Author Topic: My Story One step at a time… or half step, or quarter step…  (Read 1699 times)

Offline Just LaughingTopic starterTopic starter

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My Story One step at a time… or half step, or quarter step…
« on: July 01, 2019, 11:19:56 PM »
I was told that it's time for a new thread, so here it is!  :)

The plot up until this point: My husband and I have been married for many years, the last several of which we have been separated. There was a very brief affair years ago, and at least an attempt at a more recent one, which inexplicably caused him to want to spend more time with ME. Because of his availability nearly every night, especially on Friday and Saturday, I'm reasonably certain that that affair is over or never really got off the ground; I'm not asking him about it, because my apparent lack of interest will puzzle him greatly… and because it's not like I can trust anything he says anyways. I'm currently not letting him into my home unless he's doing chores for me; he's confused by this, and has been making an increasing issue of trying to get into the house that he once was so passionate about running away from.

We have been in daily contact, and seen each other most days, throughout the separation. Our contact is pleasant and friendly; we're getting along better than we have since before we got married. Building on that, I'm using psychological principles, and decades of knowledge about him, to get him to like me more and be more interested in me:

1) Eliminating every possible negative from our interactions, and adding in every possible positive, because people are drawn to positive and repelled by negative.

2) Leading him to think that we have as much in common as possible, both in opinions and in things we like, because the more we think we have in common with someone, the more we like them.

3) Carefully tailoring his interactions with me so that what he observes are the things that will most garner his respect, admiration, approval, and, particularly important to a man who thinks that most people are boring, make me seem as interesting as possible (by his unique standards).

4) Using one of the most powerful psychological motivators, intermittent reinforcement, to increase my perceived value in his eyes, and his desire for my company.

These things are producing excellent results; in recent weeks, he and I have been on our first few dates in this century. Why is this working? Psychological principles apply to everyone, including MLCers; however, part of psychology is that if someone is a raving psycho, spewing hate, running away in panic, or practicing total avoidance, they can't be influenced, at least not by the source of those emotions, so if your MLCer is in monster mode, probably the best you can do is eliminate every possible thing that you think might trigger him, and then just focus on healing and making the best possible life for yourself.

Why am I making all this effort for someone who abandoned and cheated on me? Because I'm a hard-core Christian, a stander and covenant keeper; marriage was created by God, God loves marriage and hates divorce and marital separation, and this is the man I'm married to. I'm long past the point of having anything to heal, I'm maxed out on creating a quality life alone, and personal growth, so my sole focus and priority at this time is the restoration of my marriage.

A note to those who disrupted my previous thread: I remind you that this is supposed to be a SUPPORT forum, so please take your negativity and defeatism elsewhere.

(Previous thread: https://mlcforum.theherosspouse.com/index.php?topic=10759.0)
« Last Edit: July 01, 2019, 11:54:52 PM by Silver »

Offline Just LaughingTopic starterTopic starter

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Re: One step at a time… or half step, or quarter step…
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2019, 08:05:03 AM »
My husband was here doing some stuff for me yesterday; note that this was the day before the 4th of July, and, although he has come to the celebration my church participates in the last couple of years, although not interacting much with me except during the fireworks, I had not said a word to him about doing anything this year, because I don't want to be inviting him to do things until he admits that he's no longer involved with that woman, and didn't want to risk being in a situation where he would have to turn me down with no explanation in case there is still enough involvement with her that she had already invited him to something.

He listens to a very unusually wide variety of types of music, so I made sure to have some music on of a genre that he had never heard me play when he got to the house, knowing that this would draw him into conversation, gain his approval, and make him see me as like him to a greater degree, which would in turn caused him to like me more… and, on the off chance that he's still having some contact or hope of any with the OW, it would make her look even worse by comparison, because he's contemptuous of people who like only one kind of music like she does. And how did he respond to this ploy? By asking me if I wanted to do something for the 4th of July!!!!

This is the first time that he has initiated something with me out of a clear blue sky in this century!!!!

As fantastic as our recent dates have been, they have come from me discovering that a local independent theater is playing some of the oddball movies he loves that he has never seen on the big screen but I knew he would really want to; he has been responding with immediate eagerness to go, and wanting to go with me even though since he's paying for me it's costing him twice as much, but there is a whole universe of difference between that and something that is 100% his own idea… And this was it!

It's almost impossible to believe, even though the path we've been on has been leading in this direction. He's been ducking and dodging me for so long, always with a million excuses why he somehow never has any time to do anything with me, while having time to go out and do things by himself, with friends, and then at least briefly with the OW. I wondered for years how I would get him to overcome seeing me as someone he only interacts with in my home, who isn't part of his life of going out and doing things… but suddenly, effortlessly, that's been handled. As passive, and passive-aggressive, as he is, I was at a total loss trying to imagine how I'd ever be able to get him to initiate ANYTHING, EVER… And now he has! I was assuming that this would be an issue to be handled long after he had expressed a desire to reunite, because he'd sit on his hands and refuse to make an effort, expecting me to carry him along and be the whole relationship by myself… But suddenly it's DONE!

It's like an example I gave in my previous thread, about how performers work their butts off for 20 years, finally gain some success, and get called an overnight success. I'm sure that they feel as stunned when it finally happens as I do now.

And I think it IS finally happening. It sounds crazy to me every time I say it. My family and friends are just as astounded as I am. He's been so irrational for so long, refusing to make any progress towards reunion no matter how well things were going between us, that I guess at some level we all expected him to go on for more years like that… but here we are!

All I can point to here is the hand of God. Only God could have made these breakthroughs happen like this, not more gradual improvement but sudden leaps of progress. Only God. God is good, ALL the time, and ALL the time, God is good!

Offline seahorse

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Re: One step at a time… or half step, or quarter step…
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2019, 08:54:27 AM »
Laugh -

Attaching.
So happy that there is a breakthrough with your H.
Prayers and putting God first does work -- in His time...

Enjoy your dates an keep us posted on the progress.

BTW - I think you're right.  The psychology and your "rules" only work if they're not in High Replay Monster mode, as my efforts to be nice only result in H finding something to argue about.  I'll keep trying, WHEN the opportunities present themselves.

Happy 4th!

Sea
Seahorses have one mate for life...

Offline Anon

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Re: One step at a time… or half step, or quarter step…
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2019, 09:07:04 AM »
Hi LC, interesting approach but I can't help thinking it must be exhausting.  Everything you do or say to your h seems calculated to obtain a desired result even if it's not the natural or usual way for you.  It seems that you are figuring out first how you want your h to feel or act, and then working backwards to figure out how you have to be or behave to bring that about.   

When do you get to be just you,,, your authentic self,,, regardless of how that affects your h or not?   Do you plan to approach interactions with your h this way forever?   Probably not, that would be terribly tiring and pretty impossible as well.   So when do you lay down this approach to woo him back to you and just be your natural self?   Do you wonder if,,,when you do eventually lay it down,,, your h might feel like he's been manipulated because he will notice.  This approach may be drawing him closer now but eventually it would be tough for him to wonder if you didn't do a bait and switch on him.




Offline Just LaughingTopic starterTopic starter

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Re: One step at a time… or half step, or quarter step…
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2019, 08:10:30 PM »
Our 4th of July went flawlessly, so he has no reason to feel anything but great about asking me to do something for the first time in a couple of decades!

Offline Just LaughingTopic starterTopic starter

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Re: One step at a time… or half step, or quarter step…
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2019, 06:55:20 AM »
Laugh -

Attaching.
So happy that there is a breakthrough with your H.
Prayers and putting God first does work -- in His time...

Enjoy your dates an keep us posted on the progress.

BTW - I think you're right.  The psychology and your "rules" only work if they're not in High Replay Monster mode, as my efforts to be nice only result in H finding something to argue about.  I'll keep trying, WHEN the opportunities present themselves.

Happy 4th!

Sea

Thank you, Seahorse! Focusing on God has been the most important part of my journey. God wants us to do what we can, but then He'll come and do what we can't!

There are few things as stressful as a man who wants to pick a fight about everything, right? And unfortunately, when you have legal, financial, and family entanglements with a man, and he's refusing to get anywhere near the zone of correct behavior in these areas, you HAVE to argue sometimes, rather than just being a helpless victim letting him spew destruction into your life. All I can suggest is to pick your battles, and if he's picking fights about something that's not crucial to your life, just cut him off. Walk away from him, hang up the phone, turn off Facebook messenger, whatever it takes to disengage from him. If you can't because you still have crucial topics to discuss, say, "Yeah, whatever," or, if you feel like being infuriating, "I'm sure you're right," and then instantly move on to the necessary topic. He's trying to push your buttons; call on Jesus for help if you have to, he'll give it, but don't let your husband see that he's getting to you! Remember, you are the righteous in Christ, and God will help you prevail!


Offline seahorse

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Re: One step at a time… or half step, or quarter step…
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2019, 07:08:57 AM »
Laugh -

So that that the 4th went well for you both.
Hope that he's happy, and more importantly you're happy.

Anon's post is interesting, and I can see the points being made.
You can't be someone you're not to please your husband but maybe a better way to put it is that we can try to enjoy the things that they like (explore that option) to try to make ourselves more compatible.  People change and sometimes we need to also follow them --  to a degree. 

I'm not saying to like satanic music if that's not what you believe in.
The beauty of having a great relationship is being able to do "your own thing" and know that your spouse is comfortable with it and that it doesn't take away from the quality of the relationship.

After all, I know I wasn't happy that my H started bike riding and should have just let it go.  But I harped and harped about the time spent, the money spent, I wanted to go with him.  Controlling?  IDK.  Probably felt him slipping away and tried to do everything within my power to keep it from happening.  In a healthy relationship, it's okay for them to develop hobbies away from us.  Makes us both stronger.

Sorry - got off on a tangent, but trying to maybe explain the difference between changing FOR someone or exploring new things for the sake of the relationship.

I'm in a good spot right now.
I've learned to walk away, or change the subject, or whatever is necessary when he monsters.
Strangely, it seems to be less and less lately, over the last few weeks.

If we keep our focuses, we'll all be fine in the end...

Hugs,
Sea
Seahorses have one mate for life...

Offline Just LaughingTopic starterTopic starter

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Re: One step at a time… or half step, or quarter step…
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2019, 09:14:49 AM »
Hi LC, interesting approach but I can't help thinking it must be exhausting.  Everything you do or say to your h seems calculated to obtain a desired result even if it's not the natural or usual way for you.  It seems that you are figuring out first how you want your h to feel or act, and then working backwards to figure out how you have to be or behave to bring that about.   

When do you get to be just you,,, your authentic self,,, regardless of how that affects your h or not?   Do you plan to approach interactions with your h this way forever?   Probably not, that would be terribly tiring and pretty impossible as well.   So when do you lay down this approach to woo him back to you and just be your natural self?   Do you wonder if,,,when you do eventually lay it down,,, your h might feel like he's been manipulated because he will notice.  This approach may be drawing him closer now but eventually it would be tough for him to wonder if you didn't do a bait and switch on him.

Hi Anon! I can see how it could look difficult or exhausting to adopt a different mental strategy. It required some mental discipline and force of will at first, but that decreased rapidly, and before long it came second nature. Think of it as similar to how you would alter what you say and how you say it if you were speaking to a small child or an infirm elderly person; yes, it takes a little bit more effort to choose your words carefully to be appropriate for those situations, but it's not a big deal.

Everything I do or say with ANYONE is calculated to obtain a desired result. With family and friends, I want to maintain those relationships, and that requires that I not pass on every thought or opinion that I have, that I keep what my mother would have called a civil tongue in my mouth at all times, carefully modulate my tone of voice to be pleasant and gracious, and pretend to be interested in everything that they do or say. I assume I don't need to elaborate on the formal politeness with which pretty much everyone treats people in the work sphere, and acquaintances and strangers, as opposed to doing or saying whatever we feel like doing or saying. Somehow in our culture, we've decided that we don't need to extend these courtesies to our husbands… and then we wonder why they run away from us into the arms of women who treat them with pure sweetness and light.

Yes, I am in fact figuring out how I want my husband to at least feel, I'm not quite to the point of trying to make him act any particular way YET, and then modulating my own behavior to achieve that goal. It's working extremely well so far.

I'm not my authentic self with anybody, because if I was, I would be totally alone, rejected and despised by everyone; oddly enough, that's not how I want to live my life. There is no self-esteem issue here, it's simply acknowledging that if I honestly told people how stupid and wrong many things about them and their behavior are, they would react like any other sane human beings and remove themselves from our relationships. With my husband specifically, my intention is to restore my marriage, not to be my authentic self; there are infinite benefits to a restored marriage, and zero benefits to being my authentic self, so that's not a hard decision to make.

Yes, I intend to handle my interactions with my husband like this forever, as the women I know and respect who are in happy decades-long marriages do. What little my husband experienced of my "authentic self" is a significant part of how we ended up separated, and him cheating on me. Using my authentic self, I was complaining about and criticizing him all the time. He absolutely deserved all those complaints and criticisms, and 1000 times worse, because he was a worthless scumbag on many levels, but that doesn't change how it FELT to him. What he felt was that every interaction with me was negative, while none of his interactions with any of the other people in the world were. Have you ever wondered how some of the husbands described on this forum get to the point where they believe that they are perfect angels and their wives are demons, at fault for everything? Here is one way that it happens, based on what my husband has said; the man thinks:

Everyone in the world is nice to me all the time except for my wife, who criticizes, complains, nags, etc, all the time

Therefore, everyone in the world is nice except my wife, who is bad

Since I'm a great guy who everyone likes, and my wife is bad, any problem between us must be because of her, because she's the bad one

And then it's a short step to the questions that can lead to him acting out:

Why am I wasting my life away living with and being married to the only person in the world who is mean to me, the only bad person in the world?

Why don't I focus my time and attention on a nice woman instead?

Now certainly, any sane and logical man would remember his own behavior, how his actions are to blame for negative behavior from his wife, all the benefits he receives from her, and all the history they have together, to counterbalance these sorts of thoughts… but if our husbands were sane and logical, we wouldn't be here, would we?

If I were to return to the same behavior that led to my husband leaving me in the first place, in other words being even a little bit of my "authentic self," expecting it to work out differently this time, that would make me the stupidest person on this planet… which I'm pleased to say that I'm NOT. If I expect my marriage to work, I have to handle him in a majorly different way than I did the first time. They say that you can only control your own behavior, not the behavior of others, and that's mostly true as long as you're talking about non-abusive situations, but you CAN exert powerful indirect influence, altering their thoughts and feelings about you, which will cause them to choose the behaviors that you would control them into doing if you could.

It's possible that over time, as I became more secure, I might become a little bit lax in my dedication to Christian graciousness, but if I did, why would that be a problem? Everyone is on their best behavior when they first get involved with someone, and then they go a million miles beyond their best behavior when they become infatuated/fall in love and treat their partner as if they were so wonderful and perfect, doing and giving every possible thing for them… but over time, their best behavior and in-love treatment fades away, leaving whatever their everyday behavior is, and they suddenly realize that their mate is riddled with imperfections, and start criticizing and complaining. I'm sure that nobody loves getting less-wonderful treatment, even if that's what they themselves are doling out, but we all understand that this is normal.

What I think we all need to consider on this website is that we have husbands for whom normal didn't work. That doesn't mean that we were in the wrong or did anything wrong, but in some cases, such as my own, what we did with the best of intentions might not have been optimal for our specific husbands. My husband is the very unfortunate combination of someone who sulks and stews for ages if he is subjected to even the mildest criticism or complaint, along with being someone who screws up constantly; even though I was only confronting him about a tiny % of what he was doing, it put him in a situation where he was literally sulking and stewing every single second of every single day for YEARS, because he would always hear new complaints or criticisms before he "recovered" from the previous ones. You could say that he is too screwed up to be married, and you would be right, but it's a moot point, because he already is married, to me, and as a Christian woman, my duty is to make our marriage work somehow. The only way that marriage or any long-term relationship can work for ANYONE with this man is to handle it exactly the way I am now, and intend to continue doing; with perfect sweetness and light no matter what he does, excepting only life or death legal or financial issues. This is the only way I'll ever get him back, and the only way I'll be able to keep him. I understand and accept that this is not something many other people would want to do or even could do, but that doesn't change the fact that this is the only path available to me.

Offline Finding Joy

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Re: One step at a time… or half step, or quarter step…
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2019, 05:07:08 PM »
I do wonder if part of the issue is your wording.  For instance, my husband likes watching sports.  For years I complained if he watched too often.  But, because he liked it I found a way to get on board(so long as it was not in excess).  I began to make fun food(dips, chili etc), and though I did not sit down to watch the games, I would read a book in the same room etc...and more importantly not complain.

I think what people are saying is, you can get involved in your h’s hobbies without manipulating or lying.  Also, there has to be a balance between what you like and they like.  A one sided relationship breeds resentment.  I am a Christian, and try to be kind to my husband even in this MLC.  I chose love(though it is hard to love who he currently is).  But, I can be kind and gracious without lying, pretending, or manipulating.  It takes two people for a marriage to work.  It seems to me we do our part and give the rest to God.  Your h has free will.  We can not control our spouses, or outcomes. 

You may get him back, but at what cost.  You are lying to yourself and him.  If we truly leave it in God’s hands and trust him, there is no need to sin in order to achieve God’s will.  Because of course it is not God’s will for us to sin.

I do agree completely that it is important to be kind, to be polite, to be light(as much as possible), to not be the complaining, nagging wife.  I also agree that we can participate in hobbies, movies etc that are more suited to them and look for enjoyment.  But, your wording comes off as manipulative and controlling. 
Married 19 years
Husband is 42
I am 39

BD1-April 2018-Unrecognized by me until way later, he is unhappy, wants counseling.
BD2-October 2018-ILYBNIL, wants a divorce, this after I found out about OW 1(EA), Unsure if he and OW2(PA) are still together?
April 2019 He got an apartment and moved out.

4 kids 5-14 years

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Offline Just LaughingTopic starterTopic starter

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Re: One step at a time… or half step, or quarter step…
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2019, 10:44:33 PM »
Laugh -

So that that the 4th went well for you both.
Hope that he's happy, and more importantly you're happy.

Anon's post is interesting, and I can see the points being made.
You can't be someone you're not to please your husband but maybe a better way to put it is that we can try to enjoy the things that they like (explore that option) to try to make ourselves more compatible.  People change and sometimes we need to also follow them --  to a degree. 

I'm not saying to like satanic music if that's not what you believe in.
The beauty of having a great relationship is being able to do "your own thing" and know that your spouse is comfortable with it and that it doesn't take away from the quality of the relationship.

After all, I know I wasn't happy that my H started bike riding and should have just let it go.  But I harped and harped about the time spent, the money spent, I wanted to go with him.  Controlling?  IDK.  Probably felt him slipping away and tried to do everything within my power to keep it from happening.  In a healthy relationship, it's okay for them to develop hobbies away from us.  Makes us both stronger.

Sorry - got off on a tangent, but trying to maybe explain the difference between changing FOR someone or exploring new things for the sake of the relationship.

I'm in a good spot right now.
I've learned to walk away, or change the subject, or whatever is necessary when he monsters.
Strangely, it seems to be less and less lately, over the last few weeks.

If we keep our focuses, we'll all be fine in the end...

Hugs,
Sea


Thanks, Seahorse! I don't know how my husband feels, and probably neither does he, LOL, but this was certainly the best 4th I'VE had in years!

You CAN be someone you're not to please your husband! Every woman I know with a successful marriage does it. But movies, music and TV shows are trivial things that have nothing to do with who we are as people; pretending to like those things is an incredibly minor effort to make, especially considering when the reward is getting your marriage back, and has no effect on who we are.

The way you phrase it would undoubtedly be more palatable to people, but it wouldn't apply to my situation. The things my husband likes aren't things that are new to me, they are things that I've been familiar with for decades; if I was ever going to like them, it would've happened 30 years ago. Because my husband has had years of friendship with a woman who is virtually his clone in the area of preferences, that he cheated on me with briefly years ago (it was brief because she couldn't stand dealing with him on that level, LOL), now he has a high bar set in his head and heart as to the level of things he can and should have in common with a woman. Unless God suddenly radically changes everything in my brain, it is absolutely impossible for me to ever genuinely like any of these things my husband likes, much less enough of them that he would consider being with me full-time; my only options are to fake it, or to lose my marriage... And my choice between those two has been made.

I wouldn't know anything about great relationships, never having had one, but being comfortable with doing things apart was never a problem for my husband or I; maybe if it had been, we wouldn't have ended up living completely separate lives, leading inevitably to physical separation. I don't think that you need to necessarily clutch at your husband's heels and demand to be involved in everything he does, but consider: If your husband suddenly develops a passion for tennis, and you're not playing with him, what's to keep him from meeting a woman who shares his passion, and cheating with her, or leaving you for what to him will look like a more enjoyable and compatible relationship? That idea might seem paranoid for the average marriage, but it is a perfectly valid concern for the people on this forum, since our husbands have already proved themselves to be perfectly capable of cheating and leaving us.

The standard reason given for divorce in longer-term marriages is that they grew apart; what that means is, they were doing more and more things that did not include the other person. Every new activity that a marital partner does that does not include the other creates space between them that never existed before, and in many cases new opportunities to meet new women who share their passions… Just saying. And even beyond that, we have so little free time these days, and there's a certain minimum amount of enjoyable time you need to spend with your spouse to keep the spark alive, and every separate activity you engage in leaves you with less time and energy to do something with your spouse… Does anyone in the modern world really have time to seriously pursue something that doesn't include their spouse AND spend enough quality time with their spouse to keep them happy?

Yes, I agree, harping on your husband's bike riding was probably a bad idea. That's the problem with being your authentic self and expressing your authentic opinions with someone whose actions you have a problem with; that's an unpleasant experience for them, and can lead to them withdrawing, maybe all the way. I have to wonder, though, why he wasn't automatically inviting or encouraging you to participate with him? It's not like he was doing something with power tools, which he might pursue to assert his manhood. In the good long-term marriages I know, activities that aren't gender-specific they do together; whoever thinks of it first gets the other one involved. Is it possible that your husband taking up an activity and then refusing to include you was a warning sign?

I'm glad that his monstering seems to be declining! As always, you have to be prepared for it to be a phase, but if it's a genuine decline, that would mean that what you're doing is working, so congratulations!




 

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