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    This Exchange simulates the original Couples Coping Support Group. It is designed to help persons with concerns in their relationships, family, marriage, seperation, divorce, etc.Offering a wide range of real world, personal experiences, information, knowledge, suggestions, & views from real people.
    OK women, help me out please
    queston posted:
    I understand that my gripe is a much more common one among women than among men...

    Last night, my wife and I went for a walk while waiting to collect our son from HS soccer practice. We had some nice conversation. I shared something that I wish could change about our relationship, in a very gentle way. I didn't blame her (I phrased it as "it's kindof my fantasy that we could...," not "Why can't you ever..."). I used a "soft startup" (to use John Gottman's term), and introduced it with a positive. ("It's really nice that..., but it's kindof my fantasy that...)

    Her response was a very terse "yep." (As in, "there is no way in hell we're going to talk about that any further right now. Hopefully, not ever.")

    Arrgh. I don't even know how to respond to that.
    stephs_3_kidz responded:
    You need to be much more assertive.

    She blows off any suggestion that comes out of your mouth. She knows you won't argue with her. She likes being in control.

    If you want to take that conversation further, take it further. If she doesn't want to respond, so be it. But you should be able to express yourself without her acting like she has the "power" to stop it whenever she's done.

    She is very disrespectful to you.
    gd9900 responded:
    queston...did you fantasy have anything to do with sex? I ask because I know this has been an issue between you and your wife. Being met with her very terse "yup" is passive-aggressive behavior. THAT is the problem that needs to be addressed. Have the two of you considered marriage counselling to work on looking at and fixing that behavior??
    FCL responded:
    "Arrgh. I don't even know how to respond to that."

    You kill her with kindness. You take her hands, look deep into her eyes and say "what do your think about that? Does it do anything for you?"/ Do you have a fantasy that you'd like to enact?"/"Tell me more, darling" - it really doesn't matter WHAT you say as long as y ou don't let the conversation die. She knows that she can kill it dead with one word. You have to accept that knowledge before you start next time (and, yes, there will be a next time) and have a few backups ready. Be prepared (as they used to tell us in the Girl Guides).
    There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that.
    mrslee97658 responded:
    You ask her if there is anything that she would like to see change in your relationship , if she has any fantasies about how the "perfect" relationship could be. And if she doesn't answer you make her answer, ask her why she can't talk to you about things when you are being so open and honest with her. GL
    Me 28, DH 43, DS1 (11), DD (8), DS2 (5), DS 3 (4), DS 4 (2 months)
    queston replied to mrslee97658's response:
    She clearly doesn't like to talk about this stuff. But she also very clearly has trouble accepting influence from me (and others). That's actually of more concern to me. (I think not liking to talk about stuff is more a byproduct of her fear of accepting influence.)

    Here's a kindof silly example: My family is into soccer. I play and coached competitive soccer for several years. I have professional coaching certification (the kind you attend classes and pass exams to qualify for). Two of our kids, our 14 and 17 yos, have played competitively for multiple years. Our daughter is being recruited by college coaches. To make a long story short, we know a lot about soccer.

    My wife will sit in the stands and insist that her (generally unorthodox) opinions about tactics and player development are equal to or superior to ours. And she's not all that nice about it when anyone politely suggests that we might see things that she doesn't.

    No one is shouting her down or saying that she can't have opinions--just that it would be reasonable to acknowledge that her opinions are less professionally informed because people who have studied/practiced the game for years know things about soccer that she does not.

    This happened again at a game Monday night and she got all snitty about it. (No one was even opposing her opinions--she was saying stuff like "Well, I know you think [x> is the next Pele or something, but I think he lost that ball way too easily there.")

    She has become extremely insecure, for some reason, in recent years, in my opinion.
    Spankyrae responded:
    Given what we know of your wife's perspective/behaviors concerning sex, it doesn't surprise me that she responded this way.

    I think it's premature to expect her to respond with consideration (even if she disagrees, acknowledgement is nice in a relationship), when she has the issues she has with your guys' sex life.

    I agree with everything said here... and second the counseling bit. Are you guys still going? If not, I urge it because it's not likely, nor does it sound like, the core issues in your relationship are improved or resolved.
    stephs_3_kidz replied to queston's response:
    When she gets uncomfortable, she reverts to the old tried and true shut down method. She closes off, gets smart with you, end of conversation.

    My question to you is, why do you allow that to stop you? You know, if you really want to discuss something, you don't have to let a terse response from her end it right there.

    I feel like you're just emotionally scared and scarred of/from her reactions and shutting down after all these years. Letting her have her way and leaving it alone has become habit.

    Standing up for yourself and asserting your needs is going to take some time. I feel like you've come a long way with it, but it's almost like you don't feel worthy of being happy.
    gd9900 replied to queston's response:
    Its interesting that you mention the word influence. WOW - I mean that in a good way. I had a discussion with some friends very recently about influence and control. If you look the words up in the dictionary they are synonymous...however, one connotates something negative and the other something positive. Is it possible there was someone in her life before you who was overly-controlling? I'd like to suggest maybe she doesn't understand there is a difference.

    I learned a lot about myself from this one conversation. My mothers controlling ways were crippling to me. Emotionally, I was wrong to cry when I was upset, shout when I was mad, or walk away when I needed space. There were physical restrictions also, that were generated by HER fears. For example, her friends daughter was killed by a drunk driver at the age of 13, when riding her bike home from a friends house in the middle of the day. Quite an extenuating and unfortunate circumstance no doubt - I had to pay the price of not being allowed to take my bike over one street (on a quiet residential cul de sac) to visit my friend. When her father (my grandfather) died I was 7...I wasn't allowed to attend the funeral because of what a "wake" was in her day. Granted it wasn't a good experience for her but she could have avoided the same circumstances by explaining to me what was involved and giving me the choice to go. Not only that but I wasn't around my family during the grieving period. Yet once those few days were over, I ended up being her "rock" throughout this hardship. What teenager isn't allowed to attend a concert (big name) with an adult chaperone? Me that's

    By the same token there weren't many times when she would influence or suggest things to me - when she did, it wasn't so much a suggestion as it was this is what I would do.

    My point in all of this isn't to bash my mother...she IS a wonderful person and I love her. My point is in gaining insight to where a persons behavior lies. Over years of stifling behavior with my mother, subconsciously I was beat down into thinking nothing I did or thought or said mattered or was right by me. I always had something to prove...HUH! So even when mom was trying to be helpful I didn't see it that way. That is something that has overtoned throughout my life. I have become more consciencious/aware of this once I had my children, left their father, and eventually met and married my husband. My husband was extremely instrumental in teaching me about suggestions/influence vs control. I was also at a point in my life where I was ready to move forward and learn from it.
    gd9900 replied to gd9900's response:
    Jeez...I was re-reading what I wrote and realized that in my haste to finish the post I left a few things out.

    After all that talk of Mom's controlling ways, let me talk a little about how this influenced my behavior. For years I struggled feeling like people just didn't "get" me. I learned to cope with not feeling heard or understood using passive-aggressive behavior...guess who my teacher was? Yup, Mom. In my teens I just didn't care about me anymore - I was empty inside, and no one but me knew it. By then I had thrown up walls and shut my inside down. I was able to make it work because I just kept finding ways to PROVE myself in life...meaning with goals and success. This is why Mom refers to me as being a happy go lucky kid!

    Once I had kids, things changed - I cared again. My life became chaotic and the passive agressive behavior started coming out...I started tearing down those walls. I was frustrated with myself, and couldn't help but find me to be a victim. People tried to help me, but I really thought I was a lost cause. I had this character flaw and this is just the way I am...walls went up again. I did seek out individual and group therapy on my own after leaving the father of my kids. I learned I did not have a character flaw...I actually looked in the mirror one day and saw my mother staring back at me. It was the strangest wake-up call ever!! I realized there were things about myself I saw in that mirror that I didn't like reflecting back at me. Primarily with my behavior and reactions to people...but I started paying attention to it and opening up about it in therapy. Things are better for me, but it is something I will struggle with for the rest of my life. Its not something you can just "fix", but you can work at unlearning the old ways and replacing with a learned, more positive, behavior/reaction.

    I'm sharing my story because I do see this behavior in your idea where it comes from with her. If she wants to change it, it's possible...but it starts with her.

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