marriage exercise

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Jena, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. Jena

    Jena New Member


    so yea me and my marriage :)

    i sat there last night, husband tense again and we did a 2 hour talk. i said to him i think we need to write this down, because things between you and i seem so off, maybe they've always been off inbetween the good times. i just dont' know.

    he's always very frustrated lately. i think for a multitude of reasons, financial is huge right now also in process of a new owner coming on board at the store. store isnt' doing well.

    so i had him and i both write a list of what we want from this marriage, what things truly upset us about the other. well let me just say his list made me choke lol. it was soooo long.

    than i was like uh oh great idea, now what? he kept saying how stupid it was i said do you want to make this better the counseling isn't helping?

    than we wrote a list of all the things we like about the other person, etc.

    i said maybe we should pick two things from the list of things we want or change and work on those. so we did.

    i hope this wasnt'a stupid idea, we'll see how it goes. it just seems a bit overwhelming right now. he's so unhappy with me. i'm not too thrilled with him, we smile through our dinners together with kids. it actually was good last night we joked with kids and all.

    i sat back though and thought should marriage be this hard? one should never try to change the other person, it's about loving eachother for who we are. so as i looked at both lists there were def. a few things that for me is changing me a bit and same for him. yet mostly was alot of bad habits we've formed thru the years.

  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    Making a list of each other's faults is never a good idea. Even done with the best of intentions, there is bound to be hurt feelings...

    Rather, I think it is better to start with needs (and even then, start with only one or two)

    I need more _____________.

    Then see if the other person is willing to give what is needed. The need could be anything: "conversations", "affection", "sex", "hugs", "help with housework", "praise", "time alone", "time together", etc etc

    Give it a try...
  3. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Marriage is hard work. Period.

    Hope it works for you.

    Not downplaying any issues, but from the outside looking in, he's stuck it thru some pretty thick stuff. Just agreeing to be the only breadwinner says something in this day and age...again, that's not reason enuf alone to stay...but it's pretty big.
  4. Jena

    Jena New Member

    i agree Shari! you know full well from the other side of the fence how hard it can be financially.

    yea it started as that lol. i wrote down positives that i'd like to see more of in our marriage, family life etc. his was all negatives about what he doesnt' want me to do lol.

    i'm pretty thick skinned lately, might not seem like it yet i can be. i didn't get upset i just laughed and said wow!! it was dont' nag, dont' do this don't do that. i said well............ this may be your new eharmony add some day lol. i said you want another person!!!!! LOL :)

    i told him hey i'm me, ill put more effort in yet i'll only go so far i'm not changing the entire basis of me shouldnt' have to. i'll try to be more of a wife yet the complaining each week about me is getting old. i'm not that bad. it's funny i saved the dinners' for him than one night is saved pizza. he said you know i dont' eat pizza why'd you do that? he wants me to make him something for him to eat.

    ummm call me a witch yet you get what we eat. its' that simple. part of thsi for him at least is he spent his last marriage not speaking of his needs (not my fault) so now he's overly expressive to the point where i'm like yea whatever when he goes too far.

    hey at least' it's something, it'll keep us on task feeling like we're trying to achieve something. he needs to get happy about him and his own life i told him. i said in one week my grandfather died and my oldest moved out, i'm still standing. why? because i'm more positive about me, i do littel things to take care of me.

    i said you dont golf anymore, play cards with the guys you work and your here that's it. you needa balance and until you find it you wont' truly be happy. tha'Tourette's Syndrome his job not mine. :)
  5. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think that's more of an ideal than a reality. Certainly you should never enter a relationship thinking you can inherently change a person, but marriage, like most interpersonal relationships, is about compromise.

  6. Jena

    Jena New Member

    Sharon - sooooo very true. that could be a new quote LOL.
  7. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I don't think I want to see a list of what husband would change about me. LOL

    You have been through a horrible year with both of your children and your husband has hung in there when they aren't even his kids. Our kids have had some serious issues along the way and I have been scared husband would leave and they are his kids, too. Situations like that stress even the best marriages. The fact that your husband is still there says a lot, in my opinion.

    If you can get through this difficult time, your marriage might be better than ever.
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    If he gives up golf and playing cards :hugs: He'll have more time for romance! lol DDD
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Tony has been out of work for the last 3 or 4 weeks. We have been together for almost 28 years.

    If someone asked us to write a list of what we liked or disliked about each other right now, I would hate to see that list! Lets just say there has been a little too much togetherness.

    And yes, marriage or any long term relationship is the hardest thing you ever do. You can never change a person and should never try. They are who they are. Warts and all.
  10. Jena

    Jena New Member

    DDD he doesn't do that stuff. thats the point, it's either work or me. he needs a life. even a small one. so when he is with us he appreciates it isn't grunting and groaning and miserable the two days a week we see him.

    it wasn't so much what we don't like about eachother..... it was more what we want from this experience. his list was umm all the what he doesnt' want me to do anymore........ if i listed it you guys would be weak laughing :) it was endless. i was like huh what? yea ok lol.

    it's so massive and we're so unhealthy so i figured let's put it out there and chunk it down like i do with difficult child, little by little. it's either that or we get bats and just beat the **** out of eachother. always another idea :)

    i mean yesterday walking in stepping in dog poop because he couldn't walk a dog. i mean are you serious? really we live like animals, since when? i even told him just put on lead outside. yet instead he sat on his fat butt watching t.v. all day while kids trashed house. why you ask?? takea guess.......... it's related to the area of the body men usually "think" with that as perusual hasnt' gotten my attention. I"m telling you his penis should have a social security number!!! LOL
  11. Jena

    Jena New Member

    oh come on that was funny..... slightly crude yet funny :) can you imagine how much we could get back on our taxes if we could claim it?? wow it would be great!
  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sorry, lol, I misread your post and thought you were saying don't golf etc. Old eyes! DDD
  13. Jena, I think the general idea of your exercise is a good one. But I would stick with the positives and work from there. My husband and I are back together after a 9 month separation (near divorce but cancelled it at the last second). I am in recovery and already working on myself.

    What husband and I did before we decided to get back together was write the things we felt needed to change about ourselves, things we liked about our marriage, things each felt we needed from the marriage. We read each others list and were surprised they were so similar.

    Our marriage (nearly 30 years) will always be a work in progress, if that stopped I think it would end. My parents are celebrating 59 years this thursday and their advice to us was...communication, if you have that, you are golden!

    Hugs of understanding, Vickie
  14. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    If I had any advice on how to tweak your exercise I'd offer it. Outside of that, the best advice I got was to hold hands when you argue, and don't argue before dinner. Good luck hon.
  15. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I'm sorry things are still such a struggle. I think we all wish marriages/relationships weren't "work", but at times it is only realistic that it does take work. I agree with the poster who said lists like this can be hurtful. Yours was a perfect example. You worded yours one way, he worded his a different way. His way probably came off sounding very negative and can lead someone to believe they aren't good enough or not what the other person wants. The fact that he is there tells me he wants the marriage to work more than to accept it failing. It also sounds like neither of you know how to get to a better place or make yourselves AND each other happy with all that is going on. But it does sound like you both are putting in efforts in one manner or another, just perhaps not knowing exactly how to help the other feel good about the efforts. (your example of pizza for example. you did as he said he needed/wanted: saving dinner. You put in effort where he asked. He was unable to see it, he just saw it was pizza which you know he doesn't like. Missed point on his part that you were giving what he asked for. Now it isn't like he left that morning saying : if you have pizza, would you mind making something simple and quick for me that isn't a ton of work since you know I don't like pizza. Communication left half explained leads to assumptions, meaning you assumed he'd want pizza saved since that was dinner. Know what I mean??)

    This might not work for either of you but I was thinking maybe a variation of "the list". How about each morning you both leave a note for the other with 2 things written on it you both need from each other that day. His might say: 1) I'd enjoy 30 minutes of your undivided time/attention when I get in from work today and 2) I'd really enjoy having dinner ready that can be anything so long as its something you know I don't hate. Yours might say : 1) I would enjoy a 15 minute back rub tonight after kids go to bed where we just sit quiet together and feel connected while I let my body unwind and feel pampered. and 2) I would love it if you could properly put away all of the folded laundry I have completed in the proper rooms/drawers/cupboards.

    Instead of focusing on what is driving you both crazy or what needs you both feel aren't being met, set yourselves up for at least 2 successes each per day. Over time, it will become obvious to you both what things mean a lot more to each other than you might have both known. Even the small things, when done successfully and in spite of any barriers, add up in terms of feeling appreciated, heard etc. (So even if the kids are going at it when he walks in, if his request was 30 minutes of you time when he gets in, the law is laid down to the kids that husband is priority for next 30 minutes and any mischief gotten into will be handled firmly and swiftly, in other words: don't mess with this time! Likewise, if your request was the laundry thing, being tired etc doesn't matter. It gets done. Both of you ensure the requests are met, period). None of this will make the "issues" disappear overnight. But injecting 2 reasons to feel heard each day and prioritized that day is going to feel good for both of you. Goodwill can come back given time and daily reasons to feel thanked and thankful. Things like this can snowball. Daily commitment to each others small scale needs will make reason to feel positive each day. Suddenly you will do the 2 things asked but also remember how often he lists a certain thing and do it anyhow just because you know it means something, and vice versa. It just sounds like perhaps an approach that eliminates all negativity and focuses on practical measures. This is also a good lesson for the kids to learn. That their parents are putting themselves and their marriage and each other on the priority list and everyone WILL respect it because it is not negotiable. Just as we don't stop fighting with our struggling children, our relationships when having hard times deserve our fighting spirits too. When we know certain tactics dont' work with our difficult children, we find a new path and try that one. We don't list our annoyances with our children in a list of do betters. We do lists of positive acts they can do to regain our trust or respect or rewards because the damage to their self worth/esteem is huge if we list the problems as negatives. Your marriage sounds like a difficult child situation: one size doesn't fit all and the situation requires help right now. Basket A and B and C. It applies to troubled relationships too if you really bring it down to basics. What REALLy matters to you both each morning? That's your two things right there.
  16. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    I like what Mattsmom has to say. good advice I think. I think Jena that you will make progress with difficult child and with husband if you can not come from an adversarial position all the time (power struggle, battle of wills) but rather from a position of finding common ground. I think that is what Mattsmom is talking about.

    I went to a wedding once and the minister gave advice to the married couple based on something some old couple had said to him. He said, only fight when you are naked! The church cracked up.
  17. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Take anything I say with a grain of salt - My H and I have been through a lot of counseling, mostly me to stay sane and in the moment. Our favorite and more helpful counselor retired a while ago, but she was wonderful and very helpful in an honest and realistic way, which both H and I appreciated.

    This counselor took part of the serenity prayer and said, "remember that you are individuals coming from different families - everything that comes along...every dilemma, every moment of joy, every argument or disagreement, difference of opinion will present itself differently for both of you. How to approach things, how to resolve things, etc. One of you may be a talker, the other a brooder, etc. However, you BOTH need to accept the personality traits that you cannot change...have courage to change the things/habits you can change...and the strength and wisdom to know the difference". She stressed to us how much more important it is to appreciate the positives and downplay the negatives (In fact, other than breaches in the marital/relationship agreement such as an affair, there is no need to rip each other by listing out the things you don't like. You're correct - you cannot change people and why would you want to?).

    For example, your H works hard and has stuck with your marriage through A LOT...but he didn't take the dog out the other day and it pooped on the kitchen floor. Are you saying that you've never had a moment when you didn't do something that caused a negative outcome? Yeah, it was gross and a pita to clean up dog poop, but was it monumental? Do you believe that you're the ONLY one who feels neglected, tired, stressed, physically ill or exasperated?

    That's the kind of brutal honesty you want to have in your marriage and it stems from empathy. When you can take yourself out of the moment and try to see things from his perspective - and I'm only talking about those little annoyances or times when you feel he's being neglectful or just a slob, etc., because those are the little things that can really get in the way of just how much you do care for one another and love one another. Our counselor made us make lists as well, except we had only two lists: one that listed the reasons we wanted to be with one another (married/living together) - our decision to commit - and the other was a list of things that pleased us about the other, things like my H makes a pot of coffee every morning and walks the dogs and feeds them before I'm even out of bed, he carries heavy things for me so my back doesn't go out...I do his laundry and put it all away, I don't disturb him during 60 Minutes, etc. You get the idea. Anyway, along with these lists, she gave us a sheet on fair fighting, which you can find on line I think. It was great - we hung it on the fridge and when things became too heated between us, we'd call out a number that represented an item on the list, most often meaning that we needed to take a time out and revisit this topic later, if it was really that important.

    Our more recent counselor, who is also good, though not as great as the other one, had us do a 'realilty check', meaning that we needed to recognize that there are certain things that will not change about the other. For instance, I will NEVER be a morning person and H will NEVER leave the bathroom the way he found it; I will NEVER care about the cleanliness of the garage and H will NEVER care about the floors being clean. I will NEVER be able to control him and he will NEVER be able to control me, no matter how hard we try or how great a case we make for our cause.

    IOW, the bottom line with either counselor, was that in a marriage/relationship, there is not only some compromise, but ACCEPTANCE. By accepting one another as you are, that's not giving up and it certainly doesn't mean that certain behaviors won't P.iss Y.ou O.ff...but you do need to remind yourself of those things that you cannot change...and you each need to be honest about the things you can and are willing to change...and then decide which things are viable and which things are not...and then live with it.

    You know, it may be that you love one another but you're not meant to be together. Or, it may be that H has to put some things from his past behind him (re: exw), or it may mean that you have to stop expecting him to be one way when he is the other way, or stop doing so much for everyone all the time and then getting annoyed because you're exhausted and no one else is. That was my biggest problem: I'd be doing for everyone but me, and literally getting sick from it, and then I'd be really angry because no one else cared about those things as much as me and didn't help out. It's funny how I'm just not that into spending my weekends cleaning my house from top to bottom. I tidy up, get some laundry in, but I just can't expend all that energy anymore and then get really angry when someone tracks in mud or lets the dogs sleep on the couch or uses every towel in the get the idea. There's a certain lovely feeling from letting go of all that stuff and allowing others to take responsibility for some things (sometimes they surprisingly DO!)...we are not supposed to do everything, even when we're stay at home moms. There is no rule book you need to follow, your house doesn't need to be spotless and you are allowed to make your kids be responsible for walking/feeding the dog, cleaning the bathroom, helping make dinner, and doing their own homework (just some examples).

    Like I said, I am no expert, however, H and I have weathered MANY horrible things and making what we learned in counseling work for us at home (both together and individually) has helped. Not perfect by any means, but helpful. I hope you're able to figure out what works for YOU.
  18. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    H&R I wish we had your counselor. Your reply gave me even more food for thought. Thank you.
  19. Jena

    Jena New Member

    oh Jo good stuff. matts mom also and anyone else who took the time........

    it kinda made me laugh because when i suggested we clear it up by writing down "positives" what's in marriage, what we'd like more of, build upon........... the guy wrote a page and a half of "what I don't want you to do" and what I want more of. sex!! he expects it everynight same as before.......

    so when i tried to be positive he flipped it into a negative thats' when i said ok how about we write down things we love about eachother. because my list to him was all good first list. his list to mine was as i said huh what?? lol. than he only had 5 things lol. again laughing. my list had like 15.

    like for example husband can't sleep just like my difficult child. so at night i get difficult child finally contained than i have husband to handle. i've asked nicely would you mind wearing a strip for your nose to aviod snoring. when he finally does go down usually 3 a.m. he snores all night really loudly. his response no i'm not wearing anything you get something. huh what??

    than i asked him is there anyway a few nights a week you can go to bed earlier?? our home is small and since i got back from portland his new thing is he stays up till 3a .m. either in our bathroom in our room on his computer, or he goes in kitchen and eats just about everything. have i mentioned how much weigh he's gained?? he's like 300 lbs. easy.

    i said babe it's hard you get in, we talk if we spend sometime together great, than he's off and running into the kitchen, eating, opening cabinets watching t.v. he woke difficult child last night by accident and i couldnt' get down till 3. again i asked him can i get you something natural for sleep?? he tried one thing before didn't work. he said i'm not taking anything!

    i said nicely honey sleep is essential, you can't function next day days' your off due to being up till than, are cranky with kids etc. let's try an herbal remedy. again a no go.

    i am not a therapist nor a dr. i'm just a woman watching this man i married. for years i have felt he is so similar to my difficult child in so many ways. high defiance level, doesnt' take direction well at all, explosive at times when he's angry finding words are hard, sleep issues, goes from sweet as pie to nasty in 2.1 seconds. what can i say i think he's a difficult child. a very good hearted, selfless difficult child at times. yet still a difficult child. he refuses to admit there are issues, he cancelled evaluation at pysch office several mos. ago just goes to therapy. is really smart so gives T what he wants and T doesnt' suspect adhd, add, BiPolar (BP).

    i'm far from perfect, yet truth is house is always clean, food in fridge, dogs and kids taken care of, his pj's are waiting on bed for him when he gets in, i always plan junk to do wtih kids, buy xmas gifts, i keep ontop of that. i wait up each and every night for him. i support him with the business emotionally and sit for hours listening about new ideas etc. i've forgiven him for all his wrong doings (indelities) in the beginning of our relationship years ago, lies. so overall i have to say i'm a good person with a good heart a good mom and a good wife. could i try harder in wife dept.?? def. i can always try harder in any dept. of our life together.

    you guys are right hes stuck in for some bad junk, yet what you don't know is so have i. tha'Tourette's Syndrome just what you do when your best friends. i've stuck in also. and there was alot more than what i mentioned.

    i also told him i love you, yet ih ave to be honest me and you having sex everynight isn't going to happen. he wants that. i said i have swollen knees some nights burning legs. that's life.

    we'll see how it goes with the list. mine was be affectionate besides intimacy..... and respect me 24/7. his was sexual junk ofcourse and no double standard for this week. already last night he text on his way home about the thing on his list. yet we were in teh middle of discussing something important. lol.

    i'm not giving up yet. we'll c how it goes. he openly admits he doesnt' like being home on his days off. i said wow thats'a problem. he said all i want to do is sleep. i said well when you stay up till 3 i'd feel that way also. he said kids are rough, their fine my stepson has adhd you just have to know how to handlehim, yelling isnt' the way. difficult child is perfect days we have the kids and my stepdaughter is a walk in the park.
  20. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I think....when you take 20 different types of advice for one marriage and try to pick out the best parts of those advices and glue it together to come up with one good therapy for a marriage in crisis you are doing more damage than good. I'd stick to the ONE therapist you have, work with him/her - set a goal/date with your mate and if by that date/goal things aren't better either switch counselors, get a divorce lawyer or realize things are what they are and continue to build a life, build a bridge and get over it. Hugs & Love