ultimately doomed -- it began back then. I did the love languages thing recently and three were almost tied for first -- 30% was touch and tied at 28% were words of affirmation and quality time. So now I can see that perhaps the seeds of the demise of the marriage began back then. She was indifferent to, and at times afraid of, sex. Me, on the other hand, I am a classic romantic who loves romance, sensuality and the physicality of sex. We muddled through of course, had 3 children in 6 years, and created a family and a home. Yet, we didn't communicate well most of the time, and didn't share a lot. Oh, we worked on things and sometimes it got better, but the physical side was always controlled by her and she rationed it. Big time. So I was both love, affection, and sex-starved. It took me awhile to realize but that was why I was testy all the time, too. She thought she was being a good spouse by raising three polite and respectful children and keeping a clean house with food in the pantry. She was so far from the formula for me.

So how does a couple go so long when they are so completely in denial about what the other one needs? Sigh.

Anyway, she didn't respect me for probably the past 12 years. I can see the signs, looking back. I probably disrespected her for even longer. Thinking back, I can even recall a few times when she asked me to come grocery shopping with her just to keep her company, and I would grumble "not unless it's a big grocery run and you need another hand. There's a football game I want to watch." It was stupid of me, to be sure, but it was my automatic reply to her pushing my hand away, the night before, when I got home from a 5-day business trip and only wanted to immerse myself into my family and have some intimate time with her. I recall many other times when I would arrange "Dad fun" outings with the kids just to get away from the house, because it was tense. Almost to prove to her that while she might be frosty, the kids adored me.

So ... above is some of the history. But how do you ensure it doesn't happen again? What do I need to do, as 180s, to be sure I never disrespect my future dates, and future mate? What do I do to ensure that she doesn't fall into that trap?

Thanks for comments.


My typical posting style is very brief, and I can tell from things you have said to me and about me that that comes across to you as not supportive. So I'm going to try to use what feels to me like way too many words, because I think there is something important you are not seeing and that seeing it would be valuable to you.

You seem to have learned a lot about yourself and what you need to feel loved. That's important, and that can be hard work. But I don't see you putting yourself in your wife's shoes and looking at it from her perspective. You talk about what *you* needed when you came home from a 5-day business trip and how you were hurt by her rejecting your advances. What do you think your return felt like from her perspective? You said her love language is gifts of service. What would have felt loving to her in that moment?

I know business travel can be exhausting, but so can being the person staying home and taking care of the kids. The person traveling might have jet lag, but they probably also had someone cleaning their hotel room. They probably got to go out to eat at restaurants and choose from a variety of food options, none of which they had to cook or clean up after. Meanwhile, the person at home doesn't have jet lag or the hassles of travel, but also has to cook, clean, do laundry, and take care of kids. The level of effort varies depending on the ages and numbers and personalities of the kids, but even easy-going teenagers take energy and time. And toddlers are flat out exhausting. Did you try to meet her needs before you sought to get yours met?

Or let's take another situation. Your wife went to work when one of your kids went to college, right? What changes did you make the household and family responsibilities when she started earning money? Who cooked, cleaned, grocery shopped, kept track of the kids' schedules and needs, bought holiday presents, decorated the house, organized parties, made doctor appointments for kids, took the kids to the appointments, ditto for pets, etc., etc.? Are you familiar with the phrase "emotional labor"? If not, google it and think about how the emotional labor was divided in your marriage.

The core truth of Divorce Busting is that when one spouse changes their behavior, without waiting for their spouse to change first, the marriage can improve.

I know it's tempting to say, "but she (or he) isn't meeting my needs!" And that can be a true statement. And it's hurtful. But I know when I say, "yes, that's true, but what can I do to be a better spouse" my relationship improves and my spouse starts meeting my needs. When I focus on the ways in which he isn't meeting my needs and use that to justify not doing the things I know make him feel loved, then my marriage worsens, and my needs aren't met.

I honestly feel like this is the single most important thing to take away from DB. Meet your partner's needs, even if they aren't meeting yours. (Disclaimer: excluding abusive or toxic relationships, of course.)


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Originally Posted by Rose888
I honestly feel like this is the single most important thing to take away from DB. Meet your partner's needs, even if they aren't meeting yours. (Disclaimer: excluding abusive or toxic relationships, of course.)

Good advice, Rose! smile



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Originally Posted by Rose888

I know it's tempting to say, "but she (or he) isn't meeting my needs!" And that can be a true statement. And it's hurtful. But I know when I say, "yes, that's true, but what can I do to be a better spouse" my relationship improves and my spouse starts meeting my needs. When I focus on the ways in which he isn't meeting my needs and use that to justify not doing the things I know make him feel loved, then my marriage worsens, and my needs aren't met.

I honestly feel like this is the single most important thing to take away from DB. Meet your partner's needs, even if they aren't meeting yours. (Disclaimer: excluding abusive or toxic relationships, of course.)


You are spot on, Rose. And I want you to know that I really appreciate the fact that you remember details I wrote about a month ago; e.g., she went back to work when my eldest went off to college and that her love language was gifts of service. Thank you. To me that means you are investing some time in helping me out. Much much appreciated.

All of your indictments of me are pretty much spot on. I can't contest them. Yes, I didn't pick up much more in the way of household duties when she went back to work. I suppose that some of your feedback and commentary can be relayed her way as well, but she's not the one under analysis here, so I get it, that's immaterial. I only controlled what I did or did not do, and mostly I didn't do anything. We had patterns and even through some significant changes in circumstances, those patterns didn't change. I would still spend 8 hours on a weekend doing the things I had always done, and if there's anything I learned from the love languages exercise it's that 15 minutes of effort on the things she does care about (laundry, unloading the dishwasher) is far better than 8 hours on the things she doesn't care about (cleaning the garage, trimming the trees, changing the oil on four cars.). Lesson learned, forever: on a typical Saturday, better to spend 1 of those 8 hours on the things that fall into her love language bucket. I got religion here!


Originally Posted by Rose888
Your wife went to work when one of your kids went to college, right? What changes did you make the household and family responsibilities when she started earning money? Who cooked, cleaned, grocery shopped, kept track of the kids' schedules and needs, bought holiday presents, decorated the house, organized parties, made doctor appointments for kids, took the kids to the appointments, ditto for pets, etc., etc.?

Guilty as charged. She did them all. I wasn't sitting around the house doing nothing, but she did them all.

Originally Posted by Rose888
Are you familiar with the phrase "emotional labor"? If not, google it and think about how the emotional labor was divided in your marriage.


OK. From her perspective, the emotional labor division was 90%-10%. Not so from mine, because I was the one who sweated out the financial and legal stuff. I assume this counts as emotional labor, wondering how to make ends meet? When I started my business, which she loved and benefited from, I spent countless nights sweating things out while the rest of the family was sleeping! Also, one child had some significant learning issues, and I was the one who spent untold hours with the child tutoring, serving as a writing instructor, and advising the child through each step of applying to college from 8th grade through high school and well into college.

But, I'm not contesting your point; I learned long ago to manage to perceptions, and if she felt the family emotional burden was on her, I had to manage to that. And I didn't. She is so sensitive, I would expect that was exactly the case.


Originally Posted by Rose888

The core truth of Divorce Busting is that when one spouse changes their behavior, without waiting for their spouse to change first, the marriage can improve.


Never have truer words been spoken. From many quarters. It's nice to know that Michele, as a divorce attorney, is willing to say them out loud rather than just validate the feelings of the aggrieved.

In fact, I believe that doing what is said here is a sacrificial act. If everyone in a relationship viewed doing things sacrificially (what I mean here is doing something that you don't prefer, something that is not automatic or instinctive to you) as part of the daily routine, all relationships would be better.

Originally Posted by tom_h
R-E-S-P-E-C-T

But is all of the above addressing my point, about restoring mutual respect? Doesn't respect go to the personal as well? Couples go 20 years and after awhile they don't respect each other anymore. Doesn't that have more to do with character and accomplishments and core self, and less to do with the above? I'm just canvassing for viewpoints here. Or is fixing the respect problem automatic when everything else is humming?

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Originally Posted by harvey
It's probably only fair if I lay some of my negative personality traits out there.

I'm overly competitive. I'm a procrastinator.

I lack empathy--which I feel is my worst trait and the one I've tried to work on the most since my divorce. It's an ongoing process though, and I have a long way to go before it becomes second nature. I've focused on putting myself in somebody else's shoes when I'm listening to them. I've focused on thinking before responding.

Most of my Mom's side of the family have some common personality traits (good and bad) that we got from my maternal grandmother. She was about as blunt as they come, but she had the ability to laugh at herself. We are thick-skinned, forgiving, and self-deprecating on the plus side, but we also lack empathy.

I've also realized that I'm more self-centered than I thought. The whole sexual desire gap in my marriage is a good example. I wouldn't say I was in a sexless marriage by any means, but I wanted it more. I got caught up in thinking about how it affected me, but I didn't always look at it from her point of view. I didn't strive to understand the root of what caused the desire gap on her end.

I think that's the good that has come from my divorce. I've taken a look at my flaws, and I have worked on many of them. I'm a better person having gone through it. Increased empathy has made me a better father to my two daughters.

Do you think your ex would like Harvey 2.0? Would Harvey 2.0 have been good enough to keep the marriage intact, if she gave Harvey 2.0 a chance?

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Originally Posted by tom_h
restoring mutual respect?...I'm just canvassing for viewpoints here.
From my research, a woman needs to feel loved by her man and a man needs to feel respected by his woman. I am sure there are exceptions , but this in general is the primary and the reverse is secondary.


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Originally Posted by tom_h
Do you think your ex would like Harvey 2.0? Would Harvey 2.0 have been good enough to keep the marriage intact, if she gave Harvey 2.0 a chance?


That's a good question. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it anymore, but I'd be lying if I said I haven't thought about it.

Except for lack of empathy, I don't think my other negative personality traits would have affected my relationship that much. Yes, we all have negative personality traits, but I think my positive personality traits (thick-skinned, forgiving, self-deprecating, non-jealous, even-keeled, good natured, loyal) far outweigh my negative personality traits. On top of that I make really good money, I'm not addicted to drugs/alcohol, I'm a good father, etc. I think that is appealing to many women. It is to my GF. She also thinks I'm great in bed. smile

I do think women are much better at empathy and listening, generally, and I think it's probably the number one thing for most men need to work on. Women do not want us to fix things. They want us to understand where they are coming from and to truly emphasize with it. I cannot stress this enough. My XW made quite of bit of money (six figures) and she worked from home 5 days/week. I always made a bit more, but I thought the working from home made it an ideal job. Yet, she hated her job. Instead of empathizing, I tried to tell her that she was fortunate to make the money she did and work from home. To be fair to me, she was also the one that wanted the huge house and fancy things, so we just couldn't afford for her to quit her job. At the time of our divorce, we were in the process of building a 5600 square foot house on a 2.5 acre lot in a gated community.

The way I look at it now. You need to find the right person. Somebody who appreciates what you bring to the table. I don't think my XW did that. I brought a lot of good, but what I brought apparently wasn't that important to her. What I bring seems more important to my GF.

I think of a relationship as a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces that you and your SO bring just have to fit right. My GF appreciates what I bring to the table much more than my XW, and my negatives don't bother her that much. My GF is kind of a procrastinator--like me. My XW was a go getter. She wanted me to run for the school board and things like that. My life was hectic enough that I didn't have the energy outside of family, work, running our daughters around, etc. to get involved in that kind of stuff. I once told my wife that I'd be happy with my job until I retired. I made great money, retirement was set up nicely. I work for an airline, so I had great travel benefits. She felt like I should strive for more. I think she preferred guys that strived for power. Her BF owns his own company--building houses. He's also the type of guy that probably sits on a school board and such. My GF says he's much uglier than me, but he's a go getter.

At my age I'm not going to do much about my personality traits. The ones that affect relationships (lack of empathy) I work on. The rest are just who I am. However, I think the links that AS or R2C post about what women want are things to look into. I have found them extremely useful. It basically comes down to women want good guys that have a little bad boy in them. They want alpha and beta. Many men lose their alpha in a long relationship. Their focus goes on raising their children--not on making their wife's feet curl. smile Don't lose that in your relationship.

This has to be my longest post on this forum. smile

Last edited by harvey; 12/18/20 12:14 AM.
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