What’s Next? What SHOULD We Be Doing?

17 Oct

The final post in the series answering questions from a reader about our separation.

And what do you think you should be doing?

This is probably the hardest question of all.  I think I should be really thinking things out.  I have been doing that, for the most part, once my body started recovering (thanks to the amoxicillin).  I have been doing a LOT of journaling.  I’m trying to take this time to decide what it is that I want from this marriage, what it is that I need to be happy, and how I think that can be accomplished.  I definitely don’t have all of the answers.  I have started coming up with the questions, though.  That’s a step in the correct direction, right?

For example, some of the things I have written under the title Questions to Consider in my journal are:

  • Am I running and hiding from my own problem by asking him to move out?  Or am I protecting myself?
    • Can an in-house separation work or is that setting us both up for failure?
    • Is separation a way for us both to deal with our respective issues? 
    • How long?
    • End goal?
    • How much contact?
    • What terms?
    • Money?  Bills?
    • Viability of that plan?
    • Avoiding complacency – Does this force us to push ourselves out of our boxes and discover ourselves separate from one another?
    • Does that have to happen before we can work on our marriage?
  • I can’t control the outcome!!
  • Can he be honest with me?
    • What matters in order to move forward is honesty.  In fact, it’s the single most important factor in whether this marriage can continue
    • He has a choice to make – continue to be selfish and choose himself by lying to me or choose our marriage and STOP lying
    • That really determines our future
    • Choose lying & choose to stay gone and turn this separation into divorce
    • Or work on himself, really dig into the lying, solve that issue, and maybe move home.
  • I need him to FIGHT for me (bottom line)

That’s as far as I’ve gotten in my stream-of-consciousness writing.  My goal would be to work towards REAL recovery and reconciliation where we are each taking responsibility for our own healing.  I feel like that has to happen before I can say whether this marriage will ever be able to work long-term.  I want it to.  I really, really want it to.  But I’m starting to realize that may not be a possibility unless some drastic changes happen in both of us.

I know that I have made a lot of posts recently (if you were only in my brain you would really know how this is).  For that reason, I will share the things I have gained in the last few days about my own self-awareness in another post.  Probably tomorrow.  Unless something more pressing comes up before I get around to it or I get the urge to share earlier (very specific, aren’t I?)

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16 Responses to “What’s Next? What SHOULD We Be Doing?”

  1. Rollercoasterider October 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    “I need to focus on being powerless and admitting the unmanageability of my life)”
    Ah, being powerless. That idea seems so contradictory to also being empowered—I’m sure due to using different forms of the same word. So what does it mean to be powerless? I think that is probably synonymous with Surrender which is the highest Releaser. In order, the Releaser’s are Detachment, Letting-Go and Surrender. They are the process to Acceptance. I realize you are atheist, but it seems that you are looking at this in a very Buddhist way because what this seems to be about it non-attachment. Of course, Buddhism is a faith without a deity, sort of a philosophy. So as you are working on your powerlessness—Surrender—do not forget that it is not mutually exclusive to being empowered. Being empowered is part of being self-centered and when I used that term I’m using it not to mean selfish, but as being balanced (centered) within your Self.

    “I’m trying to take this time to decide what it is that I want from this marriage, what it is that I need to be happy, and how I think that can be accomplished.”
    And if you think that can be accomplished within your marriage.

    Let’s talk about Expectation for a moment. At my forum I’m regularly reminding people about the dangers of expecting—have no expectations and do not link Hope with expectation. But really, there are two kinds of expectation.
    What you think will happen: Predicted Expectation
    Expectation for Behavior: Rule Expectation
    The type of expectation to release is Predicted Expectation. Your husband may or may not behave in a manner that you either want or think he should. But those same behaviors may be on the list of Rule Expectations. Some of those are your official communicated boundaries and some are the things we assume without discussing. In your situation, some of those that are typically assumed have moved to the official boundaries.

    Being in a state of Surrender means that you release Predicted Expectation for each moment. Sometimes you will just have a Knowing about a behavior—that is not an expectation and sometimes you may understand his patterns and thus you can predict the next step based on history and experience; that is different as well.

    So that means that you should not expect your husband to fail out of turn. But it also means that you can look at history and factor in what you think are his abilities and inabilities. You’ve done an amazing job at no expectations; your ability to withstand snooping shows this. But having no expectations does not mean you get to ignore reality either.

    “Can he be honest with me?
    …He has a choice to make – continue to be selfish and choose himself by lying to me or choose our marriage and STOP lying”
    Is your husband capable of being honest—does he even know how?
    That is the fundamental question. He may want to be honest and he may hate himself for his lies, but if he doesn’t know how, is that something he is capable of learning? Is it really a choice he can make?
    Now honesty probably seems like a character issue which would mean it’s not something you learn so much as you choose to do or choose to refuse to do with full knowledge. So as an example, think of empathy. One of the main attributes of the Cluster B Personality Disorders (Narcissism, Borderline, Histrionic and Antisocial) is an inability to empathize. It’s not that they won’t, but that they can’t. Empathy is learned early in development through both observation and felt-experience. Can it be learned later—in adulthood? Many are skeptical. Narcissists survive by mimicking. They don’t know who they are and so they mimic and borrow from others to create a persona suitable to a situation. This makes them master liars; it’s necessary for their social survival. So a narcissist can mimic empathy so that it appears to others they are being empathetic, but the compassion (suffering with) does not penetrate to the level of experience.

    “Am I running and hiding from my own problem by asking him to move out? Or am I protecting myself?”
    Go back to your boundary rules. If he lied—and of course you found out—you were to sleep in separate bedrooms. But if his lying continued, the consequence was full separation.
    That’s clear. You are scared and trying to second-guess your actions. What you did was follow the boundary and to not follow a boundary means it has no meaning and enables the negative behavior that triggered the consequence.
    He lied. You found out and pressed him and he continued to lie.
    What is his pattern? Has he ever admitted to a lie when you’ve discovered it, but before you’ve shown your evidence? Does he always or almost always continue to lie in the face of evidence or until you show evidence? Think about that. Admitting he has lied when faced with evidence is not a sudden burst of honesty—he doesn’t get a positive check mark for it.

    “Can an in-house separation work or is that setting us both up for failure?”
    No, it will not work. There is too much temptation for you to give in and break a boundary. Your marital issues are serious and they need to be worked through with a professional mediator (counselor) and not in-between sessions. That doesn’t mean you won’t have homework together in-between, but being separate in the same house tempts you to go beyond safe homework assignments.

    “Is separation a way for us both to deal with our respective issues? (codependency/co-addiction & sex addiction/lying)?
    How long?
    End goal?
    How much contact?
    What terms?
    Money? Bills?”
    It is for you. But whether it is for him is unrelated to whether it is for you. There are different levels of separation. No Contact is the strictest level and it is only broken for limited exceptions: financial issues, emergencies—one of you is in the hospital. As for how long, that depends on the progress. I don’t think No Contact should be an option in your situation. If your situation gets to a No Contact level, it should go all the way to divorce instead.
    So for a lower level separation you could start out with No Contact other than counseling sessions and draw up a plan for gradually increasing contact. Of course that begs the question and brings up the fear: without your presence is he even less trustworthy? That’s a bit of a dangerous thought because it may encourage you to hold on and be there in order to monitor him. Though you’ve done an excellent job of not doing that, so I am less worried you will do that than I am with others.

    What is progress? What sort of things can prove progress? Is it something objective and measurable or is it subjective?

    “Avoiding complacency – Does this force us to push ourselves out of our boxes and discover ourselves separate from one another?
    Does that have to happen before we can work on our marriage?”
    Yes and yes.
    But if he is a narcissist, you need to accept that separation may not encourage self-reflection—what Self does he have to reflect upon?

    “Full disclosure with polygraph? (Does it even matter if he’s lying to himself?)”
    Will this tell you anything new? Sure, it might tell you when he’s lied regarding something specific, but you already know that he is dishonest in general. Can repetition with a lie detector train honesty into a person?

    “Psychiatric evaluation/ ADHD & bipolar screening (NPD – narcissistic personality disorder?)
    STD testing”
    While you are together and attempting to heal your marriage, I recommend that it be a requirement that he waive confidentiality of his medical records—if that is possible. You need to access to see if he really does get testing—and if possible you can go with him to be tested, though that might be too much monitoring. But you need to be able to see that it’s been done and you need access to the results, and frankly, if he’s such a good liar he might purchase fake results to show you, so you need to get them directly from the source yourself.

    “My goal would be to work towards REAL recovery and reconciliation where we are each taking responsibility for our own healing.”
    A noble goal, but only part of it is within your control. Your goal is for you to take responsibility for your healing; your desire is for him to take responsibility for his healing, but that cannot be a goal of yours because it is not within your control.

    You are doing your Mirror-Work. You are working harder than most I see. I coach left behind spouses all the time and though they work hard and answer the questions I give them, you have gone beyond that. You have been focusing on your development with hope that he will too. As I said in my previous post, you have been earning way to reconciliation or divorce. But at some point you need to say you are there. What is the reality of your situation?

    I don’t know if your husband is a narcissist, but I would not be surprised if narcissists have a tendency toward sex addiction.
    I just read a memoir—and typically I can’t stand memoirs—about a woman who discovers her husband’s multiple infidelities about 6 months after his sudden death at 44. She learns her husband was diagnosed with NPD by his psychiatrist and it might provide some helpful insight into someone with NPD.
    Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz
    It is well written; I don’t know if you’d like it or not, but I’ve written about NPD and this showed the side of love that I don’t always see at my forum. Julie was in some extreme denial—as she realizes in retrospect, the infidelity clues were glaring.
    I think learning more about NPD—if you haven’t already—can help you make a more informed plan and decision.

    • beautifulmess7 October 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      As always, this is spot on, insightful, and really gives me something to think about. I agree whole-heartedly with your comments. I will get more specific later (probably), but for now just know that your feedback is greatly valued and appreciated.

      Also, I find Buddhism very intriguing. I have studied some of its basic concepts for a philosophy and ethics class. If there were any religion that I find myself agreeing with more often than not, that is probably the one. You are very perceptive. 🙂

    • rgonaut October 17, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

      I think rollercoaster is spot on too. Personally I would have given up on the details along time ago but I understand your personality drives you to be very analytic ( me too) and also legalistic and rule oriented. I don’t think your spouse is capable of observing your detailed rules and consequences at this time. To him it’s just a big blur of punishment that he is unable to avoid.

      • beautifulmess7 October 17, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

        I don’t even know where to begin in considering how he might be feeling right now. I don’t know if he grasps the gravity of his lies. I don’t know if he is truly capable of change. I don’t feel at all like any of this is a “punishment,” although he may be feeling that way. From my perspective, this is the only way to keep my sanity. (That I’m at the point of needing space from him to stay sane is another thing altogether).

        I certainly think that the boundaries we came up with together (over several weeks with a therapist if you remember) are definitely reachable goals for any normal person. He absolutely could have avoided being here – or at least should have been able to. Again, I don’t know what he is realistically capable of anymore. I think an in-depth psychiatric examination and diagnosis from someone far more trained than I is required to determine that.

        I’m not sure what “details” you mean – but I am definitely intrigued now. Do you mean you would have given up on the marriage or given up on trying to figure out if things could work? Or do you think I am going too far in even trying to understand him?

        • rgonaut October 17, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

          Maybe punishment is not the right word, try consequences.

          Details: I’m referring the way you have layed out a detailed list of questions to be answered as well as detailed rules ( in other posts I think )
          I and he would probably just feel overwhelmed and just summarize this in my head as “try to be good, better” and probably fail. Think puppy brain at some level. At another level think ” intuitive”. I suspect you are not N in the Meyers Briggs personality test.
          Sorry I am on a phone and have to be brief. I think your honesty is wonderful.

          • beautifulmess7 October 18, 2012 at 12:07 am #

            Gotcha. Now I see what you mean. Honestly, those questions are more for ME to consider and try to answer for myself based on my experience, observations, and needs. I think you are right that he probably would be too overwhelmed by that level of deep thinking to truly be able to answer them.

            You are right, I am an S and he is an N. I do this – make lists, look at things laid out on paper, organize and reorganize my thoughts because it is the best way for me to process. I would imagine that level of thinking and examining things would be far too much for him to handle.

            That is another reason I wonder if this separation is a good idea for us both. I tend to analyze, examine, and look at the details. Since that is my nature and it is not his, I think I tend to become the only one really taking a hard look at things. I often wonder if my go-getter nature enables his lazy, passive side. I do the research, I read the books, I make the lists, I look at the details, I really examine things – so he thinks he can sit back and enjoy the ride when he should be doing at least SOME of that work himself.

            I have realized that I cannot control or dictate HOW he does the work. I can’t ever say that “my way” would be the best way for him – because honestly it probably wouldn’t be (as you so kindly pointed out). He needs to figure out what HIS way would be – or he needs to stop trying (or pretending to try) altogether. Or maybe he needs to do absolutely nothing and I need to figure out what my bottom line is…

            That last part is where I have been getting. That is what those questions help me do. They help me realize that I can’t say he needs to do anything. I just have to figure out what MY needs are, what plan of action I will take, and at what point I stop waiting for him to figure things out on his own and just keep moving forward without him.

  2. Samantha Baker October 17, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    OK, I’ve read everything now. Serial spam poster!!!! LOL I hope that made you smile copy cat.

    No really, I think this is very good for you in trying to process all this crap. I know my posting has helped as has our conversations too as well as journaling.

    Asking those questions to yourself is so very important. Writing down what you want is also very important. You need to have expectations of what you need to make you feel safe in your relationship. If he can not give that to you, then you need to do what you have to in order to feel safe for YOU. And don’t forget what your mom said at lunch too. That really resonated with me to be honest.

    I absolutely agree with you that he should fight for your marriage instead of you always being the only one fighting. It’s an isolating feeling when you’re the only one. I said as much to Mr. Baker yesterday.

    Keep digging, keep processing. I think this list would be great to bring to MC with you tomorrow to be honest.

    Hope you frozze those chickens.

    • beautifulmess7 October 17, 2012 at 7:48 am #

      I am definitely bringing all of this to MC tomorrow. I may also text Mr. Mess and suggest he catch up on my blog if he hasn’t already so we can be on the same page (or he can at least know what page I’m on).

      Believe it or not, all of this was in ONE massive post before I decided to make it easier for someone not as used to giant blocks of text as us to read. I did get that idea from you. Thanks! 🙂

      • Samantha Baker October 17, 2012 at 7:50 am #

        Yeah I broke it up for the same reason. Teal Deer, LOL (Too long, didn’t read)

        But your last post is spurring me on to do some journaling myself actually. See, collective wisdom!

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