Reader: This is the next level of married game. If you’re basically an honest Beta poor bastard, you can’t fake being gone. You hang on as long as you can. And then, you’re gone. And of course, the situation improves. But every backslide, every “same old same” behavior is greeted with “now, I remember…I’m gone.” You have no normal human tolerance for working out differences. There’s just the hair-trigger of “be perfect or be alone”. Anybody coming in late would say you’re unreasonable.
So, how do you bring back love and patience, when she made you emotionally die the first time around?
Athol: The honest truth is that it is much easier to give birth than raise the dead. So the easier route is to find someone new to love and live your life with. It’s hard enough as it is opening your heart to someone new, let alone to the person that made your life a living hell for years on end.
But, there are always potentially good reasons to try and make things work, namely kids and shared assets, so some of you will want to rebuild.
I think you have to both see and hear her admit wrongdoing and taking responsibility for her half of the marriage. She will of course sometimes do whatever the old trigger behavior was, and set you off again. When she does that, she has to be conscious of it and be apologetic. It’s going to be a lot of those two steps forward one step back sort of things, and it is vastly easier to accept her saying, “I’m sorry, that was a step back today, I did that thing again.” as opposed to a dismissive “Whatever.”
So you have to sit down together, and really figure out what she does that really sets you off, and make that a conscious awareness for both of you. So she has to take responsibility for her actions, and you have to take responsibility for the fact it’s a process to reengineer your relationship together.
Sometimes those triggers are going to be things she doesn’t always know about fully and sometimes they can be seemingly quite trivial. Even in good marriages you’re going to have buttons you can push at will on the other person that seriously pisses them off in the middle of a perfectly fine day. You just have to not push them on each other.
This may sound silly, but Jennifer never cooks sausages or peppers for dinner, in part because they are two of my very least favorite foods and in part because it triggers me when she does. There’s a long involved story behind that, but I can’t tell it without making Jennifer look like a total bitch and the queen of being in the wrong. Just accept that even good marriages have bad days, and we had a very bad day that involved these sadistic sausages with little bits of green pepper inside them. So it just pushed a very bad day over the top and I left the house for a couple hours and purposely left my cell phone at home so she couldn’t call me. Which I did intentionally to hurt her. So yeah I know all that sounds pretty and stupid, but there really is a complicated story of miscommunication behind it that I can’t talk about.
About three months after our bad day, I hear a colossal, “SHIT!” from the kitchen. I run because I thought she got burned or something. Instead Jennifer is standing in front of the stove with a bunch of peppers frying away and looking sick to the stomach. Apparently she was on automatic pilot and just regained consciousness halfway through the cooking process and realized what she was cooking. OMG I’m doing it again, he’s going to flip out at me.
As it was, I accepted her apology and just ate around the damn peppers. But she hasn’t done it since. But obviously if she kept doing it over and over, it would piss me off worse and worse.
So triggers are going to be hit accidentally from time to time, and it really helps if she knows what the triggers are and is apologetic for hitting them. Love can slowly seep back in and years later it may all be something you can laugh about together. But if she keeps purposely hammering away at the sore spot, it’s just never going to work. So you may need to move on and start over.
Jennifer: I have PTSD about those sausages too.