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Posts Tagged ‘resolving conflicts’

To say the last week has been difficult would be a great understatement.

He had been caught. He just didn’t know to what extent when I confronted him. And so he lied. Had he told the truth, would the outcome have been different? No point in wondering that now. Once I began reading out loud to him, the e-mails they had exchanged that were in my possession, my husband realized he could lie no longer and the ugly details were revealed.

He met her 18 months ago . . . It became “inappropriate” early on. I told him he needed to leave. Move out. And he needed to tell the kids why or else I would. I gave him 1 week. He refused. By mid-week he even began to deny everything he had admitted just a few days before. Why wouldn’t he? I’m sure he was thinking that we would fall back into our usual pattern by telling me,

~ “You are blowing things out of proportion”
~ “You are being over sensitive”
~ “It wasn’t what you think”

It didn’t matter. Nothing he could say at this point was going to weaken my resolve.

Despite my husband’s juvenile and desperate protests, (“I’m not going to tell the kids and you can’t make me!) we had a “family meeting” exactly 1 week after the thing that changed everything happened. My younger ones cried. My older ones were angry and demanded him to explain. He couldn’t. And then the dam burst. Every crazy, dysfunctional, hurtful, narcissistic behavior of my husband was confronted . . . By the kids. There was no blatant disrespect, but they held nothing back.

His response? He took off his wedding ring, set it on the table, packed a bag, and left the house. He was gone and I could finally breathe. We all could finally breathe. The toxic energy was gone and now our healing could begin.

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My therapist warned me there’d be days like this. “As you grow stronger,” she cautioned, “the enemy will attack harder. He will use your husband, your children, your circumstances . . . Be ready.”

Another busy day. I had worked an evening shift and after the 45 minute commute, I was ready to crawl into bed once I got home.

My husband was still up, which should have been an indication that something was different. He usually never waited up for me when I worked late.

I had barely shut the bedroom door when he said, “I can not live under the same roof with your daughter another day. Either she moves out or I will. You choose.”

I listened to his version of how the evening unfolded without saying much. The next day, I then asked my children, who had witnessed the blow out, for their perspective.

The kids: Sissy went to the supermarket that afternoon to buy all the ingredients she needed to bake apple pies for us and 2 friends she had invited over to watch the season finale of her favorite show.

My husband: S. made a complete mess of the kitchen using our food to make a complete dinner for her friends, without even asking if it was OK with me.

The kids: When her friends arrived, Dad answered the door and told them that they couldn’t come in.

My husband: I told S. that I was not expecting company and suggested she make a different plan with her friends for the evening.

The kids: Dad told S. that he couldn’t afford to feed her friends and he couldn’t wait for her to move out.

My husband: I want her to be happy, and I told her that maybe she would be happier if she got her own place, where she wouldn’t have to follow my rules. She then starting screaming at me, saying that I’m wrong if I think my marriage and relationship with my sons will improve if she moves out. What was she talking about? What have you told her about our marriage?

She also seemed to know a lot about our finances, saying that you are the one who pays the bills around here. Basically telling me that I have no authority in my own home since I don’t contribute financially as much as she thinks I should. Is this what you are telling the kids? With you influencing them like this, no wonder they show no respect towards me.

(I felt from the beginning of this conversation that my husband had been trying to involve me in the drama of the evening, which is why I chose to just listen. But when he tried to insinuate that I was somehow responsible for it, I had to speak.)

Me: I don’t have to say a word about our marital difficulties for her to be aware that we have issues. Everyone who lives in this house KNOWS what dysfunction goes on here. As for who pays the bills, that’s no secret, either. We have all heard your endless tales of woe as to how broke you always are and can never seem to make ends meet without “help”.

The kids: The situation got out of control, and both dad & S. were yelling at each other.

Me: How did that make you feel?

Kid #5: I made myself as small as I could, so I could be invisible . . .

Kid #3: It made me feel like I want to be NOTHING like my dad when I grow up . . .

“Being a child of a “broken” home is not a label just for kids whose parents are divorced. It’s about not having two parents around that you can look up to and model your life after. It’s about not having someone see the potential in you and speak to it.”

“It’s not just about just having two parents that are still married to each other. We need more than the acknowledgement that we are the children of our parents. We need endorsement, love, and support. And most important, we need to be taught how to use the gifts we have been given.”

“Making a son tough is not a parent’s responsibility. Never telling your daughter that she’s beautiful is not protecting her. Being a parent is about being someone to show your child their place in this world then releasing them into it.”

“A father’s job is to teach his daughter what to expect from a man, and to his son, to exemplify what it takes to be a man. Otherwise, not only will our homes be broken . . . So will we.(Max – Making it MAD)

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For my own mental health, I have decided to “unfriend” my husband on Facebook.

Here is the latest post on his wall from a new “friend”:

Hey there!
I would love to catch up with you over lunch, but my schedule has been hectic. Hope you are doing well. Let’s go out sometime soon. We could take a long hike or spend some quiet time together over coffee. I can lend you my ears. Sending you peaceful thoughts.
Until then,
Trista

When I brought it up to my husband, he denied the message even existed. He was offended that I challenged him to open his Facebook to prove me wrong, then his fingers suddenly became clumsy as they hit the computer keyboard and it took him several attempts to type the right password. When he finally did, of course the message was there. He claimed to have no idea why this “acquaintance” would have asked him out since he had absolutely no relationship with her other than being co-workers. Eventually, he said it was possible that the message came after she saw him “looking down” over his marital problems, but that they had never gone on a hike or out to coffee . . .

A few days later, he sent me this e-mail:

“I am sorry for what you are going through based on what you feel is due to my behavior. I never responded to Trista’ s invitation and that is the truth. Even if I was on Facebook and I had seen the message before you brought it to my attention, I am not the type of man who would engage in such behavior, but obviously you think I am, and seem to have made up your mind already. I am sorry that you are in pain because of me, when all I want is to be the husband who desires to love you.”

“I am not sure what it is that I can say to you because anything I say will be misconstrued. I have already told you that I was not on Facebook and that even if I had read this message, I have no intention of having any kind of relationship with anyone outside of my marriage. Not once have I ever struggled with the temptation of infidelity. I am not the type of man that you make me out to be, and while you are entitled to your opinion, I find it unjust to question my integrity – not when it comes to my faithfulness. I am only sorry that after all these years, you would put me in such a category of men. I know that I have many faults, but you should know that I will never be unfaithful to you. If you are done with me, please find a different reason. My OCD, my lack of ability to make you happy and communicate, my inability to meet your expectations as a husband and father, but not as a cheater.”

“I feel blessed and at peace to have a clear conscience.”

My husband is adamant about not having a struggle with infidelity, but there is definitely some type of struggle going on with him.

I suspect the truth is being manipulated because he’s afraid. Because he keeps what he’s done wrong in the dark. And in the dark, everything seems worse than what it is. Sometimes being married to my husband can be like navigating a minefield when all I’ve ever wanted it to be is a place of comfort; a place to step without having to look first.

“Our love is not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah

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I’ve been thinking it might be time to stop seeing my therapist. I know things will not get better for myself or my marriage if I stop going, but I’m beginning to think they won’t get better even if I continue. There has been no progress that I can measure since I have been going to therapy. I feel like I have nothing more to say. It has all been said (several times over) in the last 6 months with no new insight, no renewed hope , and no successful coping techniques given.

Our last few sessions have actually been more of a source of frustration than solace. My therapist doesn’t seem to understand my situation no matter how often I describe it. He frequently asks me the same questions. Does he forget I have already answered these questions? Sometimes I wonder if he confuses me with his other patients or I get the impression he is trying to over-simplify my issues so they will neatly fall under a psychological heading that offers a common sense solution.   

For example, he recently said he has realized that I “have difficulty expressing emotions.”  (even though I told him this many months ago) He says it is all connected to why I “have difficulty recognizing where to draw my boundaries,” and it all “stems from my childhood.” Baloney. I have difficulty expressing my emotions and drawing boundaries because I have been so traumatized by the abuse in my marriage. I am a shell of a person who feels invisible because over the years, my boundaries have been so disrespected time and time again. While my childhood was not perfect, the issues I am facing now, only began to arise after I got married. These issues have not been a pattern through out my life.

And while I have been attending these therapy sessions in an attempt to  understand, address and resolve the issues in my life, my husband has the audacity to say, “It takes two people to make a marriage work and I feel I am the only one willing to do the work. You have given up.” I was insulted. I was angry. 

I have been reading the books on communication, boundaries and marriage. I have been going to marriage counseling – ALONE – and he says I have given up?! All my suppressed frustration came bubbling to the surface and yet, despite feeling like I was close to my boiling point, we still fell into our usual pattern of communication. My husband began to lecture me as if I were a child and brought up every issue we have ever had in our marriage. (Correction: every issue he has had with me and my children) The room began to close in on me, I retreated into myself and tried to self-protect.

Do I have issues? Yes. Does my family/husband have issues? Most definitely. Do our dynamics need to change? Absolutely. But this is why I began therapy to begin with . . . if I stop going, then what? . . .  

Psalms 69: 1-3   Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold to stand on. I am in deep waters, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched and dry. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me.

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In the book I am reading, it says trouble in marriage comes from unresolved conflict. When on offense occurs, there is usually an emotional reaction of hurt or anger and the conflict can either be addressed and resolved or dealt with in one of the following ways that keep conflicts unresolved:

  1. strike back verbally
  2. strike back through actions
  3. bury anger
  4. never address the issue

To resolve the conflict requires these actions:

  1. prepare your heart
  2. diffuse your anger
  3. communicate your concerns
  4. confront conflict
  5. forgive spouse
  6. rebuild trust

(Healing the Hurt in your Marriage – Rosberg)

I am sure this author has the best of intentions in helping married couples, but I think the assumption of this book is that both wife and husband realizes there are problems and are trying to work things out together. These concepts don’t really work very well if my spouse reacts as if I am the only one with a problem when “concerns are communicated” or “conflicts are confronted”. While I agree with the following excerpts, they are of no practical use to me other than acknowledging their truth.

“If an offense between you and your spouse is dealt with immediately, the hurt is fleeting and without consequences” . . . “When a person is wronged in some way, it triggers hurt – and if there is a delay in resolving the offense, that simmering inner hurt can boil over into anger” . . . “Avoidance of resolving hurt will eventually lead to emotional divorce.”

(Healing the Hurt in your Marriage – Rosberg)

“Emotional divorce” . . . That seems like a safe place to be. Lonely, but safe. But then I come across verses like this:

Ephesians 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God, though Christ has forgiven you (ME)

So the question is, how does one follow these Biblical principles in a marriage relationship?

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