Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient - Talk About Marriage
General Relationship Discussion Although anyone can post anywhere on Talk About Marriage, this section is for people interested in general relationship and marriage advice.

User Tag List

 240Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread
post #1 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 172
Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

New to this forum, but I've lurked a bit and finally thought I might be able to get some direction from this community.

I've spent a lot of time in the last year or two trying to better understand life and love, and while I've made some progress, I am still struggling, so I thought I might see if anyone else can help me find the answers I'm looking for.

I had what I considered to be a 'perfect' relationship/marriage for almost 15 years. About five or six years ago, everything fell apart between my wife and I, and I've been trying to find my path forward ever since.

One of the biggest issues to come out when things crashed and burned was how needy I was, not just with my wife, but with other people in general. Experiencing a feeling of being 'cut off' or 'disconnected' from others really had an adverse affect on my mental and emotional well-being. Sad to say, I realized just how emotionally attached and dependent I had become, and how damaging that state was not only to myself, but to my marriage and to my family. I think my wife still resents me for my looking to her and our marriage to meet my needs (fair enough).

In all my research, it's clear that I can't look to others or to external circumstances (like marriage or friendships) to get my 'needs' met. I feel like I've made a lot of progress in becoming strong and emotionally independent and self-sufficient, but I still feel like I have a long ways to go, so I thought I'd get some input from those who may have accomplished their own self-sufficiency in life.

How do you maintain a relationship like a marriage without becoming attached or dependent on your spouse? How are you able to keep the distance necessary to ensure that someone like your spouse can't affect your mental or emotional well-being while still having to find a way to work with them every day?

How do you meet your own 'needs' for things that seemingly would require another person, such as friendship, intimacy, or sex? I've done pretty well living on my own, independent from others, but I still can't shake the feelings of loneliness and depression from lack of connection to others (and from a lack of sex)?

Finally, has anyone been truly successful at creating such a solid sense of self-respect and self-worth such that no amount of criticism, negativity, or hostility from your partner can shake your feelings about yourself? Are you able to let their opinion of you slide off your back without causing any pain or hurt, either to yourself or to the marriage? If so, what do you think enabled your ability to achieve that?

My wife has made overtures recently that she would like to connect more (though I'm not sure what that actually involves or looks like), but I've stayed distant, concerned about putting myself in a position where I again could become vulnerable to getting attached to her or dependent on her, which could easily destroy my marriage all over again.

In addition to personal viewpoints, can anyone recommend any resources that might help me in my journey?

Thanks in advance!

Dazedconfuzed is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 12:44 PM
urf
Member
 
urf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 145
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
New to this forum, but I've lurked a bit and finally thought I might be able to get some direction from this community.

I've spent a lot of time in the last year or two trying to better understand life and love, and while I've made some progress, I am still struggling, so I thought I might see if anyone else can help me find the answers I'm looking for.

I had what I considered to be a 'perfect' relationship/marriage for almost 15 years. About five or six years ago, everything fell apart between my wife and I, and I've been trying to find my path forward ever since.

One of the biggest issues to come out when things crashed and burned was how needy I was, not just with my wife, but with other people in general. Experiencing a feeling of being 'cut off' or 'disconnected' from others really had an adverse affect on my mental and emotional well-being. Sad to say, I realized just how emotionally attached and dependent I had become, and how damaging that state was not only to myself, but to my marriage and to my family. I think my wife still resents me for my looking to her and our marriage to meet my needs (fair enough).

In all my research, it's clear that I can't look to others or to external circumstances (like marriage or friendships) to get my 'needs' met. I feel like I've made a lot of progress in becoming strong and emotionally independent and self-sufficient, but I still feel like I have a long ways to go, so I thought I'd get some input from those who may have accomplished their own self-sufficiency in life.

How do you maintain a relationship like a marriage without becoming attached or dependent on your spouse? How are you able to keep the distance necessary to ensure that someone like your spouse can't affect your mental or emotional well-being while still having to find a way to work with them every day?

How do you meet your own 'needs' for things that seemingly would require another person, such as friendship, intimacy, or sex? I've done pretty well living on my own, independent from others, but I still can't shake the feelings of loneliness and depression from lack of connection to others (and from a lack of sex)?

Finally, has anyone been truly successful at creating such a solid sense of self-respect and self-worth such that no amount of criticism, negativity, or hostility from your partner can shake your feelings about yourself? Are you able to let their opinion of you slide off your back without causing any pain or hurt, either to yourself or to the marriage? If so, what do you think enabled your ability to achieve that?

My wife has made overtures recently that she would like to connect more (though I'm not sure what that actually involves or looks like), but I've stayed distant, concerned about putting myself in a position where I again could become vulnerable to getting attached to her or dependent on her, which could easily destroy my marriage all over again.

In addition to personal viewpoints, can anyone recommend any resources that might help me in my journey?

Thanks in advance!
There is an entire spectrum of behaviors that encompass just the people I have read here in this forum. Some are 180 degrees from me and many are much like me. Where you fit into that spectrum I couldn't begin to guess. I think your talking about self actualization but I'm not sure.

I don't necessarily agree or disagree with Maslow's 12 Characteristics of the self-actualized person but it might be a good place to start.

1) Self-actualized people embrace the unknown and the ambiguous.

They are not threatened or afraid of it; instead, they accept it, are comfortable with it and are often attracted by it. They do not cling to the familiar. Maslow quotes Einstein:

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.”

2) They accept themselves, together with all their flaws.

She perceives herself as she is, and not as she would prefer herself to be. With a high level of self-acceptance, she lacks defensiveness, pose or artificiality. Eventually, shortcomings come to be seen not as shortcomings at all, but simply as neutral personal characteristics.

“They can accept their own human nature in the stoic style, with all its shortcomings, with all its discrepancies from the ideal image without feeling real concern [...] One does not complain about water because it is wet, or about rocks because they are hard [...] simply noting and observing what is the case, without either arguing the matter or demanding that it be otherwise.”
Nonetheless, while self-actualized people are accepting of shortcomings that are immutable, they do feel ashamed or regretful about changeable deficits and bad habits.

3) They prioritize and enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

“[They] often [regard] as ends in themselves many experiences and activities that are, for other people, only means. Our subjects are somewhat more likely to appreciate for its own sake, and in an absolute way, the doing itself; they can often enjoy for its, own sake the getting to some place as well as the arriving. It is occasionally possible for them to make out of the most trivial and routine activity an intrinsically enjoyable game or dance or play.”

4) While they are inherently unconventional, they do not seek to shock or disturb.

Unlike the average rebel, the self-actualized person recognizes:

“... the world of people in which he lives could not understand or accept [his unconventionality], and since he has no wish to hurt them or to fight with them over every triviality, he will go through the ceremonies and rituals of convention with a good-humored shrug and with the best possible grace [... Self-actualized people would] usually behave in a conventional fashion simply because no great issues are involved or because they know people will be hurt or embarrassed by any other kind of behavior.”

5) They are motivated by growth, not by the satisfaction of needs.
While most people are still struggling in the lower rungs of the ‘Hierarchy of Needs,’ the self-actualized person is focused on personal growth.


“Our subjects no longer strive in the ordinary sense, but rather develop. They attempt to grow to perfection and to develop more and more fully in their own style. The motivation of ordinary men is a striving for the basic need gratifications that they lack.”

6) Self-actualized people have purpose.

“[They have] some mission in life, some task to fulfill, some problem outside themselves which enlists much of their energies. [...] This is not necessarily a task that they would prefer or choose for themselves; it may be a task that they feel is their responsibility, duty, or obligation. [...] In general these tasks are nonpersonal or unselfish, concerned rather with the good of mankind in general.”

7) They are not troubled by the small things.

Instead, they focus on the bigger picture.

“They seem never to get so close to the trees that they fail to see the forest. They work within a framework of values that are broad and not petty, universal and not local, and in terms of a century rather than the moment.[...] This impression of being above small things [...] seems to impart a certain serenity and lack of worry over immediate concerns that make life easier not only for themselves but for all who are associated with them.”

8) Self-actualized people are grateful.
They do not take their blessings for granted, and by doing so, maintain a fresh sense of wonder towards the universe.

“Self-actualizing people have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naïvely, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others [...] Thus for such a person, any sunset may be as beautiful as the first one, any flower may be of breath-taking loveliness, even after he has seen a million flowers. [...] For such people, even the casual workaday, moment-to-moment business of living can be thrilling.”

9) They share deep relationships with a few, but also feel identification and affection towards the entire human race.

“Self-actualizing people have deeper and more profound interpersonal relations than any other adults [...] They are capable of more fusion, greater love, more perfect identification, more obliteration of the ego boundaries than other people would consider possible. [...This devotion] exists side by side with a widespreading [...] benevolence, affection, and friendliness. These people tend to be kind [and friendly] to almost everyone [...] of suitable character regardless of class, education, political belief, race, or color.”

10) Self-actualized people are humble.

“They are all quite well aware of how little they know in comparison with what could be known and what is known by others. Because of this it is possible for them without pose to be honestly respectful and even humble before people who can teach them something.”

11) Self-actualized people resist enculturation.
They do not allow themselves to be passively molded by culture — they deliberate and make their own decisions, selecting what they see as good, and rejecting what they see as bad. They neither accept all, like a sheep, nor reject all, like the average rebel. Self-actualized people:

“make up their own minds, come to their own decisions, are self-starters, are responsible for themselves and their own destinies. [...] too many people do not make up their own minds, but have their minds made up for them by salesmen, advertisers, parents, propagandists, TV, newspapers and so on.”
Because of their self-decision, self-actualized people have codes of ethics that are individualized and autonomous rather than being dictated by society.

“They are the most ethical of people even though their ethics are not necessarily the same as those of the people around them [...because] the ordinary ethical behavior of the average person is largely conventional behavior rather than truly ethical behavior.”

12) Despite all this, self-actualized people are not perfect.

“There are no perfect human beings! Persons can be found who are good, very good indeed, in fact, great. [...] And yet these very same people can at times be boring, irritating, petulant, selfish, angry, or depressed. To avoid disillusionment with human nature, we must first give up our illusions about it.”
urf is offline  
post #3 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 12:56 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 223
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

You're certainly not alone in feeling this way. When things started falling apart in my marriage the same thing slowly started happening. I spent so much time focusing on our problems and what I could do to "fix" them that I lost touch with everything else. I stopped going out with my friends so I could spend time with my wife, because that's what I thought was the right thing to do. I did things and went places with her that I could've said no to because I really didn't want to go, but I said yes because I thought it was the right thing to do. And when I was there or doing whatever it was I was miserable and it showed. I disconnected from friends, things I used to love doing, I lost who I once was and in the process ending pushing her further away.

Now my marriage is a complete mess because of things I've done and things she's done over the past 2 years. I still love my wife but there is no real connection there. She has also told me that she feels no connection between us anymore as well. In the past month or so I've taken the position that I'm going to live my life for me and what I want. I'm not withdrawing from my wife or my family really at all but I'm doing what I want to do to better myself as a person and try to regain who I once was. I've stopped trying to fix things and I'm leaving our problems to work themselves out, if they're going to at all. I no longer offer her suggestions on what to do on matters unless she specifically asks for a suggestion, all I do is listen and try to understand. I try not to speak to her much unless it's essential conversation about home or family. I'll ask her how her day was and little things like that, but if she doesn't start a conversation about it I don't go any further to push a conversation.

I will say that the little things like limiting conversation and pushing for a conversation, along with little things like randomly going out for a drink with a friend, or going to hit golf balls without her, or even just going for a drive by myself, have started to make a difference. Regular conversation between us has increased a little, I've found us goofing around and laughing more together, and even the simple thing of her rolling over to cuddle for a few minutes in the morning every now and then has increased. Yes there are good days, along with days where she seems to want nothing to do with me, but those days do seem to be decreasing.

I'm not sure if any of that helped other then to let you know that you certainly aren't alone. The one piece of advice I could give you is to look up the book "No More Mr. Nice Guy", there were a lot of things in it that really struck a chord with me and open my eyes to who I've become and why it pushed her further away. Hang in there and try to focus on you and making you happy, if it was meant to be it'll work itself out eventually. And if it wasn't really meant to be, then at least you will be you again, and ready for your next adventure.
AtMyEnd is offline  
 
post #4 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 172
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Quote:
Originally Posted by urf View Post
I think your talking about self actualization but I'm not sure.
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.
Dazedconfuzed is offline  
post #5 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 01:11 PM
Forum Supporter
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 534
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
New to this forum, but I've lurked a bit and finally thought I might be able to get some direction from this community.

I've spent a lot of time in the last year or two trying to better understand life and love, and while I've made some progress, I am still struggling, so I thought I might see if anyone else can help me find the answers I'm looking for.

I had what I considered to be a 'perfect' relationship/marriage for almost 15 years. About five or six years ago, everything fell apart between my wife and I, and I've been trying to find my path forward ever since.

One of the biggest issues to come out when things crashed and burned was how needy I was, not just with my wife, but with other people in general. Experiencing a feeling of being 'cut off' or 'disconnected' from others really had an adverse affect on my mental and emotional well-being. Sad to say, I realized just how emotionally attached and dependent I had become, and how damaging that state was not only to myself, but to my marriage and to my family. I think my wife still resents me for my looking to her and our marriage to meet my needs (fair enough).

In all my research, it's clear that I can't look to others or to external circumstances (like marriage or friendships) to get my 'needs' met. I feel like I've made a lot of progress in becoming strong and emotionally independent and self-sufficient, but I still feel like I have a long ways to go, so I thought I'd get some input from those who may have accomplished their own self-sufficiency in life.
I'd suggest you read His Needs, Her Needs. 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. Dr. Harley talks about the importance of "inter-dependence" in successful marriages.

How do you maintain a relationship like a marriage without becoming attached or dependent on your spouse? How are you able to keep the distance necessary to ensure that someone like your spouse can't affect your mental or emotional well-being while still having to find a way to work with them every day?

How do you meet your own 'needs' for things that seemingly would require another person, such as friendship, intimacy, or sex? I've done pretty well living on my own, independent from others, but I still can't shake the feelings of loneliness and depression from lack of connection to others (and from a lack of sex)?
You can't- these are emotional needs you need to have met by your spouse in order to have a quality marriage. The top emotional needs listed in His Needs, Her Needs are: intimate conversation, sex, recreational companionship, and affection. These needs should be met by your spouse in order to create feelings of love. 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.

Finally, has anyone been truly successful at creating such a solid sense of self-respect and self-worth such that no amount of criticism, negativity, or hostility from your partner can shake your feelings about yourself? Are you able to let their opinion of you slide off your back without causing any pain or hurt, either to yourself or to the marriage? If so, what do you think enabled your ability to achieve that? 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. What are her complaints? Can she get help to learn how to better communicate them to you? Her current method is causing you to lose your love for her.

My wife has made overtures recently that she would like to connect more (though I'm not sure what that actually involves or looks like), but I've stayed distant, concerned about putting myself in a position where I again could become vulnerable to getting attached to her or dependent on her, which could easily destroy my marriage all over again.

If you do not address your wife's anger problems and learn how to communicate better, the problems in your marriage will not improve. Staying distant and not allowing your wife to meet your needs and continuing to not meet hers will cause you both to fall out of love if you're not already.

In addition to personal viewpoints, can anyone recommend any resources that might help me in my journey?

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by Jessica38; 03-20-2017 at 01:16 PM.
Jessica38 is offline  
post #6 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 01:51 PM
Moderator
 
farsidejunky's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 7,628
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
How do you maintain a relationship like a marriage without becoming attached or dependent on your spouse? How are you able to keep the distance necessary to ensure that someone like your spouse can't affect your mental or emotional well-being while still having to find a way to work with them every day?
You do this by finding things you love to do, that lead you to feel better about yourself, and pursue them. Once you find the pursuit, you balance that with family time. 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. I got in the best shape of my life (at the time). It still wasn't enough.

What changed is when I found something I could pursue that stimulated my mind enough that my wife was no longer my first priority. I started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a little over a year ago, and it continues to be my pursuit. Now I am competing with my son, who helped to get me into BJJ as he was doing it nearly eight months longer than me. We go to tournaments together about one Saturday per month or so. Basically, I got a life away from my wife. I have also been taking Muay Thai (kickboxing) classes for nearly three years, and am now teaching one to two classes a week. 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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
How do you meet your own 'needs' for things that seemingly would require another person, such as friendship, intimacy, or sex? I've done pretty well living on my own, independent from others, but I still can't shake the feelings of loneliness and depression from lack of connection to others (and from a lack of sex)?
This is what led to my journey starting at the end of 2013. The short answer? You cannot meet all of your own needs. Humans are social animals, and require interaction. 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.

Now in fairness, my sex life is still not where I want it to be. We connect somewhere between 2-8 times per month on average. I would like it to be 2-3 times per week, but we can't always get what we want, and I can live with our current frequency. Please note the bold part of the last sentence; my wife clearly understands that now as well. There was a time where her wants and needs were paramount while mine were optional; no longer. Hers get to be every bit as important as mine are. She wants to connect less or stop meeting my needs? Sure thing...I add another night or two of BJJ to my schedule, I take my son to have a Dudes Day, or go do something by myself. 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 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. 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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
Finally, has anyone been truly successful at creating such a solid sense of self-respect and self-worth such that no amount of criticism, negativity, or hostility from your partner can shake your feelings about yourself?
Nope. Anyone who claims otherwise either never steps out of their comfort zone, or is disordered. All of us have doubts about some things.

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. There was a time she did not believe it anymore. Why is she convinced now? Because my actions and my belief in myself clearly communicate so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
Are you able to let their opinion of you slide off your back without causing any pain or hurt, either to yourself or to the marriage? If so, what do you think enabled your ability to achieve that?
Nope, and frankly, I don't want to. Think about this. You are clearly sensitive; I recognize the trait well, as I am the same. In order for things like that not to hurt, I have to fundamentally change who I am. 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. If someone does not like that, or they criticize, **** them; I have no room for them in my life, and they are missing out. I achieved that by learning to love myself. Do you know how I learned to love myself? 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. Bottom line: the more you love the person in the mirror, the less you need everyone in life to love you.

It had an interesting effect. It brought my wife and I closer, and it led to being surrounded by people who appreciated those aspects of my personality. Hell, my wife used to make fun of some things in my personality when we were sexless and she did not respect me. That was really the last straw for me to pull my head from my ass and start living life for me. My wife used to make comments like, "I feel like I am raising two children" (my son and me) and I would feel shame. Funny, that, as she married me in large part because of my twisted sense of humor. Now when she says those things, I embrace it and turn it into something a little twisted, and often sexual. She normally laughs at that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
My wife has made overtures recently that she would like to connect more (though I'm not sure what that actually involves or looks like), but I've stayed distant, concerned about putting myself in a position where I again could become vulnerable to getting attached to her or dependent on her, which could easily destroy my marriage all over again.
I wouldn't do it. She literally left you when you needed her the most, which was when you needed help finding your way. It happens to many of us. Something happens to us and suddenly we look around and realize that we are not where we thought we should be in life. This normally happens after a particularly challenging time, or after things get stagnant in life. Your XW could not handle it. If she could not handle it when you were lost, why should she get you now that you have improved? No, thank you. There are other women out there to experience. Exes are exes for a reason, whether made so by you or them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
In addition to personal viewpoints, can anyone recommend any resources that might help me in my journey?
Both can be purchased used from eBay for $5 or less each:

Hold On To Your N.U.T.'s by Wayne Levine
Awareness by Anthony Demello

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.

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.

"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
farsidejunky is offline  
post #7 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 01:58 PM
Member
 
Rowan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Southeast
Posts: 2,634
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

I guess I would probably start with speaking to a therapist, if you have not already, to help you determine if you are in fact overly needy. Is that objectively true, or is your wife's viewpoint on this skewed for some reason? In what ways are you too needy and are those ways things that you'd be willing to change about yourself?

Complete independence would not really be a workable dynamic in a marital relationship - you are, after all, part of a two-person partnership and not a completely independent person. There are absolutely needs that one can reasonably expect a partner to meet for you, and ones that you should absolutely expect to meet for your partner. Otherwise, there's a complete emotional disconnect that makes for an unhealthy and unhappy marriage.

Co-dependence, however, is also not healthy and not part of a good marriage. If you have not, OP, do some research on co-dependence to see if that fits the dynamic of your marriage. If it does, then there are resources out there that can help you form a more healthy relationship. For starters, though, you would need to get healthier within, and for, yourself. That is likely to start with doing some work to improve your own self-esteem. People who value themselves to a healthy degree tend to avoid co-dependent relationships. They are neither overly needy themselves, nor willing to enable excessive neediness in their partner. Your core emotional stability must come from within yourself, so that you are not totally reliant on others for your emotional regulation and strength.

Interdependence is healthy in a close, loving, relationship. Two emotionally healthy and whole people who choose to be interdependent should be the goal. You cannot make your wife happy. Your wife cannot make you happy. Happiness has to come from within. In a healthy relationship, that happiness - emotional stability and wholeness - belongs individually to each partner and they choose to share it with one another.

You'll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly upon our own point of view. - Obi Wan Kenobi
Rowan is offline  
post #8 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 02:02 PM
urf
Member
 
urf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 145
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
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.
I'm not sure you understand. No matter though. What you said is partly true. You said: If you need nothing from others, they have no power over you Others really have no power other than what you give them. The idea here is that you become the man you want to be. There is no need to become a hermit, alone and apart from the world. You become a magnet and attract all that you WANT from the world. What you need is a minimalist approach. What you want is everything.

Somewhere inside you is a place where the man you want to be slumbers. Find him inside yourself. Let him lead you.
urf is offline  
post #9 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 172
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
I guess I would probably start with speaking to a therapist, if you have not already, to help you determine if you are in fact overly needy. Is that objectively true, or is your wife's viewpoint on this skewed for some reason? In what ways are you too needy and are those ways things that you'd be willing to change about yourself?
Our marriage counselor has cautioned me to not expect marriage to meet my needs. A relationship seminar we took advocated the same thing, to stop expecting another person or a marriages to meet our needs. Only we can meet our own needs. You can request for others to help you, of course, but your request should not carry an expectation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
Complete independence would not really be a workable dynamic in a marital relationship - you are, after all, part of a two-person partnership and not a completely independent person.
It's less complete independence, and more emotional/mental independence. Clearly, marriage requires a certain amount of interdependence - there are children to care for, bills to pay, etc. But everything I read emphasizes how emotional fulfillment and well-being is something only you can do for yourself. You cannot allow your emotional fulfillment and well-being to be dependent on others and what they are or are not doing for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
For starters, though, you would need to get healthier within, and for, yourself. That is likely to start with doing some work to improve your own self-esteem. People who value themselves to a healthy degree tend to avoid co-dependent relationships. They are neither overly needy themselves, nor willing to enable excessive neediness in their partner. Your core emotional stability must come from within yourself, so that you are not totally reliant on others for your emotional regulation and strength.
I've been working for a while to become more healthy myself. When my marital troubles started, and my wife started distancing herself from me, I sunk into a deep depression (exacerbated by having lost my job (at the height of the recession, when comparable jobs were nowhere to be found), moving into a new house, trying to support my bereaved and insane mother when my dad dropped dead suddenly, and dealing with everything that goes with having a pregnant wife and then a new child). I haven't fully recovered, but I am definitely coping much better than I did for a few years there.

I totally recognize that I've not been a great partner this whole time, and I don't blame my wife for being angry, resentful, and distanced. She was forced to become the primary breadwinner right when she also needed to start a family (she was about 33 and couldn't put it off any longer), and the stress of having to handle all of that really wore her down. I wasn't 'manning up' right when she most needed me to be 'the man', due to the fact I couldn't seem to get my own **** together. I got weak right when I needed most to be strong, and the more she put distance between us, the more I 'chased' her and looked to her to 'meet my needs' (intimately, sexually, etc).

One of my problems with working on this stuff, though, is highlighted in your text - I have no idea what 'overly needy' or 'totally reliant' actually looks like. All I know is that I felt like I wanted to feel close to my wife, and I didn't feel like we were close because of the lack of sex, the lack of time spent together, my losing her respect and the lack of her positive affirmations of me, etc. Instead of letting the loss of those things impact me, I took them personally and looked to her to provide them for me. It finally came to a head a few years back when she said, "I've done everything I can do to help you, and I can't do anything more." My first reaction was "I feel like you haven't done *anything* to help me" (which wasn't received well, believe me), but her declaration is what made me start to look inward instead of to her. Maybe she wasn't the problem and I was? That's when I realized that it was up to me to meet my own needs, not anyone else.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
You cannot make your wife happy. Your wife cannot make you happy. Happiness has to come from within. In a healthy relationship, that happiness - emotional stability and wholeness - belongs individually to each partner and they choose to share it with one another.
I agree with this, in theory.

In reality, it's hard to see my wife unhappy and to know that, if I were a better partner/man, she wouldn't feel that way. Likewise, while I know that my wife can't make me happy, I feel like finding happiness when facing a strong headwind from my spouse is a challenge I haven't figured out how to overcome yet. How do I pursue my own happiness without causing more stress and hardship for my wife and son, without further eroding her respect for me? I'm working hard to live up to the challenge of 'don't do what you love, love what you do', and I've made some progress, but I'm still having a hard time climbing out of the hole I find myself in.
Dazedconfuzed is offline  
post #10 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 04:58 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 988
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazedconfuzed View Post
....In all my research, it's clear that I can't look to others or to external circumstances (like marriage or friendships) to get my 'needs' met. I feel like I've made a lot of progress in becoming strong and emotionally independent and self-sufficient, but I still feel like I have a long ways to go, so I thought I'd get some input from those who may have accomplished their own self-sufficiency in life.

How do you maintain a relationship like a marriage without becoming attached or dependent on your spouse? How are you able to keep the distance necessary to ensure that someone like your spouse can't affect your mental or emotional well-being while still having to find a way to work with them every day?

How do you meet your own 'needs' for things that seemingly would require another person, such as friendship, intimacy, or sex? I've done pretty well living on my own, independent from others, but I still can't shake the feelings of loneliness and depression from lack of connection to others (and from a lack of sex)?

...My wife has made overtures recently that she would like to connect more (though I'm not sure what that actually involves or looks like), but I've stayed distant, concerned about putting myself in a position where I again could become vulnerable to getting attached to her or dependent on her, which could easily destroy my marriage all over again.

In addition to personal viewpoints, can anyone recommend any resources that might help me in my journey?

Thanks in advance!
I would suggest that I really agree with Farsidejunky and what he told you.

You need to understand that being suffocating and clingy is not sexy to your wife.

I did some mountain climbing (that I first did early in my marriage but gave up, when we had children) with my son. I also did some long distance bike rides with him (100 mile rides). These were things and the training for them that took me out of the house, that gave my wife space and gave me a sense of accomplishment and built a special closeness to my son.

Dr. Harley of Marriage Builders believes that one important aspect of a happy marriage is shared recreational activity. I know lots of couples that play bridge, belong to bowling leagues, play golf every week, do square dancing, wine tasting, walking, traveling, volunteer at a non-profit charity, etc. It is important for two people to share some recreational activity. Your wife has asked to connect to you, find some shared activity to do together.

I would echo that Chapman's 5 LL, Glover's NMMNG, Sue Johnson's Hold Me Tight, and MW Davis the Sex Starved Marriage really helped me deal with my issues and better understand myself so I could become a more integrated man who was less codependent on my wife.

You may want to read up on what it means to be codependent or as Glover likes to say, need a woman to validate your emotions and being.

Good luck. It can be done.

Young at Heart is offline  
post #11 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 172
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Quote:
Originally Posted by Young at Heart View Post
You need to understand that being suffocating and clingy is not sexy to your wife.
I know that better than many by now, lol. I think I've definitely eradicated any 'clinginess' that I might have had - I've definitely stopped looking to my wife for, well, anything, really.

Quote:
It is important for two people to share some recreational activity.
For the past five or six years, we've been mostly unable to find time to just have basic conversations, let alone share a recreational activity. Every few weeks, we might actually find time to watch a TV show together, and my MIL visits about once a quarter and we go out to dinner. Beyond that, there is no 'us time' to speak of...

Quote:
Your wife has asked to connect to you, find some shared activity to do together.
And that's why I'm not sure what 'connect' means. Mostly, I think she wants me to give her hugs/be loving/not be distant more than actually spending time or energy 'sharing' anything.

Quote:
You may want to read up on what it means to be codependent or as Glover likes to say, need a woman to validate your emotions and being.
Well, and that's the tricky part. I can't tell if I need her validation (she certainly seems to think I do) or whether I just want her to stop thinking I'm a loser and a ****ty partner. What is the difference between wanting respect and wanting validation?
Dazedconfuzed is offline  
post #12 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 07:59 PM
Moderator
 
farsidejunky's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 7,628
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Wanting respect from her is a form of wanting validation.

The differences in how it impacts you. If she does not respect you, are you able to understand and Let It Go, or if you start trying to take deliberate action to gain her respect?

The former is not being needy. The ladder is needy.

When she turns you down for sex, did you pout and let it upset your whole world, or did you go find something else going to do?

Do you see the difference?

"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
farsidejunky is offline  
post #13 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 172
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Quote:
Originally Posted by farsidejunky View Post
Wanting respect from her is a form of wanting validation.

The differences in how it impacts you. If she does not respect you, are you able to understand and Let It Go, or if you start trying to take deliberate action to gain her respect?
Neither, probably.

Actually regaining her respect would take some serious doing - more than I feel capable of accomplishing in any kind of shorter time-frame. I've mostly given up even bothering to try. I'm just focused on getting through each day.

OTOH, I do understand it, but I can't shake letting it get me down. It sucks to know that someone who thought you were pretty badass (at least for some period of time) is now reduced to seeing me as little more than a hopeless child. I get why. I don't blame her. But it can suck spending your life in that shadow.

>When she turns you down for sex, did you pout and let it upset your whole world, or did you go find something else going to do?

I used to pout. I used to also get pissed and get into fights with her about it. Then I finally gave up.

Now, the few times that I even bother trying to initiate anymore (I gave up initiating years ago - what little self-respect I had left finally stopped me from banging my head against that wall), I'm actually pretty cool about letting it go. I'm used to the rejection by now, and to the lack of sex, so I don't take it too personally.

OTOH, it's taken me a much longer time to be cool about never having sex. That's why I asked the question as to how one goes about being 'self-reliant' and 'self-fulfilled' when it comes to stuff like sex. Seems like that is one area that requires another human being in order to be fulfilled.
Dazedconfuzed is offline  
post #14 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 10:49 PM
Moderator
 
farsidejunky's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 7,628
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

I misread your initial post in that I thought your marriage was over. Not that it isn't over in spirit, but on paper.

So, what is your next step?

"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
farsidejunky is offline  
post #15 of 274 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 172
Re: Question on becoming emotionally self-reliant and self-sufficient

Quote:
Originally Posted by farsidejunky View Post
I misread your initial post in that I thought your marriage was over. Not that it isn't over in spirit, but on paper.

So, what is your next step?
Becoming more self-reliant and self-sufficient. Learning to play the cards I've been dealt.

Thanks for the engagement, and I'll respond to your first text with some of the challenges I'm facing and the resulting questions.
Dazedconfuzed is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on Talk About Marriage, you must first register. Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

Important! Your username will be visible to the public next to anything you post and could show up in search engines like Google. If you are concerned about anonymity, PLEASE choose a username that will not be recognizable to anyone you know.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in









Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



Thread Tools Search this Thread
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome