My story is garden variety. We met 15 years ago - fell deeply in lust, got married, chased the american dream - nice house, cars, other material stuff. Had three wonderful children who are now young adults.
Over time, I hurt her, she hurt me, etc, etc. Now, huge wall between us, I am the pursuer, she is the avoider.
Went to MC for first time last week, I expressed desire to do "whatever it takes" to fix it. She said she would give it a try, however, no guarantees. What I heard was "not sure this is going to work". Also, what I heard was that I am a horrible person who is the "absolute opposite" of her.
As I am in my early forties, I know I am not getting any younger. I truly want the rest of my life to be happy with someone who loves me and whom I love.
Would really appreciate any suggestion - in horrible pain - really tough to even muster energy to put one foot in front of the other.
Dignity: Let me begin by saying that I am so very sorry to see you here on TAM, but brother, in your anguish, you have come to the right place. The people that are on here will give you great advice, will cry along with you, will empathize with you, and will make you laugh. Conversely, you'll hear the problems of other TAMers on here that will just make you think that your problem just pales in comparison. It will give you the opportunity to read about these other problems and perhaps offer your own counseling and experience to them.
I really feel for you and your situation. I guess it would be appropriate to ask if this was the first time that the two of you have ever seen a MC at any juncture of your marriage. Also, are you church members, and if so, did you ever seek pastoral help?
You also intoned that you both "hurt each other" in years past. How so, and to what extent? If you would be so kind to expound on your situation, a lot of us would be thrilled to read it and offer you our advice.
Once again, welcome! And let us know if we can help. You will be in my prayers!
Thanks much for the help. I found this web-site a few days ago and have already found extremely helpful. So sad to see so many people hurting. But, also, wonderful to see I am not alone.
How we hurt each other....essentially, not valuing each other's needs. I need physical affection and companionship. She needs lots of social interaction (I am an introvert) and I find peace in spending time 1:1.
She believes I am selfish. I believe she doesn't make me a priority.
We hurt each other by doing unhealthy things to get what we need. Me, anger and pressure. Her, stonewalling, defensiveness and criticism.
dignityinshambles, I join Arbitrator in regretting your situation but welcoming you to TAM.
Your first mission is to read other threads on here. The goal from this reading is to come to the understanding that, while you might have made some mistakes, there are plenty of people who have screwed up much worse than you have listed doing.
From there, you can take stock in your strengths, the things you have done right, and hopefully reclaim your dignity.
And don't sell yourself short, here. It's easy to take "chased the american dream - nice house, cars, other material stuff. Had three wonderful children who are now young adults" for granted, after you have achieved it. I'm here to tell you that it ain't as common as people think. There are plenty of guys who never manage to get there. You (with your wife) did, so take some quiet pride in your success.
So you've done some things wrong in a 15 year relationship. This puts you smack dab in the middle of the herd.
I also recommend that you head on over to Married Man Sex Life and devour the blog in your multiple spare time. The author advocates, among much other good advice, developing your own hobbies and interests. This will be especially helpful to you, as you describe yourself as an introvert, which can be easily fixed when you find something (not someone) worth devoting your effort to pursuing. This will also take the sting out of your perception that she doesn't make you a priority. It will also probably remove some of your anger, since you won't be so focused on her.
Which will, in turn, allow you to implement the things Dean suggests above (can I segue, or what?). I can't emphasize enough how important his one line of advice about getting her to smile and laugh is. This is absolutely crucial, and best accomplished by you being lighthearted and CONFIDENT. No "dignity in shambles." Reframe yourself as a secure, confident provider.
Understand that this is not a quick fix. Lasting, meaningful change takes time, patience, and discipline. Fortunately, your situation is such that changing in these ways is not only good for you, it's good for your marriage as well.
Now. Just like Dean suggested, go get those flowers and a card! And if she doesn't react with excitement and enthusiasm, just keep rollin' because secure confident guys assume that when they hand out flowers that the gesture is deeply appreciated, whether its shown or not.
I richly join my other TAM compatriots in suggesting your doing everything that is reasonably possible prior to instituting "the 180." If all else fails on your part, then it might be indicative of a much deeper and broader problem.
So work on your situation as lovingly as you know how, keep us appraised of what's going on, and then if things have failed to reach an improved state, then we can look at other remedies.
Right now, Dignity, you owe it to wife, your kids, but more importantly, to yourself! Let God continue to speak to you in this journey of yours and we'll be here for you if you should need us. God's speed and we wish you nothing but the best!