Dear Save My Marriage Today team,
We have been married for almost 12 fantastic years; it is the second marriage for both of us. In my opinion our disagreements fights were over pathetic and inconsequential issues but unfortunately we were never able to address them properly or put them to rest.
Needless to say, in every new disagreement my wife would bring up the past over and over, and it felt like fighting ghosts.
I am a firm believer that it takes two to tango, and I would never give her exclusive responsibility for our fights. Believe me I am not a saint. She has the nasty habit of sharing our personal life (disagreements/ fights) with so-called friends and you know how that goes, depending on the friend.
In some instances she tried that with my own family and needless to say they did not appreciate their son or brother being bashed. Also, my wife thinks she is the reincarnation of Mother Teresa, so she will never take any accountability for our fights, and it is always my fault.
We also have tried professional help, although for the most part, they concentrate on the negatives rather than focus on the here now and the future. I find it very strange that a professional marriage counselor would dare to ask why I did this or that 2 years ago, some days I wish I could remember what I had for dinner the previous night.
Over a recent stupid fight in Chicago (decided to invite my family over to our home for one night, I am proud of our home, and to see the kids), with my family that I had not seen over 12 years my whole world crumbled. She left me in Chicago, and before the car got cold depleted our joint accounts.
I got a ride back home with my sister and husband, and my sister got the riot act from Laura once at the house. By the way, a couple of those so-called friends were there. Stupid me for thinking the argument was with me. Anyways, they decided to stay at a nearby hotel, can’t blame them for that, and I stayed with them.
Anyways, I decided to return home the next day and to my surprise the locks had been changed and I could not enter in my own house. I also learned the police was called the previous night and obtained the report, still can not understand why she allowed those so-called friends to call the law.
I did not say a word that night; my wife said it all, unfortunately to the wrong person. After two nights at a hotel, and consulting with an attorney about my rights to return home, I got an apartment. I refuse to break into my own home.
Two weeks later I filed for divorce, I let my emotions run high. I was hoping Laura would come to her senses and stop acting irrationally, but I lost. I can not justify my actions. I just think it was a cry for help, for both of us to realize that we need help. 45 days have lapsed, we had a hearing, and I am to move back to my home and Laura goes out, God knows where.
I did not follow the advice in your book; then again I just got it last night. I tried to reach out four times, I am in love with Laura, but got no answer. These last 10 weeks have been a rollercoaster for me, but without reading your book I knew I had to take care of myself, and be happy, or try to do the best I can. There is not much I can do anymore, just hope and maybe pray, although I am not much into that.
It is hard to summarize 12 years on a few paragraphs. My marriage was 90% awesome, 10% unhealthy. She is a wonderful lady, and I miss her. She is also a very insecure individual, and this I learned via counseling and it is an area that I can do very little, I was told. I can see according to your book that it is never too late, but you must live together or have some sort of interaction for anything to work.
I do not expect your answer if any will solve my problem. Although you may lead me on a direction that can be of help for me.
I understand you when you say it is hard to summarize 12 years of marriage in a few paragraphs, but I feel you stumbled on something very powerful when you mentioned that your marriage was 90% awesome, 10% unhealthy.
That doesn’t make your marriage unusual. In fact, it makes your marriage very normal. If you read through my books you will see that perfection is a very dangerous illusion, and that it is normal to disagree, and even fight over issues in your marriage. What this tells me is that you are both passionate people, you stand up for yourselves, and that there is scope for growth.
If we never made mistakes, we would never learn, and even the most secure relationship has its fair share of mistakes. What makes it healthy or unhealthy is how you choose to react to them as a couple.
When your wife decided to run you down to friends and family, she went outside the relationship. Instead of confiding her feelings in you, she sought the support of others in her effort to be right. That was wrong.
One day, whether the lesson comes from you or someone else, she will realize the opinions of others have very little relevance for how she should conduct a relationship. It really doesn’t matter if her friends don’t like you. Her friends aren’t going to be the one counting the cost of a divorce or finding alternative accommodation now that she is out of your house. The support of friends only takes you so far, then the rest of your life is determined by the actions you take.
One of the crucial lessons we teach is that when you enter into marriage or a deep, committed relationship, you need to give up the need to be right. It’s about making the transition from being an individual to being part of a couple. It’s okay to be wrong. Being wrong exposes vulnerability, but within a loving relationship this is okay. In fact, exposing vulnerability can be an incredibly sexy and empowering exercise.
You are right when you say that you both need to share the responsibility for this one, and from what you have written I can see two people who are screaming to be heard. Laura left you in Chicago, depleted your joint accounts, locked you out of the home, and called the police to get your attention.
It certainly got your attention, but the method was flawed. In addition to getting your attention, it pushed you to react and hurt her in the way that she hurt you. So you filed for divorce to get her attention. Tit-for-tat.
The lesson for both of you here is to find ways of getting each other’s attention and listening to each other without having to resort to negative actions.
You mention reaching out to her four times. What did that involve?
It’s never too late to respond with love. Love and hate are very close on the emotional spectrum, and if he has any feeling for you, good or bad, it means that she still cares about you or cares what you think. It’s when we look at our partners and feel nothing that the marriage is in real trouble.
Have you tried writing her a letter? Have you tried talking to her about the fact that both of you make mistakes and that it is possible for both of you to get each other’s attention without hurting each other?
What specifically is it about the marriage that your wife feels the need to change? What is her motivation? What is the issue for her? What is the issue for you?
I want you to look at what makes you react the way you do. Does her need to always be right make you feel inadequate? Does it make you feel as though you never do anything right?
When I delve into past disagreements, it is often easy to identify patterns of behavior. The fact that your wife never lets anything go tells me she has a point-scoring mentality when it comes to the marriage, and may point towards self-esteem issues or similar feelings of inadequacy. It may also be a control issue.
If you want to save your marriage you have to take the first step. There will be plenty of opportunities to see her and interact with her as you negotiate your separation, and you need to focus on ways to make every interaction as positive as possible. Acknowledge her when you see her.
Acknowledge that both of you are hurting. Tell her that you will always be her friend, even if she doesn’t want to be yours. Tell her that no matter what, you love her. Even if she continues to be angry, continue to love her.
You can’t control her actions, but you have complete control over how you choose to react to her. You have the choice to participate in her anger and let the problem escalate, or to simply love her.
*** What are your thoughts? Is he right to react this way? Should he wait for her to apologize? Feel free to share your own thoughts and perceptions in the comments box below.