Thursday, October 26, 2006

2am Addresses a Negative Comment

An anonymous person left the following comment on my blog:

Hellloooo... why are u surprised...u have two with it... abandoning them because you can't work it out with your wife -- who is just a normal exhausted mom -- is lame.... your kids will suffer.

U won't find it any easier with someone else (esp if they have kids) -- it is a fact of life that taking care of kids is exhausting and expensive.

I applaud your effort to know yourself, but don't fool yourself into thinking that divorcing is going to help. It will make it all worse.
I'm glad to know that the commenter is sufficiently omniscient to know whether my wife is "normal" and "exhausted". I'll leave that part of the argument alone for now.

I'm not sure what the commenter means by "deal with it" in this context. For the purposes of this post I will presume that it means "Accept rude treatment and do what the wife wants without resistance." If I have somehow misunderstood the anonymous commenter, he or she is free to post again to clarify.

Prior to the start of this journey, "dealing with it" is exactly what I would have done. From my experience, this leads to the following problems:
  1. It sends my wife the signal that she is free to be rude with impunity, thereby increasing the likelihood that she will deal with me rudely in other circumstances as well.
  2. It requires that I suppress my feelings at the expense of short term harmony. When this is done repeatedly, it produces resentment.
After 14 years of being with this woman and operating under these conditions, I've realized that (1) has become more frequent (with and without children) and (2) has led to increased stress and instances of acting out behaviors on my part. It creates an imbalance in power and is unsustainable. Eventually something will have to give way. I don't care how stressed out someone is, no one has a license to be repeatedly emotionally abusive.

Schnarch calls this "emotional gridlock within a fused relationship". Weiner Davis would refer to this as "more of the same".

Enumerating non-negotiable principles allows me to state clearly my boundaries based on who I am. By enforcing my boundaries, I develop a greater sense of integrity. My wife knows she stands with me, much more clearly than some fake, "You're fine, honey," and a forced smile. This is the act of differentiation, in Schnarch's terms. Weiner-Davis would file this under "doing a 180".

Finally, I don't know where the commenter got the idea that setting a boundary is targeted toward the goal of divorce. It's quite the opposite. It may be destabilizing in the short run, but it contributes to personal growth for both parties and maximizes the likelihood that the marriage will survive.

As I work my way through my issues, I have become increasingly aware that a fear driven life (fear of my wife, fear of failure, etc.) has resulted in frustration, depression, and anger. I also believe it has fed an an emotionally abusive cycle for so long that my wife no longer respects me. The only way to regain respect is to set and enforce boundaries.
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