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Old 12-26-2007, 09:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Newbie in need of some insight


Hello all.

I'm new here but I've been reading for a while.

I'll just dive in. I live with a woman who was previously married to an addict. She has two daughters. Once lives with us and one is 20 and lives on her own.

I'll call my wife my wife although we're not married. We've been together for about ten years, and have lived together for three.

In the past we've had some of what I would call typical communication problems - no marriage is perfect.

Lately we've been having some problems that are getting more pointed. One of my great friends is in recovery (AA) and I've been communicating with him about some of our problems. He's told me that he thinks my wife is codependent based on the kinds of things she says and the problems we have.

I should start by saying that I am a fiercly autonymous person. Autonymous to a fault I believe. I'm self-employed, I lived alone since I was 22 and had no serious relationships until I met my wife ten years ago. Not until my wife and I moved in together had I lived with anyone since college.

In that time I've grown to value my freedome above all else. This doesn't mean I'm not accountable - I take care of my family. I make sure I check in and answer questions about my life. I share my life with her, my fears abotu family, life etc.. I'm just saying that while I'm VERY independent - I make sure I don't impinge on others and I TRY not to be closed off or distant.

Lately I've been reading about codependence to understand it and some situations with my wife have occued to me:

First, whenever my wife and I have an argument and I tell her how I feel about something she says or does, she says she's "screwed" up and she'll just shut up. My friend in recovery says this sounds like "her playing the victim" instead of listening to what I'm saying about how I feel about what she says or does.

Second, it seems that when I demonstrate my autonomy in a way that my wife doesn't appreciate she gets upset. For example, this Christmas I decided to buy my mom and new stepfather a Christmas present. This is in addition to the gift my wife and I bought for them together. My wife got very upset and told me that I didn't care how the fact that I bought my step-dad a gift made her look. I explained to her that I understand that my getting them a gift had the unintended consequence of making her feel bad, and I was totally willing to help her with that effect. I just didn't think it was right for me to deny what I wanted to do for my new stepfather (my frist christmas gift to him) because it might make HER feel bad.

Another example: recently I needed to schedule a Doctors appointment to have a mole looked at. (I've had this mole for 14 years and it's been fine, it just recently started changing). My wife asked if I had scheduled the appointment. Well, I just got new insurnace and wasn't really familiar with my policy to know I'd only have a $20 deductible. I said "no, I've been a little short of cash so I just can't go right now." My wife responded "YOU HAVE THE MONEY FOR DRUM STICKS (I'm a professional musician and drumsticks wear out) BUT YOU DON'T HAVE THE MONEY FOR THE DOCTOR? THAT'S STUPID!" She didn't offer to help me with the household bills that were occupying my cash that month, didn't offer the $20 deductible to me. Just ridiculed me for spending money on something I chose to spend money on instead of going to the doctor.

Finally, my wife was in a marriage for about 13 with a man who was and still is an addict. Her family has a history of alcohol abuse. In our current situation she feels responsible for every trial and tribulation her daughters have. A child of a single mom myself, I understand this. It makes her prone to bouts of depression.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I think my friend is right. I think my wife may have co-dependent traits. Well, let me put it this way: I think when's she's having a good day my wife is very caring, helpful, and supportive. But when she's not having a good day, or going through a depressive patch my wife exhibits traits of codependency.

I'm not trying to diagnose, but I'm trying to get some help and advice from anyone.

What can I do to help her and to cope myself with this situation. IF this is true, what is a very autonymous person like myself to do in a relationship with someone who can be very codependent. I can see where - if this is the case - this life can be very frustrating for my wife. Her oldest is moved out, her youngest is a pre-teen. She's in a relationship with a very independent and self-reliant person (I have more than my own fair share of problems asking for help and admitting I need it). Even on her best days she doesn't have the pool of important people in her life who NEED her. I can understand all of this from her perspective - whether she realizes these things or not.

This frustration spills over into these other areas of our life -- things like christmas presents or doctors appointments, etc.. I didn't think this had been this kind of problem for the past 10 years. But as I reflect back on my journals I see that there have been these kinds of situations throughout our relationship and they all tend to emanate from these kinds of arguments.

So, my question is, where do I start? I look inward. I'm a huge advocate of Robert Pirsig's principle that the cycle you're working on is yourself. Do any of you have any suggestions for things I can look at myself to help me cope with this situation? Or any suggestions at all?

Thanks
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Old 12-26-2007, 09:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi and Welcome,

I don't know if your wife is codependent or not. If she is, and wants to be healthier, there are several good books on codependency. One is by Melody Beattie called Codependent No More.

Have you considered marriage counselling as a couple? It could be of some value to you both.
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Old 12-26-2007, 10:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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counseling

My wife is completely against counseling. I understand some of her reasoning and honestly I'm ambivalent on the idea myself. It helped my mother to a point, but the real work my mom did for herself. I think the real benefit people derive comes from their own hard work and self-exploration. I know some counselors can help facilitate that process, I think we're reasonable and intelligent people and can faciliate it ourselves. Like I said I'm AMBIVALENT.

I think the idea of someone serving as a "mediator" of sorts would be helpful. However, my wife sees absolutely no worth in it. She doesn't believe it can be helpful for her and I don't think anything one of us does in isolation can be of help.

Thansk for your feedback. I know it's hard to deliver some diagnosis. I'm just trying to get some insight from people who might have been in her situation before - married to an adict.
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Old 12-26-2007, 11:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I can't help with other peoples behavior as I only have the control of the behavior and actions of one person.
I have said in the past that I would recommend A.A. to anyone whether they have ever drank or not. Only reason being is that it is a spiritual based 12 step program that helps us to see which things in life we can call our own and what we can't.
Control over the behavior and actions of others are one of the things that don't belong to us. We can die trying to achieve this or we can learn the fine art of Acceptance.
I don't think A.A. is the answer in your case, but there are other programs that implement the same 12 steps. They've stood the test of time.
The last thing I want to incinuate is that this is "Your Problem" but I think you will find that "The Problem" becomes much easier to deal with when we learn that God is in charge and we aren't.
I went from groveling at my wifes feet when she threatened divorce(every day) to singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" .
She hasn't changed much, but our lives together has tremendousley. We're happier tenfold. I attribute it to 12 simple steps.
I wouldn't recommend sing songs like that, or my favorite "Thank God and Greyhound she's gone" Until you test the waters first.
Here is a Chapter out of the Book I use. Read it and see if it helps or at least comes up with some answers for you.
http://www.aa.org/bigbookonline/en_t...edintime16.pdf
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Old 12-27-2007, 03:38 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhock View Post
... we're not married....no marriage is perfect.

I am a fiercly autonymous person. Autonymous to a fault... had no serious relationships until I met my wife ten years ago.

I check in and answer questions about my life. I'm VERY independent - I TRY not to be closed off or distant.

didn't offer the $20 deductible to me. I spend money instead of going to the doctor.

I have more than my own fair share of problems asking for help and admitting I need it


any suggestions at all?
Hi

I have a couple of suggestions.

I hope you don't mind if I did some editing of your post. I would find it pretty annoying so feel free to ignore this. Except that you asked for suggestions so here goes.

If she was codependent, she would almost certainly have made the doc appointment or at least given you the $20.

Are you possibly looking to move on and get some of that freedom you crave? Could she be sensing that? She may be fearful that she is seeing the end of your relationship before you guys even know it is coming. She is insecure is all and her intuition knows. The mixed messages are the key to that.

The Friends and Family site might have more advice for you.

I find that looking hard at what it going on inside ourselves usually gives us the best clues about what is happening to us and how we deal with it.
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Old 12-27-2007, 05:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
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From my experience the only person you can change is you. Your wife may not be ready to change because it is still working for her. She is still getting what she needs from you and other people. Or maybe she does not see what she is doing as a problem. Read the book Codependent No More. You may find that you have a few of the traits yourself. Trying to change other people is a hallmark of co-dependency. Hugs, Marle
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Old 12-27-2007, 09:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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some clarification

I'm not looking to change anyone but myself, and what I want to change about myself is how I treat her. It's obvious to me that it's NOT obvious to her that I care about her and considerate of her when I do these things. It's obvious to me that it's not obvious to her that I care and am conscious of how what I do affects her and her kids and I try my best to do for ALL of us.

What I'm trying to do is find suggestions of ways to change how I interact with her so that it's apparent that I am doing what I do for all of us.

I know that there are some strong effects from her previous marriage and some significant healing that has yet to take place. I understand that I can't make her heal, or even facilitate that healing. But LET her heal and be there when she needs it.

Understanding that, I'm looking for some insight into how to change myself within that context.

Thanks to everyone for being patient with me. This experience of sharing this in a public forum is all new for me.
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Old 12-27-2007, 09:59 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Regarding acceptance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinkcuda View Post
Control over the behavior and actions of others are one of the things that don't belong to us. We can die trying to achieve this or we can learn the fine art of Acceptance.
First, thanks for your input and the link. It's helpful indeed.

About acceptance. I have a LOT of learning to do. We work at this life together. We share responsibilities for our family. I bear the responsibility for taking care of all of us financially and she bears the responsibility for taking care of all of us in domestically. Given all of that, it's hard to understand how to accept that the person you love so much is characterizing you as not thinking of them or their kids. We both think of each other and our family every day of our lives; one need look no further than how we live them to see that.

I guess I need to learn how to accept that she feels like I don't or accept that I need to change my behavior to better show that i care.
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Old 12-27-2007, 12:24 PM   #9 (permalink)
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WTG Rhock.
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