What is your definition of a dominant male? Why do you think she rebelled after so many years?
She was an old-fashioned gal when we married in the late 1980s. She wanted to be a full-time Mom and she wanted a man who would be head of the household, earn the money, etc. She is college educated and is not a feminist per se but this role did not bother her. I didn't marry her strictly because she was so old-fashioned; I married her because of her fair and decent character, and her old-fashioned values like she believed that marriage was forever. [I guess I was wrong on that last part.]
As for why she rebelled, here's my best guess. She said a few times that I treated her like she was a piece of furniture. I've heard this before, in the media, so it is not just her words. I was a manager and leader in business by age 27, and we married soon thereafter, so being in charge is just so natural to me. I would have done anything to change that if I knew our marriage was at stake, but I never knew things were that grave. How did I blow it? For example, she once came up to me years ago and said, "we don't need the full cable package, you only watch one football game a weekend" but I was probably too dismissive when I replied, "It's only $19.95 and we can afford it, let's leave it as it is" and I would walk away. Imagine that happening once a month. Yes, I was that dumb, but so is everyone else somehow, someway.
I traveled a lot. A LOT. So I was exhausted when I got home on Friday night. I made no meals and did no laundry. I didn't go to the grocery story with her. It took me until Saturday afternoon, typically, to finish sleeping and finally relax. And on Saturday night, you know what I wanted ... She, of course, saw that as being used. Being a sex object. Of course that wasn't the case.
Millions of other women would know that; one told me (and her marriage was far worse than mine), "A woman has to the play the hand she was dealt. You were a nice guy, didn't philander about, devoted to her and the kids, she should have been thankful for what she had. What more could a woman ask for? A man with a great job, great enough that she doesn't have to work, who doesn't run around, doesn't waste money on hobbies, is devoted to the children. And he wants sex a few times on the weekend? Big deal!"
But to my XW that was not a small matter.
In another reply here on this thread I provided more examples of my complicity. Like I never lifted a finger around the house. Like I never attended to her love languages, service and affirmation. Like I never did little things like make the bed while she was in the shower, or plan a meal, or cook dinner without being asked. I never loaded the dishwasher. Or offered to go to the grocery store with her. Stuff like that.
I don't want to make myself out to be an ogre. I wasn't! I did lots of little things to make her feel valued. For 20 years I brought her coffee in bed, because she liked to sip it in bed when she woke up. I was tender to her in touch, always, even though it was mostly not reciprocated. If she was on the edge of waking up on a weekend, I would lightly, gently, kiss her on the lips, with just enough oomph to say "I love you!" Who doesn't like waking up to a kiss from their beloved, one that gently lingers on the lips?
When the kids were young, I did her the ultimate favor each weekend. I would take them all out of the house on Saturday and/or Sunday morning so she could sleep late! Didn't matter what age, I'd bring the toys and the strollers and the diaper bag and get them away, until 10 AM or later, so she could have blissful sleep.
I also made a big deal out of Valentine's day, Mother's day, and her birthday. We would hand decorate poster-sized cards and give her breakfast in bed. I did lots of that stuff. I wasn't just preoccupied with myself. In other words, I honored her as wife and mother, and the kids saw it.
But my ex always suffered from some mild depression, so she didn't tally things that way. She just focused on what she thought I WASN'T doing, not what I was doing.
Originally Posted by LH19
Why was it her job to get you in counseling? ...
She talked about counseling for years. And, like an idiot, I was pretty dismissive. Mostly because I didn't have the time! My clients, and my bosses, would not understand if I couldn't take week-long trips because I had to sit down with a therapist on Wednesday afternoons! I did solo therapy once, during a job that didn't have big travel demands, and it did nothing for me. Nothing. I stopped after about 4 sessions.
But ... had my ex told me the marriage was in serious jeopardy, I would have done anything, including nonstop therapy, to make it work. In fact, I've been in therapy since last October and it's done wonders. But there was finally a good reason.
Too bad for her, Tom 2.0 is pretty damn good by now. He gushes communication and he talks about feelings and emotions. He raises issues that he held inside before and he is unafraid to be vulnerable.
Originally Posted by LH19
My guess is she gave you hints but you didn't hear her.
Yes she did. And that is a woman's way, I suppose, give a man 100 hints over 12 months and if he doesn't finally catch on she concludes he is beyond hope. That is not how I would have done it. And had she talked to one therapist, or marriage counselor alone, she would have learned that expecting a man to change behavior based on hints is not very effective. Imagine the flip side; we had a SSM (sex-starved marriage) and would she have felt it was fair that I divorced her because I hinted for 5 years that we weren't having enough sex?
One of the most hurtful things she ever did to me was almost refusing to renew our vows at our 20th. I thought it would be romantic! But she hemmed and hawed and two months went by, past our anniversary, and she claimed at the time it was because she didn't want it to look like a second wedding. She finally agreed to an intimate little affair with just our pastor, a couple best friends, and family, in a dark sanctuary with a single light on the altar. But I now think that her emotional resistance was the beginning of the end.
In the end, she has always been a conflict avoider. No doubt that is another reason why, 5 years earlier, she did not just grab me by the shoulders and say, "I'm going to spend a week alone! I'm thinking divorce and it scares me! When I'm back we need to do something significant to fix things!" Had she done that, I would have moved heaven and earth to keep her.
Originally Posted by LH19
Tommy for us to help you we need to understand more the dynamic of your marriage.
So I hope this is a start? There are other issues but these are the top level ones.