I don’t know about you, but in my marriage, we had slipped into a pattern and routine of my EX being the boss and me being the subordinate one. It happened gradually over time as I found it was easier to just let him have his way and to not start a fight. Let me be clear though – my EX wasn’t a bad guy. In happier times I think we had a good marriage and he was a good husband/father. Stress and whatever else happened with him eroded away our communication skills until there was nothing left. What started out as an equality in the marriage somehow eroded to me scurrying to please him and him being angry by my scurrying because he didn’t want to be pleased. I just wanted peace no matter what – because he was stressed and he was the breadwinner. His parents had that 1950’s marriage that in the end, I was trying to emulate to keep peace. But I’m nothing like a 1950’s wife and I never started out that way, but I ended up desperately trying to do everything for him to make him happy and instead made us both more miserable. After awhile, when I felt like I was doing it all and getting no response, no appreciation, I stopped doing for him at all. Unintentionally or intentionally, I quit reaching for connections because I felt like I had no tether to him. I resented scurrying (which was my own decision to scurry) and yet I continued to scurry in hopes that doing x (insert whatever) would make him realize that I was trying to make him happy and maybe, just maybe, he’d make an effort too. Let’s face it, it wasn’t a good dynamic for either of us and divorce, now in hindsight, was the only way we could reset the relationship for the better. At least, that’s what I dare to hope. The jury is still out on this point though.
I think in his head, that pattern of me pleasing him and being subordinate was to remain throughout the divorce process. But when I began to transform, it exacerbated his irritability with me. No longer was I content to be the last to know (reality check – I was NEVER CONTENT to be the last to know, but that’s how it was towards the end of our marriage). I began to free myself from his confined thinking of me. We were separated for a long time and when I filed for divorce it threw him for a loop as he thought he was going to be in charge and in control. That was the start of his eye-opening madness.
Let me be honest, I didn’t file for divorce for spite. I did it for me. I needed to take control over my life. He had already informed me that he had gotten a lawyer so I knew things were going to progress to divorce. As the divorce and the work involved progressed, my ability to produce paperwork on a timely basis helped my confidence. He may have been the breadwinner, but I was the bill payer etc. and I had a handle on things that he didn’t. I’m organized. He’s not. So it was to my advantage and as it became clear that I knew what I was talking about, his anger waxed and waned. On one hand, it helped him. On the other, because I knew so much, he couldn’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes because I had the facts. And facts speak louder than baloney.
I found peace in just telling the facts and not getting into the emotional part of the divorce. It was like a brand new me, a brand new way of thinking emerged when I only dealt with the facts because as much as he tried to twist them, the lawyers remained non-plussed with his hissy fits. Just give us the facts. Save the whining for someone else, unless you want to pay your divorce lawyer to listen to you. It was freeing for me. I talked with my friends when I needed to vent the emotional parts out of my system – which was often I’ll admit! I learned quickly that it wasn’t worth the money to tell the lawyer all that my STBX (soon-to-be-ex) was doing. Instead, my friends guided me through the process of getting the frustrations out of my system. I am so grateful to them for their patience! I know it was annoying as heck!
I think this has to be a series of posts. But here’s the gist of today’s lesson – only deal with facts when you’re changing the relationship during and after a divorce. Stick to the facts and don’t engage no matter what he says to you. He’s only trying to elicit that emotional roller coaster response in you so that he can return to the old patterns.
You are wise dear girl. Don’t fall for it. Facts are facts. Stick to them and raise the bar for understanding. I guess that’s Lesson One.