It’s time to strategically wait…read more
I spoke with my parents today on the phone because they are trying to get the grandkids together for some fun and I needed to advise them of my oldest son’s work schedule. My mom made the mistake of asking me how I was doing and boy did she ever get the full scope of it all. When the conversation progressed beyond the cliches of “nobody can make you feel X if you don’t let them” I totally unloaded in a very direct way about my emotional fragility and my anger. I tow line carefully in these conversations 1) because one should take care not to badmouth the spouse too much lest it have negative effects down the road if we reconcile and 2) my parents have [obviously] played a part in my codependent incompetence as an adult. The latter, I have long since forgiven and mostly forgotten except for when I have to dig deep and relive things I’d rather not relive for the sake of progress. At one point, I could almost see her jumping up and down, trying to summon my dad to the phone so she could hand me off [laughing!]. She called to him “hey I could use your help up here!” and I hear him coming closer to the phone saying “what? What do you need?” I visualized her waving her arms frantically and pointing to the phone. This made me giggle.
Then I encapsulated the moods du jour [again] for my dad and, as always, he said some very interesting things. Ultimately, both told me that I have to do what I have to do. Neither could understand the ultimatum from the reasonable person standpoint. [yes, yes, of course, I know the feeling] Why would H want to create more conflict and hurt for the kids by not cooperating? Why wouldn’t he accept my compromise of starting the process and respect the fact that we are in this position for a reason? If he wanted to preserve the relationship, why wouldn’t he would take the long view and give me space and time?
My dad pointed out (interestingly) how damaging the violent temper tantrums are and, at one point, said he was thinking about calling H just to talk with him from that perspective. I immediately said “NO. Do not call him! You will make things far worse for me if you do!” I recognized this was a caring response from a parent and that I would likely feel the same. HOWEVER, that would bring on a shit storm like no other and I cannot bear the brunt of it. Dad kept saying “well, you know what you have to do.” Dad theorized that maybe H would come back tomorrow having considered my mid-ground compromise and tell me I had a point about starting the couples counseling process and that would be good enough. Then he thought better of it and told me I needed to prepare myself to do what I needed to do, no matter how horrible I envisioned that to be.
Instant terror took me over for a brief time but I was able to catch it and release it. My dad told me that I should never look like I’m giving up. [In the past I have.]
So here’s my plan: I will let H churn for awhile at his ultimatum (which I’m sure he doesn’t recognize as such). In the meanwhile, I will continue to gather things I need to make my boys comfortable at my apartment. I will try to get in to see my counselor tomorrow before H gets home. If H does not come back with a more cooperative negotiation approach, then it’s my move. I will force the issue. I will write out and practice what I am going to say to him. I will make sure that I have a script to address things with the kids, if need be. I will be calm and in my “this is how things are going to be” mindset. If and when he starts to go ape shit, I will let him have his anger and I will disengage. I will anticipate the emotions and try my best to dissociate as needed to get through it. I will tell him what I need to tell him and I will leave.
My dad said “Well one thing’s for sure, he knows you’re going to do what you need to do regardless.” I said, well, not really. My behavior certainly hasn’t reinforced that perception over the past 25 years. But after awhile, it gets exhausting and I am fine with the “fuck it, file for divorce” attitude at this point. Whatever man, you forced my hand; you’d better be prepared to deal with the consequences of that move.
- Are You Incompatible in How You Negotiate Incompatibilities? (psychologytoday.com)
- Do You Fight Dirty? (alternet.org)