After our “Therapeutic Separation” my husband and I tried, once again, to work things out. While he was gone (2.5 months) I learned a lot about myself (one reason for letting him come back home). I learned that I was actually pretty controlling in many ways- being passive aggressive, stating my opinion even if it wasn’t welcomed or asked for, expecting (and almost always being disappointed) people to make decisions that I felt they should make, and getting angry when people weren’t able to keep their promises. I confused “controlling” with “demanding” and came to understand controlling is actually any kind of action (either through thought, words, or physical action) in which we believe we can change a situation or person from being/thinking/doing something different from what they would naturally be/think/do if we did not intervene.
While I was completely justified to be angry and expect that he change his behavior (stop acting out sexually, lying, cheating, deal with his addictions, verbally abusing us, etc.) it was never okay to hate him or judge him for not doing what I wanted him to do when he chose not to do it.
In summary, I realized the reason I was always so upset with my husband was because he wasn’t who I wanted him to be. He wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do. He wasn’t saying what I wanted him to say. He wasn’t thinking the way I wanted him to think. He didn’t see things the way I thought he should see things. I.e., he was “himself” and that pissed me off and I was set on patiently awaiting some miraculous Godly intervention in which he would someday (soon!) “see the light” and eventually become the person I thought he should be (like me)… (Yeah… I was pretty embarrassed when I came to realize that about myself).
That realization was truly humbling. What was more humbling (flat out embarrassing) was that once I realized this, I brought up the subject of us getting back together and “working it out”. I mistakenly asked him to come home with this crazy notion that, “Aha! Now I know what I need to do! I must accept him for who he is! I must stop pointing out his flaws and THEN I will see him change on his own accord! I’m too bossy and controlling! THAT’S THE PROBLEM! All I have to do is stop being bossy and controlling and THEN he will become the person I need him to be!”
While it sounded pretty logical and smart at the time, it took numerous disappointments, cheating, and lying (on his part) for me to realize that wasn’t logical or smart at all.
We’re still married and still living together, but I think I may have figured it out…
Last night, after his bible study, he got into bed and whispered, “Now that I am working on honesty, I have to tell you something…” My heart started pounding loudly. The lump in my throat was painful. I knew what he was going to say. I expected him to tell me a half-truth story about another sexually acting out event.
Surprisingly, I was wrong. He told me that instead of going to work the day before, he went gambling instead. He’s done this many times before (lied about going to work only to spend the day at the casino). I sat with that and thanked him for being honest. I wasn’t mad at him anymore. Seriously disappointed for sure, but not mad.
I had been praying that all the stuff he was hiding would soon come to light. I had been praying that his truth would be revealed, and that he would grow spiritually and emotionally enough to seek a life of honesty. This is exactly what I was getting. How could I get mad?
Hearing him confess about the gambling, at this point, no longer triggered anger in me. Sadness, yes. But not anger. Not only did I feel it was an “answer to my prayer”, it also felt like just another piece of evidence to throw on the pile that told me my husband was not to be trusted (big sigh…).
I had to give it a day to really think about this new disclosure.
Who is being dishonest here? Him? Me? The answer was both of us. I pride myself on being honest. But the fact is I was being honest with everyone but myself. The fact is, I never saw him for who he was. I only saw him for what I thought he could be (and to my credit, he did say that he wanted to be an honest and faithful husband and father). But the reality is (and TRUTH was) that he is not that.
I was living in denial, and I was making all my daily decisions, emotions, and future plans based upon that. And every time he acted out, lied, cheated, gambled, drank, verbally abused us, or whatever went against what I felt was “wrong” it was a slap in the face to me. He ruined my fantasy. He was crushing my delusion of being married to a “potentially honest man” and replaced it with my ugly reality of being married to a man that is incapable of honesty.
For the past 3 years, he has been consistent with his acting out and dishonesty. He has effortlessly maintained his status quo and has never failed to be the same man I married and had kids with. And for that I had no one to be angry at except myself.
The more I hold on to my delusions and false hopes of him changing, the more I hate not him, but myself. I’ve lost so much time, energy, and opportunities waiting for the day he chooses to love and respect me. I’ve gained grey hairs, stress, and shed far more tears that I thought could be contained in my small body.
I’ve had and known the truth the whole time. I have options. I can choose to stay. I can choose to leave. But whatever option I choose, I am never justified in forcing a person to be that which he is not. I must not plan my life according to who he promises he wants to be, but plan my life according to the person he is. If I choose to stay, that will require me accepting that he will never change. If I leave, that will still require me to accept that he will never change. But life will always continue on, so I’d best make the most of it.