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Ruining my marriage
years ago and I love her immensely. However, the start of our
relationship was very rocky. I was not in a good place, mentally, with a
lot of anxiety, trust issues and depression. In the first year I turned
40, and was made redundant from a business I'd helped build with two
"friends" and this spiralled into us splitting up. I abandoned her and
we were apart for 4 months. During that time, I descended even further,
feeling paranoid and isolating myself. We reconciled and seemed to be
going well until the following year, when we split again for couple of
months. We got back together, I started therapy and I felt like we moved
forward. However the undercurrent of hurt that I've caused in our
relationship is still present to this day. Compounding this is my
selfishness. She's rightly pointed out that instead of acknowledging the
hurt I've caused her in the past, I avoid it to protect myself. I'm
ashamed of the times I abandoned her, of the arguments we had, and I'm
always terrified that bringing up the past will open those wounds,
hurting her all over again, and reminding her of the selfish jerk she's
with. My fear of this - and protecting myself from it - has meant I
tiptoe around these things, especially reminders of what happened. She's
asked me before to be bolder and approach her to address them, but then
we fall into a happy period and I fear rocking the boat. So today,
after another anniversary of a painful day, she said she wants a
divorce. I don't blame her. By avoiding hurt, I'm still hurting her but
despite being desperate to change for her and be a better partner, I
feel like I'm incapable of becoming less protective of myself - being
vulnerable and less selfish. As I don't have any friends to bounce this
off, and my wife doesn't want to talk with me right now, I'm looking for
a bit of perspective. Can I change - maybe through more therapy - to be
the partner she needs or is there something fundamental missing in me?
Therapy hasn't been helpful in the past, so I feel like this is insurmountable.
Can I change and turn this all around?
Hello Theotheraether, can we welcome you to the forums and very sorry for the situation you're in.
There is much to read in your first 6 lines and taking this into account, there must be a great that has happened.
Therapy will certainly help, but can I ask whether this involves both of you or only you.
Will get back to you early in the morning, I'm sorry I start in the wee hours of the morning.
Take care and I'm very sorry.
It sounds like you have had your hands full over the last few years. You ask can I change and turn this all around?
The answer is probably YES, but of course that also depends on your wife’s attitude and her tolerance levels. You seem to have a remarkably clear insight into your own issues and that in my experience can be a cause for optimism.
It is generally accepted that to win a disappointed spouse’s heart and respect a repentant spouse must be open and honest about the hurt and pain they have caused. You’ve correctly acknowledged your unwillingness to face this embarrassment is creating a barrier with your wife.
It is important that you understand that while your wife may still love you she is protecting herself from further hurt. That is nature’s way of taking care of oneself. By tiptoeing around these things (your words), she can’t be sure that you truly and deeply understand her pain. She will be interpreting your unwillingness to face these awkward moments as a sign that you don’t really care and therefore are likely to repeat your poor behaviour.
My advice is you need to face her and tell her that you will answer every question she has, will reassure her every day that you acknowledge your poor behaviour and are determined not to repeat it. You must not try and persuade her to reconcile, only she should make that decision without your pressure.
I think deep down you know what you have to do. It’s a case of how far are you prepared to make yourself uncomfortable in order to save your marriage.
YES - you can turn this around!
From another person to another Person - you are not selfish at all because you have reached out for support. That shows how honest you are about your situation and that you accept you behaviour towards your partner. Everyone have different ways and methods for protecting themselves - it not a bad thing - it's abut finding the best one that will work for you. No one is perfect and you need to realise how good of a person that you are. Give yourself some self-compassion and tell yourself everyday that you deserve your partner - you defiantly do and she deserves you. You must be able to seek the support you can to make yourself the best possible person you can be. It's going to be touch but you know in your hear that you can do it. Everyone has a lot of love to give and you show that by how open and honest you are about your satiation. As hard as it is (I for one am not perfect), don't beat yourself up. Beyond Blue have a fantastic support line who can listen to you and maybe even provide you with some actions to help turn things around and get you on a good path. There's always light at the end of the tunnel - it's about how you are going to manage the journey. Get happy, treat yourself well, stay active, do some hobbies, learn to love yourself - do it every day that you wake - you want your Wife to see nothing but true and glowing happiness and learn to give yourself the compassion that you need. Bring that spark back to your marriage. Let us know how things go. Chin up buddy.
P.S. I can recommend Professor Kirsten Neff - google/ YouTube her. She is brilliant.
I tend to agree with JSUA’s positivity. My only concern is if your wife and you have some incompatibility issues and that must be helped with counseling
Can I also mention that criticising yourself as you are doing is somewhat overboard, this is a concern. I’m wondering if you would be like that with a more tolerant person I.e thinking you are not as selfish as you think you are or how your wife judges you.
Sometimes we endure a marriage split, go through all the things we did wrong, punish ourselves, then only when we meet a more tolerant person do we realise I’m not such a jerk after all. In such a case you likely didn’t have the capacity to change to fit into the person she hoped you’d be.
Finally more food for thought. As a famous footy legend said”don’t think- do!” Meaning talking about these topics is ok to a point but too much will do your head in. Swap some of the time talking with (what JSUA also suggested)- going on picnics, movies, hobbies etc and talking about general topic with a splash of humour.
I do hope you can save your marriage but not at the cost of your personality. We all make errors in our marriages so reminding yourself or from your spouse of those errors is not productive.
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hey theotheraether I would firstly like to welcome to this wonderful online community and I would also like to applaud your incredible strength and bravery in asking for help and support its something you should be very proud of. I'm really sorry that you are currently going through this difficult time at the moment. If this marriage is something that you still want and you wan to fight for it then I would recommend counselling individual counselling and couple counselling would be the best solution.
hope all is well in the future
best regards josh
Welcome and I'm sorry for your pain. I admire your recognition of your part in the issues.
Have you offered Marriage Counselling to your wife?
Tbh I would book it in and tell your wife the date and time. Let her know that it's HER choice whether to attend but you are going regardless because you'll do whatever it takes to save your marriage.
ACTIONS speak louder than words but a lot of words have been spoken and you guys appear to be in a mousewheel with it all.
If she doesn't turn up to marriage counselling then you can stay and talk things out for at least that hour.