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Communication

(19 Posts)
CoffeeandScones Fri 19-Jul-13 14:43:36

To cut a long story short(ish), the relationship between DW and me has got to a place where I think we need to talk to someone (ie counselling) to be able to communicate better and really understand how each other feels (and, tbh, whether we are prepared to address any feelings and issues that arise). Communication between us has never been a strong point and I think we need help to break down a kind of wall between us. I have raised this in the past (a few years ago), but DW always refused. I backed down fairly quickly (one of my problems with the whole communication thing), so it didn't become a 'big issue' (at least, outside my own head).

I have recently talked to someone at Relate by myself (as DW didn?t want to do it and I felt I had to speak to someone), which gave me the strength to understand that what I was asking was not unreasonable (given how I felt ? it is me that feels unhappy but also I have no idea how DW feels ? I have asked and but just don't know). It all spilled out in quite an emotional wave a few days ago, which I appreciate must have been hard for DW to hear (though I have tried to talk before, but these communication issues have meant we weren?t able).

DW was clearly upset and affected by this, but it felt to me that was more with fear about what it might mean (ie separation of the family) than concern for me or us as a couple that have feelings for each other. DW has either refused to talk a counsellor or avoided the question. I know this isn't all 'about me', but not once asked about how I feel (I?ve volunteered a lot, but it?s all felt like one-way traffic), and although I have asked several times how she?s feeling, is she happy etc, had nothing back on that front.

I don?t know what to do. I suspect DW is scared about what might happen if we talk (ie what if we decide it?s not working ? impact on young DCs etc), but I don?t know how we can progress from here otherwise. I feel like, if I shut up again and got on with day to day life, that it would be swept back under the carpet again. FWIW I want our relationship to work, but I can?t let it happen (again) that I back down and let things carry on as they are for the sake of avoiding this conflict.

If anyone has been in this situation and found a way to encourage DP to open up and talk, I?d be really grateful to hear about it...

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 19-Jul-13 15:43:31

You can't make someone talk to you if they don't want to. Wanting a relationship to work is not a one-man job. If a partner doesn't care enough to talk or if they think talking won't make any difference then there's not much of a relationship to salvage. When you get to a situation serious enough where a marriage is on the line and they still won't open up, then I'm afraid they leave you with few options. Is your DW generally very open with others? Is it just you she can't communicate with?

I'd suggest you can't back down this time. You've escalated it to counselling, it hasn't worked & nothing's going to change. If you end it, approach it as constructively and as positively for the DCs as possible. A clean finish may be better for them that carrying on growing up surrounded by this bizarre 'silent' and unhappy relationship.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 19-Jul-13 15:47:43

Should have added... what is is you're unhappy about?

There must be more to this.
How's your sex life?
Are you affectionate with each other? Hug, kiss, hold hands?
Do you go out as a couple without the kids?
I have no answers I'm afraid.
When things were breaking down for my ex and me, I wrote a whole of list of what was bugging me.
We sat down and discussed and came to a compromise on all the things on it and we stayed together for another 9 years.
Have you tried 'writing' to her?

CoffeeandScones Fri 19-Jul-13 17:08:40

Thanks Cogito. I guess the things that have happened that I feel unhappy about are, each by themselves, not big things but have built up little by little over time, which has been made so much harder (it feels) because I've never had chance to talk about them. It's hard to go through it all without feeling like a litany and it hasn't ever felt fair to bombard her (though I guess that's what I've ended up doing in the last day or two). Broadly though I think they all really stem to the same thing, which is to make me feel (perhaps unintentionally? I don't know) that my feelings and needs are a pain to listen to and respond to, and anything I want or ask is for me to shoulder alone.

This makes me sound needy, but I'm talking about very simple, occasional things. Maybe eating tea together (not in front of the TV) just occasionally; or a foot rub maybe once in a blue moon because they're sore after a long day; or joining an exercise group for one hour twice a week (which I am actually doing, but subject to a kind of passive-aggressive protest - I have no other hobbies and devote pretty much all my time outside work to our family and DCs, who I love dearly). These things sound silly and trivial, but to me they feel part of something big and important.

Over time I have come to feel somehow that these are unreasonable burdens to ask of DW, but being able to speak to someone as I have makes me realise that they are not. Hence the current situation.

The refusal to talk to someone (ie a counsellor) about how I feel (irrespective, actually, of what is wrong - just that there is something wrong and I want help to be able to deal with it) is to me another example of this, and I don't know how to handle it when the one previous response I used (to back down and get on with things) has been shown to me to be a bad idea. If we can talk together and help each other to make this work, that would be wonderful. But I can't handle this alone any more.

I don't want to make it sound like a hell, because it really hasn't been. We have been together 13 years and there have been lots and lots of great times and even now we can have fun and a laugh. But I can't push these things down inside me any more, and need someone who I feel wants to support me (and me them). Isn't that what love is about?

CoffeeandScones Fri 19-Jul-13 17:18:44

...I should add just before anyone asks that I have always tried to be devoted to her needs and wants, however big or small. Any of these little things I mention I gladly do for her without hesitation. This isn't a one-upmanship thing, I just wanted to explain how things are in context of what I've said above.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 19-Jul-13 18:33:50

So, in a nutshell, this princess you're devoted to is walking all over you and you're expected to be grateful she allows it rather than bother her with your trivial problems .... hmm A healthy relationship is one of equals, where everyone feels appreciated and listened to. If you're not getting that, then I think 13 years is plenty of time to assess whether it's going to get any better.

CoffeeandScones Sat 20-Jul-13 16:08:32

Cogito I think in fairness I have also not been very loud in shouting my corner. But we've had a full and frank talk about everything, and at least now we both know where we stand. Counselling an option now if I still want to (it was a good talk so I'm less adamant now it has to happen) but in general the proof of the pudding I think...

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 20-Jul-13 16:11:31

Sorry but you're backing down again... This pudding has been boiled, eaten and shown to be horribly disappointing for years. 'Less adamant' means that, once again, something that's important to you goes on the back burner just because she's thrown a few crumbs your way.

CoffeeandScones Sat 20-Jul-13 16:37:58

I appreciate your straight talking *Cogito *smile

I guess if I'm brutally honest, while the talk was very frank and emotional (and lots of "I love you" and "I need you"), the actual material outcomes were that it was just as much my fault (not in those words) for not having spoken up enough as her fault for not noticing. And the thing to change is predominantly me being more about "me". Which might not be unfair, but I don't think DW gave any commitment to actually changing anything herself (though she might "try", but no promises).

Maybe I need to go through with definitely doing the counselling.

If this isn't an impertinent question (and my apologies if it is), do you have previous experience of such a situation? Only, your opinions (gratefully received!) are quite unequivocal, and I just wanted to know if that's because the situation is so blindingly obvious, or if you have a bad experience of being subject to this in the past?

Twinklestein Sat 20-Jul-13 16:41:40

I hope you're allowed to go exercise now...?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 20-Jul-13 17:21:42

I have experience of being in a one-sided relationship and being made to feel unreasonable for expecting things that should be a given in a loving relationship, yes. I've also had long full and frank talks into the wee small hours where the object of my devotion managed to bring everything back to how he wasn't perfect and he had 'issues', but how all my concerns could be solved if I could just see how wrong I was & change a few things about myself ... hmm .. but no suggestion that he might do the same thing, naturally.

If you're a kind person and you love your partner, you want to make them happy. If you value family, you'll try everything to keep it together. But an unkind partner that doesn't take you seriously will exploit that love and kindness and give you nothing back in return. I wasted 12 years pouring love down a black hole, compromising, backing down, giving the benefit of the doubt and having my needs ignored.... and just hate to see someone else sleepwalking into the same situation.

CoffeeandScones Sat 20-Jul-13 20:27:48

Tbh the one thing that stands out for me that at the time i agreed with but actually feels a bit hmm is that I should change to be more assertive. I don't think I'm a complete doormat, just a nice person (and modest too grin) and maybe I will find I don't want to be a different person (which would ironically be an assertive position in itself)

Cogito May I ask what it was that finally made you decide you couldn't carry on as you were?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 21-Jul-13 07:33:49

Him smile He announced he'd met someone that he preferred to me and simply walked out. Traumatic but that's the danger of going along with the idea that you're somehow substandard. Not only is it humiliating day to day but the person that meets all those imaginary standards could be waiting round the corner, ready to fill your shoes. Took me years to get my self-esteem anything close to normal.

Your DW should love you for yourself. For being kind, modest, devoted, a doormat and whatever else qualities and failings you possess. We can all improve and grow as people but if the person you're with doesn't like your core personality, the fundamental things that make you 'you', then you're simply incompatible.

TDada Sun 21-Jul-13 07:51:03

Hi Coffee- sorry to hear. Do you know what things you DW is unhappy about if any?

JustinBsMum Sun 21-Jul-13 08:01:52

Was the 'passive-aggressive protest' about you taking up a hobby outside the home?

Possibly she believes that all that she does in the home is for you and the DCs so anything you ask her as an extra is putting on her.

Perhaps you are more of a romantic and she isn't.

You have to change your behaviour and this can have a knock on effect on her but persuading her to change won't work. Could you flog the tv? grin

CoffeeandScones Thu 25-Jul-13 00:14:45

Cogito really sorry to hear that. I don't think DW thinks I'm substandard, I just think I was (am?) beng taken advantage of a bit.

TDada DW isn't unhappy about anything - well nothing she has told me - and I've asked so many times that I don't know how to ask again. But maybe counselling might allow her to talk about her feelings too (she's admitte she often internalises things).

JustinBsMum yeah, about the hobby thing. I've tried and tried to encourage her to (re)take up something, I'll have the DCs etc, but no dice. But then I'm required to be the same way (ie have little interests outside of the family and home). That hasn't always been the case, but gradually been "squeezed" into that position.

On the counselling bit (which I realise won't necessarily be the answer to everything), apparently the earliest we can do our first session (according to DW) is late August. Hmmm.

WafflyVersatile Thu 25-Jul-13 02:04:29

you can have counselling sessions yourself until then.

CoffeeandScones Thu 25-Jul-13 08:58:50

Thanks Waffly, I might do that. I felt like counselling wouldn't really take us much further without us both being involved, but then I wasn't sure the first session would go anywhere, but it made me reevaluate all sorts of things. I think maybe another session by myself and see how it goes.

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