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post #31 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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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.
Sounds dreamy. How do you accomplish that when it's been made clear that you are not her priority?

She already feels like she isn't getting to be the mother she wants to be (she often sleeps with him at night because she misses him so much all day), and I feel her pain. I don't see how pressuring her to spend *less* time on our son is going to accomplish anything other than to reinforce how needy I am (you yourself have cautioned me against holding unrealistic expectations). I keep trying to find more ways to give her *more* time with him. That's why I try to take care of as much household responsibilities as I possibly can.

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The good part is that this comes more naturally to most women
Seriously? Once a woman has lost respect for a man, I don't see them doing that sort of thing 'naturally.' If anything, it's men who are more naturally inclined to want to take care of their women. Women see needing to take care of their man as a deficiency on his part. Women hate men that they feel they need to take care of. That's why the 'bad boys' are so attractive.

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That will change once you're willing to do the work.
Such as? I mean, that's the whole point of my working hard to overcome my emotional dependencies. If I can be independent, she won't feel pressured by me into having to be someone for me. She feels smothered and overwhelmed by me already.


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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.
Are you suggesting I double-down on being the 'nice guy'? I've already been doing that - it's totally counter-productive. While she appreciates all of the support I give her, it doesn't make her feel amorous.

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or ways for her to work but spend all weekend just having fun with the family instead of running errands and doing chores
Did you miss the part where I work my ass off to get as many chores done as I can so she *can* have extra time with my son on weekends? She and he usually go off to do some activity together while I stay home and take care of the house. I'm not sure how much more I can do.

Don't get me wrong - I totally appreciate and hold sacred her need to spend time with our son, and his need to be with her as much as possible (he worships the ground she walks on). It's a big reason why we aren't divorced. So this isn't necessarily a problem, but I feel like I'm doing everything I can.

Though I know that there is always more I can do. Like not being on the internet trying to solve my problems, lol.

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She hasn't accepted it either, which is why she is telling you she is unhappy.
I think she has. She's mostly unhappy because *I'm* unhappy. She just wishes I could be happy knowing that we are doing everything we can to raise our son right. She feels that I'm being selfish and narcissistic by 'demanding' that our marriage be different (and more like it was). And, as you say, I probably am.

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I read that you're in the best shape of your life
I was when our marital troubles started. But that was before having a kid.

Now I'm in about the worst shape of my life, and sleep deprived most of the time to boot.


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you're just not sure how to do it with a wife who is likely depressed too.
She is. Having a stressful job, a depressed/'needy' husband, and never enough time with the love of her life (our son) is hurting her a lot.

Trust me, if I could jumpstart my now dead career and start making the big bucks so she could have more freedom and happiness, I would do it in a heart beat.

I just haven't figured out how to work, take care of everything and everyone in the household, and go back to school or whatever all at the same time. While dealing with my own sense of 'neediness', loneliness, and depression. It just seems impossible...

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post #32 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 02:15 PM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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It is a kind of self-actualization I'm talking about, I guess. Achieving a high-level of self-actualization undoubtedly allows one to stay mentally and emotionally independent from others while still living in complex relationships with them. I can imagine a truly self-actualized individual needs nothing from others and can probably do a great job of not allowing themselves to be adversely affected by others in their life.

If you need nothing from others, they have no power over you.
Yikes! "They have no power over you?"

This looks relationship as a battle for supremacy.

Have you gotten counselling? Had any underlying issues identified?

Because that thinking is possibly a bit off.


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post #33 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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This looks relationship as a battle for supremacy.
Maybe.

Or, it's just a normal move to be emotionally self-sufficient.

If I am protective of my own emotional well-being, no one outside myself can have a negative impact on it.

No one can hurt you unless you let them. That sort of thing.

And one of the easiest way for others to hurt you is to expect something of them or from them. Hurting you doesn't even have to be something that they are *trying* to do. Most people don't *want* to hurt other people - we mostly hurt ourselves. No expectations, no upsets.
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post #34 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 02:33 PM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Do I have this right -

She expected to be the stay at home mom, and then you suddenly lost your job and by circumstance became the stay at home dad because you needed her income?

How much of your problems do you think are a result of her grieving the life she pictured for herself that didn't come to be?

In my marriage, we've been through the ringer financially a few times, particularly in the economic meltdown around 2008. We are both skilled and both work doing whatever needs to be done to bring home money. If one of us is able to secure higher paying work, we take it - doesn't matter if that one had a dream of being the one to stay home. We consider it part of being an adult.

Has she been doing any counselling just for herself? She sounds like she's got her own issues to unpack.

What does your marriage counselor actually say to you in terms of advice?
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post #35 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 02:37 PM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Dazed,

Some twenty thousand foot observations for you. You are smart and clearly determined to improve your situation. Very good raw materials. Now for the bad news.

You had a long and glorious honeymoon my man - just the two of you. Money was easy, free time plentiful. In a way it spoiled you. Reason I say that is you have one child - and yet you self describe as being on the ragged edge in terms of free time, money etc.

It seems like you:
Had a child
Lost your job right around that time

This put your wife into an intensely stressful situation. She resents the heck out of being forced into the primary breadwinner role. And then career wise - she sees you as either unable or un willing to get a comparable job to what you had before.

Your lack of financial support stresses her out like the lack of sex stresses you out.

The subtext of her nasty jibes about how you spend your time is actually: I'm angry that you aren't financially contributing as much as I expect.

What strikes me as odd - is the way you have seemingly danced around that topic. Because I don't see a way to repair the marriage without addressing her resentments about your financial contribution.










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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.




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.



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.'



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!



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.



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.




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.



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.



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.



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 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.




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.



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.



Yep, very true. That's my goal.



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.



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.





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.



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 #36 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 02:42 PM
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"Are you suggesting I double-down on being the 'nice guy'?"

Nope, that's not what I suggested at all. I suggested you follow a plan to restore the love in your marriage if you intend to save it.

If you don't, then continue the "work" you're already doing of emotionally divorcing your wife.
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post #37 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 03:27 PM
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"Are you suggesting I double-down on being the 'nice guy'? I've already been doing that - it's totally counter-productive. While she appreciates all of the support I give her, it doesn't make her feel amorous."

This is why you need to spend 15 hours a week dating her. Domestic support is listed as a top 10 need by many spouses- but it's not an intimate need. While your wife likely appreciates all you do, it meets her intimate emotional needs about as well as her financial support meets your need for sex.
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post #38 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 03:41 PM
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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."

My husband and I manage to get 15 hours a week together- and we have all the same household/work (husband works ft) responsibilities plus we have 2 kids who are both in time-consuming sports. But we didn't make time last year, and started feeling like roommates. So we prioritized. We workout together, go on 2 dates a week, and have our morning coffee just the two of us. It's not easy, but the average adult watches 4 hours/TV daily. We don't watch TV.
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post #39 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 03:47 PM
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"Seriously? Once a woman has lost respect for a man, I don't see them doing that sort of thing 'naturally.' If anything, it's men who are more naturally inclined to want to take care of their women. Women see needing to take care of their man as a deficiency on his part. Women hate men that they feel they need to take care of. That's why the 'bad boys' are so attractive."

Women will put up with a lot in a marriage (alcolohism, addiction, abuse), but neglect is why many women leave. You and your wife have fallen out of love. You seem to think you can't get it back, but I'm telling you, you're in a MUCH better position to win your wife back than most who've managed to do so.
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post #40 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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"While your wife likely appreciates all you do, it meets her intimate emotional needs about as well as her financial support meets your need for sex.
First, I'm not at all convinced that she feels that her 'intimate needs' are being neglected. Mostly, she doesn't want a downer around the house (which is why I'm looking for ways to turn that around without needing anything from my wife). I think a lot of her intimate needs are being met by our son, but mostly, I think she doesn't really have much need for intimacy (she has always said as much). She just wants someone who is happy with her and supports her when she needs it (and it's hard for her to ask for support, as I've learned).

I mean, it took her a whole year and a half after my son was born to come forward to me with how much of a failure she felt like for having such a difficult and stressful birth (our son's birth was a nightmare, and was pretty much completely opposite from our 'birth plan'). Just having that conversation meant a lot to me, as it gave me a chance to reassure and comfort her. I know it still bothers her, but she doesn't want to bring it up with me again (came out in our marriage counseling again recently). Mostly, I'm guessing, because she still blames me for 'abandoning her' and not being more supportive while she was pregnant (which is not a baseless accusation, but it also discounts my own struggles and confusion with her 'strange' and capricious behavior).

Secondly, I'm afraid that my asking her to give 15 hours a week (?!?) to me would just further bolster how 'needy' and 'narcissistic' I am, how I am only thinking about what I want/need and not about what my son needs or what she needs.

Early on, she tried to set up a few 'duty dates' here and there with me (she refused to leave our son with a babysitter, so it was usually when her mom would come visit), but I resented the fact that she was only setting them up because she thought I would consider it neglectful if she didn't. I wanted her to *want* to go on a date with me. It was hard to be ignored by her for weeks on end and then be offered a date, as though that would make up for it.

Now, looking back, I should have supported even 'duty' attempts to give me what I need. I let my pride get in the way ("I don't want your pity!") and I regret that, as it just gave her more reason to write me off ("Look, even when I try to do things for your sake, you won't accept it, so why bother?"). These days, I don't ever say no to anything - dates, sex (not that it's ever really offered), time together, whatever. She has recently gotten a little more interested in trying to find time, about once a month or so. But I don't push for anything because I don't want to be seen as 'needy.'

How do I suggest setting up 15 hours a week without setting her off about how I expect too much of her?

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post #41 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 05:37 PM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

You are the right track -- the thing you can change, and the thing that will make all the difference in your life, and may still make a sea change in how she feels towards you (though that is only a secondary effect) is in yourself. Focus on what is going on inside of you, and compassionately and unapologetically take care of the parts of you that experience the feelings you don't seem to like (neediness, dependency, for instance), and you will morph into a person that is at ease with himself, and confident in his worth and ability to be happy, independent of this or any other one woman's response.

I highly recommended the book "You are the one you've been waiting for", by Richard Schwartz, from which I quote here:

"Summary
Because we’ve covered so much territory, I will summarize the main themes before we move more concretely toward solutions. We have all learned to exile the parts of us that carry attachment injuries from childhood, including those related to traumas but also the parts of us that threatened or didn’t fit into our families. These exiles carry extreme beliefs and emotions regarding intimate relationships and are guarded by other parts that protect them. We have been led to believe that our partner is the one who will, at long last, make our exiles feel good.
The above is a setup, for many reasons. First, not only can’t our partner permanently unload the worthlessness and pain our exiles carry, but, at some point, he or she is likely to hurt us, too, by causing an attachment re-injury. Second, our culture is full of beliefs and forces that increase our dependence on our partner and constrain our ability to be fully present with him. Third, we generally select our partner for the wrong reasons and from the wrong parts.
Inevitably, our partner hurts our exiles, which triggers our protectors to start one of their three projects: changing our partner, changing ourselves, or giving up. Because of those projects as well as other reasons, both we and our partner wind up with neo-exiles that resent being shut out of the relationship and try to sabotage it. After enough hurt, the protectors of each partner come to permanently dominate the relationship, and the couple enters “negative override.” They no longer initiate bids for a affection and reject any that are initiated. Their conflicts become characterized by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. The relationship is doomed.
There is a solution to this dilemma, and in the second half of the book we will get practical about achieving it. Thus far, I have hinted at this solution and will review those hints here.
It is possible to become the primary caretaker of your own exiles so that your partner is freed up to be their secondary caretaker. Everything improves once this has been achieved. To get there,..."

"We are only here briefly, and in this moment I want to allow myself joy." -- Amy, from Spike Jonze's "Her"

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post #42 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 07:04 PM
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"How do I suggest setting up 15 hours a week without setting her off about how I expect too much of her?"

I'd suggest getting that book first before you approach her. The idea is not asking her to do more for her. It's addressing the issues in your marriage from a place she will respect- you're actively presenting a plan to improve your marriage in a way that will make you both happy.

In the meantime, figure out the job thing. I know you're trying- does she know? Let her know what you said, that you'd do anything to ease the burden she's carrying to give her more time w your son. You have a plan and are laser-focused on that while ALSO meeting her VERY high need for quality family time. Whenever you're not working PT and caring for the home, you're coming up with fun family activities. This gives your wife positive feelings of love for you while allowing her to be w your child.

But don't skip the book. Your wife cannot possibly be getting her intimate needs met that should be met by her spouse from her son. Please listen when I tell you, your wife is missing the "in love" feelings too. This is why she doesn't want to have sex right now. You can turn this around if you focus on the right things and stick to a plan.
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post #43 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 07:15 PM
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I can't edit my previous post from my iPhone for some reason, so adding this here:

*The idea isn't to ask her to do more for you.

Start by making sure you spend 15-20 or more hours a week quality family time. This will allow you to be close to your wife to rebuild her love for you while giving her time with your son.

Make this time fun for all 3 of you. Hiking, parks, family soccer, etc. Few things are more attractive to a mom who adores her child than watching her husband play with him. Be affectionate, positive, upbeat. Try to make positive comments about steps you're taking to find more work if she receives this well. Do this for a month while you read the book and put together plans for work/financial/marital without expecting anything in return.
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post #44 of 284 (permalink) Old 03-22-2017, 10:06 AM
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

It is true that playing and having fun are good.

Teaching your child stuff - is even better.


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I can't edit my previous post from my iPhone for some reason, so adding this here:

*The idea isn't to ask her to do more for you.

Start by making sure you spend 15-20 or more hours a week quality family time. This will allow you to be close to your wife to rebuild her love for you while giving her time with your son.

Make this time fun for all 3 of you. Hiking, parks, family soccer, etc. Few things are more attractive to a mom who adores her child than watching her husband play with him. Be affectionate, positive, upbeat. Try to make positive comments about steps you're taking to find more work if she receives this well. Do this for a month while you read the book and put together plans for work/financial/marital without expecting anything in return.
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Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

@farsidejunky - **** **** mother****! I just wrote out a long and detailed response to your post, and my browser crashed. I will try to get back to it as soon as I can, as I sincerely appreciate your effort. Don't know when that will be, but know that I have taken it to heart and haven't ghosted...
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