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Coping with changes in marriage

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Hey all,

I'm new here. I just have some thought and questions I need to out and don't really have the kind of relationship with anyone that I can turn to in person.

A little background. I went through a faith crisis over a year ago that completely changed how I view the world. At the start of it I was very lost and confused and frankly felt hurt and betrayed and didn't know what to believe about religion, especially Mormonism. Eventually, I worked through it, change my perspective greatly on any number of things, but eventaully got to the point I am now. I am still a practicing, "faithful", temple recommend holding member. I have made very few outward changes related to my new faith perspective. Mostly it is just in my mind/heart.

Needless to say this was very devastating at the time to my wife who feared I was going to leave the church. Even after I got over the worst of it and assured her I would stay active, she has always worried that I might "change my mind." Moreover, since I shared many of my doubts at the time, she feels as though I've forever changed her faith as well, which I feel really remorseful for. If I could go back and change it I would have worked through it in private, but one rarely thinks straight in a crisis.

Before faith crisis we'd occasionally have big fights but they would be many months between. Our biggest struggle was that I didn't communicate as much as she'd like. I was comfortable with silence and so she felt like I just didn't care. Fast forward to faith crisis and we were having major conflict 3 to 4 times a week. Even after the crisis passed for me we couldn't go a week without a major conflict. So much conflict has taken it's toll. It has really hurt our friendship and the foundation of our love. We even got to the point where divorce was brought up. She feels like we're so different now (again, because of how I interpret the gospel, not how I act)

I've begged her many times to go to counseling and she won't. She's not very clear on why but I get the gist that it comes down to a fear of her concerns about our marriage being made to appear unjustified. She seems worried that therapist would side with me.

Add to this she has anxiety and (undiagnosed) mild depression. We have 4 young children that are very high energy so she often is stressed and at her limit when I get home. She also has very low selfestem and tends to view many of her interactions with people in the worst light. By this I mean she is constantly appling negative meaning to slomething that doesn't have to be negative (such as so and so didn't reply to my text so she must not like me or I did something to offend here) She talks about going to a regular counselor but doesn't actually go.

I feel bad for her. I really do. I realize that my crisis added greatly to her anxiety. She has told me she doesn't feel "the same love" for me anymore. Though at time she's also said she doesn't love me because I'm not the same person anymore. I've tried very hard to make positive changes to myself. I've read books on communication. I've gone out of my way to communicate more with her, even though I don't naturally feel so inclined. Since she wouldn't go to counseling I suggested we read a marriage book, which we diid. Even whild doing so we constantly fought.

Sometime's I just don't know why I try. I long ago wondered if I even love her anymore. But I came across some advice to set a time frame in which you would not end it no matter what. The idea being that you would put all your effort into making things work for this 6 month period...kind of a last stand. So that's what i feel I've been doing. But I don't feel the same is reciprocated. I truely believe she has given up and is waiting for the time to lapse. Every time I express an unmet need, she cries and tells me how aweful a wife she is. Sometimes she says she'll change and start doing it (for example I ask that she go out of her way to show love by doing thoughtful, nice things for me, anything, as I have been doing for her). But she rarely follows through and so we have a simialr conversation a few months later, adding to my despair it won't change.

Which brings to the next problem and the actual focus of my post. As part of my crisis you could say that I have become like a child again. For the first time since I actually was a child, I view the world in awe. I am innately curious about things and so have been consuming books on all kinds of subjects. At first it was church history, since I wanted to fully understand those things that were part of my crisis. Then I got bored and moved on to other things. As I read, the new knowledge sometimes requires that I apply it with changes in my life to get the most benefit (such as ideas on food/diet). While I think most people would consider these things as positive, my wife sees them as a threat. She sees me changing, and us becoming less and less compatible. She sees me with all these new interests and is so critical/defensive of them. And so I dont' know quite what to do. I could stop reading, and stop trying to, from my perspective, better myself. It may help temporarily but I worry I wll build up resentment because of it (as I have in some other things).

On bad days I feel like she's right. Maybe we are not compatible. But I also feel our judgment is flawed due to our emotions and extended hardship, as well as confirmation bias, fluidity of memories, etc. So what the heck can I do!? the dead line is almost hear and I have to say that except for one month of respite, I don't think much has gotten better. I've considered the ultimatum of go to counseling or divorce but feel that would just force the divorce.

How do people deal with changes in marriage? How can you be "one" if you genuinely have different goals? Obvoiusly I don't want a divorce. I love my children and don't want to be apart from them. Nor do I wan them to suffer because of this. But I just feel at my end here. More and more I am feeling depressed and I worry the longer this goes on the worse it will be.

sorry for the long rant.

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I've begged her many times to go to counseling and she won't. She's not very clear on why but I get the gist that it comes down to a fear of her concerns about our marriage being made to appear unjustified. She seems worried that therapist would side with me.

I would strongly suggest counseling. What you can do in order to find the right counselor is set up an appointment to "interview" the counselor. Most counselors will provide a 10-15 min. free interview if they are interested in your business. Ask them questions about their views of marriage and divorce. Ask them if they ever take sides when doing marriage counseling. Ask them what their approach is to marriage counseling. I would suggest interviewing at least 3 different counselors and then decide together with you wife on which counselor you would like to see. This same process can be applied for finding an individual counselor.

I feel bad for her. I really do. I realize that my crisis added greatly to her anxiety. She has told me she doesn't feel "the same love" for me anymore. Though at time she's also said she doesn't love me because I'm not the same person anymore. I've tried very hard to make positive changes to myself. I've read books on communication. I've gone out of my way to communicate more with her, even though I don't naturally feel so inclined. Since she wouldn't go to counseling I suggested we read a marriage book, which we diid. Even whild doing so we constantly fought.

Sometime's I just don't know why I try. I long ago wondered if I even love her anymore. But I came across some advice to set a time frame in which you would not end it no matter what. The idea being that you would put all your effort into making things work for this 6 month period...kind of a last stand. So that's what i feel I've been doing. But I don't feel the same is reciprocated. I truely believe she has given up and is waiting for the time to lapse. Every time I express an unmet need, she cries and tells me how aweful a wife she is. Sometimes she says she'll change and start doing it (for example I ask that she go out of her way to show love by doing thoughtful, nice things for me, anything, as I have been doing for her). But she rarely follows through and so we have a simialr conversation a few months later, adding to my despair it won't change.

Does she have suggestions on what needs to happen in order to fix the marriage? Also trying and loving unconditionally means that you are not expecting anything in return. If you are giving it your all, that might mean that you have to put your "unmet" needs on the back burner for a while.

And so I don't know quite what to do. I could stop reading, and stop trying to, from my perspective, better myself. It may help temporarily but I worry I will build up resentment because of it (as I have in some other things).

On bad days I feel like she's right. Maybe we are not compatible. But I also feel our judgment is flawed due to our emotions and extended hardship, as well as confirmation bias, fluidity of memories, etc. So what the heck can I do!? the dead line is almost hear and I have to say that except for one month of respite, I don't think much has gotten better. I've considered the ultimatum of go to counseling or divorce but feel that would just force the divorce.

A suggestion, would you ever consider using this awakening and desire for knowledge to learn about what really makes a marriage last throughout the years. I would suggest some peer reviewed journal articles about marriage satisfaction. You could also read some of the following books:

The Case for Marriage by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

Getting the Love you Want by Harville Henrix

How do people deal with changes in marriage? How can you be "one" if you genuinely have different goals? Obviously I don't want a divorce. I love my children and don't want to be apart from them. Nor do I want them to suffer because of this. But I just feel at my end here. More and more I am feeling depressed and I worry the longer this goes on the worse it will be.

Do you really have different goals? It sounds like you both want to be happy, and I imagine that you both want your spouse to be happy. I imagine that you both love your children and want them to be successful members of society, etc. It sounds like you may have similar goals, but different thoughts of how to actually achieve your goals. I would suggest focusing on the similarities you both have instead of your differences. I would further suggest serving your wife (without expecting anything in return). Changes happen in every marriage. The couples that make their marriages last are the ones who are persistent and committed throughout these changes.

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I feel the same as you in many respects. I've been thru divorce. In my first marriage I always thought we were on the same page but realized too late I was only my page. My current marriage I think we are both on the only page that matters, we both care about each other and care about the kids. Other than that we don't agree on much of anything :D. I have had to accept there are some things we just will not be able to discuss because the feelings are too raw.

I also am the one to read allot of books on relationships and on how to raise children. She doesn't read anything nor does she like to discuss anything I've read. She is very emotionally delicate and because of that has a super hard time admitting she's wrong and comes off a little strong sometimes.

What I have concluded is that when I read something or do something to grow spiritually it's on me and me alone. If I take what I learn about becoming a better person, parent, spouse and condemn my wife for not caring or picking up on those things then I've learned nothing. The point of my reading is to improve myself, not my wife not my kids not anyone else. When reading anything now I have to make a conscience effort to focus my thoughts on what I need to change and not on what my wife is doing wrong.

If there is one thing I have learned, it's that we are powerless to change others. The more we try the more we drive them away. Our purpose is to improve ourselves. To strive to become more long suffering, charitable, forgiving, and loving and that growth should make us more understanding, patient, charitable, forgiving and loving towards those who are not understanding, patient, charitable, forgiving and loving. I hope that made sense. My happiness needs to be centered in the challenges I can overcome and the improvement I can make.

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I would strongly suggest counseling. What you can do in order to find the right counselor is set up an appointment to "interview" the counselor.

This is great advice, thank you. If she is ever willing to go, I will take it.

Does she have suggestions on what needs to happen in order to fix the marriage?

Yes...it involves me believing like I did pre faith crisis, which I can't do.

Also trying and loving unconditionally means that you are not expecting anything in return. If you are giving it your all, that might mean that you have to put your "unmet" needs on the back burner for a while.

This is insightful and I understand it intellectually. Its just hard to give love withoug feeling it in return for an extended time. Her excuse is she doesn't feel it so it's too hard to show it.

A suggestion, would you ever consider using this awakening and desire for knowledge to learn about what really makes a marriage last throughout the years. I would suggest some peer reviewed journal articles about marriage satisfaction. You could also read some of the following books:

The Case for Marriage by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

Getting the Love you Want by Harville Henrix

Of course I do this. I've read 3 books on marriage, love and intimacy, including the one by Gottman you listed. I try to apply what I read, but do so imperfectly of course.

Do you really have different goals? It sounds like you both want to be happy, and I imagine that you both want your spouse to be happy....I would suggest focusing on the similarities you both have instead of your differences.

No, not really. I have pointed out the same to her when saying it. But belief makes reality and since she believes it, and won't change her belief, it makes it true. And for a mormon who puts religion/faith as the MOST important thing in life and we share separate belief even witin the same religion, to her we are therefore completely different in our goals. I seek for personal understanding in the unknown, she seeks comfort in surety.

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IMy current marriage I think we are both on the only page that matters, we both care about each other and care about the kids. Other than that we don't agree on much of anything :D. I have had to accept there are some things we just will not be able to discuss because the feelings are too raw.

Yes...I could have written this. :)

She is very emotionally delicate and because of that has a super hard time admitting she's wrong and comes off a little strong sometimes.

Do we have the same wife!!??

What I have concluded is that when I read something or do something to grow spiritually it's on me and me alone. If I take what I learn about becoming a better person, parent, spouse and condemn my wife for not caring or picking up on those things then I've learned nothing. The point of my reading is to improve myself, not my wife not my kids not anyone else. When reading anything now I have to make a conscience effort to focus my thoughts on what I need to change and not on what my wife is doing wrong.

I agree. and I feel that I do a good job not trying to push what I learn on my wife. I'm perfectly capable of her and me having different opinions and different knowledge. I just feel like she's not content with me learning because it makes her feel more inadequate. She has actually said to me that she feels that she should do the same. Also sometimes just doing things sets her off. For example, I've taken an interest in health lately. So the other night when she was gone I made some healthy food and made extras to freeze. When she got home she lamented the fact that I was doing that. She said she felt bad because she should be the one cooking and making healthy stuff. The is a very normal thing in our household. I do something with NO intention of spiting her or making her feel bad. but she interprets my actions as an attack on her. The same is true of communication. She looks for the hidden meaning meant to put her down or otherwise be critical, even where there is none. She does this not just with me but with everyone. She applies negative intent to peoples actions/words all the time.

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We do have the same wife..LOL

I bet she also knows how very aware you are of her inadequacies whether you say anything or not.

My brother’s wife is very similar as well (he used to call me once a month for years asking about how to go about divorcing her) and he said something to me that really turned my thought process around.

In the movie "The Descendants" George Clooney plays this guy who struggles doing the right thing. His wife was basically living a single life (cheating) ignoring him, their children (who have allot of issues) when she got in a speed boat accident and was comatose. George Clooney goes in to her hospital room and asks everyone to leave, and then proceeds to scream, berate and take let out all his frustrations on her. In another scene you see her father with her, he's sitting next to her telling her how much he loves her and he's combing her hair and the outpouring of unconditional love is just evident. You know her father is intimately aware of every one of her weaknesses and failures but he obviously loves her with his whole heart. My brother said this is what we are striving for with our spouses. While we can sympathize with Matt King (George Clooney) and his frustrations, it doesn't do us any good. We need to learn to view each other and strive to love each other with that same love that parents have for children. Like our Father in Heaven has for us.

Once day my wife came home and was just shaking with anger and frustration. I can't even remember what it was for. She was yelling at me and angry at her step-kids and just going off. Instead of thinking about how unfair that is and how wrong she was, I just apologized and held her while she shook and cried. I felt her frustration and tension literally leave her body. That was a major turning point for us. We had lots of arguments since then, but as long as I focused on looking outward rather than inward, and made her concerns my concerns things have gotten better.

I've already been divorced once. I don't really believe in it anymore unless there is major abuse or serial adultery involved.

You may have already read it but "The Peacegiver: How Christ Offers to Heal Our Hearts and Homes How Christ Offers to Heal Our Hearts and Homes" had a major impact on my life.

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That's a beautiful analogy Windseeker. Thank you for sharing and reminding me that I need to be more unconditionally loving... And no, I haven't read that book. I'll be sure to give it a read. Thanks.

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Is it possible that when you went through your crisis of faith and how you are now... Destroyed or otherwise damaged your wife's faith that you two might have an eternal marriage?

I could see that being a big part of the problems she is having right now if it did.

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Is it possible that when you went through your crisis of faith and how you are now... Destroyed or otherwise damaged your wife's faith that you two might have an eternal marriage?

I could see that being a big part of the problems she is having right now if it did.

Yes, most definitely. This is a concern for her, which helps me be more empathetic. But it's hard to always be held accountable for something you feel like you have no control over, to always have it hanging over your head to be pulled out at the slightest misstep.

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Sounds like your wife believes in the ridiculous notion that her estimation of your faith determines how you feel about her or how healthy the marriage, aka eternal perspective is. This still astonishes me, some women in the church actually believe that how man acts at church is the same as how the man feels about them. Or perhaps they would rather determine their relationship based on public perception, or a fear of perception. It does sound like she is distancing herself on purpose though, rather than trying to find empathy with your views.

Looks like counselling is required to disrupt the myths or resentment train.

Edited by Praetorian_Brow

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In the movie "The Descendants" George Clooney plays this guy who struggles doing the right thing. His wife was basically living a single life (cheating) ignoring him, their children (who have allot of issues) when she got in a speed boat accident and was comatose. George Clooney goes in to her hospital room and asks everyone to leave, and then proceeds to scream, berate and take let out all his frustrations on her. In another scene you see her father with her, he's sitting next to her telling her how much he loves her and he's combing her hair and the outpouring of unconditional love is just evident. You know her father is intimately aware of every one of her weaknesses and failures but he obviously loves her with his whole heart. My brother said this is what we are striving for with our spouses. While we can sympathize with Matt King (George Clooney) and his frustrations, it doesn't do us any good. We need to learn to view each other and strive to love each other with that same love that parents have for children. Like our Father in Heaven has for us.

I can't take George Clooney seriously after seeing him play Batman and use a Bat Credit Card:lol:

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I'm actually hearing a lot of "she's not good enough for me anymore" in a lot of your post. Not flat out, but as the undercurrent.

I'd lay money on he table that she's feeling very

- inferior

- inadequate

- not good enough

- shame/guilt/fear/

- unappreciated

- worthlessness

Which is reeeeeally hard to live wih.

I'm not saying you're doing this on purpose.... But unless you're VERY careful "self improvement" can turn on its head and come out as "what I had before is inferior/ YOU are inferior".

Being careful can be as easy as ASKING.

Like

"Hey, gorgeous? I was thinking of trying out these recipes.... Do you mind if I use the kitchen/ is there a good time/ anything i should use for x or not use for x etc."

Because it shows

- that you realize she may need the space/ implements you're using/ have plans to be in there the same time/ other logistical matters

- that you want to include her / value her time and opinion and experience

- that this is an addition not a supplanting or insult

It's not that you need permission, it's simply polite... And it turns a "You're so incompetent and your food is so gross and I don't care about the years you've spent, or your plans for this kitchen today or meals for the week, or the budget you have to adhere to... because youre mot even worth taking 10 seconds to ask" insult into a nonissue.

ANOTHER thing is to put the shoe on the other foot.

Which is a cousin to the golden rule.

I'm going to keep using the kitchen example because it's handy:

It's obvious that you don't care about the kitchen, so pick something you DO care about. So,etching you've invested a lot of time and energy and thought into... That you would feel hurt/ betrayed/ upset over... And use THAT as your parallel.

This means knowing about what she cares about... So you can assign equal value.

Ex) if You'd LOVE it if someone took over doing your job as long as you got the same paycheck is not an equal value item.. But if you'd feel about finding out she got you fired or demoted at work because your boss found out how much better she is than you, and how superior her work is to your substandard work...mthen use that as a parallel. If you'd feel horribly offended and supplanted if she took your car to the mechanic, use that.

Q

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I can't take George Clooney seriously after seeing him play Batman and use a Bat Credit Card:lol:

I never took him seriously until I saw him in "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" :)

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This was a ery insightful post Quin. Thank you for taking the time to type it.

I'm actually hearing a lot of "she's not good enough for me anymore" in a lot of your post. Not flat out, but as the undercurrent.

I'd lay money on he table that she's feeling very

- inferior

- inadequate

- not good enough

- shame/guilt/fear/

- unappreciated

- worthlessness

If you bet on this you'd be right. That is the problem. I'm aware that she feels these things, which I attribute to her lower self esteem rather than the way I actually communicate because it's easier to identify (I say it a bit tongue in cheek but of course it IS really hard to admit/know when you are the problem)

I'm not saying you're doing this on purpose.... But unless you're VERY careful "self improvement" can turn on its head and come out as "what I had before is inferior/ YOU are inferior".

By this you mean when I work on MY self improvement she takes that as me saying that she is no longer good enough? And if so, how do I improve without causing her to feel bad? Unfortunately you're suggestion of asking permission doesn't seem to apply in most cases. She is the primary cook and it would be impracticable to do otherwise as I com home late from work. If I decide I want to avoid meat, she has to accommodate(which means she has to know that I don't want to eat it), or I have to cook something separately (which seems like would still imply all that stuff you were suggesting). The only practical thing is that I don't change diet if she's not on board. Externally this would be putting the needs/feelings of my wife over mine. Which is admirable but not practical in my estimation, since despite my best efforts, I'm still an imperfect person and would probably feel resentment towards her, feel like shes' controlling me/limiting me. I freely admit it's selfish but doesn't really make it less true. Heck if I was so perfectly selfless or she was, we wouldn't have any problems...no one would :huh:.

Anyways, again thanks. I will work on being more sensitive to the things I say.

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