Vent away if it helps you. Are you and wife going into counseling? I think that both of you could use it, at least as a way to work through your problems. From previous threads, it sounds like your wife has some control issues, and counseling may help you guys work through things.
I helped a client with an amicable divorce where they had already divided everything up and worked out who was getting what. When we spoke, he told me that they had spent a good amount of time in counseling so at least they could be friends and not do this with bitterness.
I have to say, I have only met you a couple of times, never spoken about any personal issues with you, and don’t know your wife at all, and it’s entirely possible that I may be projecting, so you may wish take this with a grain of salt.
Your first couple of sentences there just gave me a flashback to a conversation I had with my father when I was in college, during a period when he and my mother were suing each other over who was responsible for my college expenses, among other things. (Dad thought expenses should be split down the middle, even though he made 4 or 5 times what Mom did, not even counting my stepmom’s income, which was even higher than his. Needless to say, Mom both disagreed and had almost no money to give me, and I was quite squarely in the middle. The whole story is of course much longer, but that’s the gist of it.)
I was at NYU (in part because although I was also admitted to Georgetown and the U. of C., I had no real choice about going there, because on reviewing Dad’s finances, they decided he should contribute an amount which was simply not going to happen). Dad lived, and still lives, about a 30 minute subway ride away from the campus.
One night he decided to come meet me to talk, and then go to dinner. Well, we ended up talking for 2+ hours, which mostly consisted of me alternately explaining why I was upset and bawling my eyes out in a lonely corner of the student union (we never did make it to dinner; I was too upset to eat). Among other things, I was upset at being put in the middle, I was upset that although I was a straight-A student, he was apparently unwilling to help put me through college even to the extent his parents had contributed to putting him through college on far fewer resources, even after he ended up on academic probation, and I was upset at having his lawyer subpoena me to have me testify to useless bullshit which could easily have been accomplished via an affidavit.
After 2 hours of me spilling my guts, I asked him if he had any feedback on what I had just said. His response? “I think this was very productive. Let’s do it again next week.” As much of a pacifist as I am, I wanted to throttle him - that is NOT “participating in an open and honest discussion.” He just didn’t get it, and frankly, he still doesn’t.
It sounds like you and your wife are talking past each other, and don’t you owe it to yourselves, each other, and your kids after all this time to at least give counseling a shot? If you want to be purely pragmatic about it, it would be a hell of a lot cheaper than getting divorced.
Note: This quote was taken from a post midway through the thread, and Dinsdale has posted more since then. But this post struck a chord with me . .
I have a couple of friends who have been divorced for a while who are now friends with their ex-husbands. In one case, the divorce was almost twenty years ago, and the friendship is recent–she was the first wife, the third wife passed away in the last year, and it’s only been since that time that he’s really spoken to her. For a long time the two wives were friends–a connection made for the sake of the children became a true bond. Now, he’s thinking of looking for wife #4, and wondering if wife #1 might be it–she’s thinking no.
The other couple were married for 35 years when she finally got tired of never being his first priority. Ten years later, she still cleans for him (for a fee), and they attend the same church(not the church they attended while married. In fact, both have come to this church thanks to romantic involvements with other people. )
In both cases, though, and in the case of the parents of the woman identified above as wife #1, living apart and not being responsible for each other has enabled them to get along together in a way that they didn’t do while married. Sure, a phone call or an e-mail isn’t the same as the kind of chatter we have while eating dinner or watching a movie. But the benefits of not having to pick up his dirty socks or listen to her nagging balance it out.
It may not work that way in your case. I don’t know whether to wish you well if you try to heal your marriage, or wish for a speedy resolution. I guess I wish you well whatever the outcome may be.
But if you and she can maintain your respect for each other through the divorce, in the long run your conversations may not come to an end. It all depends–but I certainly would not recommend a scorched earth strategy if I could avoid it.
I’ve been trying very hard to actually bear my share of communicating honestly - and listening openly. Not sure whether there will be a common ground on which we can continue to remain married, but I want to give it at least a little more time.
It was so weird - last night just hanging out, eating dinner and then ice cream, watching a little TV, it was so pleasantly normal. But I’m not going to fool myself to believe things are at an acceptable place just because things are pleasant for the moment.
Also, it is hard reaching conclusions as to past events, because we differ so much as to our perceptions/recollections of them. To some extent I feel we need to acknowlegdge that we disagree about certain things that occurred in the past, but must commit to moving forward and trying to react and interact differently when similar things crop up in the future.
I’ve written before about why I’m not thrilled with counselling. Have gone to a couple who have been complete wastes - or worse. Despite being highly recommended by people we respect. But I won’t rule it out as a possibility.
I’ve been to a couple of mediocre counselors, too, and then to one who actually understood me and offered helpful insights. As with any interpersonal relationship, you don’t always know who is going to be a good fit until you give it a try. But I do think that for a counselor to be useful, he/she has to be at least as intelligent as the person/people being counseled.
(The first counselor wanted me to make a list of the pros and cons of the situation I was in, like I couldn’t think of that myself. What a waste of time.)
We went to two marriage counselors who were complete wastes of time and money.
The third one, though…wow.
Same with individual therapists, I’ve seen a few who added very little to my life… but there was one who blew the doors wide open.
Good luck, Dinsdale, I don’t think you sound needlessly dramatic, you sound like someone doing some honest searching.
I am going to go out on a limb here and probably get flamed, but could she be going through change of life, just a bigger scale level of hormonal goodness?
I’ve seen a few women who just went nutty in their mid forties and stayed that way until they were done with menopause. They refused anything was wrong and had flare ups with anger and irritability like nobody’s business. ( My mom was one of them. God, that was a fun time. She still denies needing any help at that fun time.) This is just my minute opinion, but personally, getting a blood test for hormonal levels really couldn’t hurt.
Could she be suffering from depression?
Personally, whomever asks for divorce, I think, should move out.
One argument for counseling, IMO, is that sometimes a third party can identify realities and take people to task. E.g. if the spouse gets pissed because you took the kids for ice cream before dinner, a good counselor might see that no, spouse is REALLY pissed because of something else and is using this as an excuse to tee off. If you argue the “ice cream” issue, you don’t fix it because that isn’t really what’s driving the interaction.
Too often, the relationship has undergone such extensive damage by the time you take it to a counselor that it’s beyond repair, IMO. People deny, avoid, etc. during the course of a marriage…they go along to get along. By the time you get to the counselor, you may be sick unto death of the spouse’s shit—especially the chronic stuff that never stops. If your motivation to save the marriage isn’t high, the process of counseling (dubious at best at this point) is unlikely to work. It’s a long haul because there’s lots of old junk to unravel.
I’d go back to why you married each other in the first place. What are the things you valued about each other, and have they changed? Can they be resuscitated?
When my marriage was beginning the death spiral, I suggested to my wife that once a week, we affirm each other. This took the form of “love notes” we would exchange. I might have written, “I really appreciate how intelligent you are. It’s great being able to have stimulating conversations about anything, and the fact that you’re from another culture because it adds a wider perspective. I’ve always loved this about you.” She always loved the notes I wrote to her, btw: I’d leave little stickies on the bathroom mirror, knowing she’d find them in the morning—even before the marriage was in trouble.
About three weeks in, on the designated day (Friday), I handed her my note. She hadn’t had time to write one, said she’d have it after work that day. She got home late, said work was insane, she didn’t have the energy and would do it tomorrow.
My conclusions, which I didn’t share with her: “You’re so wrapped up in work that I always come second. You could have written this Monday, Tuesday…any day. But you don’t really want to do it in the first place. You just can’t be bothered to put that much effort into a marriage that is clearly dying. And you couldn’t be bothered even when it wasn’t in bad shape; you want zero maintenance. Marriage just isn’t a priority.”
I think that’s the kind of epiphany you need, OP. You can’t know, perhaps, whether it’s salvageable but you do need to know if the sincere willingness to work on it is there.
Hell, I’m sure I bring at least my share of grief to the party. But to put that post in context you should realize that in some respects my youngest and I are incredibly on the same snarky wavelength. She regularly calls me a jerk, and I observe she’s a jerk’s kid. Childish, stupid stuff to be sure.
I hesitated to say this, but…my parents have done the “we’re probably getting divorced…oh wait, no we’re not…then again, maybe we are…never mind” dance for a few years now. It is hell on children, even adult children. It has seriously damaged our relationships with our parents. It has permanently destroyed any pleasure we took from spending time with them. Please don’t do this to your kids or your family. Make a decision before you talk to them about it.
Q. N. Jones raises a good point. My sister’s marriage has been in the crapper for years, with the D word periodically popping up. She told my parents right before Christmas that she and my BIL had finally decided to divorce, after 25 years of marriage. My mother was very upset and we all felt bad about the whole thing. Well, guess what? It’s mid-September and they’ve done nothing about getting divorced OR getting counseling to deal with their issues. It will make it difficult to take her seriously if it comes up again and it’s definitely been tough on my niece (age 22) and nephew (age 19)–they DO take it personally and it’s unfair to dump your drama and issues on your kids, even in a joking way.
I do wish you well–from your other threads, it does seem like you’ve been unhappy for a long time so hopefully the outcome will be a positive one for you.
If you’re dubious about therapy-how about picking up a book? There’s this guy I read about in Blink by Malcolm Gladwell…John Gottman. Apparently he can tell whether a marriage is troubled within 5 minutes of meeting a couple and he is able to accurately predict whether a couple will file for divorce. I investigated him on the internet after finishing Blink and found his books on Amazon. They get incredibly high reviews.
FTR, he’s not very pseudo-philosophical about why marriages go bad. I believe his thesis is centres around the ratio of negative to positive communicaton between spouses and he was considered kind of revolutionary because of what he classified as negative vs. positive. For instance, witty, but passive-aggressive banter, is logged as negative. Stony silence went into positive or something like that.