Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Let Her Cry

We had our joint counseling session yesterday. Both of our therapists were present. It didn't give me any real sense of closure, but my wife's responses were not surprising.

I started off by reading what I had written in the previous blog posting.

My wife responded by falling apart into tears. She said she was under stress, and that her suggestion that I negotiate for higher pay on the local job and use the extra money to spend time together was her way of trying to reach out.

Her therapist asked if there was any area in our marriage where we managed to find common ground. I said that the kids were the common ground, and that we were pretty supportive of each other's parenting. My wife agreed. We also agreed that the kids were pretty much the only thing we still had in common.

My wife admitted she made the McDonald's remark out of spite, but defended her remark about the bills. She then said that I hadn't put enough effort into helping her with the bills since our conversation about money last October.

That sent us off into a tangent. Her therapist used that charge to explore how our finances were managed. We retraced how the duty of bill payment had shifted back and forth between us over the years, with my wife taking over the responsibility in the spring of 2005. I had requested that she do that as part of agreeing to have some expensive remodeling work done to the house.

The therapist noted that we lacked any long term planning for where we were headed financially, and she said that it sounded like the communication on the subject was poor.

My wife backed herself into a corner, first saying that she wasn't to blame for the overspending because I gave my consent to several large purchases she made (e.g. swing set for the kids, new furniture, new freezer for the garage). Then later on, she admitted that she didn't communicate to me just how quickly our savings was dwindling because she thought that I would respond negatively. Then later, she noted that I spent very little money. In essence, she was saying that she was doing the overspending, she knew about it, and it was my fault for trusting her to do the right thing.

My wife brought up the issue of sex again, charging that whatever she did never seemed good enough for me. She defended herself, reiterating the position that she can't stand extensive touch from anyone, not even the kids. It gives her the creeps. She also said she couldn't stand sweatiness, either. Then she said that I "just wanted a whore" in bed.

My therapist suggested that she might need to work on learning to overcome that creepy feeling because her aversion to bodily closeness was having a hugely negative impact on the marriage.

We spent some time just talking about communication. Her therapist wanted to know if we put aside time to just talk. I said it had become very difficult for me to discuss points of disagreement with my wife because I felt like she tried to quash disagreement by manipulation or abuse.

My wife said that it seemed the only way she could talk to me about the job stuff anymore was through IM conversations while I am at work. Both therapists agreed that going the IM route was probably going to result in more problems than real-life because so much gets lost in putting an expression to text.

The therapists asked us what we hoped to get out of these joint counseling sessions, and the responses were very different. My wife said that she just wanted to get rid of the stress that all of conflict was causing. I said I wanted to get a clearer picture of where we were headed, because I sensed that we were headed in two very different directions at this point in our lives.

At some point during the session, her therapist noted that my wife's teary response to my remarks seemed to be out of proportion to what was actually being said, as if there was an emotional undercurrent being attached to my remarks to give them a much different meaning.

My wife looked very red eyed afterwards, and she was that way when I got home from work that evening. Aside a request to give the kids a bath, we really didn't talk much. I wanted to give her some space to process all that we had talked about.

I was disappointed because the discussion about money and sex seemed to be too little too late. I was hoping to get some sort of signal from my wife whether she was ready to confront herself, now that I was on record saying that I was willing to take the job with the Online Payment Subsidiary and go on without her.

In my gut, I don't believe my remarks wounded her as much as acted. The mixture of counter charges and crying is something I've seen before from her. I'm more immune to it now. The the therapist's observation about the intensity of the crying makes me believe that my suspicion is accurate.

I have another session this afternoon with my own therapist. We've also scheduled another joint session at the same time next Monday.
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