Over period of a year, my husband changed from a caring person to a cold and closed one. He didn’t want to talk, started and stopped marriage counseling and grew more and more distant. I was pregnant with our second child at the time, so this was pretty emotional for me. After the birth, we separated. It included an altercation with witnesses. That is why I am so confused about his concept of reality.
This is the person I still love and I still want to take care of but he won’t recognize he did something wrong. And he continues to do things that disrespect me. And while our kids can understand things even under the age of 4, he does not. Let me make that clear. My husband sent my son to check on me every 5 mins when I had thrombosed hemmorroids (ouch!) while pregnant during my very rare cry for help by asking that I take a nap after my full time job. I am not a robot, but even robots would likely need re-charging.
What precipitated the change in him and his behavior? I started to set boundaries and ask for his help in our lives together. In other words, I started to respect myself. It’s hard for me to stomach this, let alone write it. It’s hard because I have to face the fact that I didn’t respect myself as much as I’d want my kids to respect themselves. It’s hard because this is a man I still love, a man I enabled by doing things for him for too many years. It’s no wonder his reality is different than mine.
My reality includes working hard at home and at work, giving my kids my attention and focus at home, and often wondering how to improve in all areas at the same time… “How do I do a good job at work while also taking my son to a therapy session or trying to cook daily?” I was also the sole earner and my kids needed to be in daycare, because he wasn’t working and he wasn’t taking care of them either.
His reality probably includes questions like: Why did she change? Why did she selfishly need to get sleep all of a sudden?! Why did she stop letting me do what I want with the money she earned? Why do I need to share my paycheck, now that I have a job, when she chose to share hers? What’s wrong with her? This isn’t the woman I married? I married a pushover, co-dependent woman who adored me.
And you know what… Many times I think these are my own doubts too. My mommy and wife guilt. But they are not imaginary. They are how he acts and I have come to two conclusions.
First, I finally understand irreconcilable differences. Before, I always thought it was just the rich and famous who used this term. I used to think all things are fixable. I used to think divorce was the easy way out. Let me be the testimony that many people need to hear… because I needed to hear it. When you get to the point of divorce and you tried marriage counseling and even just coexistence till the point of safety concerns from a controlling spouse, it is irreconcilable differences. His reality and my reality seem to be mutually exclusive most of the time.
Second, I have accepted the fact that it took a certain women to attract this kind of a man. A strong accomplished woman who gave all of herself to her family and society. A strong yet broken woman who didn’t think she was enough or that she deserved better than she got. Until I faced my reality…I was actually living as a single mom in a marriage. So, if I was going to do it all alone, I’d rather do it without living in fear and second guessing every single thing I said or did. And he would be right. I changed. I changed me. I changed almost overnight. But I asked for help and communicated my needs along the way. And they were ignored repeatedly. It wasn’t that I pulled his safety rug from under him. It wasn’t about him at all. It was about me saying, this no longer serves me…This is not what I want my life and legacy to be.
I want my kids to know true love and respect. And neither of them come from outside. They come from within. If you think you are not worthy of love, people will treat you as such and you will let them. In fact, you will attract the type of people who will continually prove you right. So change your story (it’s not easy!) and stop accepting less than what you want. After all, my kids deserve a mommy free of resentment, anger, pain and fear. I’m attune to their needs when my needs are met. And my needs only exist in my only reality. Not in his. But, let me just say this. My doctors and my friends all validate my reality, and I very much needed that validation in order to not feel selfish. I waited for someone to say that getting your basic life needs met was not insane to ask for.
Can you relate? Can you share one thing you have learned through your own struggle with someone’s alternate reality?