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Many of us
used, unappreciated, not listened to...
Hello. We've been
together for almost 20 years now. We've adopted 2 children and I have one step child (we're very close). My husband has a powerful position and I'm a stay at home mom. I get the feeling that staying at home isn't good enough for him.
My work and any
free time isn't valued at all. i.e., if I put on a CD to relax, it seems that is when he pops in during the day. He shuts it off and turns on the TV and goes about his
business, eats, etc. If I've had a rough time and take a nap it's like a major sin. However, his job gives him lots of time
to do what he wants. So I guess I feel like my time isn't valuable at all.
His job also has
folks calling here a lot and I'm very helpful and direct them where they need to be with their problems. We live in a very small town and I really like to help these people. These people
don't know how to reach him or just can't reach him.
I find myself feeling used, not appreciated at all so I then back off and don't do things that I'd normally do. He also dictates what,
where and when the family is going to do things without considering that I might have plans. If I explain that I have plans with the kids or had something else in mind, he gets mad.
In other words, he tells and doesn't ask.
I'm a strong person and have always been that way, but I can see both sides, he sees only his side. I've tried to go along with his plans thinking, that when I have plans he'll understand, but that doesn't happen. He takes his time off and I never feel like I have time off. Or when I do take
the time off, it doesn't fit his.
I've talked it
over and over, but what I get is my time just has to wait or isn't important.
Through the years
it's gotten worse. This leaves me feeling that what ever he's doing is more important than what I might need or just want to do. So as a result I don't do very much at all because I'm so tired
of the hurt feelings that I seem to be stuck with.
This is getting
serious. I'm to the point of going back to work and setting my own rules, but I have to consider our children first. I don't
name call, but we do fight over this because I think his behavior is rude. What do you think?
A. I completely
understand what you're saying. I've heard this many many times in working with women and couples. You're not alone. And you can change things.
clearly stating that the relationship with your husband as it is currently configured absolutely doesn't work for you. Period.
You need to own that.
You're also saying
that as a result of its continual not-working for you, there are a lot of resentful feelings that have built up inside of you. I'd not at all be surprised to find out that this ongoing condition in the
relationship of unhappiness has also created a pretty big wall between you and your husband... and has probably deeply inhibited your mutual ability to experience joy, passion or satisfaction together...
must be pretty thick after 20 years of this... no?
You report that
you've spoken up about this and it's gotten you nowhere.
The main reasons
you give are:
- #1 Your husband is neither seeing your side of things nor is he responding in any way to
recognize or remedy your complaints
- #2 You're afraid to press your case more strongly because of the possible effects on the children. I'm wondering how old these
As an aside here
about children.... I'm also wondering how great an effect the clearly low quality and seething resentments harbored
(probably in both directions) is having on the children.
grew up in a household where both parents stayed together, despite their seething unhappiness. They did provide a roof over my head. But they modeled for me a married couple who was thoroughly unhappy.
Gave me a basic
fear of marriage, that. The results in my life was about 2 decades of avoiding commitment, 3 major great relationships blown away because I carried a lot of baggage having seen my parents marriage (the only close-up model I ever had) Get what I'm saying?
For me, their
divorce would have been a far better contribution to my mental health, despite what many current family-values oriented experts are saying about the importance of keeping an unhappy couple together for the sake of the children. Sorry, but there's ample evidence to the contrary.
Anyway, to my
main point. What seems most holding you back (for
20 years, no less) is what? That's a question.
It's the question you need to look at within yourself.
Let me give you
some pointers or hints for a direction to look in. You say you're strong. This is good and I believe you.
Yet there are
elements of your email that give me the impression that part of you is still playing the role of a victim. That role is defined
by the notion that he has all the power in the relationship. He has the powerful position. He has the right to come in and turn your CD off and the TV on. Because he won't get your position,
you're the loser.
Where are you in this equation?
that you take a stand, at least inside yourself, that the real point of your life at this time is to maximally reclaim whatever
power you've inadvertently and unintentionally (probably for the best of intentions, like the children) given up in this relationship.
That is the only... and I mean ONLY... way you're going to affect a positive change in your life.
It's your life,
by the way. You're the sole owner of it. His refusal to see your side of the equation is no excuse to abdicate
any of your own responsibility for your own happiness. Even the advice I'm giving you is quite secondary to your complete ownership
of your life and the direction it takes.
It turns out that
when you take 100% responsibility for the condition of your relationship, you regain all of your actual power. I mean this is your power anyway, it exists right now. But you're giving part of it away when you make your partner the cause of the unhappy circumstances of your life
Take 100% responsibility for the exact way your relationship is right now -- EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE CONVINCED HE'S THE CAUSE.
How do you do
this? Relationship is a dance. Each partner is affecting the other. Look at where what you're doing is in fact creating the circumstances.
THEN CHANGE WHAT YOU'RE DOING.
Let me give you an example. This may or may not fit your case, but I suspect that to a certain degree it does. If I guessed (& I mean this is a complete guess) I'd say that your personality style & his diverge in one important area.
YOUR STYLE: You're either
a natural mediator type of person or you're a natural people helper. These two styles are close in many ways. You see other
people's points of views & you respond
to how the other person is feeling as much as being interested in how you're feeling.
If anything, you
probably fall short on paying close attention to how you're feeling & what you need. You probably hold back on expressing your needs clearly. If you're a mediator type, you probably have some real trouble
w/the emotion of anger... either getting to it inside yourself & expressing it easily... or experiencing it coming from your partner.
If you're the
people helper type, you may explode from time to time... but you basically hope that the other person would be as sensitive to your needs as you are to theirs.
This is your view
of how life ought to be... we all should be slightly psychic about what's happening in the other person... & we all should
be sensitive & just naturally know that pleasing the other person is a good thing... & this kind of silent contract
would ultimately result in your getting your needs known & met by others.
There's a shortfall,
however, in this approach. You tend to hold back clearly expressing your needs. Dare I say, forcefully expressing them? You tend to hold back on setting clear boundaries for yourself.... maybe even considering it selfish & bad to do so.
THE LIFETIME LEARNING LESSON OF THIS STYLE: It's called self-remembering. Knowing that you're as important as everybody else.
Knowing how to
constructively and positively integrate the
emotion of anger into your repertoire... so you can get the results you want in relationship.
Knowing how to make clear requests and set
very clear emotional and behavioral boundaries in your relationships.
HIS STYLE: I'll guess that he's either the boss type or the perfectionist type. He believes that most other people are pretty incompetent and that only he knows the truth and what's truly right. He tends not to really look very deeply into other's points of view and may seem to
lack empathy and compassion.
He's a take-charge
kind of guy and many of his values have to do with what's proper and what has integrity. He has no problems with anger.
If he's the boss type, he easily expresses
anger on an emotional level and frequently cows people around him (because, in fact, most other styles have problems with anger).
If he's the perfectionist type, he converts anger into negative criticism and
judgment and it comes out as name-calling.
THE LIFETIME LEARNING LESSON OF THIS STYLE: In a word, compassion. For himself and others. Learning to get beyond the mental constructs that keep the heart in jail.
Learning to trust others. Learning to be strong enough to see others' points of view and
value them. Opening to love... and fully accepting it into one's own heart. Embracing the other emotions of pain and fear and not just covering over them with anger.
in a mature and growth-oriented relationship, each of the above styles has something important to teach the other. Such a relationship is based on the model that we're all in the process of becoming more
whole inside and this is what will enable us to reach a state of inner peace, acceptance and true love and joy.
This model asserts
that it's our own lack of wholeness and not our partner's shortcomings, that trap us in unhappiness. Because we aren't whole, we can't experience deep joy in love with anyone (because
we'll ultimately bump up against our own lifetime learning lesson no matter whom we're in relationship with even someone sharing
our own style).
model encourages each partner to look at their own lesson and move forward on it, regardless of where their partner is at. While
I can't say for sure that the above analysis is a direct hit on the mark for you and your husband - (this is only a quick email response, after all and not
a real counseling session) - I give it as a simple
example of how you're 100% involved in keeping things exactly the way they are in your relationship.
In the example,
if you were either of the styles I indicated, your life lesson is about reclaiming your own power, integrating anger in a positive and effective way into your personal repertoire and actually showing up and setting very clear boundaries for yourself, indicating very clearly what works and
what doesn't work for you and backing that up with actual consequences.
Doing this is
what gives you 100% of your power back and complete ownership of your life. You can do this in the context of staying in the relationship. Or
ultimately, doing it may put at risk the relationship. Which is what you also have to look at: your own fears.
Yes. fears.... It's what ultimately holds us all back from learning our lifetime lessons. And that's yet another big thing
to go into and look at... but I think I've given you enough right here.
Usually, to really implement the kinds of self-generated changes
you're seeking, it requires some counseling or coaching.
You need not just the flash of insight, but an ongoing source of emotional, intellectual and loving support that a good counselor can provide, on a week-to-week basis, which assists you to move through your fears and more fully integrate the changes inside yourself that you want and need to make the outer changes you want in your life.
notice here that I'm not recommending that you get you and your husband into couples counseling.
While if he were
motivated to do so, I'd recommend it, I've had a lot of experience working with his style of personality (if it's anything like what I
guess it is) and I've come to deeply respect that such a person will only make changes when they're good and ready to do so themselves... and they actually do make some of the most dramatic and growth-filled
personal changes when they're ready to embrace that process.
But they pretty
quickly and totally reject the ideas or inputs or even the notion of needing assistance from someone else, especially a guy (there can be a lot of alpha-male syndrome here)... until they themselves are ready and want to do it.
enough, also and you might try this one out, if he's the boss-type, then he more appreciates people who show up and confront him with the kind of anger he so easily doles out and he doesn't at all respect the sensitive, non-angry type of person, whom he considers weak and without merit in their point of view. If this were the
case for you, then showing up with clear and present anger would be your strongest move.
But these are
all guesses on my part. To really get to the depths of each of your styles and how they might be interacting, we'd have to
be involved in the counseling process together.
In that regard,
I'd strongly recommend that you consider working with my wife Bonney, who counsels women all around the country by phone. She'd be especially empowering for
you, as she has personally gone through and made many of the positive changes I mention above and is a great mentor for other women.
Working with her,
or someone like her, could be the catalyst for the true changes you seek. Don't let fear hold you back. You do deserve the quality of life you want. You can have it. Perhaps even with your husband.
That's not entirely in your control, naturally.
But you can have
it and the time to start working on that is now. If not now, then when?
At any rate, thanks
for reaching out. That is a first concrete step in the process of changing. Keep going! And don't hesitate to get back to me at any time....
Feeling unappreciated at work
I'm starting to feel that some of those at the top of the corporate
ladder only got there because they climbed over someone and then kicked them off.
Where I work
there are a few executives that clearly have their own agendas, clearly fly against the company's directive and blatantly
get away with it.
I was hired
on a contract basis to try to help with some longstanding issues. One of the positive results so far is saving the company over $50 000 in outsourcing costs. I've worked my tail off to develop programs,
which if they had developed for them by an outside firm, would have cost over $20 000.
no one has had these ideas before and they're well received by my manager I take this as I'm going in the right direction.
is very concerned with saving money. Even though I have saved them this amount in less than 2 months, other executives are
undermining some of my programs and are costing the company money.
example is someone who gives business to his friend at a large cost to the company when we have qualified people who could
do this as part of their jobs, at no cost to the company. Does this make any sense?
are some sort of kickbacks involved.
When I began
there was talk of commitment to change, I'm seeing that all this was was just talk. In the attempt to be politically correct, false expressions of concern are occurring.
Now I'm feeling very frustrated because I genuinely wanted to make a difference. I thought there was potential for positive change. I'm hearing from others and seeing for myself that management level and up are the only ones who are benefiting.
In terms of compensation, I'm feeling that I've not only done this work for nothing, but it's going totally unappreciated.
I can tell you right now that I'm not even close to getting compensated for what I'm worth, or even what I've saved the company.
Kind of starting
to feel like a work horse. So what is the answer? Do I continue to exceed my job duties and look at this as a chance to prove
myself and to learn new things despite the fact that I'm not earning what I should be and that there may not be a chance of
permanent work out of this?
Or do I just
do what's expected of me, because I know that doing more won't get me anywhere.
My usual solution would be to exceed, however, when I see the grievous differences in compensation and the double standards
which exist, not to mention the idiots who get to stay at the top, I feel foolish for doing so much. I guess I'm feeling resentful.