My wife and I have been married for 8 years. We have separated twice and now she wants to finally file for divorce. I am moving out in three days when she returns from her parents house. I do not in any way want this and I love her completely. We have had many ups and downs in our marriage. I have realized many things that I would do differently and so does she. She says that she still loves me and if only I could have overcome one issue we could rebuild and start a new life together and start conquering other issues. It's nothing I do intentionally, in fact I've tried many many things to overcome it. I have studied many books, been to therapists, hypnotherapists, joined online classes/support groups, attended CODA meetings all to no avail. These help me to self diagnose and identify the problems but I can't seem to stop the behavior.
In life, but especially with my wife, I panic. I get so driven by fear and worry that I start to scramble, lie and basically manifest everything I am worried about. I come back from a marital separation with high hopes, new tools, new insights and confidence. As soon as I start to see that my wife is unhappy again or she might even say directly "you better not let that stuff back into our marriage or it's over" which of course sends me spinning with desperation. I constantly live in fear of losing her. This causes me to be clingy, needy, catering, over apologetic, dishonest, manipulative and I make excuses and minimize and don't fully own up to things for fear that full admission would spell the end.
Now mind you, she has a fair share of anxiety and depressive tendencies. When we both get into our modes we make each other worse. She gets very dark and depressed, has panic attacks, starts shaking, bad bad stuff.
She can't take the way it affects her when we get into this pattern. It is too painful and she can't function let alone work or pursue other things in life. She has finally reached the stance that I will never stop this behavior no matter how hard I try and in spite of her love for me, can't endure the way it makes her feel. Not for a day longer.
She doesn't say that everything is my fault. She says that we can't ever move on to other issues when this one keeps returning and sends everything into a spin.
So, I am here at our apartment starting to pack my stuff while she is gone. I have a friend who will let me stay for a while, a few months at best, while I figure out what is next. I of course, was hoping that she would cool off and reconsider. This is not happening.
She says to me that if I really cared about her I would not want her to feel this way, and since I can't stop the behavior that makes her feel so badly I would agree that divorce is the answer. She says that it affects her so negatively that I need to look at it as if I am beating her up. I tell her that I'm trying everything I can and she says that it's not enough. Just as if someone was saying "I'm trying not to hit you but I keep doing it" She says every time she starts to reconsider or wonder if maybe we could get past it, she remembers that I have tried and promised to fix it before.
Now if this behavior was specific to my wife, most of you would probably say that you are with the wrong person, and I would agree. It definitely gets to higher levels with my wife, and she gets angrier and I get more scared and insecure, but this fear based, anxiety, self esteem issue affects every part of my life. It's not as destructive but certainly holds me back.
I am currently teetering between two things;
1. Attempting to accept this, let go and move on.
2. Desperately searching for a way to overcome this behavior. Or at least figuring out what would work. I know there are no guarantees but if there was something more that I could do, maybe she would reconsider. Almost like if I was an alcoholic, I would finally be going to rehab.
Unfortunately, for her, this is an absolute deal breaker. She is completely willing to work on other issues but not as long as I have this behavior. It affects her too severely.
In the past she has called it many things;
manning up - Not owning up to things fully, not telling the truth fully.
being strong - I don't stand up for her to other people. This is conflict avoidance.
being an equal partner - I let her make all or most of the decisions.
being an adult -I rely on her for emotional support and don't give her the same. I'm usually too afraid to say the wrong thing when she's upset.
I agree that she should expect these things from a partner. I have only recently realized that it is all based on fear and anxiety. Every situation that has caused problems or major blowouts has been a result of me being scared of something. This is why now I believe that I finally know that face of my enemy. No more "acting as if" or pantomiming behaviors I've read about that seem unnatural and forced. I need to conquer this fear and anxiety that are the root of all of the behaviors that have caused so many problems in this and other relationships. It seems that it may be too late for these changes to save my marriage but I'm asking if anyone has gone through something similar.
Any advice? Something I haven't tried? And sorry for the long winded post.
Not at first. I was confident and self assured. At least in the relationship. I've always had tendencies to be anxious nervous and insecure. Getting approval and avoiding conflict have always been too important to me Posted via Mobile Device
I think it was when I realized that she would get so upset and disappointed when I couldn't support her in the way she needed emotionally. I remember her being really upset about something the doctor told her. This was in the first year of our marriage. I said something that seemed completely reasonable and supportive . This made her ever more upset because it wasn't what she was wanting to hear. Every attempt at resolving it made it worse. This was the first time I remember the feeling of being scared that I wouldn't or couldn't do the right thing to please her.
I can sympathize with you. I'm in a similar situation. I've been married for 11+ years with two kids. I have anxiety about just being around my wife, and of course it feeds the whole thing because in that state I can't be supportive. She's a business owner, student, and has many things going on and she gets very stressed. I do have all the tools I need to overcome my anxiety, e.g. therapist, self-help techniques, etc. Even as I use all these tools, the anxiety is slowly killing me off.
My wife often says, either you do it or you don't, there is no try. She's probably very right, but it just feeds my anxiety further.
I'm not giving up either. I used to get busy doing things like getting dinner ready, care for the kids, try to be as supportive as I can, but that completely misses the point. The point is to heal yourself.
I recommend finding a good therapist, and You Can Heal Your Life book(s).
Wow, I relate to so many things. My wife says the same thing. Just do it. Quit trying. She now understands that it will be a process for me. Unfortunately she is tired of waiting. She has given me chance after chance and I have made promise after promise that I will stop the weak, frazzled, doormat behavior and "man up" Obviously I haven't been able to do it.
I also mistakenly thought that catering to her would help and show her how much I cared; cleaning the house, making coffee, footrubs, flowers etc, etc.
She said that those things are nice but I would rather have none of those and have a strong partner who I can lean on and rely on.
I'm not giving up either. I'm going to do the work I need to do on myself. Unfortunately I am moving out tomorrow night and she said that she's filing for divorce and it's the only way she will be able to heal and fix her own problems.
I have a therapist appt. this friday. It was supposed to be our 2nd couples counseling session but that's not happening now. I'm going to go anyway. I can't really afford it long-term with no insurance but I need to talk to somebody.
She referred me to a psychiatrist over the phone that I'm waiting to hear back from.
I'll check out the book you mentioned. Thanks so much.
Keep it up, maybe you can achieve what I could not.
The fact you want to make her happy is really putting you on edge and tense about your relationship. It is hard to "man up" when you are not sure you are doing the right thing. You are trying to do the right thing? If she has you jumping here, there, and everywhere just to make herself feel stronger and more in control, then you cannot do what you think is best, relax and be yourself, or get comfortable in your relationship. She has issues too, does she make excuses for her erratic or uncontrollable behavior? There should be 2 of you in this boat and you shouldnt feel ashamed of making mistakes or not being perfect. Spouses have to help each other, not just test each other.