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Just tell me what to do and I'll do it.

Old 08-26-2010, 07:23 AM
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Just tell me what to do and I'll do it.

This is one of my AH's favorite phrases whether we are fighting or trying to have a serious conversation. He always pulls it out, "just tell me what to do and I'll do it." Which is then usually followed by I don't know how to make you happy anymore.

Without fail every time he utters those words it sends me into a tailspin. I just don't know how to react to it,any words of wisdom.
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Old 08-26-2010, 07:53 AM
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Sounds familiar. When I criticize, or even just tell him he's hurt me, his favorite response is "I've never had anyone tell me that I've hurt them so much" (um, yeah, because no one has ever stuck with you this long).

"Just tell me what to do" isn't a solution. I tell him, and one part gets done, then the rest falls to the way side.

I'm only now discovering that my happiness has been stunted by his actions, and I've let it be that way under the guise of "spending time with my husband" rather than doing what I wanted to do. By babysitting him, I can keep an eye on his drinking, try to curtail it, when I should not have to do these things at all.

I think I'm off topic, sorry. Personally, I would turn the tables - "What do you think would make me happy?" I don't know if that's considered correct or not, but heck, he's your husband, he should know SOMEthing about you and be able to do something nice. Isn't that what wives do all the time?

(for those with more experience, please correct me if I'm wrong, I need to know too.)
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Old 08-26-2010, 08:21 AM
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I can relate to both of you; been there, done that. Bklyn, it may be helpful to assess the conversation that leads up to that comment. Because I've been there I assume that it's similar to the convos that my AH and I had. These were typically me trying to get him to see how much his drinking was affecting us, telling him to stop, asking why he does it, getting angry at him, threatening, begging, figuring out his problems etc. Then he'd finish with "I can never make you happy" etc etc.

My AH often told me he felt attacked, and comments like yours says serve to deflect him having to think or figure anything out. Just tell him the answer; he's defeated beneath all your words and just wants this conversation to finish!

If this sounds anything like your situation, then the most helpful thing is to assess your motives for the conversation before you open your mouth. If anything you say is meant to try and get him to see the light, or convince him of his issues or anything like that, it is better left unsaid because you are stepping into things that are not your mental and spiritual territory. Instead, focus that energy on you, and let him be and figure his own things out.

If he does anything because you tell him and not because he's come to it on his own; it will likely always be a bandaid solution. Even further and what happened to us, is that I'd tell him "what to do" and he might do it to get me off his back and then he just built resentment and then escaped by drinking.

So first, examine your motives before you speak, maybe it's a convo that doesn't really need to be had (and you deal with your desire to express in other ways like journaling, meditating, going to an Al Anon meeting), otherwise if a conversation still gets that way, simply bring it back to him with a gentle 'you do what is best for you' and leave it at that. The more he engages you to fix his problems with these statements; to me that is more reason to disengage with a neutral remark and not play in.

Phillypup, you haven't been put on this earth to babysit grownups. Besides that, grownups are quite resourceful and will figure out how to work around their obstacles to the things they really want, so in effect you are only hurting yourself. Your babysitting him is an illusion that you can control his drinking by being there. So then why bother - do what you want. If he drinks then you have the ability to choose not to be around him (either temporarily or permanently). But don't let that fear stop you from living your life, because this will build resentment in you and you will feel victimized by him, whereas it is your actions that put you there. Do you go to Al Anon? If not, it could be very helpful to deal with feelings of trying to control the uncontrollable in our lives.
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Old 08-26-2010, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by BklynGrl View Post
This is one of my AH's favorite phrases whether we are fighting or trying to have a serious conversation. He always pulls it out, "just tell me what to do and I'll do it." Which is then usually followed by I don't know how to make you happy anymore.

Without fail every time he utters those words it sends me into a tailspin. I just don't know how to react to it,any words of wisdom.
Sounds familiar to me too. I took that on me for a long time, that it was up to me to make the changes, and tell him what to do to make me happy. When all along the problem lay with his drinking and abusiveness. He made me think that I was the one being difficult and hard to please. I was the problem, and the poor man was just trying to make things work. HA HA HA!!!
Not!! If your ah is anything like my stbxah, he is just blowing smoke , and trying to make you feel guilty. I used to wonder why I felt so guilty ALL the time. Then I realized that it was not me. I do not blame him for all our problems, marriage is a partnership, but when one partner has an addiction, then the scales of blame are not equal anymore.
Tell him straight out what you need out of your marriage. If he can't give you what you need, then don't let him make it your fault.
Part of our problem was that neither of us was good at being straight with the other, not until close to the end anyway.Thats when I told him that it was up to him to do the work of getting better. He was not interested. So here we are. God's blessings,H
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Old 08-26-2010, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by BklynGrl View Post
This is one of my AH's favorite phrases whether we are fighting or trying to have a serious conversation. He always pulls it out, "just tell me what to do and I'll do it." Which is then usually followed by I don't know how to make you happy anymore.
Is he using this phrase after you tell him all the things he is doing wrong in life and in the relationship?

It happened in my marriage. I was telling him all the things he was doing wrong. The things he was doing were making me feel unloved, disrepected. He was frustrated and said "Tell me what I SHOULD do".

I would proceed to tell him what to do. Sometimes he actually did what I asked. Things would be good for a while. Then, THEN I would notice I was still feeling unloved, and worthless.

I wanted my life partner to make me feel love, value, happiness. I was making another person responsible for my joy.

He never stood a chance.

I had to put down the magnifying glass that kept me focused on his actions and pick up the mirror and look at my own. How could my partner make me feel loved, when I didn't know how to love myself? How could my partner make me feel valued when I didn't value my own feelings? How could my partner make me happy, when I didn't know how to be happy with myself?

Making myself happy is an inside job.

Letting others make themself happy is, letting go and letting HP.
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Old 08-26-2010, 08:34 AM
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"The more he engages you to fix his problems with these statements; to me that is more reason to disengage with a neutral remark and not play in"

Right on target...

Thank you.
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Old 08-26-2010, 08:36 AM
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hmm interesting perspectives. I guess it most recently came up during a discussion about when I was going to come home. I suggested that perhaps we should just get together and talk for awhile before I go running back. I suggested Sunday and he wanted to do it sooner and then bam. "I've done everything you want me to do, I don't know how to make you happy anymore. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it." and then he started listing things, I'm sober, I'm going to meetings, I went to the doctor today. All of which I've mentioned in the past when I was still under the impression that I could try and control him.

My basic response was no I'm not going to tell you what to do anymore I'm not your mother or your boss and I'm not going to go there anymore. He just keep repeating himself until we both got off the phone upset and frustrated. I just don't know how to stop that emotional tailspin that I go into when he utters those words.
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Old 08-26-2010, 09:10 AM
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I think Pelican says it very succinctly - you made him responsible for your happiness, and now he's told you he's done everything you asked, and still now you're not ready to come back? Like a kid who says he did his homework, brushed his teeth like you asked, now can he please watch tv? And yet you say but it's still not enough, let's talk about it. And the kid just wants to watch tv.

And as I said, as long as it doesn't come from him, it will never work. He got sober, goes to meetings, what more do you want? He needs to be going to meetings because he wants to, because it helps him. Otherwise you will always be on the merry go round. Not engaging when he continues to hook you in is the first step. I told my AH recently when he tried to talk to me about his recovery - and I said, I don't wish to talk about it, your recovery is yours. I won't speak to him about it, but I'm watching his actions which will tell me everything I need to know about whether he is really recovering. Perhaps that approach can help you.
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Old 08-26-2010, 09:30 AM
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The alc and addicted BFs I have had always seemed to live their lives and operTe within our relationship by figuring out the minimum requirements to get by and just doing that, no more. And usually they couldn't even do the minimum. Either way, they seemed to me to do what your AH is doing as a way of blaming ME for the consequences of the alcohol consumption, a way to remain in denial. I was never able to have any type of successful relationship with people like this.
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Old 08-26-2010, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by phillypup View Post
Sounds familiar. When I criticize, or even just tell him he's hurt me, his favorite response is "I've never had anyone tell me that I've hurt them so much" (um, yeah, because no one has ever stuck with you this long).
My ex can't fathom "what he did" to bring us to the point we are at now. When I tell him (yet again), he apologises. "I'm sorry seems to start every sentence.

Originally Posted by phillypup View Post
"Just tell me what to do" isn't a solution. I tell him, and one part gets done, then the rest falls to the way side.
I stopped telling him what to do or make suggestions. All he did was pay lip service to them, but never follow through.

When we went through the song and dance again last week, he asked me once again what he should do. I told him that "he" should stop asking me because "he" never listened to me anyway.

Originally Posted by phillypup View Post
I'm only now discovering that my happiness has been stunted by his actions, and I've let it be that way under the guise of "spending time with my husband" rather than doing what I wanted to do.
Since I have walked away, I have connected with a woman who does volunteer work at the same place I do. We have spent time together as we have a lot in common and it has made me realize how much I missed out on - the normalcy of going for a coffee, having a conversation about whatever, one that didn't involve drinking, with someone who shares a lot of common interests.

The Ex always ridiculed my going to Al-anon or the fact that I had people to call on for support. He would always get the dig in that "we" never spent time together "on the weekends because I had my Saturday meeting. I shot back-about his work over the weekends at the same time as the meetings, but that was "different". I stopped arguing with that flawed logic.


Originally Posted by phillypup View Post
By babysitting him, I can keep an eye on his drinking, try to curtail it, when I should not have to do these things at all.
I did that as well, especially last summer-mind you, I had good reason-when he was in full binge mode, I did not trust him to be alone with my dog. When I read a similar story in "Co-Dependent No More", I realized that I was trying to control his drinking by being around it to keep my eye on it.

Originally Posted by phillypup View Post
I think I'm off topic, sorry. Personally, I would turn the tables - "What do you think would make me happy?" I don't know if that's considered correct or not, but heck, he's your husband, he should know SOMEthing about you and be able to do something nice. Isn't that what wives do all the time?
Mine asked me what would make me happy and I told him that I want to live a non-chaotic, serene life. For me, that means living without active addiction in my life. If he can't make me happy that way, it's up to me to create my own happiness and that's what I'm trying to do these days - a day at a time.
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Old 08-26-2010, 09:45 AM
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I think that over time, I taught my ex ABF what I needed to hear to make it all better. He's still using the same script, but it doesn't work on me anymore.
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Old 08-26-2010, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by BklynGrl View Post
.

My basic response was no I'm not going to tell you what to do anymore I'm not your mother or your boss and I'm not going to go there anymore. He just keep repeating himself until we both got off the phone upset and frustrated. I just don't know how to stop that emotional tailspin that I go into when he utters those words.
It appears, from your post, that you are not ready to go home.

Therefore, there is nothing he can do to bring you home.

Do you need more time and distance to work on yourself?
If so, be honest with him and yourself.

I was unable to work on myself and a relationship. I keep wanting to go into rescue mode with the relationship partner.
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Old 08-26-2010, 09:59 AM
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OMGosh Linkmeister, your description of your relationship with AH brings back such memories to my STOMACH, makes me ill. I have been in relationships like that and they were NO WIN-ever! Yuck.
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Old 08-26-2010, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Pelican View Post
It appears, from your post, that you are not ready to go home.

Therefore, there is nothing he can do to bring you home.

Do you need more time and distance to work on yourself?
If so, be honest with him and yourself.

I was unable to work on myself and a relationship. I keep wanting to go into rescue mode with the relationship partner.
Your right! I'm sooo not ready to go home. It was so painful the last few weeks I was there and so hard for me to leave. I couldn't even be in the same room as him and we just started being able to have normal conversations again on Sunday. That's why I suggested getting together for a bit, I'm hoping that will help me to better see where my feelings lie and IF I even want to go back.
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Old 08-26-2010, 10:08 AM
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The hard part is remembering to put my feelings first. I don't want to intentionally hurt someone, but I also need to protect my own best interest. Reading Codependent No More really helped me with that.

Any conversation that puts distance between you may cause your partner to respond with sadness, anger, frustration, etc.

Those are his feelings and he is entitled to them. You are not required to fix them.

If you need more time, that does not mean it is permanent.
If you need more time, that does not mean it is over.

It just means you need more time for you.

And remember:
Say what you mean, mean what you say, just don't say it mean.
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Old 08-26-2010, 10:20 AM
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How frustrating!
I need someone who can fully participate in conversations and think for themselves, along with hearing me.
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Old 08-26-2010, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by BklynGrl View Post
My basic response was no I'm not going to tell you what to do anymore I'm not your mother or your boss and I'm not going to go there anymore. He just keep repeating himself until we both got off the phone upset and frustrated. I just don't know how to stop that emotional tailspin that I go into when he utters those words.
Reading this, I hear my exABF's voice on the phone going on and on and on with the same old stuff. When I tell him that this conversation is going nowhere and hang up, he gets pissed because I hung up and wonders why I hung up. When I tell him that the conversation is going nowhere, that like you,it puts me on an emotional tailspin, he can't understand that. When I blocked my phone and email and the like, it was for my own sanity becaise there was an average of 10 calls throughout the day, sometimes more, for me to explain why I hung up on him.

I blocked my phone and email to distance myself from the insanity of these circular conversations.
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Old 08-26-2010, 10:38 AM
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As an alcoholic male, who has been in this situation many times, I can only lend my perspective on how some guys deal with this kind of situation.

My ex wife left me many times and we also engaged in these types of negotiations to convince her to come home. As a guy, I truly did not comprehend the depth of hurt she felt, the true lack of trust she developed over the years, nor the agony she went through when contemplating returning to a situation that drove her to leave in the first place. I firmly believe that alcohol stunts our emotional growth, at least it surely did mine. Whenever I proclaimed the same sentiment, "I don't know how to make you happy anymore," it was true. That's why many men ask to be told what to do, we really don't know what to do, we are lost, but just want things to go back to the way they were, so we can think we've got the situation back under control. Then, in time, the addiction rears its ugly head and we're off and running again, for we have never truly understood the real pain and frustration our addiction has caused. We can sit in the bar and moan, "Oh, my wife left me," and then have another drink. When we want her back, we ask what is it that you want, so that we can complete the "honeydo list" and then we think, well I've done it all, she'll come back to me now. The problem is that as guys, we don't want to really face the hurt we've inflicted upon our loved ones, many women alcoholics are like this as well. But, for this threads sake, we'll stick to the men, of which I am one. We want to fix the car, find the broken part and drive on to the market, without ever learning what makes the car run in the first place. We're lazy when it comes to heart-to-heart discussions, because it means we need to learn what is really in our hearts, and most of the time, we don't even know. We see a problem such as our wives left us, and we want to fix the problem, not fix ourselves, but instead fix the problem as we percieve it, and that's where the problem lies. We don't really know how big the problem is, we just want ot fix it and get back to having our wives with us and move on. It sounds like your husband is there now. He wants to fix the problem, instead of focusing on fixing himself. In the long run, that rarely works.
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Old 08-26-2010, 10:54 AM
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Firestorm, Thank you so much. Your post made me cry, I am still crying. I understand, everything you say makes perfect sense. What a blessing that you see these things so clearly. I have felt so pushed, and pulled and manipulated by my ex ABF. I just wanted to love him, I prayed for him to get healthy. He stopped drinking, but all the rest seemed to be just a way to fix the problem that he caused when he threw me out. He wanted us back where we were. I could not go back there. My instincts told me he was going through the motions, but I wanted so much to believe he really wanted to be healthy and sober, not just dry.
Your perspective is so very helpful to me. Thank you so very much for sharing. I know there is nothing for me to do. It still hurts.
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Old 08-26-2010, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by phillypup View Post
Sounds familiar. When I criticize, or even just tell him he's hurt me, his favorite response is "I've never had anyone tell me that I've hurt them so much" (um, yeah, because no one has ever stuck with you this long).
Ohhhh.....Here's what mine would say, "The only one I'm hurting is myself"....hahahaa....translation = I'm the only one who matters here.
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