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What do YOU want regarding happiness?

Old 08-12-2012, 09:14 AM
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What do YOU want regarding happiness?

My AH has said numerous times that he wants me to be happy and that he thinks he's never made me happy nor will he ever. I corrected him and told him that he is not the source of my happiness but that which he contributes to my life at this point does not build up happiness, it takes away from it.

So, he asked me recently: what do YOU want?

And, then my therapist recently asked me: what kind of marriage do you want, what would contribute to your happiness regarding a marriage?

It was then that I realized that I really didn't know what I wanted, but it was very easy for me to point out what I DIDN'T want. I don't want to live with verbal abuse, I don't want to be disrespected, I want my opinion to have value, I don't want to live with a partner who uses alcohol in a harmful way, I don't want to be manipulated in conversations, I don't want to live with someone who uses pornography, I don't want to live with someone who justifies breaking the law or who disregards it, I don't want to live in a home where I am blamed for things that I didn't do or cause. Gee, that was easy, LOL!

What would these answers look like to you? Regarding relationships/marriage/friendships/etc? We all know happiness can't be bought in a bottle and most of us are mature enough to know that it comes from within. But, where can our relationships take away from or contribute to our level of happiness?

OK: did any of that make any sense, LOL? Basically, I'm looking for input on what you'd need to be happy in a relationship. Is it respect, empathy, sympathy, trust, time spent together, or just simple compatibility?
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:35 AM
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It was then that I realized that I really didn't know what I wanted, but it was very easy for me to point out what I DIDN'T want. I don't want to live with verbal abuse, I don't want to be disrespected, I want my opinion to have value, I don't want to live with a partner who uses alcohol in a harmful way, I don't want to be manipulated in conversations, I don't want to live with someone who uses pornography, I don't want to live with someone who justifies breaking the law or who disregards it, I don't want to live in a home where I am blamed for things that I didn't do or cause.
My therapist says that this is textbook normal for a person who has lived with an alcoholic or lived with abuse. And she actually suggest that I start there -- by listing what I didn't want in my life. Because once you've done that, you can start looking at what you do want.

Basically, what your list of don'ts tells me is that... you want to live a normal life. Because remove all of that, and you have a normal life. Where you disagree and get hurt and fall and twist your ankle but it's within a context of each person taking responsibility for their own feelings and actions.

The conclusion I came to was that I couldn't even start defining what "happy" looked like until I got out of "miserable" and to "normal." Sort of like being in negative numbers and having to get to zero before I could even consider positive numbers.

I believe that happiness largely is inside -- like the saying, it's 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to what happens to you. But that saying starts on the zero point. You can't use that kind of saying when you're in an abusive relationship with an addict. That butchers the intent of the saying, I think. I mean, if the person who is supposed to protect you drives drunk, pukes in your purse, and pees in your bed -- there's like no effing way you can have anything but a bad attitude to that if you're a sane person, right?

I think if you are fundamentally unhappy in yourself, nothing else is going to really change that. It's like it's harder to bring someone from minus 30 to zero if they're not willing to go there.

But I know for a fact that other people can both contribute to and subtract from your happiness potential.

If you expect someone else to make you happy, you'll be disappointed. I think... if that's what your partner is supposed to do for you, you enter into an unbalanced relationship from the start. What power you give someone else, if they are responsible for your happiness!

And your AH's "I've never made you happy and I don't think I ever can" just sounds like "I'm groveling in the dirt here to make you feel guilty and if I do it for long enough, maybe you'll tell me I'm making you happy and then this whole discussion goes away."
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:38 AM
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I was happiest when my husband was also my best friend. Now we're more like relatives living in the same house.

I want my best friend back. I have enough relatives.
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Old 08-12-2012, 09:42 AM
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Dear Liz, one of the laws of the universe (regarding mammals/human nature) is that we will do MORE to avoid pain than to seek pleasure.

As you have discussed back and forth with us over that months is that your deepest fear (pain) is being unable to adequately care for yourself (and son) on your own.

I extrapolate from that that you will tolerate anything in a relationship as long as you feel that there is economic security and the (illusion) that you are not "alone".

Of course, there is no problem with finding out what makes other people "tick". It can be instructive, interesting, and even "fun". But, knowing what is at your core and what makes you "tick" is where you will find progress toward change.

Change happens when the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.

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Old 08-12-2012, 10:18 AM
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I was thinking about this during my walk this morning. My (R?)AH called from rehab yesterday. All he says is how good he feels physically (has health problems without etoh abuse added on top) and maybe wants me to be excited about that. Then he says he misses me. I don't answer. Who does he miss? the real me or the one he thinks I am.

That led me to thinking about what it is that I do want. I know that I want to decide if I am going to continue our relationship. I want to be an equal in the relationship. I want peace. I want the ability to be able to do what I do well without being told I am doing it wrong or being sabotaged. Lots of quiet time alone. A schedule. Planning and not procrastination. Absence of impulse and compulsion. Conversations with meaning. Cooperation. working on daily living without grandiosity or unrealistic goals and expectations. Follow through. Acceptance that life is mundane most days, but we carry on with a good attitude anyway.

There are just some ideas that came to me. I am not sure if any of those values are compatible with relationship at this time.
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Old 08-12-2012, 10:55 AM
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I have been working my recovery angle a long time and have come recently to this wall of realizing I have no idea what I want or what I need.

In my case I never saw it in my family so it was in place prior to my marriage.

I am trying to come up with a needs/wants list and it has been challenging...to the point that I am really not capable of doing it (in this moment).

Thanks for the topic post. I think I probably can list some of the things that I don't want and might start with that.

Thanks for the topic.

My question for you is that you have a good list of what you don't want, but from the sounds of things you are living with those things. I think I am asking about what is the next step for you (did you and the therapist talk about this)?
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Old 08-12-2012, 11:05 AM
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This one is easy for me, as I have had 20 months away from living with the RAH, and our divorce was final last week, so he is now truly no longer part of my life.

I want a relationship with someone that includes mutual respect and consideration. Similar (note I do NOT say same) goals and values. Similar priorities. Someone who is emotionally mature and self aware. And someone who enjoys life, regardless of what is happening in it. Must have patience with teenage girls and rowdy puppies. ; )

I could get more specific, but those are really the core things I seek in a companion.

Emotionally mature and self aware is a biggie. Someone who has incorporated these abilities has the flexibility to roll with life's punches without completely falling apart or turning to drugs/alcohol as a salve to wounds.

I suggest you think more in the abstract instead of focusing on the small details of things you don't like right now. So what if he quits drinking, stops looking at porn, and starts attending functions with you and his child? What then?
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Old 08-12-2012, 11:39 AM
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Thanks for directly looking at this topic lizatola. I too can say what I don't what and it's difficult to truly know what I do want.

I am glad that I know what I don't want as it has allowed me to change how RAH and I interact.

For now I've been writing down what I do enjoy and what makes me happy and feel good. Lots of times it is just solitary actions that I made time for myself to do, like exercising or enjoying a yummy treat. This is helping me since in the past 3 years that I was back to working outside the home, I have struggled with balancing my work with family life and priorities and taking care of myself. My job contract recently ended and I need to look for a new position.

I also write down particular interactions that went well between RAH and me or someone else and me. It helps me recognize how I want people to treat me and how I want to treat people.

It's true for me what TG says about "so what" if the big things that you don't want are stopped or out of your life. When I focus on what it is that makes me feel good in my life, I gain clarity to make choices that are best for me and for how and with who I spend my time with.

So I guess in answer to your question, I am still working on what I need to be happy in a relationship. For the time being, relating with my RAH is not a big source of happiness, however, it is no longer a source of unhappiness. I have self-awareness and emotional growth that is priority right now and grateful that I am not in a situation as others may be or have been where safety or self-preservation took precedence and guided their actions.

Thanks for letting me share. I hope you are able to find what you are looking for in your journey.
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Old 08-12-2012, 11:57 AM
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I think someone may have already touched on this but looking at your post I can see what you do want:

Originally Posted by lizatola View Post
It was then that I realized that I really didn't know what I wanted, but it was very easy for me to point out what I DIDN'T want. I don't want to live with verbal abuse (you want loving, sincere words?), I don't want to be disrespected (you want respect?), I want my opinion to have value (you want value and appreciation?), I don't want to live with a partner who uses alcohol in a harmful way (you want a non-alcoholic?), I don't want to be manipulated in conversations (you want to live in a pure stance - not based on manipulation - not walking on eggshells?), I don't want to live with someone who uses pornography (you want faithfulness/loyalty?), I don't want to live with someone who justifies breaking the law or who disregards it (you want a moral upstanding citizen?), I don't want to live in a home where I am blamed for things that I didn't do or cause (you want someone who can hold themselves accountable for their own actions?). Gee, that was easy, LOL! Yes it was!!! LOL!!


OK: did any of that make any sense, LOL? YES YOU MADE PERFECT SENSE!! Basically, I'm looking for input on what you'd need to be happy in a relationship. Is it respect, empathy, sympathy, trust, time spent together, or just simple compatibility?
I think you answered your own question here and maybe didn't realize it? I put question marks after everything because I don't want to assume that's what you want...but it sure looks that way...or at least it's a starting point. Hope this helps
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by JrsJourney View Post
I think someone may have already touched on this but looking at your post I can see what you do want:



I think you answered your own question here and maybe didn't realize it? I put question marks after everything because I don't want to assume that's what you want...but it sure looks that way...or at least it's a starting point. Hope this helps
I just wanted to say that I have read many of your posts and that I am so glad you are here sharing with us. Lots of wisdom in what you have to say and I feel like you've been here forever!

Yes, I did realize I answered my own questions. Tuffgirl asked the most important question of all: what IF he stops all those behaviors, what then? And, that's where I'm stuck. I know he's capable of making these basic behavior changes but the deep problems like the passive aggressive behavior, the blaming, the negative attitude towards the world and his life, and the emotional abuse are the worst parts of living with him. This is why a program of recovery would always be ideal but I can't force him to find that recovery and I can't force him to change his basic behaviors. Yet, I can draw the line and say that I won't live with it anymore and I can change my own path and create my own happiness from within. That's where I am at now, working on my own path and reconnecting with my Higher Power and finding peace in spite of the storm.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:26 PM
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Liz, how do you feel about your son living inside the "storm". I think it is important always to remember that the children have no voice and no options.

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Old 08-12-2012, 12:53 PM
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I remember those question in my therapy session AFTER husband died...i was lost, i did not know who i was anymore without him....

after much soul searching and learning about me again...i do, now, know how to answer this question...even on a date!..

keep searching...the answers will come in time
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:57 PM
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this is how i see it:

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Old 08-12-2012, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by lizatola View Post
I just wanted to say that I have read many of your posts and that I am so glad you are here sharing with us. Lots of wisdom in what you have to say and I feel like you've been here forever!
Aweee
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by dandylion View Post
Liz, how do you feel about your son living inside the "storm". I think it is important always to remember that the children have no voice and no options.

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Not great, that's for sure. Florida was such a joy for us. Too bad it was so costly for us to be there. I know that things will work out in the end and I am slowly learning more about myself as the months move on. I don't have to have all the answers today and I've learned that that's Ok too.

As for the happiness thing. I know that what makes me happy is peace. A calm atmosphere. Being around people who believe in healthy eating and healthy living. Reading quietly, going hiking, going for drives in the mountains, etc. Oh, and hanging out with dogs....that brings immediate joy!
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Old 08-12-2012, 03:05 PM
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Liz, I feel for you because I've had to come to terms with the fact that xabf's getting sober still wasn't enough. I thought that if he got sober and we gave it some time, things would work out. instead he has become jealous and irrational, and very judgmental. It's almost as if the verbal abuse hasn't stopped, just taken a different form. It's a very disappointing reality, but reality nonetheless.

I may have mentioned it before, but there's a great book called "Feel the Fear...and do it anyway" b Susan Jeffers. Chapter 8 has a great tool for determining what will constitute a "whole life" for yourself. Good luck!
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Old 08-12-2012, 04:02 PM
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I have to agree that it is really easy to list the things i dont want in my relationship with my abf.
I think our relationships and the people around us have a big contribution to our happiness, i think it also depends on an individuals strength and belief in themselves..
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Old 08-12-2012, 04:50 PM
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Old 08-12-2012, 05:20 PM
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Someone who treats me with common courtesy, decency and respect. Hell, I expect that from absolute strangers. Is that asking too much?
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