My husband is not my soul mate - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 35 Old 06-03-2013, 06:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A friend posted something on FB about how she "adores" her husband, and it brought tears to my eyes-- adore isn't a word I could use to describe my feelings for DH, and I'm coming to terms with that. 

 

I love my husband and I'm committed to our marriage, but he is not my soul mate. He is not my best friend. It's not always easy for us--- in fact, in the five years we've been married, we've struggled a lot. And we still struggle. It often feels like two steps forward, one step back. DH and I met when we were 18, it was the first serious relationship for both of us. We were married at 21 and had 24. It's always felt like the statistics are stacked against us (and Dan Savage is shaking his finger at me...) so considering, I think we've done a great job. But we still have lots of bumps in the road. It's still hard...

 

I've had a sort of "awakening" this past year-- realizing that this is probably how our relationship will be forever. There will always be struggles. DH will never be able to offer me some of the things that my heart wants. It will never be effortless. This may have been evident from the beginning, but just now-- 9 years in-- I'm finally accepting it. Part of me mourns that we don't have that easy, soul connection that some people seem to find. And part of me still struggles to accept that DH  won't change in the ways I've always hoped. 

 

Our society puts so much emphasis on finding "the one," our soul mate, and even though I know it's BS in a lot of ways, I think that ideal is deeply engrained in me. I don't necessarily believe in soul mates, and yet I find myself mourning the fact that I never found mind. Doesn't make sense, I know....

 

I guess I'm just looking for others who find themselves in the same place. Anyone out there?


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#2 of 35 Old 06-03-2013, 07:09 PM
 
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What a big realization!!

My best friend married last year and has always been head over heals in love with her partner. They are very affectionate, sweet, and enthralled with one another. DH and I aren't like that and never have been. He and I are best friends but very different people and our first 2 years of marriage were tough. We've worked through it and are a very solid couple, very committed and we trust one another completely. But we don't have that "magic" that I see in my friend's relationship. I don't gaze at my DH with adoration the way she does with hers. Granted they've been together 4 years less than DH and I but I never felt that way.

I love my husband a great deal, I am so happy being married to him but yeah, sometimes I wish I had that fairy tale love. We have a "real life" love that is practical and down to earth wink1.gif Kinda boring and adult sometimes!

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#3 of 35 Old 06-03-2013, 08:23 PM
 
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I personally believe that its best for people to have at least a couple of long term relationships before they settle down and get married. That way they know what kind of relationship dynamic they like through trial and error, they can explore sexually and figure out what they like in that regard, and they can work through issues that will inevitably become amplified from being with different types of people. I know you're married and committed to him and thats great. I just wanted to share that because you're probably going to have a harder time over the years due to not having explored much. And that is not to be taken lightly. A lot of people try to act like they dont need to explore but we all do, its an innate part of being human. When we do, when we settle down too soon there is going to be sadness associated with that. I tried to live like that as well and it didnt work for me, my soul needed to break free and explore. You may find over the years that the things you dont like about him are wearing on you more and more and a big reason for that is because you will always wonder if theres someone out there who is better for you. There very well could be, and as scary or uncomfortable as that is, its not going to go away.
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#4 of 35 Old 06-04-2013, 11:08 AM
 
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A friend posted something on FB about how she "adores" her husband, and it brought tears to my eyes-- adore isn't a word I could use to describe my feelings for DH, and I'm coming to terms with that. 

 

...

 

I guess I'm just looking for others who find themselves in the same place. Anyone out there?

 

I have a couple of friends that write a lot of posts like that and I found myself having the same reaction as you.  I know we all have different kinds of successful marriages, but when you see what might be possible, it's kind of disheartening, isn't it?  I think my situation stems from the fact that we started out with the same goals for a long time and then I had to go and change some of mine.  shrug.gif  He's still the same person he always was.  It's kind of driven a wedge between us that, frankly, I don't know will ever go away.  He goes along with the things I now think are important, but he's not invested in them, and that hurts sometimes, even though I logically shouldn't have any expectation.

 

Rambling.  Sorry.  Just commiserating with you.  I'm not sure what percentage of marriages are like my friends', I expect that it's pretty low.  I see my marriage becoming like my parent's marriage and that was really not what I was hoping for and what I want to model for my children.  At the same time, he's a reliable partner who doesn't treat me badly, so it could be worse.  Because of that, sometimes I feel guilty for even thinking these things when some have so many more burdens to bear.


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#5 of 35 Old 06-04-2013, 11:58 AM
 
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I've been through my partner for 20 years, and I don't consider her my "soul mate." Or at least not my "sole" soul mate.

 

I've really given up on the idea that one person is destined to be my soul mate. Instead, I have a lot of relationships in my life, many of which are "soul-matey" in different ways. I have friends that I trust to the depth of my being, who share my creative passions, and who feed my artist self. In fact, I just got back from a dance retreat that was completely soul-nourishing, with people that I value and trust and love to be around. None of them are my sexual partners, or co-parents to my child, or people that I share a checking account with, and that's part of the beauty of those relationships. But they are my soul mates nonetheless.

 

I dunno, the older I get, the less I'm invested in the idea of coupledom being the be-all-end-all of life. My partner & I are great together in many ways. We co-habitate well together. We're on the same page about parenting, and what makes for a happy/harmonious home. We've been through a hell of a lot together. We value community in the same way, by looking for abundance not just in our relationship & home, but in our whole community.

 

We're not perfect together. Our sex life is nothing to brag about. We each have our own creative pursuits, but we don't have the same creative interests. There are places where we have to do a lot of work (money has been a tricky issue for us, for example). She's not always 100% the partner that I wish she was, and I'm not her ideal partner all the time either. In other words, we are human beings.

 

I don't want or need perfection. That's good, because I don't think I'd find it!

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#6 of 35 Old 06-04-2013, 12:23 PM
 
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There are so many aspects to a relationship that I think it's very hard to agree on every one of them. I think the "soul mate" type relationships are rare in real life but they are totally glorified in the media etc. and we end up feeling inadequate if we don't conform to that perfect picture.

 

A big distinction that I find helpful to consider is goals versus expectations. People often confuse the two thinking that meeting a goal is the same as fulfilling an expectation. e.g.: I've always wanted to be a mom, and I very much want my husband to be a dad. That will become a reality in September. However, I am aware that I have expectations around what kind of father I want him to be and he may have a different idea.

 

What I'm getting at is that your expectations of what a relationship should be like very much define the idea of a soul mate. I think if you can get clear on a lot of things then your relationship will be smoother in general. You can have different goals, DH and I have very separate lives, different interests etc. but we also have common goals and for the most part we are clear on the expectations we have of each other in this relationship.

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#7 of 35 Old 06-04-2013, 12:36 PM
 
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There are so many aspects to a relationship that I think it's very hard to agree on every one of them. I think the "soul mate" type relationships are rare in real life but they are totally glorified in the media etc. and we end up feeling inadequate if we don't conform to that perfect picture.

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Also, OP, you mentioned that a friend's posts on Facebook prompted your questions about your own marriage. FB can give a really warped view of life. People can post anything on FB, but it doesn't mean that it's the whole picture. Your friend who posts that she "adores" her husband on FB might have more ambivalence about her marriage than comes across in that statement.

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#8 of 35 Old 06-04-2013, 06:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you to all who've responded-- I love the variety of perspectives. CI Mom-- your response really resonated with me. I'm trying to look outside my marriage to fulfill certain needs that DH can't. I have incredible friends, and a supportive family, and I'd like to spend more time cultivating those relationships-- and remembering how much they bring to my life. And part of this "awakening" for me has been redefining my idea of a good marriage, or my goals and expectations, as you put it dakipode. I've realized that the soul-mate standard doesn't work-- thinking about it just makes me feel sad that it's something I don't have. But if I focus on what we do have (a solid partnership, deep love for one another, etc.) then I feel more fulfilled. But it certainly has been a process in letting go...

 

PrimordialMind--I agree that it's ideal to explore and have multiple long term relationships before settling down. When I look at my 21 year old brother, he seems like such a baby!! And to think that I was off and married at his age... But DH and I happened to meet young and we really were head over heels, madly in love at the beginning. Looking back, it wasn't necessarily mature, "healthy" love (I was awful at setting boundaries, DH was great at crossing them...) but it was strong and very real.  And finding DH early in life allowed me to become a mama (relatively) early, which has been the best gift of my life. So I try not to dwell too much on the fact that I didn't explore much-- it's not something I can change. Part of me mourns not finding "the one," but I prefer to stick with the solid relationship we've built and keep trying to improve it, rather than ditch it and head out in search of something better. Having a child together plays a big role in that decision--- if DS wasn't in the picture, things would probably be different. But here we are! 

 

And yes, it's a good reality check to remember that not everything presented on FB is "real." I'm probably guilty of sugar coating my own marriage "in public" at times too. Thankfully I have a few friends in long-term relationships who keep it real-- hearing about their issues reminds me that most of us have problems and not easy, soul-mate love. 


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#9 of 35 Old 06-05-2013, 09:12 AM
 
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I honestly don't think one person can be everything you need to be happy. DH and I are very very compatible, have very similar priorities and trust each other 100%. Our marriage is transparent - we never wonder if the other person is hiding something or lying. There is deep love and respect and we both try to be as considerate as possible.
BUT we are not perfect. Our sex life leaves a lot to be desired (I have zero libido while pregnant and for the first year or so), we rarely get more than an hour to ourselves and right now I have nothing left to give him (32 weeks pregnant, plus 26 month old). I don't get butterflies when I look at him and I don't think he's perfect/the only one for me. Having said all that, he is the best partner I can imagine to have a family with. He is kind, gentle, considerate and open to discussion/feedback. He may feel a bit put upon at times but he wants to discuss and solve problems and doesn't shut down. He doesn't keep things from me or control my life or the finances even though he is the sole breadwinner. He is amazing as a partner and for me that's the most important in having a lifetime commitment and a family. Sure in the (distant) past there have been people who I felt more "soul matey" with but none came close to being such a great fit for a lifetime commitment. I believe that there are people you date and people you settle down with. The things that make someone great to date are not the same as what makes a great lifelong partner. I simply think its so utterly unlikely to find EVERYTHING I'd want in someone that I prioritized and found someone I knew I could love forever instead of someone that excited me more but would have issues with later on. Maybe I'm a pessimist, but of all my mommy friends, I have the most supportive, harmonious home life so that must say something. DH and I did have a fabulous time dating and getting to know each other. I'm looking forward to rediscovering him in a more romantic way in a year or two when this baby is old enough to let us have a little privacy from time to time wink1.gif
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#10 of 35 Old 06-05-2013, 10:24 AM
 
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I honestly don't think one person can be everything you need to be happy. DH and I are very very compatible, have very similar priorities and trust each other 100%. Our marriage is transparent - we never wonder if the other person is hiding something or lying. There is deep love and respect and we both try to be as considerate as possible.
BUT we are not perfect. Our sex life leaves a lot to be desired (I have zero libido while pregnant and for the first year or so), we rarely get more than an hour to ourselves and right now I have nothing left to give him (32 weeks pregnant, plus 26 month old). I don't get butterflies when I look at him and I don't think he's perfect/the only one for me. Having said all that, he is the best partner I can imagine to have a family with. He is kind, gentle, considerate and open to discussion/feedback. He may feel a bit put upon at times but he wants to discuss and solve problems and doesn't shut down. He doesn't keep things from me or control my life or the finances even though he is the sole breadwinner. He is amazing as a partner and for me that's the most important in having a lifetime commitment and a family. Sure in the (distant) past there have been people who I felt more "soul matey" with but none came close to being such a great fit for a lifetime commitment. I believe that there are people you date and people you settle down with. The things that make someone great to date are not the same as what makes a great lifelong partner. I simply think its so utterly unlikely to find EVERYTHING I'd want in someone that I prioritized and found someone I knew I could love forever instead of someone that excited me more but would have issues with later on. Maybe I'm a pessimist, but of all my mommy friends, I have the most supportive, harmonious home life so that must say something. DH and I did have a fabulous time dating and getting to know each other. I'm looking forward to rediscovering him in a more romantic way in a year or two when this baby is old enough to let us have a little privacy from time to time wink1.gif

This.

I think sometimes it's about who you have the most to learn from, who will make you grow the most, and who you would trust to change your diapers when you get super old! You may have awesome sex now but how will that person be when the relationship gets beyond your sexual years? Sex gets a ton of focus in our culture, but it is actually only a small part of the big picture.

I am someone who experimented a lot in my younger years, and honestly, I think it's over rated. How might my life be different if I had met my husband when I was 20? I think it's a gift to get together with someone young, get the child rearing out of the way and have a lot of time together after they leave the nest. I think it's important to think about and appreciate what is before you, not wish for what is not real and may never be. Gratitude makes what you have grow into more of what you want.

Best of luck to you and your family!! <3
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#11 of 35 Old 06-05-2013, 01:09 PM
 
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I am someone who experimented a lot in my younger years, and honestly, I think it's over rated. How might my life be different if I had met my husband when I was 20? I think it's a gift to get together with someone young, get the child rearing out of the way and have a lot of time together after they leave the nest. I think it's important to think about and appreciate what is before you, not wish for what is not real and may never be. Gratitude makes what you have grow into more of what you want.

While I understand your point about gratitude, exploration shouldnt be downplayed. If I had married the first guy that proposed to me I would be miserable now. If I had stayed with my ex-husband I would be even more miserable. The same sort of thing is true for many people I know. I wasnt just chasing rainbows when I decided to leave these people, I was listening to the yearning of my heart and soul to find someone more suitable for myself (and I more suitable for him). I technically didnt know if this person existed, but I also didnt know the previous men existed, either. I think having faith is just as important as gratitude.

What i'm seeing in this thread is a lot of comments about being happy with what you have. While this is not bad advice, it is easy to hold onto that way of thinking and feeling when we're scared of change. I tried that in the previous relationships I mentioned above. It worked for awhile, but eventually the truth caught up with me. I'm not saying this is definitely the OP's truth, but it shouldnt be discounted so easily. When she talked about how she has longed for her soul mate, that her husband isnt even her best friend, that she has come to reaize he probably wont ever change in the ways she would like, this reminded me of how i felt in previous relationships as well. Maybe there isnt such a thing as a "soul mate", i'm not sure there is, either. But that yearning of the heart and soul that often translates into wanting to find one's soulmate is a sign that they are not happy in their current relationship.

Its easy to accept what you have and learn to be grateful for it, especially if you've been with the person for a long time and you have kids together. Why disrupt the boat? You can learn to be happy and stay that way, right? More often than not, no, it doesnt work that way. Very few couples with one or both people feeling dissatisfied in one way or another manage to both stay together AND be happy for the rest of their lives. Many people stay together but there is a lack of happiness and fulfillment and i find that to be unacceptable. We need to feel happy and satisfied for our kids, ourselves, our partners, and anyone else we're connected to. We limit ourselves because we dont want to be "selfish", we dont want to deal with a divorce or custody issues, we dont want to be alone, we dont want to have to worry about money, and a lot of us have parents who stayed together despite not feeling satisfied, so all of this put together makes it much easier to not rock the boat.

I am satisfied with my partner and its a very different quality than my previous relationships. I dont feel like its a struggle to connect or work on issues, we have such a deep, natural bond that we are able to come together and be there for each other when we need it. Its not always effortless, we push each other's boundaries, but we learn from each other and become better people simply from connecting and being there for each other. I dont yearn for anything better because i know he is perfect for me and me for him. I couldnt say that about previous relationships, no matter how much i tried to convince myself that was the case out of a fear of change. I'm just putting all this out there to give another perspective, one that shouldnt be so easily written off.

One last thing--commitment. When we commit to someone, especially in marriage, there is a sense of pride and duty that comes along with it. We feel its our responsibility to stick with the relationship no matter what. Work on it till the day we die, if we feel the need, but never, ever say goodbye (unless your partner is abusive). Any feelings we have that go against that commitment are often shunned or are only entertained from a place of fantasy rather than reality. This is misguided. Commitment is only worthwhile if it comes solely from one's heart and not their ego or ideals. Otherwise it becomes empty, its only purpose is to keep two lives bound without the natural depth that should go along with it.
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#12 of 35 Old 06-05-2013, 01:48 PM
 
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Commitment is only worthwhile if it comes solely from one's heart and not their ego or ideals. Otherwise it becomes empty, its only purpose is to keep two lives bound without the natural depth that should go along with it.

 

Wow.  Food for thought, thank you...


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#13 of 35 Old 06-05-2013, 02:49 PM
 
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PrimordialMind I think you have a very valid perspective and I agree that ignoring deep feelings of unhappiness isn't wise. I was coming from the angle that it's also foolish to throw away something deep and fulfilling for the idea of likely unattainable perfection. It's a delicate issue and it's important to weigh the pros and cons carefully.
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#14 of 35 Old 06-05-2013, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for expanding on your perspective PrimordialMind. It certainly is deep food for thought, as GISDiva said. This issue, and your viewpoint, is something that I still struggle with almost daily. There are lots of things I love about my husband. We've been through a lot and share many similar goals and dreams. But there are lots of things don't click. He isn't the life partner I would choose for myself today, if I was single and searching. And that fact troubles me. 

 

I do believe in finding  and cultivating happiness where you are, instead of constantly searching for something better, but at the same time, it scares me to give my entire life to a marriage that's just "good enough." Like I said earlier, having a child together plays a huge role in this decision for me. I can't help but think about the statistics about children of divorce--- it feels too selfish of me to destroy our stable family life in order to explore. I'm not miserable by any means-- our relationship is stable, DH is a good dad, and DS isn't really effected by our conflicts and disagreements.

 

Sorry--- just rambling! This is probably the most challenging process of my life-- for the first time I feel like I'm actually engaging in the internal debate and recognizing some of these deep feelings of dissatisfaction and fear, and I feel like I'm walking myself in circles most of the time. 


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#15 of 35 Old 06-05-2013, 04:58 PM
 
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PrimordialMind I think you have a very valid perspective and I agree that ignoring deep feelings of unhappiness isn't wise. I was coming from the angle that it's also foolish to throw away something deep and fulfilling for the idea of likely unattainable perfection. It's a delicate issue and it's important to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

You sound a bit hostile to me, if thats the case then please know that wasnt my intention. Yes, its important to look at both sides, both positive and negative. There have been plenty of comments promoting not leaving a relationship in the hopes of something better so i was sticking up for the other side. Also, if it feels like you are throwing something away thats "deep and fulfilling" then there wasnt an issue to begin with, right? I thought we were talking more about relationships that arent terribly deep or fulfilling since this is generally where longing rears its head. I also wasnt talking about "unattainable perfection". I was talking about listening to your heart and soul and letting that guide you towards a relationship that is more suitable for yourself. There is no such thing as perfection but people also dont need to settle if they are not fulfilled or satisfied.
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#16 of 35 Old 06-05-2013, 05:16 PM
 
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You sound a bit hostile to me, if thats the case then please know that wasnt my intention. Yes, its important to look at both sides, both positive and negative. There have been plenty of comments promoting not leaving a relationship in the hopes of something better so i was sticking up for the other side. Also, if it feels like you are throwing something away thats "deep and fulfilling" then there wasnt an issue to begin with, right? I thought we were talking more about relationships that arent terribly deep or fulfilling since this is generally where longing rears its head. I also wasnt talking about "unattainable perfection". I was talking about listening to your heart and soul and letting that guide you towards a relationship that is more suitable for yourself. There is no such thing as perfection but people also dont need to settle if they are not fulfilled or satisfied.

If I sound hostile, that's not my intention at all, I apologize. There is a lot of ground between the two extremes and I think you've made some very very thought provoking and intelligent points. I agree with you that if there are deep issues of unfulfillment then staying and remaining unhappy isn't the way to go. I just caution against hasty decisions in an otherwise healthy relationship based on fleeting feelings instead of really examining things deeply. I got the sense from the OP that her marriage was working and there was love and respect there. Sometimes people fall into a rut and I just wanted to say that it's important to distinguish between that and being deeply, genuinely unhappy/unfulfilled. Again, sorry about the misunderstanding.
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#17 of 35 Old 06-05-2013, 06:11 PM
 
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What i'm seeing in this thread is a lot of comments about being happy with what you have. While this is not bad advice, it is easy to hold onto that way of thinking and feeling when we're scared of change. I tried that in the previous relationships I mentioned above. It worked for awhile, but eventually the truth caught up with me. I'm not saying this is definitely the OP's truth, but it shouldnt be discounted so easily. When she talked about how she has longed for her soul mate, that her husband isnt even her best friend, that she has come to reaize he probably wont ever change in the ways she would like, this reminded me of how i felt in previous relationships as well. Maybe there isnt such a thing as a "soul mate", i'm not sure there is, either. But that yearning of the heart and soul that often translates into wanting to find one's soulmate is a sign that they are not happy in their current relationship.

Its easy to accept what you have and learn to be grateful for it, especially if you've been with the person for a long time and you have kids together. Why disrupt the boat? You can learn to be happy and stay that way, right? More often than not, no, it doesnt work that way. Very few couples with one or both people feeling dissatisfied in one way or another manage to both stay together AND be happy for the rest of their lives. Many people stay together but there is a lack of happiness and fulfillment and i find that to be unacceptable. We need to feel happy and satisfied for our kids, ourselves, our partners, and anyone else we're connected to. We limit ourselves because we dont want to be "selfish", we dont want to deal with a divorce or custody issues, we dont want to be alone, we dont want to have to worry about money, and a lot of us have parents who stayed together despite not feeling satisfied, so all of this put together makes it much easier to not rock the boat.



One last thing--commitment. When we commit to someone, especially in marriage, there is a sense of pride and duty that comes along with it. We feel its our responsibility to stick with the relationship no matter what. Work on it till the day we die, if we feel the need, but never, ever say goodbye (unless your partner is abusive). Any feelings we have that go against that commitment are often shunned or are only entertained from a place of fantasy rather than reality. This is misguided. Commitment is only worthwhile if it comes solely from one's heart and not their ego or ideals. Otherwise it becomes empty, its only purpose is to keep two lives bound without the natural depth that should go along with it.

re: being happy with what you have: the if-then train of thought can be a trap too (if we had more in common then I would be happier etc.). It's much clearer in my line of work where I deal with people whose goal is to lose weight, with the expectation that if they lose weight then they will feel better about themselves. Not necessarily true but a common opinion... Ultimately there is a level of happiness and fulfillment that has to come from within, it's an emotional hole that you can't fill with other people's love/approval etc.

 

I agree that commitment for the sake of "because I said so" is not valid as a reason to stay together if you're unhappy. At the same time, again, I would look inwardly and examine where the unhappiness is coming from. Are you looking for some sort of validation that you're not getting from your partner? Would getting it change the way you feel or is that just an expectation you have? More to ponder...

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Originally Posted by gitanamama View Post

Thank you for expanding on your perspective PrimordialMind. It certainly is deep food for thought, as GISDiva said. This issue, and your viewpoint, is something that I still struggle with almost daily. There are lots of things I love about my husband. We've been through a lot and share many similar goals and dreams. But there are lots of things don't click. He isn't the life partner I would choose for myself today, if I was single and searching. And that fact troubles me. 

 

I do believe in finding  and cultivating happiness where you are, instead of constantly searching for something better, but at the same time, it scares me to give my entire life to a marriage that's just "good enough." Like I said earlier, having a child together plays a huge role in this decision for me. I can't help but think about the statistics about children of divorce--- it feels too selfish of me to destroy our stable family life in order to explore. I'm not miserable by any means-- our relationship is stable, DH is a good dad, and DS isn't really effected by our conflicts and disagreements.

 

Sorry--- just rambling! This is probably the most challenging process of my life-- for the first time I feel like I'm actually engaging in the internal debate and recognizing some of these deep feelings of dissatisfaction and fear, and I feel like I'm walking myself in circles most of the time. 

I feel weird saying this because I am married and committed "till death do us part" but here it is: I think a lifelong commitment to one person is a tough order, especially if you expect that person to fulfill all of your emotional needs. People change so much over the course of a lifetime and can end up "growing apart" and really it has nothing to do with the fact that they're together, it's just that they evolved in their own directions. The commitment part of marriage, to me, is to make an effort to stay connected even though your interests have changed. You say you wouldn't choose your partner if you met him now. I would look at why? What would you expect from a partner now and in which way(s) is he not fulfilling that? Is it time to re-examine your expectations of, not just A marriage, but YOUR marriage?

 

Anyway, these are just my thoughts on a very complex subject. And none of them are to be taken as hostile, just trying to contribute some more questions to the discussion in the hopes that you find them helpful.

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#18 of 35 Old 06-05-2013, 07:11 PM
 
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Thank you for expanding on your perspective PrimordialMind. It certainly is deep food for thought, as GISDiva said. This issue, and your viewpoint, is something that I still struggle with almost daily. There are lots of things I love about my husband. We've been through a lot and share many similar goals and dreams. But there are lots of things don't click. He isn't the life partner I would choose for myself today, if I was single and searching. And that fact troubles me. 

I do believe in finding  and cultivating happiness where you are, instead of constantly searching for something better, but at the same time, it scares me to give my entire life to a marriage that's just "good enough." Like I said earlier, having a child together plays a huge role in this decision for me. I can't help but think about the statistics about children of divorce--- it feels too selfish of me to destroy our stable family life in order to explore. I'm not miserable by any means-- our relationship is stable, DH is a good dad, and DS isn't really effected by our conflicts and disagreements.

Sorry--- just rambling! This is probably the most challenging process of my life-- for the first time I feel like I'm actually engaging in the internal debate and recognizing some of these deep feelings of dissatisfaction and fear, and I feel like I'm walking myself in circles most of the time. 

I just now saw this, i think we posted at the same time. I'm glad i gave you food for thought, its difficult to communicate effectively on forums sometimes, especially when discussing a complex, sensitive topic.

Believe me, i know how difficult it can be to decide whether or not to move on especially being married with a child. Sometimes it takes time to understand whats best, a natural evolution of things, in other words. If things are stable and relatively okay its difficult to want to disrupt the whole family. It took me several years to finally know and accept the fact that i needed to move on from my marriage. Definitely one of the hardest decisions i've ever had to make. It took me so long because i didnt want to make a flip decision. I realize now that i was also scared of change so taking a long time to figure things out felt more comfortable. You know whats right for you, take your time to figure things out. Sometimes it can be difficult to truly hear one's heart, especially if you're not used to listening to it. Also, it can be difficult for kids whose parents divorce but it can also be really positive if the parents are happier. Be gentle with yourself...
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#19 of 35 Old 06-05-2013, 07:34 PM
 
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re: being happy with what you have: the if-then train of thought can be a trap too (if we had more in common then I would be happier etc.). It's much clearer in my line of work where I deal with people whose goal is to lose weight, with the expectation that if they lose weight then they will feel better about themselves. Not necessarily true but a common opinion... Ultimately there is a level of happiness and fulfillment that has to come from within, it's an emotional hole that you can't fill with other people's love/approval etc.

I agree that commitment for the sake of "because I said so" is not valid as a reason to stay together if you're unhappy. At the same time, again, I would look inwardly and examine where the unhappiness is coming from. Are you looking for some sort of validation that you're not getting from your partner? Would getting it change the way you feel or is that just an expectation you have? More to ponder...

Emotional holes are an important element in the puzzle, for sure. Thank you for bringing it up. If someone is just looking for someone to shower then with attention and affection then thats a good sign they are just looking to fill a hole. If its all about "me, me, me, whats in it for me?" then they are not wanting a real relationship. If someone wants a give-and-take meaningful relationship then you're probably not looking to fill an emotional hole.

For some reason it didnt quote the last part of what you said, but i agree its important to evaluate what you feel is missing, what you need in a marriage and how these needs can be met.
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#20 of 35 Old 06-08-2013, 09:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Dakipode-- I can't quote your last post for some reason, but I wanted to respond to the part about life long commitment and what I feel is missing from my marriage. For me, it's not so much the absence of emotional fulfillment (I feel like my girlfriends and my family provide that for me,) it's more about the presence of certain elements that negatively affect me. DH grew up in a verbally/physically abusive home and I think he suffers from ADHD as well, although it's never been diagnosed. He is the most impatient person I know. When he's frustrated or stressed, he's downright mean and hostile. He transforms from the funny, gentle, sweet man I know into an aggressive, jealous, controlling person that I have no interest being around. 
 
We've come so far from the first few years of our relationship, and he is dedicated to changing, but sometimes it feels like the progress is too slow. In certain ways, I feel like I'll always be two steps ahead of him in terms of my expectations and hopes (which I don't think are unreasonable-- to have a partner who treats me with respect, even when he's upset.) DH had a drinking and drug problem for the first 7 years of our relationship. He was able to kick it last year, and hasn't had a drink since. When he was drinking, I always thought that I'd be so happy just as long as he stopped-- I figured his temper and anger were due to his drinking. The alcohol certainly made them much worse, but I now realize that this angry, aggressive side of him is part of who he is--- and without serious hard work, it will always be there. 
 
DH agreed to go to counseling with me. He wants to "conquer his demons" because he knows how much pain he causes and doesn't want to keep up this cycle. I've always said that as long as he's committed to "recovery" (from addiction, an abusive childhood, ADHD, whatever it is.....) than I will stand by his side. But lately, I feel like my patience is wearing thin. I can imagine myself 50 years from now, in the same situation-- rooting and waiting for him to "get better," celebrating the good days, and clawing my way through the bad ones. 
 
I'm hoping counseling can help-- there are some truly wonderful aspects of our relationship and I think it could be more than enough for me, if we could leave some of the baggage behind....

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Its not unreasonable at all to expect to be treated with respect at all times. I understand what its like to want to be the bigger person by being tolerant and forgiving no matter what. You see the good in him, thats the part of him you fell in love and still love, so its understandable you dont want to give up on him. Words hurt, though, they can cut like a knife, and over time even the most understanding, tolerant person can become worn out by it all.

I think you need to ask yourself how much longer you're willing to wait for him to change. Going to counseling is great but it can often take years before real change happens. Can you live with this possibility? Also, you mentioned that you think he has ADHD, would he be willing to see a psychiatrist and possibly get on medication? It sounds like the ADHD is a major problem for him since it makes him feel really frustrated and impatient and then he spirals out of control from there. If he had medication that regulates his mood then there probably wont be spiraling much, if at all. Also, if he's more stable then it'll be easier for him to work on his issues with a counselor. I'm just putting ideas out there in case any of it helps.

It could very well be this aggressive behavior is part of who he is. If you dont want to put up with it anymore you dont have to. No one is making you victimize yourself for the support of someone else. It sounds like you're his punching bag, the person he unloads on because he thinks you'll never leave him. Supporting this behavior will not help him, in fact, it will only make it easier for him to continue to act this way. It sounds like maybe the reason the progress is so slow is because he doesnt truly want to change, he is only doing as little as he can get away with so you dont leave him. I'm not sure if thats the case but it sounds like its a good possibility. Bottom line is: you dont need to put up with this abuse, it doesnt make you a good person, only a victim. You deserve to be treated with respect ALL of the time. Your son deserves to be in an environment that doesnt include violence. Just because he seems happy now doesnt mean he's not internaizing what he sees and hears. He could very well grow up and treat women the way his dad treats you because thats what he has learned.
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...rooting and waiting for him...

 

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Originally Posted by PrimordialMind View Post

I think you need to ask yourself how much longer you're willing to wait for him to change. Going to counseling is great but it can often take years before real change happens. Can you live with this possibility?

It could very well be this aggressive behavior is part of who he is. If you dont want to put up with it anymore you dont have to. No one is making you victimize yourself for the support of someone else.

gitanamama, you mention waiting for him which to me implies that you have an expectation that he will change. I agree with primordialmind that you should question whether you could deal with him not changing at all. How would you feel about that? How would that fit into the expectation you have of your relationship etc.

I've heard people mention before that a marriage is like a business partnership and while I don't want to discount the value of romance, physical attraction etc. there is a level of practicality and agreements that is very business like that has to work on a daily basis.


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#23 of 35 Old 06-09-2013, 01:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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gitanamam How would you feel about that? How would that fit into the expectation you have of your relationship etc.

 

This is what I'm really trying to wrap my head around right now-- would I be ok if things never changed for us? After nine years of clinging so hard to hope, it's hard to let go! But I feel like I've entered a new stage where it's time to be more honest (or less naively optimistic) with myself. I think I can accept that DH is not my soul mate and still be happy and content with our relationship, IF he works on his temper/patience. I don't know if I can drop that last expectation though. That's where I find myself totally stuck. When things are good, I feel like we have an awesome connection and just need to smooth out the creases. But when DH is being an ass, I feel so hurt that it seems like the good times aren't worth putting up with the BS. It's these constantly changing, extreme feelings that have me confused and unbalanced and ambivalent, to put it lightly. 

 

For so long I've tried to find a way to stay balanced and "detached" from DH's moods (through meditation, mantras, physically leaving the situation, etc.) but I realized that it's not possible. I can't share space and coparent with DH and not feel the waves of his emotional storms. And neither can DS-- which is even more worrisome to me. I think I'm a better person for all of the relationship books I've read and meditation I've done, but it hasn't helped me feel less pain necessarily. 

 

Primordialmind-- thank you for your honesty. I feel like I'm slowly trying to move out of the victim/co-dependent mindset, but still slip back into it far too often. I guess I'm trying to find the line between being compassionate and setting boundaries, with the realization that my "compassion" in the past has been thinly veiled co-dependence and enabling. I'm hoping the counselor can help me with setting boundaries and help DH with practical techniques for controlling his emotions. I guess we'll see...


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What was your primary model for relationship, such as what kind of relationship did your parents have? I see so often that people look for what was normal to them from childhood, what they saw others modeling as relationship. If one can become aware of that- then sometimes they can deliberately choose a different way to be, or be the same way if it was a good model. I just find that looking at your primary model of marriage can help you to identify the aspects of your marriage that might be mirroring that, which is actually empowering because then one can say- oh, I see how I believed this is what I should have, but I se actually this came from such and such, an now I can decide that actually I want t try to have this type of relationship.

anyway- long winded advice of using that as one tool to help you find your footing.

 

I think my best advice is in your own mind try to find your footing, Try to figure out what your ideals are in your life, and which of those are realistic goals.

Try to make your ideal goals at least be clear to yourself-- what your ideal relationship would be, and if it would ideally be with your current husband or not. Try to get really clear about your situation inyour own mind so you can seewhat power you can find for yourself to make decisions.

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#26 of 35 Old 06-13-2013, 03:42 PM
 
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There are so many aspects to a relationship that I think it's very hard to agree on every one of them. I think the "soul mate" type relationships are rare in real life but they are totally glorified in the media etc. and we end up feeling inadequate if we don't conform to that perfect picture.

 

A big distinction that I find helpful to consider is goals versus expectations. People often confuse the two thinking that meeting a goal is the same as fulfilling an expectation. e.g.: I've always wanted to be a mom, and I very much want my husband to be a dad. That will become a reality in September. However, I am aware that I have expectations around what kind of father I want him to be and he may have a different idea.

 

What I'm getting at is that your expectations of what a relationship should be like very much define the idea of a soul mate. I think if you can get clear on a lot of things then your relationship will be smoother in general. You can have different goals, DH and I have very separate lives, different interests etc. but we also have common goals and for the most part we are clear on the expectations we have of each other in this relationship.

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Is there respect? If no respect, then you absolutely have to change something fast. 

 

I think those glorified 'soul mate' relationships also depend a lot on the people in them and their temperaments and their personalities. We are conditioned to relating to other people in particular ways by these things, including how relationships were modelled to us and experienced growing up. The best way to be happy in a relationship is to not expect your partner to 'complete you' or make up for some of your shortcomings or to fulfill some holes you feel in your life. That's when you get in trouble. A truly healthy, strong relationship involves two individuals who respect each other tremendously but who aren't dependent on the other to make them happy. Only you can make yourself happy. You are there to support each other, experience joy together, but as two complete and independent individuals, not as one conjoined being. 

 

I'm always rather skeptical about why people feel the need to tell the (fb) world that they love whoever so much. That seems to represent a need for approval or validation or attention, or something. 

 

This has made a lot of sense to me as I journey through the most challenging time of my life right now. Take a look at the different concepts. I know a theory is just a theory, but it is just a concise way to understand what all psychological theorists talk about - how families are a system, how we learn from our parents (good and bad), and how all relationships involve power of some kind. http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/theory.html  

 

Good luck. 

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#27 of 35 Old 06-13-2013, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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 A truly healthy, strong relationship involves two individuals who respect each other tremendously but who aren't dependent on the other to make them happy. Only you can make yourself happy. You are there to support each other, experience joy together, but as two complete and independent individuals, not as one conjoined being. 

 

I love this concept of a marriage lilgreen-- thank you. It's what I hope DH can create in our marriage.

 I do feel that DH generally respects me and treats me with respect most of the time. But the times when he doesn't leave me reeling and hurting. 

 

We saw the marriage counselor for the first time today and it went really well. DH is open and willing to work on his issues with his temper-- but it was evident that he feels totally powerless and clueless about how to do things differently. We have a couple strategies or techniques that we're going to try, to avoid the "explosions" that happen when DH is frustrated. 

 

We talked a lot about our parents' relationships and how that influences our expectations and actions-- which a few of you have brought up. My parents rarely raised their voices with one another, and I never saw them "fight". I always thought they were the perfect couple, but now I'm realizing that conflict was swept under the rug, which probably had a lot to do with their divorce a few years ago. DH's parents were the complete opposite-- violent physical and verbal fights-- and they also ended up divorcing. So DH and I have very different ideas of marriage and what it looks like.  I'm realizing that my ideal of a smooth, conflict-free relationship is neither realistic nor necessarily healthy. But I also refuse to be at the receiving end of DH's anger any longer. I want to find a healthier way of dealing with our disagreements (DH being mean and accusatory, me shutting down and soaking in self-pity and resentment....) Somehow we need to find a balance between the two extreme examples we grew up with. 


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#28 of 35 Old 06-13-2013, 09:54 PM
 
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gitanamama, I loved what you said about realizing how your parents' relationships influenced your ideas of what you think things should or shouldn't look like and then realizing you may not have seen the true nature of their understanding. I think a lot of us grow up with this idea that a relationship without visible conflict is ideal but maybe it ends up leaving us with a false notion that we can have "perfect" relationships. I think it's similar to the topic of money and whether or not that gets discussed openly in the household. I grew up totally clueless about how close to poverty we were and while on the one hand I think my mother gave me that gift of not having to worry about finances as a kid, it also left me sort of in the dark about household budgeting as an adult...

All that to say that it sounds like you're doing the empowering thing: taking action, speaking up, working with you partner and being open to re-examining your own notions of relationship and marriage. Thank you for being so candid about your situation. I am far from perfect in my own partnership and this thread has helped me think about some aspects of my marriage as well!


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#29 of 35 Old 06-14-2013, 11:19 AM
 
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We saw the marriage counselor for the first time today and it went really well. DH is open and willing to work on his issues with his temper-- but it was evident that he feels totally powerless and clueless about how to do things differently. We have a couple strategies or techniques that we're going to try, to avoid the "explosions" that happen when DH is frustrated. 
 

 

I just want to say that this is huge. If your husband is open & willing to work on himself, and you are open & willing to do the same, that is a really good sign.

 

I am appreciating this thread a lot. It's helping me think through some things that have been on my mind in my marriage a lot lately. The transition to parenthood has been huge for DP & I...it's almost like we started over again after 15 years together. We're having to re-learn all kinds of stuff, because the context of our relationship is so different now that we're raising a child.


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#30 of 35 Old 06-14-2013, 07:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your encouragement, perspectives, and advice....and just for being there and listening! I've never really opened up to anyone in real life about the issues in our marriage. My family and friends are pretty much clueless about our "rough patches" so it's hard for me to get an outside perspective-- and since my own thoughts and emotions can be at either extreme, depending on the day, it's hard to really see the whole picture. Taking a hard look at our marriage is also making me take a hard look at myself-- which is really good. I'm examining a lot of my beliefs and behavior patterns and learning to discard those that no longer serve me. Progress!!


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