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NeuroTypical

When it ain't all smiles and sunshine

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Here are some random stories from five guys I've come to know in real life, in the last few years.  People tend to put their best foot forward, but I've come to know the rest of the story of these struggling dudes.   

Lane is divorced, and has primary custody of their special-needs teen daughter.  Lane and his wife fought for years, decided on a divorce, but called off the plan after their daughter reacted very badly to the notion.  Things got worse for several years, and they lawyered up and divorced.  Now, a few years after that, Lane tells me it would have been better for everyone involved if they had gone through the divorce the first time, rather than dragging it out.  He weathered Christmas ok, it was her turn to have the daughter, so he went and stayed with family.

Bob is emotionally unhealthy.  At the time I met him, he was trying to follow a program for codependent husbands called "No more mister nice guy", about healthy ways to claim dignity and refuse to accept being treated badly by your wife.  As he goes through various programs and counseling, he is trying to work on his issues.  His wife has filed, and they are currently lawyered up and going through the process.  He is trying hard to draw healthy lines between his crap to fix, and his wife's crap she must fix.  To know the difference between what it looks to pursue his wife out of love, or pursue her out of a desperate clingy brokenness.  As she refuses to follow through on various agreements, he spends energy trying to find the motivation to do his part.  Last I heard, his wife was planning to file a motion to postpone the next step in the divorce, because apparently she was seeing a change in him.  Their kids are teens, seem to be adjusting ok to their parents' drama.

James' wife, after soul searching and talking with counselors and the bishop and seeking answers in the temple, has filed for divorce.  Both James and his wife grew up with very bad role models on how husbands and wives should behave.  James is broken, and he knows it. He can't for the life of him figure out how to be emotionally healthy.  He tells of a time when his wife kicked him to the couch until she saw some positive change in him, any positive change.  After she had gone to bed, he stood in the bedroom doorway for like 20 minutes, unable to say anything, unable to either go in or go away, paralyzed by an emotion he still can't identify.  He sort of does stuff like that.  She has seen small bits of health from him, whenever his back is against the wall, but as soon as he's safe he goes back to his normal.  James figures his most likely option to win her back, is to go through with the divorce, and then show his (ex)wife he can be healthy even though there's no pressure on him.  They just made it through their first step of the legal divorce process.  They had a good talk for two hours afterwords, then went home and back to business as usual - distance and proceeding to separate.  No lawyers here.

J.R. and his wife were both broken when they met, and got married for the wrong reasons.  As he tells the story, he spent 20 years believing she was the enemy, staying at a safe distance from her, blaming her for the distance, before he finally learned to deal with his traumatic childhood baggage.  He's heard stories about marriages where one spouse in an alcoholic, and the drunk gets sober, and the dynamic changes and the healthy spouse can't/won't heal, and the marriage just doesn't survive. He sees analogies in his life: she's now the one distant, rejecting, blaming, withholding.  In his words, he got them there, she's keeping them there.  His kids and wife are openly hostile to him, usually rejecting, sometimes cruel.  Quick to claim harm or hurt, glacially slow to see good.  J.R. wonders if he could have a more positive impact on his family if he were out of the house, and with every painful story he shares with someone, he's got one less bishohp/counselor/sponsor/spiritual confirmation urging him to stay married.  He tries to see Christmas in a good light - there was a 3-4 day break in the usual faultfinding and criticism and distance.

Roy finds his wife is treating him unacceptably.  Yelling, blaming, accusing, etc.  Roy has filed for divorce twice because of this, cancelling his divorce plans when his wife capitulates and promises to do better.  He's now filed a third time.  He reports his wife reacted with anger and refusal to put up with this any more.  Roy strikes me as half the problem, he doesn't seem to have any empathy for his wife.  He considers himself 100% victim, her 100% at fault.  I have a hard time thinking of Roy in a positive light.

It's interesting to see common threads running through their unique and different stories.  All of them have been to counseling, some of them years and years of it - both couples and individual.  Most are Christian of one stripe or another, some very devout.  

Getting to know these guys makes me wonder about everyone else.  How many of us could write a paragraph about ourselves containing this much pain and trouble?  Is it all of us?  Just a few of us?  

Anyway, just getting thoughtful at the end of 2018.  All that advice we get about being slow to judge because we never know the burdens another is bearing, is better advice every time I hear it.  

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I married a woman who accepted me for all my flaws and her uncomplicated love made me a better man.  I try to be the best I can be to be deserving of her.  

 

That's not a paragraph.

Edited by Grunt

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34 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

Getting to know these guys makes me wonder about everyone else.  How many of us could write a paragraph about ourselves containing this much pain and trouble?  Is it all of us?  Just a few of us?  

While it's true, everyone has problems and sometimes very severe ones, there are couples out there who are happy, loving life and well adjusted.
 

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Avoid pride and lawyers at all costs.  Read the scriptures and pray together.  Try hard to be a son or daughter of God, if not then a decent human being at least...

Satan and despair are the most destructive forces on Earth.  We must recognize that their intention is to destroy all that which is good.

White knuckling your way through life ain’t no fun.

Edited by mikbone

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I don't know. I've had problems in my life, who hasn't, but nothing like these guys. I married my wife because I loved her. When we have issues, which happens to everyone, we work it out because we value our marriage more than being right. I'm not bragging, I don't think we are special we are like thousands of well adjusted couples out there. But we both have a living breathing testimony of Jesus Christ and that helps more than anything.

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Funny how much I can sympathize with the various struggles these guys experience. My life is wonderful, but it would be so much better if I were less of an idiot. And to be fair, my wife has her off moments, as well. Some seem to find their way through the crapstorm while others get engulfed by it. Not sure what to make of it all.

It does make me think that our perspective on life and love is terribly short-sighted. My brother's first wife seemed like a walking nightmare. Her childhood included (it was whispered) molestation and outright sexual encounters with her father. I felt very sorry for her, but her actions were such that I have not harbored warm, fuzzy feelings toward her through the years. When interacting with my nieces (her daughters), I have been reminded of her mental disorders. How much differently our Father in heaven and our Savior see her. How much differently I would see her if I were a better man.

I don't really want to lament or engage in public self-flagellation. Rather, in reading NT's stories, I recognize a thread of commonality in the human experience. Those people we admire most and whose lives seem so beautiful have also had to deal with these same basic issues. Somehow, they've just dealt with them better than others. (And I'm not talking about being raped by your father. I'm talking about the more mundane issues and "baggage" we all carry around and deal with.) Learning to effectively deal with such matters is surely one part of our purpose here.

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2 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

It's interesting to see common threads running through their unique and different stories.

The common thread of prideful, selfish childishness instead of humble, selfless maturity?

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Sometimes, a person needs the faith to be healed.  But sometimes it's the faith needed to *not* be healed that's harder-- to learn to say "thy will be done", even when it hurts so bad.  That is something that takes great faith and humility.   

My husband and I deeply wanted another child.  After 2 years of trying, we finally conceived last spring.  At 11 weeks... the baby was lost, and my life nearly too.  It was many weeks of too many doctors appointments and pain.  Then, much to our surprise, convinced again very quickly-- too quickly for me.  I had major PTSD, fearing that terrible things would happen again.  And then it did: the baby was lost and I was carted off in an ambulance to save my life.  Throughout this time... there were a lot of lessons to be learned.  Learned a lot about friends, and not trying to fight every huge battle alone.  But at the same time, my best gal friend of 20 years betrayed me and that longtime pillar of trust was vaporized.  The next week I had three cars break down on me (impressive feat when you only own two).  My job was in a major crunch time-- a time where I should have been working 100 hr/week, but I could do none.  One of my work projects of 10 years literally caught fire and burnt to the ground.  

Life was/is hard.  It's not always sunshine.  Sometimes life is just pain.  Pain is... we seemingly want to forget sometimes that knowing pain is inseparable from knowing joy.  That the persons in the world that most know pain-- that feel the most hurt and sadness-- are God.  That God is a person whom weeps, so much more than we can imagine.  He knows pain beyond our comprehension.  And that this is not a bad thing.  It hurts-- mind shatteringly so.  But... knowing pain is inseparable from knowing joy.  

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I never, ever judge people who have found themselves in a toxic place in marriage and seek to escape it.  It's really easy to be on the outside looking in and say "Well, if these people were more devout/patient/mature/spending more time with the Bishop/etc then their lives would be better and marriages wouldn't end."  It's so easy to say that, but it's utter tripe.  Is that statement sometimes true?  Undoubtedly.  Am I wise or knowledgeable enough to tell the difference?  Certainly not.  

A successful marriage, ideally, shouldn't be very hard.  When it is, it takes both parties to make whatever changes are necessary to remedy the trouble.  Sometimes both will and the marriage is saved.  Sometimes neither will and the marriage collapses, hopefully rapidly.  The rest of the time...

The rest of the time is when one party is willing to be humble and make changes, and the other is not.  Then you have an imbalance that is a living hell to the one who's trying, because every day that they spend trying to improve things while the spouse does not feels like another day of being rejected.  It's another day of being told, not in to many words by your spouse, that no, this marriage isn't important enough, or you aren't worth it, for them to make the effort.  Those are the marriages that linger, dying in a horrible agony for everyone concerned (especially the kids) because dragging the giant band-aid slowly across hairy skin somehow feels more noble and righteous than ending things when it's clear they cannot be salvaged.  It's self-flagellation in the name of a sort of faux righteousness.

I speak as the child of such a divorce.  It was obvious to me early on that my parents no longer loved each other.  The open contempt with which my mother spoke about my father was not  lost on my child ears, and the fact that my father generally withdrew to his workshop to watch TV or repair electronics (a side gig he had to earn extra money) meant they only saw each other when they were eating dinner or arguing.  (The dinner table was usually where that started.)  My dad and mom were both at fault, and yet both victims, of a clash of cultures and damage from their own personal experiences and backgrounds that would have meant that yes, the marriage was salvageable but ONLY if they both humbled themselves and made an effort to curb their own toxic behavior toward each other.  At no time that I'm aware of did either of them make such an effort, nor did they seek any marriage counselling.  

By the time we moved into a new house the marriage was in a state of open collapse and I do not have one single pleasant memory involving both of my parents together in that house.  In fact, that's where I first witnessed the physical violence.  

The final divorce came a year or so after that but it had begin years prior.  When I saw the divorce decree I felt relief.  For the first time in my young life I was no longer worried about the arguing between my parents.  No more nights sitting up in the darkness, teeth chattering in fear while listening to the angry voices downstairs.  Of course, the drama was far from over, and I later learned what it's like to be a pawn on a chessboard created by divorce lawyers and resentful former spouses.  

Statistics tell us that the children of divorce usually become divorcees themselves.  I am a supporting example of that statistic though my own experience was very different.  My wife suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder although it was several years before I knew that.  I'm not claiming to be completely in the right when it comes to the drama in our marriage.  I made more than my fair share of poor choices.  I will, however, claim honestly to be the one trying to be humble, open and willing to make changes to improve the relationship not only for our kids but for us.  I agreed to counselling not only as a couple but on my own.  I worked on my flaws and issues but progress was slow because I was truly going it alone.  Being a sufferer of NPD, my wife was unwilling to get her own counseling, and often used our join counselling sessions as a way to play the victim and insist that everything would be absolutely fine if  only *I* would stop being a bad husband.  At first, the counselor was neutral but gradually as I humbly admitted my flaws and my wife did not, began to get a picture of our marriage that gave her the impression that yes, I was in fact the cause of everything.  

[But wait, Unixknight,] you say, [isn't it possible that you WERE the guy at fault for everything?  I mean, isn't that possible?]

I actually did think so at the time.  I took all the blame, the criticism, the recrimination... even though I was confused.  When did I realize that this was unfair?  It was when my wife told the counselor that she wanted another baby and I was holding out.  When asked why, I answered:  "Because we live in her parents' basement.  We have very little space as it is, and I just don't think we have room for another child.  I'd like another, but I think we need to move out into a larger home first."  At which point this counselor, who was fully on my wife's side by this point, looked me straight in the eye and said "Why are you giving your wife an ultimatum like this?"

At that point I realized there was no objectivity here.  I did still continue to see my own counselor but while it was helping me to grow and heal as a person, it was actually causing greater friction in the marriage, because it was becoming more and more clear to me that things were toxic and dysfunctional in that  marriage.  When I asked my wife to see a counselor on her own, as I was doing, she refused.  When I begged her, she refused.  When I asked her, in the name of saving our marriage, to go to a counselor, she refused.  It was also around that time that I managed to get her to admit that she was deliberately trying to push my rage button to the point where I would become  physically violent toward her. 

[Hold on, Unixknight.  That's absurd.  Why would anybody WANT to be physically assaulted?]

You see, she loved to be the victim and that would have been a magnificent way to get lots and lots of sympathy and attention, something NPD sufferers crave.  At that point I had a decision to make.  Do I remain in this toxic situation, and possibly eventually cross a line that I swore to myself I absolutely never would?  Which would happen first, the marriage improving, or my being arrested for domestic violence?  The divorce followed soon after that.  I know my flaws but I have never raised a hand to her or anyone else close to me in anger.  I would NOT allow her to turn me into that.  No way.  Living with her was turning me into the worst version of myself and I had to stop it before things got any worse.

The instant I'd moved out, she and her parents took my kids and they all moved to another state because of better tax laws.  I didn't get a say.  I also was not in a position to battle for custody of the kids and so, remembering what it was like to be a chess piece, opted instead to focus on my relationship with the kids rather than make them feel like they were in a tug-of-war. 

Today, all three of our kids from that marriage are adults, and are co ping with their own emotional damage from being raised by a person with NPD.  My daughter is even on antidepressants and her counselor has directly connected her emotional damage to her mother.  The boys are older and rather less affected, because they were able to understand better what was happening and were close enough to me that I could mitigate the damage somewhat by being there for them and reassuring them.  My daughter and I have that now as well, but she had to overcome years of brainwashing by her mother before she realized what the actual situation was.  She left my house on Christmas with an "I love you," and subsequently left her mother's with a "Merry %@#!&! Christmas." because of an argument where my ex started cussing at her for making the dog bark.  

(No, really, that's what  happened.)

So there are some who would say, and have said to me, that we should have saved the marriage but were too self-centered and immature, especially me since I was the one that pulled the trigger on the process.  Well, I just ignore that because it's ignorant.  When you're willing to make the effort to fix things but the other person is not, it's like being a prisoner.  It not only causes you massive emotional damage but it had a tendency to damage the children as well.  Severely.  Catastrophically, in some cases.  I recall a song written by Kenny Loggins to his daughter when he divorced her mom, and it is uncanny how well it could fit my daughter.  The refrain goes:

"I did it for you, and the boys, because love should teach you joy and not the imitation that your momma and daddy tried to show you.

I did it for you, and for me, because I still believe there's only one thing that you can never give up and never compromise on, and that's the real thing baby."

So, badly damaged, emotionally wrecked and just plain broken, I met my current wife.    She too has issues but it seems her broken pieces fit my broken pieces like puzzle pieces pretty well.  We've sustained each other and healed each other, and have both grown.  Her relationship with my kids from the previous marriage is strong.  Just last night she and my daughter went out to a painting class together while my future son-in-law worked on building some playground stuff for my little ones in my backyard.  

Do I regret my decisions?  Not even a little.  Not even the one to marry my first wife, because out of that marriage came three excellent people who I have the honor of being a father to.  And my current marriage?  Well, we've been together now for longer than my first marriage lasted (which was 12 years.)  We have 3 kids and will probably have one more soon.  The thought of ever divorcing my wife is unthinkable.  We've had our trials and drama but never even came close to splitting up.  Also, I happen to have a little letter in my filing cabinet from a certain group of 3 men from Salt Lake City telling me I'm all clear to get sealed to her.  So I take it that, whatever mistakes I've made in the past, the Lord approves of how I'm living now.

Apologies for the wall of text.  I just felt like for any of my post to make sense the rest needed to be there.  

On ‎12‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 10:05 AM, NeuroTypical said:

All that advice we get about being slow to judge because we never know the burdens another is bearing, is better advice every time I hear it.  

Wisdom.  And I'd add to that, we have our own burdens and trouble to help remind us to be humble. 

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Thank you for adding your story to the list Unixknight!  It's a risky thing, putting personal stuff like this out there onto a public forum which invites response.  God bless you for sharing.  It gives me just enough guts to share - one of those stories in my opening post is my own.  I heard most everyone else's stories because I go to a weekly mens group full of guys trying to save their marriages.

I'm reminded of last General Conference's talk by Jeffrey R. Holland, The Ministry of Reconciliation.   This church is HUGE on staying married, and striving through struggles, and forgiving hurts, and setting yourself aside to serve and love your spouse, especially when it's hard.  So it's good to hear Elder Holland, in a talk overwhelmingly about the blessings of reconciliation, spend a paragraph on the exceptions:

Quote

“Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven,” Christ taught in New Testament times. And in our day: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” It is, however, important for some of you living in real anguish to note what He did not say. He did not say, “You are not allowed to feel true pain or real sorrow from the shattering experiences you have had at the hand of another.” Nor did He say, “In order to forgive fully, you have to reenter a toxic relationship or return to an abusive, destructive circumstance.” But notwithstanding even the most terrible offenses that might come to us, we can rise above our pain only when we put our feet onto the path of true healing. That path is the forgiving one walked by Jesus of Nazareth, who calls out to each of us, “Come, follow me.”

That paragraph matches my experience.  Forgiveness is not optional.  If you can't forgive someone, you don't need to worry about seeing them in the celestial kingdom, because you won't be there.  But it's important to know what forgiveness means, and what it doesn't.

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40 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

Thank you for adding your story to the list Unixknight!  It's a risky thing, putting personal stuff like this out there onto a public forum which invites response.  God bless you for sharing.  It gives me just enough guts to share - one of those stories in my opening post is my own.  I heard most everyone else's stories because I go to a weekly mens group full of guys trying to save their marriages.

I'm reminded of last General Conference's talk by Jeffrey R. Holland, The Ministry of Reconciliation.   This church is HUGE on staying married, and striving through struggles, and forgiving hurts, and setting yourself aside to serve and love your spouse, especially when it's hard.  So it's good to hear Elder Holland, in a talk overwhelmingly about the blessings of reconciliation, spend a paragraph on the exceptions:

That paragraph matches my experience.  Forgiveness is not optional.  If you can't forgive someone, you don't need to worry about seeing them in the celestial kingdom, because you won't be there.  But it's important to know what forgiveness means, and what it doesn't.

Brother, one of the greatest blessings of the Church is that it encourages us to be family toward each other.  The times I've felt the most at peace and happy in Church is when I'm among the brethren and we get into some seriously deep conversations in Elder's Quorum and guys start to really open up.  It's when we can give each other comfort and support and friendship and for a little while, the masks all slip off and we are what we are... a bunch of guys trying to get through life in a way that pleases our Father and knowing that we need each other or we'll all fail.  I'm sad that EQ meetings won't be like they once were but am still hopeful that we'll still find that form of bonding.  That's where you find the Savior.

Life is about accumulating scars.  The more you have, hopefully, the wiser you become.  The process however...  

I dunno which story is yours but not one of those are a picnic and I'll keep you in my prayers.  

 

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On 12/29/2018 at 10:05 AM, NeuroTypical said:

Getting to know these guys makes me wonder about everyone else.  How many of us could write a paragraph about ourselves containing this much pain and trouble?  Is it all of us?  Just a few of us?  

I am upwards of 90% sure it is all of us.  My parents are the epitome of a Great MarriageTM.  I remember going to my father's office with my mother to confront his secretary who my mother suspected of having an affair with my dad.  Then I remember my dad coming home drunk (my dad doesn't drink except for social occasions that require the utmost diplomacy) yelling at my mother.  Then I remember my mother throwing a big rock at my dad while he was peeling off in the car.  And just recently, after my dad already passed, I found out my parents' wedding date is actually only 2 months before my brother was born instead of 1 year and 2 months like we thought.  And then I found out not too long after that my brother's missing finger is actually not a birth defect but an incident with the mittens which is more tragic knowing that my mother is a midwife.  These things make me ponder of the pain and struggle my parents went through in their lives as people put them up the pedestal of poster marriages as my dad was the one person that all his 8 siblings and all my siblings and cousins look up to as the example of what we need to strive for.

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On 12/30/2018 at 4:36 PM, Jane_Doe said:

Sometimes life is just pain.

Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

 

On 12/29/2018 at 9:05 AM, NeuroTypical said:

Getting to know these guys makes me wonder about everyone else.  How many of us could write a paragraph about ourselves containing this much pain and trouble?  Is it all of us?  Just a few of us?  

My mom's parents both passed when I was in high school, about two years apart.  My dad's parents have both passed in the last two years.  They both raised seven kids (and had 13 grandkids) with an 8th grade education and one salary.  It's been interesting to compare the similarities and differences between their stories, and I feel like I learned more about them after their death than I did while they were alive.  It's also been interesting to see what their children have done and said to those they love while they are/were grieving and struggling.  Thinking about it, I am often reminded of some lyrics from a song I'll post at the end: "You put on a happy face for everybody new, but the closest to your heart so rarely get the best of you."  It's about how those who know you best know the most painful ways to hurt you, and misery loves company.

When my own parent's divorced, I remember my dad bearing the brunt of the blame because he had cheated on my mom.  As I've grown older, I've obtained insight as to how my mother was not entirely blameless in the situation.  Yes, his extramarital affair was the capstone, but her selfishness and stubbornness made home an unpleasant place for him.  Matters were not helped any by the fact that she insisted on working outside the home.  My dad worked nights because there was a pay differential, and my mom worked for a fast food restaurant, moving her way into management, so her hours were varied.  They were rarely home together, and we were rarely home together as a family.  Maybe once a week.  They worked so hard for all of this money, which was spent how?  On cable, babysitters, and mom's smoking habit.  If she had put half as much effort into being a good wife and mother as she put into being a good employee, they might have been able to make things work.  (Although I often joke it would always be a house divided, since my dad only drinks Coke products and my mom only drinks Pepsi.)  Do I excuse my dad's choices at that time?  No.  Have I forgiven him?  Absolutely.  (Having a wonderful sister come out of the mess certainly helped.)  Do I excuse my mom's lifelong choice to put work above all else (even her own health)?  No.  Have I forgiven her?  Lots of times.  Unfortunately, it's an offense that I have to continuously forgive because it's an offense that is continuously made.  Sometimes it takes longer than others.

 

Edited by seashmore
forgot to post the song

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i find myself filled with a peculiar mix of surprise and amazement as i realize that most likely, my parents woke up most days, looked at one another and all their kids, and thought "What in the world did i get myself into?  i never signed up for this.  Nobody told me it was really going to be like *this*!"  

i don't know what the appropriate ratio of expressing appreciation to offering apologies is.   But certainly, both are needed.

Edit: i guess i meant to just say that any effort people who are married make, or people who have kids, regardless of ultimate outcome, ought to be acknowledged and appreciated for the massive outpouring of effort it is.  

Edited by lostinwater

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12 hours ago, lostinwater said:

i don't know what the appropriate ratio of expressing appreciation to offering apologies is.   But certainly, both are needed.

An appropriate ratio for preserving and strengthening the marriage, yes?  I know that!  Such things depend on the quality of the relationship.  If couples have a good and fulfilling one, each spouse has a reserve of love (or trust or commitment or whatever you want to call it).  So if one spouse doesn't do enough, there's a reserve the other draws from.  A track record that supports the notion that "he's not usually like this" or "she must be really stressed right now".  Catching up and getting back into a proper groove is easy.  Healthy marriages seem to do just fine with a ratio of like 5 positive for every 1 negative.

But if there are years of issues, or a serious betrayal or injury, the reserves can be gone.  If trust is lost, stuff like expressing appreciation or apologizing can be seen with legitimate skepticism.  At best, those efforts are like going up to an empty barrel and adding a few drops with an eye dropper.  A ratio here is like 50 positives to one negative, and that one negative better dang well be minor and quickly owned, coupled with genuine apologies and amends.  The offending spouse must repent, rebuild trust, etc.  The offended spouse must heal and forgive and avoid unhealthy stuff like escalating or lashing out or withdrawing or whatever.  When that barrel can't or won't get filled, for whatever reason, that's a dying or dead marriage. 

Well, apologies should happen when someone does something wrong.  Too little indicates an issue, and too often also indicates an issue.  Expressing appreciation/gratitude is either important, or extra important, depending on the one receiving it.  Some folks like/need to hear it occasionally, others want/need those positive contributions more often.

Like Anatess2 says, love is doing whatever best helps your spouse grow closer to God.  Issues come when someone's best efforts aren't enough, either because they're not being made, or they're inadequate compared to the other crap they pull, or the other spouse can't/won't be moved.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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2 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

An appropriate ratio for preserving and strengthening the marriage, yes?  I know that!  Such things depend on the quality of the relationship.  If couples have a good and fulfilling one, each spouse has a reserve of love (or trust or commitment or whatever you want to call it).  So if one spouse doesn't do enough, there's a reserve the other draws from.  A track record that supports the notion that "he's not usually like this" or "she must be really stressed right now".  Catching up and getting back into a proper groove is easy.  Healthy marriages seem to do just fine with a ratio of like 5 positive for every 1 negative.

 But if there are years of issues, or a serious betrayal or injury, the reserves can be gone.  If trust is lost, stuff like expressing appreciation or apologizing can be seen with legitimate skepticism.  At best, those efforts are like going up to an empty barrel and adding a few drops with an eye dropper.  A ratio here is like 50 positives to one negative, and that one negative better dang well be minor and quickly owned, coupled with genuine apologies and amends.  The offending spouse must repent, rebuild trust, etc.  The offended spouse must heal and forgive and avoid unhealthy stuff like escalating or lashing out or withdrawing or whatever.  When that barrel can't or won't get filled, for whatever reason, that's a dying or dead marriage. 

 Well, apologies should happen when someone does something wrong.  Too little indicates an issue, and too often also indicates an issue.  Expressing appreciation/gratitude is either important, or extra important, depending on the one receiving it.  Some folks like/need to hear it occasionally, others want/need those positive contributions more often.

Like Anatess2 says, love is doing whatever best helps your spouse grow closer to God.  Issues come when someone's best efforts aren't enough, either because they're not being made, or they're inadequate compared to the other crap they pull, or the other spouse can't/won't be moved.

Great points.  Thank-you.

And i meant my comment to be more about ungrateful little whelps like me, for a situation whose dynamics i can maybe, in a tiny way, understand - definitely didn't meant to come across as a criticism or even an attempt to give advice to those whose situational dynamics i know and understand exactly nothing about.

Edited by lostinwater

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