New here, divorcing my wife of 20 years, and trying to make sense of it all.
Several years ago I read the majestic 20-volume sea-faring series by Patrick Obrian. Some of you may remember the Russel Crowe movie based loosely on the novels, "Master and Commander." At any rate, these books have an amazing amount of commentary on marriage, including infidelity, financial stress, careers. The main thing that struck me at the time was a comment by a side character who observed that the chief problem afflicting most married couples is a moral imbalance, sometimes expressed by one spouse achieving a definitive moral advantage over the other.
I found that despite the many other problems in my marriage: insecurity, infidelity, financial issues, it was this concept of moral advantage that made any attempt to patch up the marriage impossible.
I see this concept addressed only a handful of times in passing on this forum. And yet this sharing of moral ground may be more important than sharing of finances or emotional connections. "Communication" in a marriage will not be helpful if it's structured as one party enjoying a moral advantage in every conversation, analogous to playing chess with a person who wants to play with two queens to your one.
Has anyone thought about this concept? If your spouse does something inexcusable, how do you forgive AND relinquish your moral advantage? If you're in the doghouse, how do you get your moral equality back? How do you tell your wife that even though you screwed up, she has no right to keep you in the doghouse forever. Nearly every thread on this forum expresses some moral outrage at their lying/cheating/lazy/whatever spouse, but how do you put that moral outrage back in the bottle, assuming you can even solve the underlying problem?
In my marriage this concept played out like this. My wife experiences a some insecurity and inadequacy with how she looks, with her profession, with her sense of inferiority in many spheres. Her response is to downplay her weaknesses and lord it over me (and our kids and other peopld) with the things she is good at. In other words always change the subject so that you can never "lose" a conversation. It means that every conversation, every dimension of the relationship has a moral scorecard. If she can't "win" that particular dimension, then she stops playing. So for example if she is perhaps embarrassed about wasteful spending, she just sequesters her paycheck from me so that I can't see what is being spent. If she doesn't like how she looks she declares that looks should never matter in a marriage or any other setting. On the other hand, if she feels like she's overweight, she doesn't want to hear that I've lost weight (this would make her feel like a loser), however the judgment then flows in double portion to obese people she might see in public life.
I'm wondering if this is how she's always been? Or have I somehow done this to her? I really haven't noticed it so much in professional life.