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I am new to this forum and I would like some advice. A little background history. I have been married for 14 years with 2 children 7 and 9. My wife and I have a long history of poor communication, infrequent sex which was nearly sexless in the first few years of our marriage due to her disinterest in it, which was not so apparent when we were dating. This made me feel abandoned. The sex frequency has improved over the years, but I have never felt close to her during it. She used to be very controlling, but is now better after therapy, but now only less controlling. She had significant smoldering anger issues which would come out on those who she was supposed to be closest to which also improved after therapy. Her household as a child was full of screaming and negative energy from her divorced mother whom she lived with as a child, and her father lived nearby who she would see frequently. Our relationship, until 3 years ago, was characterized by her commenting on every move I made, giving me constant instructions. She primarily gave me negative comments with few positive ones. I told her that she needed to treat me better, but she said that she was just kidding when she said the negative things. I ended up I becoming seriously depressed and began to actively hate her and I contemplated suicide.

 

I met a woman at work who treated me as I was desiring to be treated. This was with kindness, compassion and warmth which was what I needed at that moment and we had an encounter. I was about to move out of the area and eventually did, so it ended up being a long distance emotional relationship for 6 months. We saw eachother once for a few days during this 6 month period.

 

I told my wife that I was seriously unhappy in our relationship before I broke off the relationship (this was 3 years ago) and that I was considering leaving. She begged me so stay. This put her in a significant depression. I went away on business for a few months and we were kind of in emotional limbo during that time. However, when the event was discovered due my wife discovering some correspondence after I returned and it was brought out in the open, I felt that I owed it to the kids and her to try to make it work and go through marital therapy.

 

We went through therapy for nearly 3 years. One of the issues that we did improve was the ability to communicate, as I was finally able to speak up for myself, I used to just take what was given to me. I also learned to communicate my feelings which she stated that I never did well before and if I had, we would not have ended up where we did. She stated that she used to be negative in order to get me just to respond to her in some way, which I do not buy.

 

I am very thankful that she did not just kick me to the curb at the time, because I think that we both made significant improvements in our behavior to the betterment of our marriage, however, the changes feel like they have only gone so far. I still feel under her thumb and any time I challenge her, she says that I am being selfish. Her way is better. She states that she makes better decisions about parenting. Every day since my inappropriate relationship, I have felt horrible about myself due having participated in it, but part of me rationalizes that I was near rock bottom and this was my way of surviving where in retrospect I should have confronted my wife with my displeasure. I am not condoning my relatioship.

 

One of the things that has always been important to me is to be able to express my sense of humor. She is a relatively serious person and she does not enjoy me making jokes or humorous statements around her and she says that it embarrasses her when I do this in public around friends. "You do not need to entertain people, they like you for who you are," she says. I am silly around the girls as they enjoy it, but I cannot be this way around her because then I am "putting up a barrier to showing real feelings." The squashing of my humour by her did not use to bother me, but now I see it as just another controlling issue and I am finding less and less enjoyment out of our relationship. I was diagnosed with depression about the time that we had our problems but I am not sure that it is not because I am with her and that I would not need to take the medications if I was with someone more like myself in temperament or even alone. Other than the children, we do not have much in common. I feel like if it was not for the children, I would ask for divorce, but I fear the effect on the children and I love seeing them everyday, and feel like I would be selfish if I left. I feel like I have had to be the one to do more compromising, although she would probably say otherwise.

 

I am 40 years old and I wonder how long to go on with a marriage that I could probably tolerate for many more years, but that is just what it would be, toleration. Is it right to wish for something more and if you can not get it from your current marriage, leave it although everyone else would be hurt? She says that she loves me with all her heart, but what if that love that is given is not the kind that I need and she is incapable of giving it? Is it right that I stay on antidepressant medications in order to stay in the relationship? Her controlling issues have, perhaps, at a subconscious level made me feel, as if she is my superior and how can you feel completely connected to someone who you feel has power over you?

 

I feel that if I was to leave, I would be made out to be the bad guy due to my past indiscretion. The kids would eventually find out and Dad would be this bad person. I have always thought of myself as morally righteous to a pretty strong degree, trying to demonstrate honesty and integrity, but this obviously undermined that idea of myself. I just feel boxed in and as my life goes on, it is my work and my relationship with my co-workers, friends and my kids that give me satisfaction, not my marriage. Except for the kids, my wife and I do not have much in common. Not interests, not politics, not music, not intimacy. More thoughts please. Thanks.

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Although you shouldn't have had the affair, the real problems in your marriage are due to her controlling and manipulative behaviour. She is blaming you for her problems. If she refuses to see how she has contributed then I would say separate and see if that will get her to see some sense. Controlling and manipulative people do care about their partners, but their internal self-loathing seems to take over and they can't get past that. She needs counselling. You should not tolerate being told how to behave and not to have a sense of humour. Next time she says she is embarrassed by your humour and to stop it, tell her that this is who you are and if she doesn't like it then perhaps she should leave. I am sure if you stood up for yourself, she would back down, perhaps not without a fight, but eventually she would.

I have a controlling and manipulative mother so I know exactly how the scenes play out.

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I agree - one brief affair does not make you the only bad guy. But counselling helped before and it may again.

 

Tell her that you are increasingly dissatisfied with the marriage, that you will no longer accept all the blame and will no longer accept her behaviour. Either it changes immediately and you seek counselling in order to make the change permanent or you are going to leave. Make sure you are willing to change any of your behaviour that also may be unreasonable.

 

It is important that both of you take proper responsibility for you actions and behaviour. No "I was like this because you were like that" excuses.

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Although you shouldn't have had the affair, the real problems in your marriage are due to her controlling and manipulative behaviour. She is blaming you for her problems. If she refuses to see how she has contributed then I would say separate and see if that will get her to see some sense. Controlling and manipulative people do care about their partners, but their internal self-loathing seems to take over and they can't get past that. She needs counselling.

 

I have the exact opposite take on your situation. What you perceive as your wife's controlling is her desperate attempt to engage with you. As you basically state here, you have a difficult time expressing yourself. Let me tell you how frustrating that can be for your partner. While you may be afraid that conflict will occur if you express yourself, you can see that conflict that is even worse occurs when you don't.

 

If you are afraid of your wife, it's because you have allowed yourself to be. You have talked yourself into believing she is the enemy, basically. You are projecting your own fears about intimacy and communication on her. That's completely unfair.

 

But that's not all. Instead of putting work CONSISTENTLY into your marriage, you check out. You checked out a few years ago when you had your inappropriate relationship with another woman, and you're about to check out again.

 

I bet you admired your wife's strength and fearlessness when you met her. And I bet you did have things in common with her then. But you stopped working on your marriage, and you never really worked on your own insecurities.

 

Sure, your wife's not perfect. But she forgave you three years ago, and has proven she loves you. Hardly sounds like "the enemy" to me.

 

I feel sorry for her, you, and your kids. What a terrible shame that you have held so much of yourself back for so long. It shows you don't trust your wife and you don't trust yourself to show and be and express who you are.

 

What is holding you back from doing this? Fear of conflict, I bet. Read this article, it's an eye-opener. Don't let the title fool you, it's all about what happens when dealing with conflict in a marriage is ignored.

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It is indeed frustrating to be unable to engage with a partner and Scout is dead on with that observation. That would be behaviour on your part that needs to change.

 

That does not, IMO, excuse demeaning you, controlling you in terms of who you are, or constantly criticising. Apart from the fact it is simply wrong it is counter-productive because it merely drives you further away.

 

I repeat - counselling.

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That does not, IMO, excuse demeaning you, controlling you in terms of who you are, or constantly criticising. Apart from the fact it is simply wrong it is counter-productive because it merely drives you further away..

 

I agree, but I wonder if he is not taking an extreme view of his wife, projecting his own inner issues on her to deflect his feelings of guilt and fears of conflict. Maybe she's not quite as controlling as he is depicting her to be.

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Possibly, although we generally take the word of people who are being abused in some way; and controlling, demeaning behaviour is a form of abuse. Let's not forget these behaviours were there before his affair.

 

But these are the issues that should best be addressed in counselling.

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greyskies, welcome to the forum.

 

First, you complain about her complaining and negative comments all the time. And quite possibly rightfully so. But if she is controlling you, know that you have let her control you. If she can get you to do or not do something based on a comment, you gave her that power. If you want it back, take it. Both men and women manipulate, if the manipulation works, then they do it more. Successful manipulation breeds more manipulation, and you allowed her to succeed. As much as she should have stopped, you should have stopped her even more so.

 

Want to really take back the power, just do what you want. Laugh joke and have fun and do not let her get you down. She can only get you down, if you let her. Make fun of her, and watch her blow up into a tanturm, but don't let the tantrum have any effect on you, and she has lost the power she had over you when she threw a tantrum. It's you who need to steel yourself.

 

And, if you do, maybe that's something she would like too.

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I agree with the postings that control is given to others upon permission. One thing that has arisen from our counseling is that it is important for me to speak up for myself when she demeans me or uses a negative tone with every day replies to questions. However, when I do this, she states that she was not using a negative tone, but rather I am only interpreting this, and in effect that I cannot believe my own ears. She says that I am making her out to be the bad guy. She has also gone to therapy and over all is better, but she will still quite regularly use a snotty tone, although it is not every day.

 

Another example of controlling behavior is telling me get my hand out from under my shirt if I am reading and happen to place it there or if walking naked from the closet to the bathroom, she will tell me to put some clothes on.

 

We recently went out with friends, the husband is a good friend and co-worker, and as we were out to dinner, and I was engaging in conversation and a few jokes, as my friend and I do, she was jabbing me under the table, meaning to stop. We had a big discussion when we got home. This was when she stated that people like me for who I am as I mentioned above, and that I do not need to be funny to impress them. I told my friend about this exchange between my wife and me and he said that he thought I was being too tame and he thought something was wrong with me as I was not my usual self. I told her that I was going to be who I was and that she was just going to have to deal with it. She disagreed and said that we will see. In regards to Scout's comments, I do engage with my wife. I go out of my way to talk with her when I come home from work, which I used to not do as much. She will wave me off if she is not in the mood for talking. I do try. I just feel that I have to subjugate my personality to be around her.

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In reading your post, I have a very good understanding of all the things she is doing "wrong". How have you contributed to this situation?

 

Presumably your courtship was nice and things changed shortly upon becoming married. Is that correct?

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Counseling, man. Sounds like you're both holding back.

 

 

 

My H was pretty controlling, but he didn't get away with the kind of stuff you describe for very long. Sure, he pulled the "negative interpretation" baloney - and learned not to say that, either. After a year and a half we went to counseling, and she picked up on more subtle controlling stuff I hadn't recognized.

 

 

Let's say, for sake of argument, it would be fair for her to request that you not put your hands under your clothing in public. (Not saying you've done this, just an example.) There HAS to be a way to work this out so both are okay with it, and neither is playing governess.

 

 

My ex used to do some stuff that really irked me. We discussed it in private. A lot of things he'd never realized he did, or he didn't realize how frequently, and had NO idea how it came accross. If I'd just whacked him and said STOP!, that would have been inhuman. I explained that his touching his face, picking at dry skin on his nose, scratching behind his ear etc (he did this ALL the time at concerts, in social situations etc) advertised his insecurity to the world. I made it clear that I was there for him, AND that I found it REALLY embarrassing to be in public with someone who was just screaming out how ill-at-ease with himself he was. (Note: these were in situations he had sought out.) He quit the habit. He used to clear his throat all the time, too. That was a toughy, but he reduced it pretty far.

 

 

When we were going someplace and he had a better idea of the dress code than I did, he told me diplomatically. He had to learn that. So you've really got to show her how she's allowed to treat you, and how not. We don't come into relationships knowing all about how to treat someone else well, and part of it is, for better or for worse, training and learning from each other.

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What happens when you walk naked from the closet to the bathroom, and she tells you to put clothes on? Do you? If so, you let her control you. If you look at her defiantly and say NO WAY, you invite battle. If you just keep going, then she can either accept your refusal or yell. If you get goofy and joke about it, then she cannot do much.

 

What happens when she tells you to move your hand? Do you? I would and I would stick it right down my pants and act like I was playing with myself.

 

If my wife poked me, I would make fun of her right then and there: "Honey, what's the matter? Do you have a spasm down there or something? Do you need to see a doctor about that? I think you had better make an appointment."

 

When her efforts to control you stop having success, she will stop using those tactics.

 

And when you win a battle, let her cool down, then soon after, go up and grab her and kiss her.

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She says that I am making her out to be the bad guy.

 

Well...in all honesty, it appears to me that you're making her out to be the bad guy here, too. From my perspective, you are putting the entire blame on her for any unhappiness you have or any problem you see in the marriage.

 

That's got to be very hurtful for your wife to live with, too. On top of your emotional affair.

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Scout is pretty spot on here. You have anger because of all of this. I would wonder how you are dealing with your anger.

 

I am wondering what you and your wife stopped doing for each other after you got married that started this spiral of events. There has to have been some things you were doing for her that you stopped doing. Likewise, that she was doing for you that she stopped doing.

 

She says she loves you, yet you don't feel loved. I imagine that she is frustrated that you don't feel it. I am impressed that she stayed with you after your affair and that pretty well goes a long ways toward showing you how she truly feels.

 

So the question is, what do you two need to do for each other to get that loving feeling again?

 

Instead of all of these negative qualities that you are sharing, are there any positives? Is there anything good that your wife does or brings into your life?

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Scout is pretty spot on here. You have anger because of all of this. I would wonder how you are dealing with your anger.

 

So the question is, what do you two need to do for each other to get that loving feeling again?

 

Instead of all of these negative qualities that you are sharing, are there any positives? Is there anything good that your wife does or brings into your life?

 

With the above, I must agree. All is not your wife's fault. Even her controlling behavior is not all her fault. It went on as long as it did and got as bad as it did, because you permitted it, greyskies. So, you're both at fault.

 

But questions Ron asks are right on! Stop complaining because that is getting you nowhere. What is going to get you to into a situation that has you both happy and feeling loved?

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