I Don’t Like the Person I’m Becoming

Question: Dear Luise and Hi Mom: I don’t know how to start this… but I am having a lot of marital difficulties, being within the first year of marriage (which I know, is the hardest part… yeah, yeah) but deeper than that, I have a self-judgment over it.  I believe my husband is a good man, but I know we got married too soon. He spends all his time with younger, unmarried men, and I feel he does not yet realize in his inner self his responsibilities here. However, this can very well be attributed to the pressure and control I exert over him because he is not “the perfect man” I was expecting him to be when we got married. He was a good, God-seeking man before our marriage, and even several months into. But he did things (which culturally are acceptable to him and normal to him, but not to me, having come from  a different country) and now he is a completely different man. I am also emotionally unstable and blow up on little things, a part of control that is trying to lash out of me against him, and then he goes running away and has now emotionally distanced himself from me. The point is that I don’t know how to change MYSELF because I know I can’t change him. How can I be more flexible, less impulsive (especially with my words), and more loving towards my husband?  I don’t want to run away like I used to, but need to learn to sit still and stay focused and work through my dealings.  How can I relax and live without this Jezebel control in me? Thanks for your advice. B.

Answer: Dear B.: Well, first of all I want to commend you for the insights about yourself that you presented in your question. Do you have any idea how unusual that is? Really! It’s so easy to just notice the other person’s failings and than pass over our own personal shortcomings. I suppose it’s lucky we never get the perfect mate because then where would we be in our imperfection?

You are frustrated by what’s happening in your marriage and I would be, too. And your frustration is showing up in very negative ways that probably make you much less appealing to your husband. At the same time, he is being just as reactive and generally speaking, it’s a mess.

Marrying young works for some people. It often depends on how much maturity has been gained prior to marriage and how much the couple has in common. I had a friend who was mature in kindergarten…I kid you not. She married at 19 and everything went swimmingly. (I hated her for decades.) However, if we don’t know ourselves all that well and if we have a lot of growing up to do, many of us will pick a partner who is in the same fix. That can spell disaster.

What you can do is to get counseling to help you through the growing pains ahead. You need an advocate. My guess is being alone with the problem is what’s causing your bursts of temper…you sound overwhelmed with the direction your marriage is taking. Your guy doesn’t even seem like the person you married and if anyone asked him, he would probably say the same thing about you.

As you get help sorting all of it out, you may find that your relationship is definitely worth saving. Or it’s possible that you will find you can’t do it all yourself and you’re not getting the cooperation you need to go forward. That’s all down the road and not what needs tending to right now.

Good for you for not running. It’s still the first thing I think of at age 82, but at least it’s not the first thing I do…(any longer.) Your husband may be very responsive to your choosing the high road, which is simply growing up. (Simple but not easy for most of us.) In time, he may decide to face the same tigers but some men choose not to and remain little boys until they’re my age and beyond.

Right now…get help and then see where that takes you. I would also suggest that you take your concerns to my second and very new website: Mother In Laws Unite! There is a lot of collective wisdom shaping up there already and I think you could get some much-needed support if you asked for it. Just register (it’s free), log in, and scroll down to where you can compose your own topic. I’m going to do the same thing later today because I just lost my best friend after 45 years of hanging out together through thick and thin and am finding it unbelievably difficult. Blessings, Luise

4 Responses to I Don’t Like the Person I’m Becoming

  1. J. November 11, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    My husband and I just seperated because he went out and got a girlfriend. But for a long time all I ever saw was his faults, not mine and not the good in him, so I nagged and nagged until he left. He calls now and says he regrets leaving only for me to blow up at him for screwing up, once again. I had a long talk with my preacher the other night, he helped me realize many things, like some of my faults and that my focus was on my husband and not on God’s will and plan, that it wasn’t all him. It may help to talk to your preacher or a christian counselor, just let it all out and they can really help you. Believe me, you’re not the only one, there is so much stress in families this day and time, the devil is really at work on families, tearing us apart one by one. J.

    • Luise November 14, 2009 at 9:28 pm #

      Good for you for seeking strong and reliable help and sharing it. Can you also share it with your husband? Blessings, Luise

  2. C. December 14, 2009 at 6:40 pm #

    Dear Luise: Thank you for your incredible gift of advice and support – I can see that you have guided many people in the right direction and I hope they take your good advice to heart. I hope you can help me as well. I’m 33 and I have been with my boyfriend who is 43 for 9 months. I moved to Mexico only 2 months after meeting him based on not believing in long distance and him agreeing to keep my apartment while we “got to know one another”. From the moment we met there were fireworks and he talked about marrying me, kids, ect I flirted with the idea but also let him know I wanted to take it slow…within the last 9 months we have been through ALOT – besides out of control drinking binges he is an incredible flirt and I just found out he cheated on me 1 month after we met. He never told me – I found evidence, and when I confronted him he admitted it ..only to then switch it to how proud he was that he told me himself (?)!. Anyways, as I write this I’m hearing how crazy I am to stay BUT this guy is perfect in so many ways and I know his mistakes are due to alchohol. If he didn’t drink so much he would be an amazing husband and father! I have found us a therapist and under the title of “pre-marriage counseling” he is more than happy to go. He is quick to admit to his mistakes and says repeatedly he wants so badly to be the man that I deserve and he is determined to be that. 2 months have now passed with out mistakes and he has been great but my question is – even though he is willing to do anything I ask to be with me will this last? Is he a lost cause?? He needs to control his drinking but I don’t know if I want to spend the rest of my life training and nursing this man (through AA) ….although when I think of leaving I feel as though my heart breaks into a million pieces. He is the first man I have considered marrying (probably due to my age). I also feel I am the only one who has the ability to bring the amazing man he is out and shut the reckless one away..what do you think since he is SO willing and I have seen so much progress?? How long do I try for and do you think he will cheat on me again now that we have fallen in love?? Please help. C.

    • Luise December 15, 2009 at 7:18 am #

      Dear C.: Who your guy wants to be and who his is do not match. When you say he is perfect for you “except for”, he’s not Mr. Right. What you see is what you’re going to get…in spades.

      My guess regarding the feelings you are having that make you unsure, is that you are not up for taking this situation on. A person who has a drinking problem and blames unacceptable behavior on it, probably doesn’t need to “control” his drinking. It’s more likely that he can’t drink and hasn’t faced that fact. Don’t go there.

      In the long run, no matter how appealing a prospective marriage partner is, the thing that make a person wonder ahead of time to this extent that you are wondering often drives him/her nuts later on. And the thing that looks like it is changing when the pressure is on will very likely to change back and even get worse later.

      You are not the only one out there who can save this man. That can be a very dangerous ego trip with his dependency guaranteeing disastrous results. He is the only one who can rescue himself and at his age, he has passed on that for a very long time. Don’t you believe for a second that you are going to help him change permanently, even if he believes that. For reinforcement on this premise, go to an Al-Anon meeting and ask.

      No matter how attractive the hypothetically altered future looks, I would run…not walk…in the opposite direction and count myself lucky that I escaped the heartache and devastation ahead. Blessings, Luise

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