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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
oy.

things kind of cycle in our relationship from him-crappy-me-angry to him helping out more, and therefore i'm less stressed and we get along better. the last point at which we were really fighting, dh agreed to counseling. our appointment finally happened tuesday, at a "good" part of our cycle. we both honestly felt a little nervous about going, but we still both wanted to. i put a lot of thought into what i wanted to talk about (and actually spent some energy agonizing over what to say, how to say it, what i need, etc). on the way in, i was feeling pretty optimistic, like, "even if this is hard, it will ultimately be good." dh was very, very nervous. i was kind of teasing him, like, "what if i'm really leading you into an intervention?"
because that's, like, his worst nightmare. so we were joking around, and because i know how nervous he gets before any kind of appointment or new situation, i was feeling a little protective of him.

so we go into the room with my counselor/therapist/psychologist whatever person, and her dh who is a social worker. they often do couples counseling together, and since i already have a relationship with her, she couldn't be our counselor. as a stranger, he could, but not just her - yet they feel like it's fair for them to do it together and me & dh were happy with that. her dh is great, and she didn't tell him anything, so he was a total blank slate. dh was extremely quiet, looking down, speaking very quietly . . . totally engaged in the process but acting very timid. because of how he was acting, i kept giving him a chance to speak first. when introducing ourselves, we mention dh is a sahd. they asked how he likes that. he says, "it's great - i feel like i'm finally hitting my stride." i'm like WTF? but instead of saying, "i don't think it's so great," i said, "but do you even like being a sahd?" which wasn't cool, i guess. my reason was that he doesn't seem happy, and it seems like he's just waiting for me to get home so he can work on art/music, and i made the mistake of saying, "it's like you have two full-time jobs." yeah, it's LIKE that, in terms of the amount of time he puts into art/music but it's not his job. it's a hobby, not a responsibility - yet somehow we got down this path of talking about how he is spending time on that while i'm parenting and doing housework ("so it's like you both have two full-time jobs" - i should have said, "yes, but i actually do, and dh doesn't!" but i didn't have my freaking head on straight) and how playing music together was our life before kids. which is true. it's what we did, who we were, it was our community - and dh is still a part of it and i'm not. so somehow it came about that we need to go on dates once a week to reconnect, and i need to occasionally be involved in dh's music (like a couple times a month). dh needs to listen to my issue in a discussion/argument/fight and not bring up other stuff - stick to the topic. i never got to talk about any of the things that i've been thinking about. i didn't even say what i really feel about the two things we did talk about (my concerns with dh's sahp'ing & amount of time he spends on music rather than with our family).

i walked out feeling like it was a good conversation and i was happy about our assignments. we picked up the kids from our friends' house and went home, and i went to bed with the kids - it was late. i woke up in the middle of the night, like a freaking bolt of lightning had hit me, and the bolt of lightning was: I GOT PLAYED. his whole pathetic, poor me, thing . . . i can't believe i got sucked into that! i can't believe it. i'm such an idiot. i mean, seriously, his "second job" isn't a JOB it's his personal hobby. he's not giving time to the family - he's taking it from us. and because of that, i have way too much on my plate and sh*t isn't getting done. also - part of the reason i'm supposed to go see him working on music is because i said i missed seeing him taking leadership and being confident and competent. but what i want is for him to be a man like that in our actual real life that we have together. i shouldn't have to go hang around him and the guys for that. i want him to be like that at home - like maybe take responsibility for something, anything . . . ugh, we also talked about my anger, and how i need to reach past that and find my sadness, hurt, fear, etc because even though it may be justified, the anger isn't serving me. i get that, but i'm still angry


i really, seriously suck. i am happy about our "assignments" because i really do believe doing those things will help me to be more open and actually speak up (at some point). i'm also happy that after we left, i asked dh if he would be willing to see the guy counselor on his own, for his own issues, and he said "yes" which is something i've been pushing for, oh, i don't know, since we met. he has a slew of mental health issues and he needs a real diagnosis and therapy plan, not just drugs. so in that regard, it was a total triumph. i'm just disappointed in myself and wondering when/if/how we are ever going to get to the core issues.

thanks for reading . . . or skimming.
 

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My ex did the passive aggressive thing -- lots of self pity, poor me, and he was/is really skillful at making the situation be about him as a victim, rather than about his errors or unacceptable actions. I literally found myself supporting him for two years -- I have no idea how it happened, but I looked up and realized I was his sugar mama. After months and months of trying to get him to pull his weight in any element, be it financial, domestic, anything, I realized I was being played. And he still acted so aggrieved and victimized when I finally came to my senses and made him move out last fall. Forget child support, I'm constantly shooting down his requests to borrow money.
I know he has mental health issues, mainly depressive, substance abuse and passive aggressive tendencies. It's hard to deal with because he never overtly hurts anyone but himself. I knew how to deal with mean and abusive, how to deal with a guy I had to fight against, but I didn't know how to deal with a guy who kept on trying to pigeonhole himself into the role of victim. He always tries to paint the situation in a way that makes me looks like the big bad control freak meanie, which is pretty hilarious if you know me. But he's still taking advantage of me, even if he's trying to make it look like the other way around.
Anyway, I wouldn't call it abuse per say, but people who are passive aggressive share a trait with people who are emotionally abusive, in that they try to reshape your perception of a situation to best suit them. You have to keep your eyes open and really keep touch with reality. You know what is right and what isn't, what is fair and what isn't, what is normal and healthy and what isn't. Keep clued in to that.
With passive aggressive people, you have to have clear, verbalized expectations, and repeat them to the point of naseua. Quit trying to be nice and wishy washy, get firm. It's almost like dealing with a toddler, where you have to tell them the rules over and over again.
Personally, after I made him move out, my life got so much better. It felt like this big vampiric weight was lifted off my shoulders. I still have to deal with his passive aggressive side sometimes, but it's a lot better now.
 

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Also, sometimes anger is the appropriate emotion.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by *MamaJen* View Post
My ex did the passive aggressive thing -- lots of self pity, poor me, and he was/is really skillful at making the situation be about him as a victim, rather than about his errors or unacceptable actions. I literally found myself supporting him for two years -- I have no idea how it happened, but I looked up and realized I was his sugar mama. After months and months of trying to get him to pull his weight in any element, be it financial, domestic, anything, I realized I was being played. And he still acted so aggrieved and victimized when I finally came to my senses and made him move out last fall. Forget child support, I'm constantly shooting down his requests to borrow money.
I know he has mental health issues, mainly depressive, substance abuse and passive aggressive tendencies.

<snip>

He always tries to paint the situation in a way that makes me looks like the big bad control freak meanie, which is pretty hilarious if you know me. But he's still taking advantage of me, even if he's trying to make it look like the other way around.
Anyway, I wouldn't call it abuse per say, but people who are passive aggressive share a trait with people who are emotionally abusive, in that they try to reshape your perception of a situation to best suit them.

<snip>

Personally, after I made him move out, my life got so much better. It felt like this big vampiric weight was lifted off my shoulders.
OMG...you and I were married to the same man!!

I do consider it emotional abuse, though. The behavior is rooted in passing the buck, not in control-freakism, but it's still abusive. Trying to cope with my ex trashed my health (physical and mental) so badly that I almost ended up hospitalized. (I actually probably should have been hospitalized at one point, but I'm stubborn to the point of stupidity - and beyond - sometimes.)

BTW, your thing about him trying to paint you as a control freak meanie seriously resonates. I was practically black-listed by the local movers, some of whom had known me since I was a kid/teenager (my dad, brother, BIL and ex are/were all movers) for a while. One of the guys who "helped" me move (my sister and I shared a house, and we switched floors after my ex and I split) literally dumped all my kitchen drawers into a box, and left it on my "new" kitchen floor...burst ketchup packs in my cutlery, etc. That same guy "rescued" my ex by letting him room with him. He kicked my ex out about 3 months later, and he hasn't said a negative word to or about me since. Actually, I've had several apologies, and one, "I had no idea what you were dealing with - how did you live with him for so long without cracking up?". Oh - and another guy commented that I must be a "saint". I have to admit it felt good. My ex just had everybody suckered, and since I was the one who was upset, angry, etc., and he was so "nice", then I must be the bad guy, right? Yeah...
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by doubledutch View Post
i really, seriously suck. i am happy about our "assignments" because i really do believe doing those things will help me to be more open and actually speak up (at some point). i'm also happy that after we left, i asked dh if he would be willing to see the guy counselor on his own, for his own issues, and he said "yes" which is something i've been pushing for, oh, i don't know, since we met. he has a slew of mental health issues and he needs a real diagnosis and therapy plan, not just drugs. so in that regard, it was a total triumph. i'm just disappointed in myself and wondering when/if/how we are ever going to get to the core issues.

thanks for reading . . . or skimming.

Ouch! You suck?? Those are harsh, unfair words! Be compassionate with yourself.

Be patient. This was just the first session. There are more sessions, right? You can bring up those issues next time.

What you need to to do is develop a kind of juggling act in this kind of therapy. You need to keep seemingly contrasting thoughts in your head all at the same time.

1) Keep an open mind about your dh's point of view and for what the therapists are suggesting. Even if he is passive aggressive, you might still learn something helpful about him, something you hadn't seen before. You might discover something you've been doing that makes a stumbling block for growth.

2) Keep your issues in mind, don't forget them in a rush to get along with the therapists and your dh. Don't forget what's making you angry in your effort to be nice. Women worry too much about being nice.

Back and forth: vigilantly advocating for yourself and keeping an open mind and heart for him.
 

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You don't suck. It isn't a failure, just part of the process. It's great that you realize he skirted the issues. He has a history of skirting the issues, right? So that itself is a big reason you are there. You are there to learn how to effectively communicate together. If you could do that on the first session, you possibly wouldn't need the couples counseling at all.

It is a process, and reflection in the days after the session is part of the process. It normally takes a few sessions to really get to the heart of the issues, ime. Keep a journal as these thoughts come to you, and bring the journal to your sessions.
 

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This is just your first appointment, right, in an ongoing process? You'll have lots of opportunity to address the dynamic, and it might be good that you didn't spend the first session unloading everything that frustrates you -- he's going to have a chance to buy in to the process and get comfortable enough to HEAR you instead of just feeling like "counseling" means "everyone tells him he sucks."

I'm guessing he doesn't think he was skirting the issues -- what he brought up is what he really thinks ARE the issues. He doesn't get your perspective, which one of the things you're in counseling to address.

I think keeping a journal, and bringing it with you, is a great idea. Maybe you can lead off the next session by saying "In the last session I made the comment 'it's like DH has two full-time jobs' and I feel like I didn't express what I really wanted to say. I meant 'he's putting enough time into his hobby that it's like he's gone 40 hours a week,' but that's for himself, it's not a contribution to the family -- while I feel like I'm working two full-time jobs FOR ALL OF US, and nothing for myself. I feel like the time going into music is taking away from his job as a stay-at-home parent and family member, and it's left to me to fill the gap."
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
thanks! yeah, i guess i really didn't know what to expect out of this. i wasn't thinking of it as a "first session" which takes a lot of the pressure off. i was thinking, "i want this to be productive," and when i didn't get it all out in the open, i felt like i failed. thanks also for telling me that these realizations later on are part of the process, because i was mad at myself for not thinking of these things during our counseling session.

i agree that dh wasn't intentionally skirting the issues, because he does not know what they are (because i don't tell him and because he doesn't listen when i try to tell him).

otoh, he was acting all wounded and afraid. i don't doubt that he truly was nervous about the process and somewhat worried, because at his core he must know he's been getting away with all kinds of bs. yet, you know, he was really playing it up, trying for my sympathy so i wouldn't be hard on him. i know that, but in the moment, i didn't. he also may not be super aware that he does this (since it's been a life-long defense mechanism), but that doesn't excuse the behavior. it means he needs to be made aware of it so that he can address it. but i will leave that to the therapists.
 

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I second the idea of a journal.

Hang in there. It's very easy to get pulled into the "feel sorry for me" dynamic. Don't beat yourself up for it. This has probably been going on a lot in your marriage, and you can't expect yourself to just go "we're in the counselor's office and everything is different now". You're still who you are, and you're only just beginning to address the issues.

 

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I agree with others that it was the first appointment and it's only the beginning of a journey.

I also take a bit of a different stance. I really believe that when two people are together...when they feel they are productive, contributing and doing what they love...they bring a strong energy to the relationship that makes everything easy. When one or both are unhappy, it just makes everything difficult.

While it may only be a hobby, if he feels good doing it and you support him, he will have more to bring back to you and the family. And, when you feel good about what you're doing, you bring that back to him and the family too. I just say this because encouraging him and giving him the space to do something that really nurtures him may actually be the key to getting more help and more family time with him.

I am wishing you both well on this journey. Keeping a journal and processing after the sessions are often the most productive work of therapy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
nobody is saying dh should quit playing music and producing art. it's his hobby and his social time, and i love that he involves the kids with it. that's great. but it needs to be brought into balance, and he needs to regain perspective. i don't care if he wants to spend all this time doing it - it's probably around 4 hours on a typical day (a bit during the day, but mostly in the evening while i'm caring for the kids and after they've gone to bed), plus a couple nights a week where he's out of the house for 6-8 hours or sometimes all night. also the occasional 24- or 36-hour on-site recording session (mostly in the summer - there's a lot of partying going on along with the "working"). that's fine with me, honestly, completely fine, as long as the family's needs are being met.

they're currently not. i do want our kids to see me & dh doing things like this (because i have my interests too). but i want them to see us putting our responsibilities first. sometimes, the rest of the family picks up the slack for the family member who has other things going on, but it doesn't work if one person is always skipping out, and never being the one to step up and do a bit extra, and isn't even doing the basics when he is around.
 

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I get what you're saying.

The point I'm making is that when I feel low, when I'm struggling personally, with my self-esteem, happiness, confidence, I want to spend more and more time doing things that feel good.

Feeling like I'm letting down my family, feeling pressure from my partner, feeling like I'm disappointing others just makes me feel worse about myself and makes me want to run away from all of that more and more.

When I feel encouraged by my partner, when I feel I have the space to work on myself, honor what makes me feel best and just really be who I am in a safe and loved way, I want to be better and I really want to spend more time with that person.

Relationships are a tricky balance. I get how frustrating it feels to be doing the lion's share of the work, I get how horrible it feels to be sinking and feel like we're alone. I also get how it feels to know my partner is disappointed in me and feeling like a failure.

I hope you are able to find a place that feels better and works better for your entire family.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
i guess i don't understand what you're suggesting i do differently from how i'm doing it now?

i did get this week's date lined up, which i'm excited about! mil is babysitting (free!) and the place dh wants to go is a new place that i wanted to check out too.

i like journaling and get a lot from it. i'm not sure about sharing the journal. i don't even feel so great about keeping a physical journal that dh could possibly read. i definitely have some problems, too! not just dh . . .
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by doubledutch View Post
i like journaling and get a lot from it. i'm not sure about sharing the journal. i don't even feel so great about keeping a physical journal that dh could possibly read. i definitely have some problems, too! not just dh . . .

Maybe think of it as "notes" instead of journaling. Consider jotting down a word or two to record your feelings over the week after each session. You don't have to show it, but having it will help you focus on what is important to you at the session.
 

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I can relate to a lot of the frustrations around passive-aggressiveness and the Nice Guy vs. Mean Bitch thing.

For a long time I was quite aggressive and bitchy, and it always seemed reasonable then that nice, calm dh didn't have to listen to what I was saying because of how I was saying it. Then after some time I went on meds and developed more self-control, and communication skills. Then I realized he was still not listening to what I was saying and trying to talk me out of it. One day I just freaking snapped and told him that him denying everything I say all the time must mean that I have a warped messed up sense of reality. If he's right, then I must seriously be deluded. It ended up with me crying and saying I feel like he wasn't listening to what I was saying before, and he's not listening to what I'm saying now. I can't go on like this.

There was some change for awhile. But old habits die hard.

Anyway, not meaning to hijack. Just I get the sick frustration. Best wishes in getting things worked out.
 

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I just wanted to chime in here and say that my first counselling appt went the same way. I was trying too hard to make my husband feel safe and wasn't really bringing up the big issues. So it ended up being him blaming me for all sorts of stuff and denying any wrong doing
I was really angry afterwards. So our second appt I was much more assertive in bringing up the bigger issues, however, I once again feel like I didn't get all the issues covered. I think this is why it takes time. It's hard to really express complicated relationship issues in 1 hour sessions.

Unfortunately I don't know if we'll be going to anymore as my husband hasn't been making time for the 'homework' at all, so it sort of feels like 'what's the point?'
 
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