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post #16 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 12:17 AM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

I'm not sure why you think you should not expect your wife to fill some of your emotional needs. You both have some number of needs that you can reasonable expect for the other to meet.

You might want to read the books "Love Busters" and "His Needs, Her Needs" to give you an idea of what is reasonable to expect in marriage.

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post #17 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 01:21 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Quote:
Originally Posted by farsidejunky View Post
Welcome to the journey of self improvement, where you do everything you can to find your self worth in the mirror rather than what is around you.
Yep, thanks. That's the challenge, and I totally get it. Hence the initial question of how to find what I need in the mirror instead of looking for something from others.


Quote:
You do this by finding things you love to do, that lead you to feel better about yourself, and pursue them.
Yeah, that is the conventional wisdom.

My problem is, since having a kid and losing my career, 'finding what I love to do' isn't a particularly good option. The old adage, 'Don't do what you love - love what you do' comes to mind.

Money is tight, energy is exhausted, just trying to keep everyone fed and clothed and under a roof seems the daunting challenge. I have a 'to-do' list as long as my arm, and it grows every single day. My goal is just to get myself, my wife, and my son through each day, while finding whatever opportunities I can to ensure my son is getting what he needs to thrive.

Doing something 'I love' is so far removed from my daily experience - I'm just looking to make things not suck. Hell, I've burned pretty much all the free time I have for the week just posting here trying to make sense of my life.

Quote:
Once you find the pursuit, you balance that with family time.
My problem with that is two-fold.

First, 'family time' is pretty much all I can focus on. The needs are great, and my abilities often seem inadequate to the task (see above).

Secondly, my wife has a high-powered, stressful job. Between working long hours and trying to be a good mother (god bless her), she feels she has no time for anything *she* wants. She has referred to my time at home (working my ass off) as 'free time', mostly 'cause she would love to be able to spend more time at home. How I spend my time is always under scrutiny as to how productive it is for the family. I don't have a lot of leeway for 'personal pursuits.'

Quote:
I spent the better part of two years reading self improvement books, to include No More Mister Nice Guy, Hold On To Your N.U.T.'s (this is an absolute must read), Awareness, and others.
The first has been on my reading list (listening list, actually - I don't really have time to read, so I listen to books while I work) for a long time. The others are new to me; I will check them out. Thanks!

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I got in the best shape of my life (at the time).
Funny enough, my downward spiral and dead bedroom started when I was in the best shape of my life. I've never been so strong and ripped as I was when the sex and intimacy departed my marriage.

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I am pursuing my mission in life, which is to constantly improve me as opposed to trying to improve my marriage, and helping those around me. Funny that, as improving myself has dramatically improved my marriage.
Yeah, I get that.

One of the reasons I've focused on my marriage is that I feel I need at least a little breathing room in order to broaden my horizons. Sometime within the last year, I realized that my anxiety levels when I'm at home are ridiculously high. It's like I'm living under a dark cloud. My anxiety actually goes *up* when I know my wife is coming home (it's gotten a little better recently, but I don't really trust how long that small respite will last), because things are even more tense, at least for me, when she is around. Living in that kind of constant stress is really inhibiting my ability to be proactive in life.

Which is why I'm trying to learn to tune out the outside world and just live self-sufficiently.


Quote:
That said, the key is to spread it around a little bit. Meet friend A for one particular thing, friend B for another, spouse for sex, etc. Your wife should not be your sole source of companionship, hobbies, etc.
And that has been one of the big problems. When I had a kid, most of my 'former life' friends dropped off the map. I could no longer focus as much on creating opportunities to hang out with everyone (I was always the driving force in my social circle). I became a 'boring' parent, and a lot of my friends became 'boring' parents around the same time, which meant that coordinating activities was a huge ordeal for all of us. I just couldn't put as much energy into my friendships, so they went inactive.

Now, I fortunately do have a close friend in my kid's best friend's dad (thank god my kid picked a best friend with a cool single dad). So he and I get together with the kids for several hours at least once every week or two, but that still is a far cry from the kind of 'adult' interactions I used to enjoy. We hang out and talk, but our attention is always split.

If I didn't have that one outlet, compromised as it may be, I wouldn't have any regular social life whatsoever. Which is, again, why I'm trying to learn to get by without needing anyone else for my happiness or sense of fulfillment.

Quote:
She wants more from me? I give her a gentle reminder that if she wants more from me, she can start by doing more for me.
She already feels she does more than her fair share for me by working hard and making money. I work part-time to try to help make ends meet, but being old and having been out of the work force for so many years, it's not like I'm going to be able to take over being the primary breadwinner any time soon.

Additionally, as much as working part-time sucks, my part-time work pays extraordinarily well for being part-time, and it gives me the flexibility to help out with our son. Someone has to bring a sick kid home from school (which happens ridiculously often with little kids)? No problem, I've got it covered. I can cover the parenting duties so she can keep working.

I know she wants me to start bringing in more money, but I'm not sure who is going to step up on the domestic front to cover for me if I can't make it a priority any more. It certainly isn't going to be her.

Quote:
She gets to choose our level of mutual engagement. Either way, I fill my life with other things besides her, and she can pursue me if she wants me.
Been like that for a while between us, though I don't really fill my life with *my* things, per se, just with taking care of the household and the kid (whom she does a lot of work for as well) while also doing my best to make money part-time.

Quote:
That is not to say I don't do things for her, or that I don't consistently meet her needs. I just simply give her less of myself when she withdraws.
Yeah, she doesn't get a lot of *me*, but she doesn't really seem to need a lot from me, either (other than to take care of the household so she can work). She has been pretty clear that I am not her priority anymore, so she isn't that concerned. I know she would *like* to feel closer to me, but she is fine with not being closer at this point. I'm trying to get to the same place.

Quote:
That said, if I ever felt that my wife was beginning to become overly critical again, I would simply tell her that all she has to do is say the word, and I will free her to find a better, more successful, more mature partner, at any time. But here is the rub: I am not easily replaceable, and she knows it.
I honestly think her calculus isn't 'could I find someone better' (she's probably realistic enough at this point to know that her options are way more limited than they were), but 'could I do better on my own.' I don't think she necessarily could do better on her own, but I don't want to make the mistake of being seen as dead weight, either.

Regardless, the priority is our son, and we both agree that having both parents in his life every day is far preferable to not. She wants me around for *him*, even if not for her. Which is why I'm trying to adapt myself as best I can to the new reality. I have no idea how he would fare, both emotionally and (not at all insignificantly) materially, if we split, and I don't want to find out. I'm trying my damnedest to make his life *better*, not worse.


Quote:
I love big, laugh often, show tears and other emotions, make fun of everything in life, listen to my music loud and sing with it loud, have a twisted sense of humor, am incredibly driven in pursuit of what I want, and any number of other things that people may consider negative.
Apart from the possible over-emotionalism, I can't see how anyone would see those as negatives. Most people find those traits attractive.

The one thing that has proven difficult for me is adapting the 'driven in pursuit of what I want' to life as a parent (and a guy who is no longer in a good position to provide). I had some pretty eclectic pursuits that I was driven towards, but many of those no longer seem to fit with my responsibilities as a parent. Being a creative free-spirit is cool and all (and boy was I ever), but it doesn't provide for a family or meet responsibilities. It's sad, but I know have little patience for all the 'free spirits' in the world. Life just seems too hard for that anymore.

Quote:
I stopped being ashamed of those aspects of my personality that I hid due to fear of rejection or criticism, combined with applying discipline to when I opened my mouth, as some situations are truly poor in which to inject something sophomoric, which I still likely do too often.
Kudos to you on that. I'm trying to get some of that back for myself, but I still have this overwhelming concern that everything I do is now seen through the filter of being a little boy's dad. **** that I used to be able to brush off with a brusque 'F-em' now hits me hard.

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Bottom line: the more you love the person in the mirror, the less you need everyone in life to love you.
Yep, very true. That's my goal.

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My wife used to make comments like, "I feel like I am raising two children" (my son and me) and I would feel shame.
My wife has said that often, too, but not because of my personality, but because of my 'neediness' and general lack of perceived value. It's hard to play with that kind of criticism.

Quote:
She literally left you when you needed her the most, which was when you needed help finding your way.
As you ascertained, we're still together, but we both feel like we were abandoned by the other when we needed the other the most. She can meet my resentment punch for punch, unfortunately, even as we both feel the other is being unfair and that the hurts received are worse than those inflicted. It sucks.



Quote:
Then, find your mission in life, and invite your partner to pursue it with you. If she won't, you continue to pursue it. This will likely lead to either your partner being left behind, or joining you.
This is always how I lived, so I whole-heartedly endorse this mindset. Unfortunately for me, all the rules seemed to change once I became a parent and my whole life fell apart. I haven't figured out how to recover, which is why I'm just focused doing what I can without needing anyone else.

Quote:
Lastly, and possibly most important, is to mitigate your fear. All of us experience fear. How you deal with that fear will determine how well those around you respond. I am not saying to bury it, but rather embrace it, and understand that your greatest fears may be realized, but likely not. Learn to let go of the outcome. Learn outcome independence. Then, no matter what happens, you will be okay.
Very wise words, words that I myself often tell others.

What I am trying to learn now is how to maintain that critical outcome independence when the possible outcomes seem narrowly confined. It's like the reaction to getting turned down for sex I mentioned earlier - the rejection doesn't even bother me anymore. But taking any sexual expression as an outcome off the table entirely? That has been harder for me to stay independent around.

I feel like the key to being outcome independent at this point is to learn to embrace the available outcomes, if that makes sense.
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post #18 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 05:44 AM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Much of what you wrote resembled a feeling of being overwhelmed. As simple as this will sound, how about making one simple adjustment for yourself this week? An action of some kind to contribute to lowering your anxiety.

One action. That's it.

The other thing I considered with your posts, was around resilience and tenacity / grit. Building (or revisiting) grit is rarely achieved solo. Surrounding ourselves with supportive people, asking for support, as well as being a support for others, contributes to becoming more resilient. Support is not to be mistaken for needy or codependent.

This also begins with simple steps, with action.

Simplify. Achieve one action.

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post #19 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 07:09 AM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Dazed:

I have a ton I need to write to you, but I am getting out the door with B11 in tow.

A few things before I do:

You are a man first, a husband second, and a father third. Those are the order of your priorities. Never forget that.

The only thing that has changed in this situation is you.

A healthy single parent household is better than modeling a dysfunctional but married family.

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? This is fixable for you, and possibly your marriage as well.

However, you have to be willing to risk it all to find out...Or just continue as is while your soul is sucked dry.

I will post more when I get to work.

@MEM2020, who does this sound like?

"Our ability to feel joy is directly related to how much pain we are willing to feel." - Mavash.

"The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for." - Bob Marley
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post #20 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 09:08 AM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
My problem is, since having a kid and losing my career, 'finding what I love to do' isn't a particularly good option. The old adage, 'Don't do what you love - love what you do' comes to mind.
So, the catalyst for this whole thing is from you losing your job?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
Money is tight, energy is exhausted, just trying to keep everyone fed and clothed and under a roof seems the daunting challenge. I have a 'to-do' list as long as my arm, and it grows every single day. My goal is just to get myself, my wife, and my son through each day, while finding whatever opportunities I can to ensure my son is getting what he needs to thrive.
For just a moment, I want to cross over into theory. Right now you are so focused on how to divide up your pie that you are failing to realize there is another option: growing the size of the pie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
Doing something 'I love' is so far removed from my daily experience - I'm just looking to make things not suck. Hell, I've burned pretty much all the free time I have for the week just posting here trying to make sense of my life.
If 20 minutes of free time is all you have, then it is time to eliminate some things and pass some responsibility back to your wife. Also, you are setting your sights on trying not to suck? Too much focus on surviving rather than thriving.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
My problem with that is two-fold.

First, 'family time' is pretty much all I can focus on. The needs are great, and my abilities often seem inadequate to the task (see above).
I see a situation where no matter what you do (short of finding employment), it will not be good enough for your wife. I hear the resentment in this statement, from both sides.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
Secondly, my wife has a high-powered, stressful job. Between working long hours and trying to be a good mother (god bless her), she feels she has no time for anything *she* wants. She has referred to my time at home (working my ass off) as 'free time', mostly 'cause she would love to be able to spend more time at home. How I spend my time is always under scrutiny as to how productive it is for the family. I don't have a lot of leeway for 'personal pursuits.'
So, you are letting her mother you. I want you to practice five statements. They are incredibly effective at establishing boundaries, which is what you desperately need as you allow your wife to walk all over you.

1. "I am not okay with x."
2. "I'm sorry you feel that way."
3. "I see it differently."
3. "You do what you feel you have to do. I will do the same."
4. "Are you done?"

When she questions how you spend your time? "I am not okay with your attempt to manage my time." This will likely produce anger from her. That is exactly what is needed. When she makes an angry remark: "I am not okay with disrespectful outbursts." If she tells you how angry she is over something that you do not agree with: "I see it differently." If she threatens you with anything: "You do what you feel you have to do. I will do the same." If it gets to the point where the argument is no longer going anywhere, but she insists on engaging: "Are you done?"

So, here is the thing that sets this apart from what you are doing now: you are not seeking agreement with her. She does not have to like or agree with you doing what you believe to be right. If she doesn't like it, she can go pound sand, file for divorce, scream, yell, or any number of other things. Too...damn...bad...for her.

Conversely, when you screw up, apologize. Be man enough to accept where you fell short. But balance that fiercely with drawing the line over her being unreasonable over something.

Also, when you assert these statements, you must be calm and without anger or fear. Think Spock when you deliver these statements.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
Funny enough, my downward spiral and dead bedroom started when I was in the best shape of my life. I've never been so strong and ripped as I was when the sex and intimacy departed my marriage.
You are not getting in shape for her. You are getting in shape for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
One of the reasons I've focused on my marriage is that I feel I need at least a little breathing room in order to broaden my horizons. Sometime within the last year, I realized that my anxiety levels when I'm at home are ridiculously high. It's like I'm living under a dark cloud. My anxiety actually goes *up* when I know my wife is coming home (it's gotten a little better recently, but I don't really trust how long that small respite will last), because things are even more tense, at least for me, when she is around. Living in that kind of constant stress is really inhibiting my ability to be proactive in life.
You can have as much breathing room as you are willing to take. You power to do so is not being taken away. You are GIVING it away. The reason your anxiety spikes with your wife present is because you do not stand up to her. Have you ever seen American Beauty? That is a perfect example of a man taking his power back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
And that has been one of the big problems. When I had a kid, most of my 'former life' friends dropped off the map. I could no longer focus as much on creating opportunities to hang out with everyone (I was always the driving force in my social circle). I became a 'boring' parent, and a lot of my friends became 'boring' parents around the same time, which meant that coordinating activities was a huge ordeal for all of us. I just couldn't put as much energy into my friendships, so they went inactive.
Such is life. However, becoming boring was something you allowed to happen, not something that happened to you. Do you see the difference? You are coming at this like you are a victim of forces beyond your control. Everything...every...single...thing that you have done in response to what life has given you has been within your control. You are in a prison that you willingly entered, you closed the door behind you when you entered, yet you are blaming life for putting you behind bars.

Read this, and do so not through the prism of your wife, but YOU.

https://www.lynneforrest.com/article...ces-of-victim/https://www.lynneforrest.com/article...-of-victim/Now

Get out of the victim chair.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
I fortunately do have a close friend in my kid's best friend's dad (thank god my kid picked a best friend with a cool single dad). So he and I get together with the kids for several hours at least once every week or two, but that still is a far cry from the kind of 'adult' interactions I used to enjoy. We hang out and talk, but our attention is always split.
Do you share what is happening with your marriage and life with him?

If I didn't have that one outlet, compromised as it may be, I wouldn't have any regular social life whatsoever. Which is, again, why I'm trying to learn to get by without needing anyone else for my happiness or sense of fulfillment.
So what. Set aside time. Go do something fun. When the wife *****es about it, shrug your shoulders, smile, and tell her you will see her when you get back. If she is unwilling to handle child care duties, find someone who will. When you get back, she will likely be steaming mad. So what. "This is what I need to make me a better me. You wouldn't want to stop that, would you?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
She already feels she does more than her fair share for me by working hard and making money. I work part-time to try to help make ends meet, but being old and having been out of the work force for so many years, it's not like I'm going to be able to take over being the primary breadwinner any time soon.

Additionally, as much as working part-time sucks, my part-time work pays extraordinarily well for being part-time, and it gives me the flexibility to help out with our son. Someone has to bring a sick kid home from school (which happens ridiculously often with little kids)? No problem, I've got it covered. I can cover the parenting duties so she can keep working.

I know she wants me to start bringing in more money, but I'm not sure who is going to step up on the domestic front to cover for me if I can't make it a priority any more. It certainly isn't going to be her.
How were child care and household duties handled when you were working full time?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
Been like that for a while between us, though I don't really fill my life with *my* things, per se, just with taking care of the household and the kid (whom she does a lot of work for as well) while also doing my best to make money part-time.
Your choice; your fault for allowing it to happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
Yeah, she doesn't get a lot of *me*, but she doesn't really seem to need a lot from me, either (other than to take care of the household so she can work). She has been pretty clear that I am not her priority anymore, so she isn't that concerned. I know she would *like* to feel closer to me, but she is fine with not being closer at this point. I'm trying to get to the same place.
I want you to list 3-5 things you do exclusively for her. These are not things like cleaning the house or feeding the pets; these things would have to be done no matter what. I am talking about listening to her vent about her day, rubbing her feet, massages, making her coffee, etc. 3-5 things; list them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
I honestly think her calculus isn't 'could I find someone better' (she's probably realistic enough at this point to know that her options are way more limited than they were), but 'could I do better on my own.' I don't think she necessarily could do better on her own, but I don't want to make the mistake of being seen as dead weight, either.
You feeling sorry for yourself and planting your ass in the victim chair is reinforcing her opinion of you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
Regardless, the priority is our son, and we both agree that having both parents in his life every day is far preferable to not. She wants me around for *him*, even if not for her. Which is why I'm trying to adapt myself as best I can to the new reality. I have no idea how he would fare, both emotionally and (not at all insignificantly) materially, if we split, and I don't want to find out. I'm trying my damnedest to make his life *better*, not worse.
I come from a broken home. Yes, it hurt. However, my parents argued constantly, and my father did not respect my mother. It took me a lot of years to learn how to respect women. Why? Because that is how I saw my father behave. Would you want your daughter to marry a man like you? Would you want your son to be like you? Think about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
The one thing that has proven difficult for me is adapting the 'driven in pursuit of what I want' to life as a parent (and a guy who is no longer in a good position to provide). I had some pretty eclectic pursuits that I was driven towards, but many of those no longer seem to fit with my responsibilities as a parent. Being a creative free-spirit is cool and all (and boy was I ever), but it doesn't provide for a family or meet responsibilities. It's sad, but I know have little patience for all the 'free spirits' in the world. Life just seems too hard for that anymore.
List some of those pursuits.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
Kudos to you on that. I'm trying to get some of that back for myself, but I still have this overwhelming concern that everything I do is now seen through the filter of being a little boy's dad. **** that I used to be able to brush off with a brusque 'F-em' now hits me hard.
This is nothing more than your perception of yourself. It will improve when you get out of the victim chair and start living life again rather than waiting for someone or something to rescue you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
My wife has said that often, too, but not because of my personality, but because of my 'neediness' and general lack of perceived value. It's hard to play with that kind of criticism.
We will revisit this when you list the things you do exclusively for your wife.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
As you ascertained, we're still together, but we both feel like we were abandoned by the other when we needed the other the most. She can meet my resentment punch for punch, unfortunately, even as we both feel the other is being unfair and that the hurts received are worse than those inflicted. It sucks.
Have you been to marriage counseling?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
This is always how I lived, so I whole-heartedly endorse this mindset. Unfortunately for me, all the rules seemed to change once I became a parent and my whole life fell apart. I haven't figured out how to recover, which is why I'm just focused doing what I can without needing anyone else.
Here again with the victim mentality. "Someone changed the rules, wah, I want my rules back..."

Make your own ****ing rules. Period. Your victim mentality is troubling. I can only imagine how much it turns your wife off.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
What I am trying to learn now is how to maintain that critical outcome independence when the possible outcomes seem narrowly confined. It's like the reaction to getting turned down for sex I mentioned earlier - the rejection doesn't even bother me anymore. But taking any sexual expression as an outcome off the table entirely? That has been harder for me to stay independent around.

I feel like the key to being outcome independent at this point is to learn to embrace the available outcomes, if that makes sense.
When was the last time you were intimate with your wife?

"Our ability to feel joy is directly related to how much pain we are willing to feel." - Mavash.

"The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for." - Bob Marley

Last edited by farsidejunky; 03-21-2017 at 09:15 AM.
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post #21 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 10:50 AM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

I agree with a lot of what farsidejunky has said, so I need to parse what I'm about to say so that it doesn't overlap and maybe even reconsider my own perspective.

Our situations are very similar but for three things which I think that you are missing because you feel like you're missing validation.

1: you get to hang out with another adult in a similar situation, plus it's another guy. That's HUGE. You're a sight better off than being a "man among mommies" who is viewed as an invader while the rest of the group circles around and grumbles about their workaholic husbands. You want somebody to hang out with without worrying about being tagged into thinking you're having an EA or PA, there's your option. Plus, if he's a parent and single there's got to be a good reason and odds are he probably has useful perspective and some good advice. I suspect that he's had some dealings with his own baby mama that could shed some light on your own struggle. He could probably use some moral support too.

2: you are able to work part time, which means more "adult time" - plus you have some income of your own. You are not so hard off as you would like to believe. You are simply competing with your wife here. Stop doing that. If anything, I think you may have a better work/life balance than she may have. I think it's entirely unfair that what you bring to the table is viewed as a pittance and that when it comes to having to drop everything it has to be YOU simply because of numbers.

3: your kid sounds like he is reasonably self sufficient - at least enough to have friends. Even with you and your wife butting heads he is not emotionally stunted. That again is HUGE, but don't think that he doesn't notice. He could be crying out for attention - or worse, have a developmental delay like autism spectrum disorder or some physical condition that requires you to run him to see doctors and therapists - but instead it sounds like you are doing a fine job at meeting his needs. Being the caregiver to my own kids, I see how much my time is worth and know that time is the real currency that counts when it comes to raising a child.

Again, my situation has me scratching my head in a similar way to yours so take any input I have with a grain of salt but I'm starting to see what I need to do by lurking in threads like this. If I were in your situation I would do those things outlined above and also the following:

1: find a personal therapist to vent to, and I suggest that your wife get one too. If your wife doesn't want to hear it then so be it - for now. I also think that venting in MC hasn't been particularly constructive. The MC isn't there to psychoanalyze you, s/he is there to work on the dynamic between you and your wife. The problem is that you've put your wife on a pedestal. She is not Aphrodite or Queen Elizabeth. She is just another flawed human being.

2: get exercise or take up a hobby when you are able to and don't think that it's a distraction. Consider it as "maintenance." Trust me on this, you don't want to physically or mentally break down. If you don't then at some point your kid is going to be too big for you to pick up or too fast for you to run off. Like farsidejunky has said, make time for it. If your wife has no time of her own for such things then you two can take it up in MC and suggest that she go to IC for her own imbalances in her schedule.

3: If your wife comes home after having a bad day or is having trouble managing her anger for whatever reason then I agree wholeheartedly what farsidejunky has already said. If she had a bad day your job should not to be her punching bag, it's just a sign that she needs to take care of herself on her own time just as you should be. If she pulls into her bag of gripes to pile on then again, take it to the marriage counselor. Don't react kneejerk - ESPECIALLY in front of the kid; they see and hear EVERYTHING. If there is an argument, walk away and let cooler heads prevail. Just don't allow yourself to go to bed angry. Attempt to have at least an idle conversation with your wife before either of you retire for the night.

4: take time (like maybe 30 to 60 minutes) doing anything but what you consider to be "work" at the end of the day. Especially, don't use the time to worry or go overboard into planning activities for the next day. This is also maintenance. If you're having trouble being intimidated or disheartened by your wife, use it as means to calm yourself for idle chit chat with her. She will likely also have had time to decompress after work. If she hasn't then that's her problem that she needs to go to IC for. It's not your job to make her happy any more than it's hers to make YOU happy.
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post #22 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 11:19 AM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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Secondly, my wife has a high-powered, stressful job. Between working long hours and trying to be a good mother (god bless her), she feels she has no time for anything *she* wants. She has referred to my time at home (working my ass off) as 'free time', mostly 'cause she would love to be able to spend more time at home. How I spend my time is always under scrutiny as to how productive it is for the family. I don't have a lot of leeway for 'personal pursuits.'

Had to jump in here reading this. I think part of the issue might be your expectations. Married couples should agree on how the other spends their time. Maybe she's going about it the wrong way, but I don't think discussing how you spend your day and her desire to agree with you on it is wrong. That's just part of being married.

And that has been one of the big problems. When I had a kid, most of my 'former life' friends dropped off the map. I could no longer focus as much on creating opportunities to hang out with everyone (I was always the driving force in my social circle). I became a 'boring' parent, and a lot of my friends became 'boring' parents around the same time, which meant that coordinating activities was a huge ordeal for all of us. I just couldn't put as much energy into my friendships, so they went inactive.

This happens to most people after they have kids. In His Needs, Her Needs, Dr. Harley says it takes at least 15 hours of quality time each week with your spouse to maintain feelings of romantic love, and another 15 hours a week of family time to meet your children's/family's needs. That doesn't leave a whole lot of time for extra pursuits, after work and running a household. Sounds like you get plenty of time to workout/go to the gym? Again, I think you need to adjust your expectations- they don't sound very realistic for a married man with a child.

Now, I fortunately do have a close friend in my kid's best friend's dad (thank god my kid picked a best friend with a cool single dad). So he and I get together with the kids for several hours at least once every week or two, but that still is a far cry from the kind of 'adult' interactions I used to enjoy. We hang out and talk, but our attention is always split.

Sounds like more time to "hang out" with a buddy than most married men with children get.

If I didn't have that one outlet, compromised as it may be, I wouldn't have any regular social life whatsoever. Which is, again, why I'm trying to learn to get by without needing anyone else for my happiness or sense of fulfillment.

Again, see above. All I'm hearing here is how deprived of social "hang out" time you are. I have to ask- what were your expectations when you got married/decided to have children? You get time to workout and hang out with a buddy...maybe you need to focus on spending more time with your wife? Are you making her a priority? Do you spend at least 15 hours a week of quality, one on one time with her?


She already feels she does more than her fair share for me by working hard and making money. I work part-time to try to help make ends meet, but being old and having been out of the work force for so many years, it's not like I'm going to be able to take over being the primary breadwinner any time soon.

Additionally, as much as working part-time sucks, my part-time work pays extraordinarily well for being part-time, and it gives me the flexibility to help out with our son. Someone has to bring a sick kid home from school (which happens ridiculously often with little kids)? No problem, I've got it covered. I can cover the parenting duties so she can keep working.

I know she wants me to start bringing in more money, but I'm not sure who is going to step up on the domestic front to cover for me if I can't make it a priority any more. It certainly isn't going to be her.

Sounds like she doesn't agree with your only working part-time. The two of you need to brainstorm ideas for domestic support and full-time career options for you. You both need to come to an agreement on this- not unilaterally decide what is best for the family. She's your partner and she gets a say in how to household/family operates. You do too, but your way is not necessarily the only way.


Been like that for a while between us, though I don't really fill my life with *my* things, per se, just with taking care of the household and the kid (whom she does a lot of work for as well) while also doing my best to make money part-time.

I also "just" take care of the household/children and for many years, getting the opportunity to workout on my own was a serious luxury (same with my husband). I'm not preoccupied with "my" things- these are the decisions I made when i decided to get married and become a parent. Maybe try focusing on the pleasure you get from raising your child and being a good husband? Find fulfillment in those very worthwhile pursuits. And, you get your time to workout and feel good about yourself. It doesn't sound like anything should be "missing." Again, your expectations sound seriously unrealistic to me.

Yeah, she doesn't get a lot of *me*, but she doesn't really seem to need a lot from me, either (other than to take care of the household so she can work). She has been pretty clear that I am not her priority anymore, so she isn't that concerned. I know she would *like* to feel closer to me, but she is fine with not being closer at this point. I'm trying to get to the same place.

Can't say I blame her- she's got a husband who is so focused on what "he's" missing, and who seems to think that he's owed more "hang out" time with buddies. It doesn't sound like she feels close to you at all. Not once in this post have you said you'd like more time with your wife. It's all about what you're missing out on and complaining that you don't get enough time to go out with friends because "all" you do is focus on your family.

I honestly think her calculus isn't 'could I find someone better' (she's probably realistic enough at this point to know that her options are way more limited than they were), but 'could I do better on my own.' I don't think she necessarily could do better on her own, but I don't want to make the mistake of being seen as dead weight, either.

I'd guess that she's feeling alone in her marriage. Her husband complains that he doesn't get enough time to focus on himself because his family takes up too much of his time. You don't sound like a dead weight, but you do sound like you need to have more realistic expectations of how to be a good husband and father. Honestly, you sound like you need to step it up for the sake of your family.

Regardless, the priority is our son, and we both agree that having both parents in his life every day is far preferable to not. She wants me around for *him*, even if not for her. Which is why I'm trying to adapt myself as best I can to the new reality. I have no idea how he would fare, both emotionally and (not at all insignificantly) materially, if we split, and I don't want to find out. I'm trying my damnedest to make his life *better*, not worse.

Probably because you are not currently around for her- you're more interested in yourself. I agree- you desperately need a reality check.


Apart from the possible over-emotionalism, I can't see how anyone would see those as negatives. Most people find those traits attractive.
Complaining that you don't get enough time to hang out with your friends because your family takes up too much of your time while you work part-time is not attractive at all. This post is all about you and your needs and how your family infringes on those.

This is always how I lived, so I whole-heartedly endorse this mindset. Unfortunately for me, all the rules seemed to change once I became a parent and my whole life fell apart. I haven't figured out how to recover, which is why I'm just focused doing what I can without needing anyone else.
Maybe clue your wife in on this because she needs to know that at this point, you're in it for yourself. If you want your marriage to work, you need to stop being so self-centered and work with your wife instead of against her.

Last edited by Jessica38; 03-21-2017 at 11:29 AM.
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post #23 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 11:53 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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The book talks about how we need our spouse to help meet our emotional needs and we need to meet theirs in order to have a happy, fulfilling marriage.
In your opinion, what differentiates these 'needs' and being 'needy', emotionally dependent, or co-dependent?

So much of what I've read cautions against looking to others to meet our emotional needs.

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These needs should be met by your spouse in order to create feelings of love.
While this rings somewhat true, I, again, am getting the message from everywhere (including our marriage therapist) that love changes over time, and that what initially created feelings of love gives way to something more, I don't know, practical? That real love isn't about who the other person is or what they do, but just about accepting things as they are.


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If you're no longer expecting, giving, and receiving these needs in your marriage, chances are one or both of you will fall out of love.
And this I understand. I haven't felt 'in love' with my wife for years, even as I continue to care about her and her well-being (I liken it to how I feel about other members of my family - she's more like a sibling to me than anything else). Our marriage counselor has indicated that that 'caring' I have for my wife is what real love is all about.

I've also been resentful about the loss of feeling 'in love', a feeling that was strongly, almost compulsively and unconditionally, present for fifteen years.

I remember how concerned I was for her when she was giving birth to our son. I would have done anything (and did do a lot - way more than I was comfortable doing) to ease her burdens and to ensure her safety. I felt her pain as if it were my own. That was the last time I felt that way, and I *miss* feeling that way about her. I miss the feelings she inspired in me, though one of the things I feel like I need to work on is not relying on her to inspire those feelings, but to find my own inspiration to feel that way.


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This is a separate issue- is your spouse treating you badly? Is she getting angry? If so, that's a problem in the marriage that needs to be addressed before you try to meet her needs and request that she meet yours. There is no excuse for angry outbursts/mistreatment in marriage.
Less than she used to, for sure.

Part of that might be her own transformation, but I can't help but feel that part of it is that she herself has just kind of given up. She has always been 'strong' and super independent, and I think she has resigned herself to living the rest of her life being independent (part of why I think I should probably be following suit).

Another part is that I do my best to just get **** done and to stay out of her way. I don't really interact with her as much, and when I do I make sure I have my **** locked down *tight*, so therefore there aren't as many reasons for conflict.


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What are her complaints?
The big ones?

I am too 'needy' and emotionally exhausting. I expect too much from her.

I rely on her being my 'cheerleader.'

I'm selfish, possibly narcissistic.

She feels like she has to be my mother. She wants me to be stronger and more self-sufficient.

She feels like I'm competing with our son for her love/attention (a competition that she tells me I will always lose).

She wishes I would just be happy.

She wishes I would do more and accomplish more in life, that I would get more done, and that I would stop thinking about I need from others and focus more on making bigger contributions.

She wishes that I would just accept that our relationship/marriage is different now.

I could go on and on, but those are some of the biggies. I don't even begrudge her those complaints, but I wish I could figure out my way forward in this new 'love.'
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post #24 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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The ladder is needy.
BTW, I just have to say that this typo has given me some much needed levity. Apparently even the goddamned ladder is needy around my house, lol...

Thanks
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post #25 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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I'm not sure why you think you should not expect your wife to fill some of your emotional needs. You both have some number of needs that you can reasonable expect for the other to meet.
Everything I've been reading seems to say that expecting others to meet your emotional needs is a sign of emotional dependency/co-dependency/neediness. That the only person who can meet our emotional needs is ourselves.

If you google 'overcoming emotional dependency', there are scores of articles describing the danger of relying on others for what can only come from within.

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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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BTW, I just have to say that this typo has given me some much needed levity. Apparently even the goddamned ladder is needy around my house, lol...

Thanks
And it pisses me off, because it pings my OCD...

Damn voice to text...

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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

So, if it is one's responsibility to be completely emotionally independent, why do we bother marrying? Have you asked your wife this question?

It takes more than just the mere presence of somebody in your life to actually make a difference. Love for one another as shown in actions.

"Our ability to feel joy is directly related to how much pain we are willing to feel." - Mavash.

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post #28 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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Married couples should agree on how the other spends their time. Maybe she's going about it the wrong way, but I don't think discussing how you spend your day and her desire to agree with you on it is wrong. That's just part of being married.
I agree. That's why I try to be so careful with how I spend any free time I might have (which is little, despite my taking time to post here). I try to always stay as productive as I can, though it's hard, given that I'm an extrovert who is by himself (or with my son) 90% of the time. That is the challenge I'm trying to meet.

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Sounds like you get plenty of time to workout/go to the gym?
Where did you get that?

When I'm not working, I'm busting my ass to take care of the household. Grocery shopping, cooking, clean up, laundry, bills, appointments, yardwork, house repairs (our house is a disaster), car repairs, and on and on.

Not much time to go anywhere.


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Sounds like more time to "hang out" with a buddy than most married men with children get.
Yes, and for that I'm grateful. It's hard going for days/weeks at a time with no meaningful adult interactions, though. Maybe that's just me. My brain apparently wants adult social interaction.

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All I'm hearing here is how deprived of social "hang out" time you are. I have to ask- what were your expectations when you got married/decided to have children?
Yep, I realize my expectations were apparently way off. I didn't realize how isolating being a parent was.

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You get time to workout and hang out with a buddy
The first is not really a thing, and the second is within the confines of chasing our kids around. It's not like we can get into any kind of substantial conversations when there are interruptions every few minutes.

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maybe you need to focus on spending more time with your wife?
That would be great, but that is where I'm 'needy.' I *want* more time with my wife. Not happening.


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Do you spend at least 15 hours a week of quality, one on one time with her?
No. Of course not. We're parents, lol. Where are we going to find that time?

I'd say that we're lucky to get 15 hours of dedicated 'us' time every three months, let alone every week.

For the first few years, we barely talked to each other, ever, except five minutes to address our grievances or concerns (which were rarely ever resolved, given that it's hard to resolve things in five minutes.

It's getting a little better. We can now have conversations that last 10-15 minutes, and we get a short 'date night' about once a month or so.

I would of course like more (that's the whole point of my post), but I also don't want to be seen as 'needy' or 'selfish.'

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Maybe try focusing on the pleasure you get from raising your child and being a good husband?
Again, that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to shed the dependency I have on her and just be happy taking care of my family.

I have come a long ways, but I still miss things like intimacy, affection, sex, etc., and the absence of those things still cause me to feel depressed about my life (and yes, I realize that that is a self-centered view).

How does one truly find fulfillment of those 'needs' from within, with no expectation/need from others?

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Not once in this post have you said you'd like more time with your wife.
I feel like that is the whole point of my original post. That's one of the big sources of my 'neediness.' Perhaps I'm not communicating properly.

And this is exactly the opposite of what most people council, which is to stop looking to a spouse to provide those things and to 'spread the love around.'

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I'd guess that she's feeling alone in her marriage.
I don't know. Maybe? One of her big complaints is my complaining about feeling alone, which is why I'm trying to develop my own ability to be alone and to be self-sufficient/self-reliant.

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Honestly, you sound like you need to step it up for the sake of your family.
I don't disagree. How do you see me implementing that most effectively?

One of the biggest is to stop looking to my wife to provide for my 'needs', but I'm sure there are other ways.


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Complaining that you don't get enough time to hang out with your friends because your family takes up too much of your time while you work part-time is not attractive at all.
I agree. So how does one develop the ability to not need friends and the kinds of intimate connections that come with them? Just do more work?

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If you want your marriage to work, you need to stop being so self-centered and work with your wife instead of against her.
I agree. Which is why I'm looking at how to be emotionally independent and to not need her for my own sense of fulfillment in life. My finding fulfillment on my own would probably be the greatest asset to my wife.
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post #29 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 12:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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So, if it is one's responsibility to be completely emotionally independent, why do we bother marrying? Have you asked your wife this question?

It takes more than just the mere presence of somebody in your life to actually make a difference. Love for one another as shown in actions.
Don't mean to be ignoring your excellent previous post (I will respond when I can sit down and really engage), but yeah, that's my big question. If we can get to the point where we meet our own needs, what is the role of marriage? Just the opportunity to give those things to others, should they ever want them?

Again, there seems to be some needs that others can help fulfill (sex really comes to mind, but many would argue it's not a 'need'), but I don't understand how those others fit in.
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post #30 of 232 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 01:07 PM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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In your opinion, what differentiates these 'needs' and being 'needy', emotionally dependent, or co-dependent?

So much of what I've read cautions against looking to others to meet our emotional needs.

Women are not attracted to men who are co-dependent, but most (probably close to ALL) women want and need an interdependent marriage- where both spouses love and show extraordinary care for each other. It's why we get married, to have our most intimate emotional needs met by our spouse (conversation, recreational companionship, affection, and sex).

While this rings somewhat true, I, again, am getting the message from everywhere (including our marriage therapist) that love changes over time, and that what initially created feelings of love gives way to something more, I don't know, practical? That real love isn't about who the other person is or what they do, but just about accepting things as they are.

It might be time to look for a better therapist if yours is telling you this is the best you two can hope for. It sounds to me like neither of you are "in love" and because of that, you aren't motivated to meet each other's emotional needs. I'd highly suggest reading His Needs, Her Needs and possibly getting coaching through Marriage Builders if the book makes sense to you. You're both at high risk for finding others outside the marriage to meet your needs. I think this might be why you're so focused on yourself right now- you're trying to find happiness elsewhere because you're unfulfilled in your marriage. This needs to stop- you can't improve your marriage unless you make that your focus and figure out how to fall back in love with your wife- and she with you. This is why she has no desire to meet your needs right now either.


And this I understand. I haven't felt 'in love' with my wife for years, even as I continue to care about her and her well-being (I liken it to how I feel about other members of my family - she's more like a sibling to me than anything else). Our marriage counselor has indicated that that 'caring' I have for my wife is what real love is all about.

No, you can hope and do better, but you both need to be on board and you both need to put in the work. Start with His Needs, Her Needs (download it today) and sit down with your wife and plan 15 hours a week of undivided attention with her. Date your wife. You both need to fall back in love before this marriage falls apart completely.

I've also been resentful about the loss of feeling 'in love', a feeling that was strongly, almost compulsively and unconditionally, present for fifteen years.

You have every right to mourn the loss of love in your marriage. Your wife is likely mourning too, which is why she has no desire to have sex with you.

I remember how concerned I was for her when she was giving birth to our son. I would have done anything (and did do a lot - way more than I was comfortable doing) to ease her burdens and to ensure her safety. I felt her pain as if it were my own. That was the last time I felt that way, and I *miss* feeling that way about her. I miss the feelings she inspired in me, though one of the things I feel like I need to work on is not relying on her to inspire those feelings, but to find my own inspiration to feel that way.

You need to get back to this point and your wife will follow. But since you're the one who's here, you get to start.

Part of that might be her own transformation, but I can't help but feel that part of it is that she herself has just kind of given up. She has always been 'strong' and super independent, and I think she has resigned herself to living the rest of her life being independent (part of why I think I should probably be following suit).
She needs to relinquish her independence for an "interdependent" marriage, one that takes you and your feelings and needs into account, like you need to do for her. The good part is that this comes more naturally to most women, so once you get on board and start doing the work, she's likely to follow (and be relieved). She's bummed out on your marriage, just like you are right now.

Another part is that I do my best to just get **** done and to stay out of her way. I don't really interact with her as much, and when I do I make sure I have my **** locked down *tight*, so therefore there aren't as many reasons for conflict.

And that's not a marriage. You two are living like roommates who are polite to each other. It doesn't have to be like this, but it will take work to get back what you two once had. You can do it though and it will happen faster than you think (within weeks if you do the work in His Needs, Her Needs). You have a hook to motivate both of you- your son. You haven't had an affair, and neither has your wife. Yes, there's resentment and neglect and serious independent behavior on both your parts that needs to change, but you can do it quickly if you're willing. There's no reason you two can't come back from this and recover what you once had. Really, everything is pointing toward recovering your marriage- you guys have more going for you than a lot of people who need Marriage Builders.


The big ones?

I am too 'needy' and emotionally exhausting. I expect too much from her.
She isn't motivated to give you what you need right now because she's unhappy in the marriage. That will change once you're willing to do the work.

I rely on her being my 'cheerleader.'

I'm selfish, possibly narcissistic.
I do see self-centeredness on your part- but that may be due to not getting your needs met in your marriage. You can change that if you go back to that point where you were in love with her and showing her great care and would do anything for her.

She feels like she has to be my mother. She wants me to be stronger and more self-sufficient.
You two do need to agree on the work/domestic situation. But I think this will be easier to solve once you're both in love again. Right now, she's not getting her emotional needs met and likely feeling very unfulfilled in the marriage, like you are.

She feels like I'm competing with our son for her love/attention (a competition that she tells me I will always lose).
Your wife is not perfect either. She needs to learn how to make time for you and meet your needs while working full time and being a mother. This is no easy task. His Needs, Her Needs will help you both with this, and MB coaching may be able to help you both communicate better about possible alternatives that you both agree to. I know that I would not be ok with working full time because my goal was to be home and raise my children. If she is deeply unhappy with her current role, maybe you two can find solutions to have her go to part time while you take on full time, or ways for her to work but spend all weekend just having fun with the family instead of running errands and doing chores, etc. You guys can figure this out, but you'll need to be in love first.
She wishes I would just be happy.

She wishes I would do more and accomplish more in life, that I would get more done, and that I would stop thinking about I need from others and focus more on making bigger contributions.
She's unhappy with the current work situation. You two can brainstorm mutually agreeable solutions but not until you have restored the love in your marriage.[/COLOR]
She wishes that I would just accept that our relationship/marriage is different now.
She hasn't accepted it either, which is why she is telling you she is unhappy. She wishes things were different too. It can be- you two need to work together to restore your love and care for each other, and find ways to make each other happy in all areas of your lives together. She's not motivated to meet your needs right now, and you're not motivated either, but you're trying. Good for you.

I could go on and on, but those are some of the biggies. I don't even begrudge her those complaints, but I wish I could figure out my way forward in this new 'love.'
Complaints are good in marriage- listen to her. Read His Needs, Her Needs. Motivate her to do the work with you by telling her you love her and want to find ways to make her life and your marriage better. Let her know that your marriage is your priority and you two need to make changes, to improve your marriage, and the work/family situation. Get coaching- it sounds like you two really need it to get back on track.

Just saw your post above- I read that you're in the best shape of your life, so I thought you were spending a lot of time working out, which isn't bad, just pointing out that for many of us with families, that IS "my time"- and really, there may not realistically be much more time for other things, at least not every week. Now I realize you're trying to avoid needing your wife for anything, that's why you're looking to meet your own needs and make yourself happy. That is not going to work, as I've outlined in this post. I want to add that since you're the husband, you're in an excellent position to motivate your wife to improve your marriage. Wives typically cannot drag their husbands uphill, but once a husband is motivated to do the work, the wife will usually follow. You sound like you care very much about improving your marriage- you're just not sure how to do it with a wife who is likely depressed too. I really think His Needs, Her Needs will help you gifure this out. And possibly coaching, which is likely to be minimal compared to regular MC and probably a lot less expensive. You need a plan to restore the love in your marriage.

Last edited by Jessica38; 03-21-2017 at 01:17 PM.
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