Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Did Somebody Say "Separation"?

My wife did, after a discussion of the job offers late yesterday evening. Well, it was more of her venting her anxieties and grievances. I tried to listen to what she was saying and acknowledge of her feelings without getting defensive, hostile. I certainly wasn't going to cave in to her pressure.

She said she had been hoping the Online Payment Subsidary offer would have been a lowball offer so that she "wouldn't have to play the bad guy."

She started crying.

She first said that she feared for our marriage if I took the payment subsidiary offer over the startup on the north side.

She said she wanted me to take the north side startup, and she thought I had my heart set on the online payment job.

She then said that if I took the payment subsidiary offer, she and the girls would stay behind.

She then said that she didn't see how me coming home every few weeks would be any different from being divorced.

She said that I wanted the payment subsidiary job because "they had stroked my ego."

She restated her position that I was just an unhappy person, that I could probably benefit from medication, and that there were others who thought so, too.

When I asked her who else thought this, she said her best friend and her husband, and she said her other best friend, who is a child psychologist, probably would say so, too.

I asked her whether she could see how I would be unhappy. She then asked me to explain why I was unhappy. I said that I felt like I had to get up early, go to a job with an uncertain future, work a long day, come home to do not much of anything except for chores. And that I felt like I was unable to do anything outside the home because all of our money is overspent. I worried that if I took the startup position, we'd probably have more of the same.

She then turned very tearful and bitter.

She told me that if that was the way I felt, she didn't need my money. She'd go out and find a job of her own, maybe two. She said she was a strong person and a good mother and would go on welfare if she had to.

She then said, "You need to decide whether to separate, because I'm through."

In an earlier time in my relationship with her, this would have been more than enough for me to back down. Tears, guilt, termination -- the unholy trinity of manipulation. Now I just see it as emotional abuse. She has assumes no stake in the success or health of the relationship. I am the problem.

The words of Murray Bowen remind me that this is exactly where I need to be:
When someone attempts to be more of a self in a relationship system, the absolutely predictable response from important others is, "You are wrong; change back; if you don't, these are the consequences!" In fact, if such responses do not occur, one's effort to define more of a self are probably inconsequential.

I have not invested this time and effort to be "inconsequential".
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