I find it a bit ironic, that for two people who (supposedly) still choose/want to stay together, in this almost 20 year marriage, why I feel so stuck in relationship healing. I’m reluctant to use the word recovery, primarily because I don’t want to recover my old marriage, no way, too unhealthy. I thought the wall had been coming down, a little bit, stone by stone, but it feels like we are headed for that same old familiar spot. Oh hell NO!!
What I’d envisioned, was a better, new and improved version of my marriage. Foolishly I really did think that since so much had been brought to light about all the negative issues (past and current) that we would be able to get past the narcissism crap. Re-create our marriage in a healthy way that fills both our needs. Oh chely, what makes you think you are so special that you could beat the odds?
In many ways, during this last year our actions radiated the feeling that we were on the right path, we have been able to come closer. He has been considerably less abusive. So the appearance of a healthy, loving relationship, that facade from before, is taking shape, because we have reached a sort of an impasse in our healing. I’m not sure where I read this, whose blog it was (but one from a professional), the term used was “flat tire repair” to describe this type of recovery.
I’m paraphrasing here so bear with me; When dealing with infidelity in a marriage, Like a nail in your bike tire, you now have a leak) many partners say they will do whatever it takes to repair the damage. When partners try to work things out, to heal, it does improve some. (you have put a patch on the hole) Yet when trying to talk about these issues your partner continues to avoid the subject (this movement/friction works to loosen the edges of the patch creating that slow leak). It’s not that you don’t wish to talk about the hard stuff. But every time you attempt to, your partner won’t have that conversation. Without this communication about the difficult issues, the air continues to slowly leak from the tire, eventually going completely flat. Oh it may be possible to drive on a flat for awhile. But ultimately this tire can no longer be patched. The term used to describe this behavior is Stonewalling.
On the blog, Anger in the age of entitlement, Steven Stosny PhD. gives the following description:
“Stonewalling is absolute refusal to consider your partner’s perspective. IF you listen at all you do so dismissively or contempously. You stonewall to gain leverage or power. Stonewalling can also be a defense mechanism, a person can feel like they are trying to protect themselves and their families. Stonewalling is an avoidance strategy”.
Criticism, resentment, defensiveness and stonewalling are just a few of the ways a partner may emotionally abuse, all while smiling and putting on an appearance that all of it is for one’s own good, in other words “helping”. Stosny goes on to say it is “Important to note emotional abuse is about the effects of behavior, NOT the words used. You can say the most loving words with sarcasm and silently communicate contempt through body language, rolling eyes, sighs, grimaces, tone of voice, etc.” Other examples include silence, mumbling monotone utterances, changing the subject or physically removing self from current situation, withholding or insisting on sex, or even manufactured aches and pains (medical problems) that seem to crop up whenever the conversation goes into an uncomfortable place..
Yes this is such a perfect description of my husband’s behavior. If you want to make sure that no one willingly co-operates with you then be sure to criticize them regularly. Add some stonewalling to your efforts and you’ve got the perfect receipe for disappointment, which leads to resentment. Being chronically disappointed can lead to constant frustration and stress. “Resentment multiplies stress and the perception of unfairness. In NOT getting one’s needs met. It is so unfair as you realize that there will be NO help, NO consideration, NO praise, NO reward, NO respect or NO affection”, states Stosny.
So Husband just came out into living room, and once again asked what I am doing? “Writing” I replied. “May I see?” he asks. I hand him my notebook and he
begins to glance at my notes. As he reads, his demeanor and body language tell me he’s not liking what he is reading. He comments, “So tell me what does all this do for you?” “It mostly seems like a bunch of drivel”. “I learn why I feel the way I do sometimes” I reply. His response doesn’t surprise me at all, “just seems like a big waste of your time to me”.
This all started the other day, when I came to the conclusion that he does not or chooses not to understand WHY I HAD BECOME THE UNSUPPORTIVE PARTNER and had attempted to leave many years ago. I decided to ask. “What do you think is the reason was that I had become so unsupportive which lead to you seeking attention from another?” I stood silently and finally he answers that he does not know. No real surprises here. I thanked him, emotionally calm and went to leave the room, when he asks if I was going to tell him why? “You have been emotionally abusive to me and the boys for a long time.” I didn’t want to fight, hash it out or seek a solution, just a simple answer. After we stood there for an uncomfortable moment, he just smiles turns and walks away.
I think I finally get it. He does not and most likely never will. My narcissistic husband is clueless or the best actor I’ve met. We will never address our issues (not just his mine as well), we will never even agree to disagree. We will just stumble along, semi comatose still pretending that all is well. The resentment and stonewalling will continue. There is no love between us anymore. Maybe that’s not quite right, there is some love in the familiar we’ve been together so long, we know nothing else. But there is no desire, no passion, mind blowing sex, no dreaming of our future. It’s more a disappointment that his heart probably hasn’t ever been “in” this relationship. So sad, I have been alone for a long, long time.
John Gottman sums it up this way, “when you are making every effort to address a problem, whether you are attempting to talk about something upsetting you, explain your feelings about on-going areas of conflict, trying to reach a resolution AND YOUR PARTNER IS PRETENDING THAT YOU AREN’T THERE. You are likely to reach a level of upset or anger SO HIGH, that you psychologically and emotionally “check out” as well.”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard it expressed so well.
Take the sunglasses off girlfriend.
Open your FUCKING eyes.
This wall needs no more stones I never could climb over it before, what makes me think I can now.