I just finished reading your article on "communication", which was wonderful.
It helped me pinpoint which area I feel ours falls apart. We get to
step 4 and then there never seems to be any "carrying out" of what we
discussed. How do I get past this with my husband. I try repeating myself
on several occasions, but this gets old and then its no longer productive,
he resorts to saying I'm a nag. But yet he never gets beyond what we
discussed and into the "actions of carrying of the steps to resolve
husband is avoiding immediate conflict by saying "yes" but doing "no"!
And your relationship is suffering from an inability to keep agreements.
Agreements are the basis for trust in a relationship. Each time an agreement
is broken, the foundation of trust which the relationship is based upon
is eroded. This is damaging to a marriage and often the reason cited
for eventual divorce.
Ask your husband why he continually pretends to make
agreements which in the end he does not follow. This kind of disappointment
weighs heavily on the relationship and no doubt costs him your affection
and tenderness as well. Is this really what he wants? What is he getting
out of this behavior? Is it worth the cost?
Take time to explore with one another how conflict
was negotiated in your respective parents' marriage. Was conflict
resolved effectively? Did each spouse have equal power in decision
making in the family? Our first role models for relating to a spouse
are forged in childhood. If our Dads acquiesced to Mom's wishes, only
to frustrate her with disappointment later, what was being expressed
and what was the result? Was this a passive way for him to express
anger? Was Mom the one left with all the angry feelings? Did they
covertly agree that it is safe for Mom to express anger in the family
and unsafe for Dad to do so?
Sometimes patterns of gender interaction are based
upon reactions to particular male and female figures of the past.
If there was an abusive father, for example, the next generation may
spawn a passive son who refused (was afraid) to deal with conflict
because it involves expressing angry feelings. Instead of developing
skills for safe and direct expression of anger or his own needs, he
may avoid conflict in the short term, agreeing to anything in order
to "keep the peace". His spouse may be left expressing unproductive,
unrelenting frustration due to repeated broken agreements. A pattern
can develop in which a man may avoid expressing his needs because
he is afraid of his own anger more than his wife's "nagging". This
example may or may not relate to your situation, but represents one
possibility to consider.
And what part may Mom have played in this? Was she
unwilling to experience her husband's anger or needs directly? Sometimes
couples create patterns which reinforce gender roles of childhood
without realizing it. Ask your husband to interpret the meaning of
his actions. Is he attempting to frustrate you? Is he afraid of displeasing
you for some reason if he says "no" to you? Explore your own contributions
to the failure of your agreements. Do you insist on getting your way
through emotional blackmail or are you interested in hearing your
husband's experience and needs? Did you come from a family background
that respected and included men's needs or ignored them in the negotiating
So, what does this kind of passivity in follow through
mean in your marriage? If you are unable to get a handle on completing
the negotiation process, seek couples' counseling to explore deeper
issues which are seriously sabotaging your happiness. Your feelings
of being "out of energy" are a sign that you may be "giving up" quietly.
Statistics show that depression in women is more a function of marital
unhappiness than it is for men. Pay attention to what "out of energy"
means for you. An ongoing undercurrent of unresolved friction deteriorates
your own self-esteem as well as the marriage relationship.
Though your devotion may maintain the marriage, over
time you may find yourself mired in a depression which takes the place
of angry disappointment. Ask for your husband's help in creating a
marriage that gives you energy rather than tires you out!
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