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difficult communication is destroying our marriage


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Hello everyone. I'm 47 and have been married for 27 years. I grew up in England and moved to Greece when I was 18, following a holiday romance. That relationship didn't work out but while in Greece I met my husband. We got engaged after living together for 1 year, and when I fell pregnant we got married. We've lived all our married life in Greece and have 2 grown up children. On the plus side my husband is honest, faithful, hard-working and still loves me.

For me, things started to become difficult when our youngest was a teenager (about 8-9 years ago). She wasn't always easy to get on with, and she and my husband found it very difficult to see eye to eye. They would argue over the most unimportant things and I couldn't understand why he couldn't just try to be a bit more easy-going and wait for her to grow out of her moods. She was always a good student and never got into any trouble, but they just seemed to rub each other up the wrong way all the time. He was never abusive in any way, but any tact he may have once had seemed to disappear. This obviously caused tension between us, and I do feel that I lost some respect for him. In addition, he has never really had a good relationship with my parents. It's just my mum now, and there is no love lost between them. Again, this is not entirely his fault (my mum is quite difficult to get on with) but he's made MY life very difficult on countless occasions when he could have avoided it. And now to me and him. Well, most of the time I find it extremely difficult to have a stress-free conversation with him. Unfortunately, this is a common Greek trait. It's said that Greeks don't have conversations to exchange information, but to WIN. That's honestly what it feels like sometimes. What might start out as a discussion on what to cook for a barbecue party, quickly turns into a heated row over why we should have beer instead of wine, whose friends never bring a contribution, which one of us works the hardest to get things ready, who makes the best salad and just about anything else you can think of. It sounds comical but is soul destroying when it happens over and over again. I know it takes 2 to have an argument, but after saying "Don't shout" and "Please let me finish what i was saying" ten times, I end up shouting to be heard. I've tried walking away and coming back to discuss it later, but he just seems to start up again where we left off. The end result is that I'm so disappointed and miserable with this that I'm thinking maybe we just can't get on anymore. This has had a knock-on effect on my feelings towards him. I've seriously considered splitting up over this.

So, my questions are?

1) I know you're only hearing my side of things but am i justified in feeling this way? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Am I being over-sensitive?

2) We've discussed this several times over the past 5 years but I don't think he is capable of changing. I'm thinking of going to a therapist to get some help but will this just be a waste of time and money?

The way things are at the moment, I don't think I can spend the rest of my life in this situation.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Well, Asteri, that tends to happen a lot with teens and one or other parent. Often where the child and the parent are very alike the sparks fly.

 

Now moving on to the conversations in general, you say conversations in Greek society are to WIN. Maybe so, but you've been there 27 years, so you must be kind of used to their particular ways by now.

It takes two to have an argument, and you can't box if you don't enter the ring, so to speak. Who cares who makes the best salad! Is it not possible to just remain silent and get on with what you are preparing. Or simply say, "of course you are quite right, darling". Just don't engage.

 

".... my husband is honest, faithful, hard-working and still loves me".

 

You have a lot going for you here!

 

 

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Yes go to therapy to help you unload some stress and learn about communication and culture clashes as well as how to pick your battles. Do not ponder things like "am I allowed to feel this way?" etc. No you will not change him and if you want to work it out you can find better ways of relating and handling things.

I'm thinking of going to a therapist to get some help but will this just be a waste of time and money?

[video=youtube;V1oWuFyryck] ]

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You are in a new phase of life. When the kids are at home that's where the focus usually is. Without them it's just you and your husband and it's almost like you are getting to know each other again as just a couple instead of a family.

 

Therapy is a good idea. It will give you a chance to talk about your concerns, work through leftover resentment from your husband's conflicts with your youngest, and understand your side of the fights you are having with your husband. Any relationship that turns into a power struggle will be miserable for both parties, but it doesn't have to be a constant battle. You can rise above the noise. If you are at peace then it will be hard for him to sustain the war. My wife and I used to fight, but now we don't, because I went to therapy and worked through some things. It took two to fight but only one to fix it.

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Yeap Greeks are like that . Not all of them but yes the majority is like that( I'm not like this by the way). It's in the gene i guess. I can imagine that for a foreigner it is frustrating but you have been living in Greece for 27 years . You know how to handle things after all those years otherwise you wouldn't be here . At least he loves you and it's not that common for couples to love each other after so many years .

 

 

PS. Any conversation will lead to who is right/combat mode , which is extremely vexing for sure , but the key is just to do what you want to do without asking .

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So, my questions are?

1) am i justified in feeling this way?

2) We've discussed this several times over the past 5 years but I don't think he is capable of changing. I'm thinking of going to a therapist to get some help but will this just be a waste of time and money?

The way things are at the moment, I don't think I can spend the rest of my life in this situation.

Any advice would be appreciated.

1) You are justified feeling any way you feel. Feelings are. How you choose to act on those feelings is worth looking at.

2) You can only change yourself, so look there. A therapist might be helpful there, help you focus and explore this, and it may be worth the investment, depending on what you put into it and use from it.

 

In your post, the part that jumped out first was the beginning, when you were not on the same page about your daughter's behavior. Parents don't always have the same style (nor do they have the same parental relationship), but it is important for them to be on the same team. Teamwork isn't always easy, and it takes collaboration. Yes, teens argue. Yes, teens push boundaries. That's what they do. Yes, it can be trying for those around them. Were their arguments unimportant? For you, yes. For them, no. That is their business.

 

It sounds like you took it personally, maybe identified with your daughter? In any event, you've now taken her role with arguing over "unimportant" things. Why argue? Do you have to be right and make him wrong? None of those things you mentioned are absolutes. You can only change yourself, so if you don't want to argue, don't make these things arguments. They are thoughts, ideas, experiments, and they don't make anyone better than anyone else. Instead of walking away or discussing, you could say "OK", "We could do that", "I can live with that", "That might work", "Maybe you're right", and it might just change the mood, relieve the stress, and still not make you "wrong". It's not about winning or loosing, right or wrong, but sharing your lives, moving forward together, acknowledging him.

 

You can even say "You might be right and I'd like to give this other way a try."

 

" my husband is honest, faithful, hard-working and still loves me"

 

Those are good things.

 

But it if is more important for you to be right, to win the arguments and get him to change his nature, I'm afraid I don't have any advice.

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Besides, you must be very familiar with the culture and the ways of your husband after 27 years.

 

Did he only get like this on foot of the former arguments with your then teenage daughter?

 

I've tried to think back and I don't ever remember him being this way before then. Sometimes he just doesn't seem to be able to follow any basic "conversation rules", like waiting for the other person to finish their sentence. I felt myself becoming just as bad so I tried consciously waiting for him to finish before I spoke, but when he then cuts me off 3-4 times in a row I just give up. I definitely need help in handling things.

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Therapy is a good idea. My wife and I used to fight, but now we don't, because I went to therapy and worked through some things. It took two to fight but only one to fix it.

 

That's REALLY good to hear. So it is possible for only one partner to make a change? It's going to be tough, and I'm worried that I might not be able to make a difference.

You may have already guessed but he is like this with everyone, not just me. He has a reputation for it. If you say something is white then he will most probably say it's black. This means that I've had to listen to some pretty stupid and embarrassing conversations - and it's not nice to think about your partner in this way. Like I said before, it makes me lose respect for him and I have a feeling of huge disappointment. How can I stop myself doing that?

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1) Instead of walking away or discussing, you could say "OK", "We could do that", "I can live with that", "That might work", "Maybe you're right", and it might just change the mood, relieve the stress, and still not make you "wrong". It's not about winning or loosing, right or wrong, but sharing your lives, moving forward together, acknowledging him.

 

You can even say "You might be right and I'd like to give this other way a try."

 

 

.

 

 

Good advice, but I'm guessing very difficult to do. Let's hope the therapist has some ideas to help me manage this.

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"it makes me lose respect for him and I have a feeling of huge disappointment. How can I stop myself doing that?"

- This is a very dangerous time for your marriage.

 

Going to individual therapy is advisable. It will give you a place to vent and some band-aids.

Unfortunately, your age, emotions and collection of negative memories, coupled with his bad habits and continuing defiance won't be any match for counselings tricks-of-the-trade.

 

You must reset your marriage.

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Asteri.

 

So he only got argumentative like this at the time your daughter was in her teens.

 

"I've tried to think back and I don't ever remember him being this way before then."

 

Something must have really triggered them, and it will be important to find out.

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