Sunday, January 6, 2013

Not That Much Different

When I was married I was careful about how often I was able to go see T.  I didn't want to upset K and make things difficult when I got home.  I am trying to be considerate of her feelings because I am a swell guy.  Well...  if I am completely honest, when K is all cranky she is really miserable to be around.  So for my own sanity and for the benefit of the kids, I did my best to keep things calm.  

Even now, I try to accommodate what she needs.  It makes it easier for her.  Which in turn is easier for the kids and easier for me.  Often when she does something to piss me off, I say nothing.  Even when I know I am right and I have the better argument, I say nothing.  After almost 20 years, I have learned it's often easier to just let it go.

T thinks I need to stand up for myself more.  There is one thing is particular thing she does that bugs him. Let's say that I am supposed to meet T after work on a  Saturday.  I end up going to the K's house to hang with the kids.  She will go out to something with the plan that when she returns I will leave to go see T.  Sounds reasonable, right?

The problem is, often she is late.  Sometimes an hour or more late.  As a result I am late.  T is generally understanding, but it bugs him.  If I am supposed to have dinner with his family, it bothers me to be late for that.

The last time it happened, T told me that I need to be firm with her.  I need to confront her about her inconsiderate behavior.  I told him that I could, but I didn't think there would be a good outcome.  He said it needed to be done.

It's true that I have often been a doormat for K.  I do it a lot less not, but, like I say, sometimes it's just easier.  Intellectually I know this is TOTALLY dysfunctional, but I don't think there is much I can do about it.

T has some of the same issues... just with his mother.

I am not entirely sure he sees it that way, but if I step back and look at things objectively, he has many of the same dysfunctions.  

Without going into a lot of detail there was something that he agreed to do with me, and after getting some crap from his mother, he altered our arrangement.  I was not happy about but it was clear that I had no choice but to go along with it.  

I know he is under a lot of stress.  Most of the a stress is work related, which as we all know can bleed over into other parts of our lives.  For him it is easier to just do what his mother wants, than deal with the fall out.  Fall out that will not only add to his stress, it will impact everyone else who lives in the house.  His stress level is to a point where I actually worry about his health, so the last thing he needs is more shit from his mother.

Much like he tells me that I need to stand up for myself, I tell him that he needs to as well.  At his age, he can respect his mother and make his own decisions at the same time.  If she disagrees with his decisions  that's fine, but she needs to respect him as well.  If she can, or chooses not to, it really is her problem, not his.  It's not like he's a teenager, right?

Yes, it is dysfunctional.  Is it more dysfunctional that my situation?  I think it is, but just a little more.  The only thing that makes me slightly less dysfunctional is my situation involves small children.  While I should stand up for myself more, I also have a responsibility to protect my children.  Going along with K, while inconvenient for me (and sometimes for T)  keeps the stress level lower of everyone else, including my kids.  In T's house, there are no kids.  They are all adults, that if they were not so overworked all the time, should be able to handle the stress of a disapproving mother.

The point of this is not to beat up on T or his mother.  The point is simply to show that, boiled down to their core, T and I both have same type relationship dysfunctions.  We also both give each other the same advice on how to deal with our respective dysfunctions.   Yet these dysfunctions persist and they get in the way of us really being together.  They prevent us from being partners in our lives the way we are in our hearts.


TwoLives said...

It looks to me like there's a deal to be made here.

Happyman said...

She is your ex-wife. Being firm about boundaries should not be that all. You co-parent children together. That is so, so different than being married to her. Have you thought of what this dysfunction is doing to your children? They see the manipulation-don't think they don't.

And yes I have been there.

Comparing degrees of dysfunction? Really? Fix yourself rather than waste time and energy trying to determine who is more screwed up.

Buddy Bear said...

I spent 20 years of my marriage, tiptoeing around my wife as she constantly changed plans, forgot arrangements and otherwise lived in chaos.

But now that we've been separated for two years and are nearly divorced, I have learned to take a very firm stand with these erratic, last minute changes. I accomodate her if it's convenient but made it clear that I'm not "on call" all the time, with no notice.

So what if she gets grumpy with the kids? That is the reality of her personality and they probably already have seen it. If they haven't seen that side of her, maybe it's time they did.

Also (as the previous commenter said), you are not sending out a very good signal to your kids, always giving in to her manipulations. You wouldn't want your kids to start behaving that way in their future relationships, would you?

You can't control T's issues with his mother; that's his business, not yours. But your EX-wife is someone who can deal with.

Sunne said...

Oh my - what a shitty situation. But I think Buddy Bear and Happyman have a point here. You teach your children to cave to your exwife's behaviour/moods.

You teach them that it is okay to not keep agreements.

Why not start small? The next time you are with your kids and she is going away, tell her before leaving that she needs to be back in time, you have plans for later. Just tell her, you'll more than willingly call her before and remind her so that she has time to come back. And do it!!! And if she is not back, call her every few minutes. If she is bitchy to you, just tell her that you don't want to be a bad example for your kids - someone who don't keep agreements.

Your kids survived your divorce, they will survive her bad mood. You don't think that she's never in a bad mood when you are not around? They know her, too.

How old are your kids? Do they still need a babysitter? Otherwise, if they are okay to be alone for a while, leave before she is back...or if not, ask your wife whom you should call on her behalf (and for her to pay) to come over to babysit in case she is late.

This is something you can work on.

What T is going to do with his mother...well, isn't this an old problem, one that caused all the trouble anyway...T's dedication to his family?
Of course I think he should live his life for himself, of course I would be overjoyed to hear that you two finally moved in together...but you won't change him. Of course it is not okay to alter your arangements after some crap from his mother.
But I'm a European woman, grown up in a familiy that for sure has other values like his.
And as much as you have to do your part of your own, he has to do his. And you know that and you know that every change will be a small one.

Maybe if he sees that you can do it, it'll be some kind of impulse for him?

So - think first what you want to show and teach your kids. Don't think they don't notice.

And only second what you hope from T - because he probably knows but is torn between lifelong loyalty and love.

Good luck!