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How do you express yourself


goose
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How do you express youself in a relationship when you are afraid of critizism and hate conflict.

I have realised there are issues in my marriage which are impeding my recovery from depression. My therapist wants me to talk to my husband, but I am so hypersensitive that I am finding it difficult. I don't want to hurt or seem to be getting at my husband.

The longer I put it off the harder I'm finding it.:P

Goose

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As the old joke says, "Very carefully?"

Perhaps those goals can't be treated as absolutes. You may have to hurt someone's feelings a little, to avoid getting your own hurt. Maybe it's just a readjustment of that balance.

I, too, am a trained placater, so I have relatively little practical to offer. Just some moral support and an ear, if dissociated body parts are any help.

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"You may have to hurt someone's feelings a little, to avoid getting your own hurt. Maybe it's just a readjustment of that balance."

Good point there. The balance is way off in my case. Why is it alright for me to hurt so much - time for change I think.

Tonight's the night.

May take you up on that listening ear, for the fallout afterwards.

Thanks

Goose:)

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Well, don't be surprised if he's surprised. :-)

Most of us benefit from being surprised, occasionally. Even if that's hard to for us to accept at the time it happens.

And you know where to find us, though it's hard to be sure about a specific time.

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Hi Goose,

This is always to tough one, especially when the issues are sensitive. I don't know your situation or what the issues-- if you tell us what the issue is (if you feel comfortable), we may be of some help in phrasing and positioning the discussion's direction to stop it from becoming a train wreck.

Good luck.

Edited by David O
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Thank you for your replies,

My husband has always been emotionally dependent on me. He has fallen out with his family, I have listened, and listened and listened and given advice, I have even told him to blame me on different incidents - like not going to his brother's wedding - if it made it easier for him.

There is a strong history of suicide in his family , 3 first cousins and an uncle. My husband has had a number of bouts of depression. I am afraid of withdrawing any support in case it makes him vulnerable. However his dependence on me is not allowing me progress.

He has projected his feelings for one of his brothers onto our son. He is very negative about him. I walk in from work and get told every minor incident that has happened - I need to tell him that this is not helping me. When there is a major incident with my son I am afraid to tell him because of his reaction - I need to tell him I need support not critizism. Because of our son's adhd, parenting him is difficult, I need to tell my husband to praise our son's good behaviour and not to concentrate on the negatives all the time.

This is just the start of what needs to be done, there are other difficulties which need to be tackled also.

Anyhow I have decided not to tackle him tonight as I just realised that it is the anniversary of his father's death today.

Thanks for listening

Goose

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Goosey, though,

None of what you're saying sounds like a withdrawal of support, to me. It just sounds like you're telling him your needs, and telling him is the only way he's ever going to know them. At least, I bet you can present it that way.

And you don't have to do it today. :-)

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Goose,

You know as well as we do that you can't change your husband; however, making changes within you will typically result in changes in him:

1) See your partner for who he is, and how you might have taught him to treat you as he does (this is the toughest pill to swollow).

2) Take full ownership of your feelings.

3) Favor task-related requests over requests that require your spouse to change his personality or character. Instead of saying, "I want you to be a more considerate person," say, "How about writing birthdays on a calendar to help you remember."

4) Use "I" language to address the problems you have as a married couple. "I" language doesn't mean saying, "I don't like the way you talk to the kids." Rather, say, "I would like to talk about the way we talk to our kids."

5) Begin making changes within yourself. You can actually set up a behavioral contract with him about boundaries and limitations on your ability to be compassionate (many spouses of sick partners or parents develop compassion fatigue, rendering them less helpful after awhile). Explain the limitations of your emotional resources but do so with sensitivity and understanding. In this contract, set up rules for discussing highly emotional material (e.g., we can talk about this for 30 minutes today, etc.).

6) Once you've moved beyond this stage, you can actually be up front and gently say: "If you don't like your life, I say you quit talking about your unhappiness and try to fix it, no matter how difficult or impossible your situation seems. Do you have a friend or someone who can partner with you on this (if he doesn't, make him look around. If still there is no one else, then you can say: 'I'll be be your partner in this process since we're joined at the hip.'). Now, if we were on our way to fixing this situation, what 3 things could we start doing differently today?" Once you agree on 2-3 behaviors (at least one should relate to his relationship to your son), stick to them no matter what (this is where you start making the changes to bring about change within him). Next week, add one more thing, and do so every week for another month. For this to work you have to stick to it consistently for about 30-45 days, at which point it will begin to take effect.

W/o a therapist, this process will be hard to carry out, but it can be done. Take your time, go slowly, be gentle, and be especially realistic and unequivocal.

I realize I've shortened a much more lengthy process we would carry out in therapy, but this is a start. Good luck!

Edited by David O
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Thank you Malign and David,

Yes I do think I have been enabling, thus encouraging this dependence. Ironically it has resulted in me having a much more severe depression than he has ever had.

Malign, 20 years of putting someone elses needs ahead of my own is a hard habit to break, but for my own sake I have to have the courage to change.

I like the approach you have suggested David. It does give me an idea how to go about it.

Thanks again

Goose

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Ok, had a chat with him last night. He did apologise for seeming to take his anger out on me, it wasn't intended.

He didn't like to hear that I was feeling vulnerable, it scares him. This is usually the time when I back down, because of my fears. However I have to break this pattern of my beliefs and behaviour.

Feeling good this morning

Thanks for all your help

Goose

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Great 1st step.... now you might want to take it to the second level by developing a plan/agreement that prevents it from happening anymore. I used to jokingly tell my kids (and now it's come back to haunt me): "Don't apologize, change your behavior!"

It should be worded better I think to something like: "I very much appreciate your apology. What can be done differently so we don't keep covering this material over and over and so we don't keep hurting each other?" Then begin looking for tangible solutions. Write down 3-5 and post them on the fridge as a reminder of both of your commitments.

Good Luck.

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I'm confused.

Looking around me today I see my husband in great form, why am I so unhappy?. If he thinks everything is just fine, is there something wrong with my judgement?

Yesterday he went to an event with his family - they don't speak. I was anxious about how he would be when he would come back. This is often a spark for him getting low and needing constant reassurance from me. So I asked him before he went to have a plan for himself, like how he would help himself get over any upset. I wanted him to have something in place so that he would not load it on me as usual. Saying this meant that I was less anxious when he was away, except he was 3 hours late coming home and didn't ring me. It turned out that there was no sinister reason for this, but for that 3 hours I felt guilty for having taken a step back from him.

You know my Dad always seemed to believe that you don't rock the boat even if it is detrimental to yourself. There is some of this lingering with me I think.

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Goose,

Good morning, it sounds like you're going in the right direction. You had him develop a plan that removed you from the equation, he put the plan in place (it seems) and wallah, it worked!!! And yet you feel guilty?:eek::eek:

What thoughts (not feelings) are you having while he is gone, that cause this anxiety? There may be a way we can go thru (not around) them. List the top 5 and let's see if we can figure this out.

Good luck.

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When my husband goes to family events, which are a 2 hour drive away he will normally ring me to say he is on his way home. So I will know when to expect him, normally he rings about 8pm and I know to expect him at 10pm. By 11pm there was no call or no sign of him.

My main thought last night was that he had realised I was trying to pull back from him and he couldnt cope and had done harm to himself. Although I often have this thought when he is late home in general.

He has been assessed by a psychiatrist in the last few years and he was satisfied that the family doctor was treating him adequately - currently on 75mg effexor xl.

I am trying to rationalize this, but would very much welcome your input.

Thank you

Goose

Edited by goose
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