Any other wimps made it through this? starting the process

Is it typical for men to switch to nice mode once they get the letter of representation?

After almost a decade of being told I cannot do anything right I decided that the next time my husband said he was going to leave, I would NOT plead for him to stay (two small children) and try, try, try again to make things work; I would accept it and make it happen.

A month ago he said he wanted to leave, I said I accepted it and he received his letter of representation yesterday. Since we still live together (house not sold yet in this market, no extra money) I wanted him to know the letter was coming and not just explode when he got it, I told him it was coming.

First of all, he flipped out that I actually have a lawyer. He didn’t expect me to follow through or stand up for myself. He also wanted to separate when the house was sold but it’s miserable living there with him especially now.

He likes to be the one in control. He was ready to walk out and sleep in in office but I (nice, nice) said to stay. I wanted him to leave but my reasoning was that he needs to find a real place to stay so the kids can stay with him sometimes and give me time to see which of my feelings are real and which are being manipulated. And also, if I admit it, I don’t like fighting with him and I want him to be nice so I give in and try to do and say what I think he wants.

Usually, he’s only happy when he says mean enough things to make me cry but now he’s had a TOTAL change of attitude (manipulation, is my first thought), he says he wants to work it out for the children’s sake and doesn’t understand why I can’t play “happy, grateful, let’s have sex now-wife” because for four days he’s been civil.

I’m so guarded around him. I’ve explained how much I’ve hurt over the years and he never cared–that I don’t trust that he can change. I can’t just flip the switch like him and show gratitude for the tiny bit of niceness he’s showing. BUT, have I been too sensitive all these years? Is it too much to expect a man to love me for the things I am and accept the things I’m not instead of being critical and mean to force me into a mold I will never fit? I know I can never make him happy and I would zap him a perfect size 6 southern belle who keeps an immaculate model home and has a healthy, home-cooked dinner ready at six every night if I could because I do love him and want him to be happy. It’s really not unreasonable for him to want a nice, clean house and predictable meal times. I just can’t seem to get it together all by myself.

Here’s the thing: I feel guilty now that the shoe’s on the other foot. He’s always been the one threatening to leave but now that I’m making it happen, he says I want this more than him and that makes me the 'bad guy" breaking up our family. He even said he wanted to be more involved with the kids (homework, bathtime, bedtime) but that they don’t want him to be–they only want me. I think that would change if he actually spent more time with them alone, for years I thought he would be better as a ‘weekend Dad’.

I finally thought I could start standing up for myself but I’m being pulled back into a swamp of guilt. He’s not a horrible person, he just doesn’t like ME and maybe it’s my fault because I was too sensitive and gave up my self esteem and withdrew. I’m not a great housekeeper and he’s a better cook than I am. I am a great mother though and there ARE some things I do right even if he won’t acknowledge them.

I need reassurance, I was so sure what I am doing (separation–officially) is the right thing but now he’s being all nice. I never used to second-guess myself like this before we got married.

I’m a wimp.

First of all, stop beating yourself up. Emotional abusers are very good at pulling the guilt strings. They will commonly tell you that you are too sensitive to their negative comments, that they are only telling you things for your own good, and make negative comments in a manner that slowly eat away at your self esteem over years. (I dated several emotional abusers before I realized what was going on.) …and the previous threats of divorce are a form of emotional abuse. It’s his way of testing your love for him and it’s cruel. And, FWIW, I think that his sudden flip-flop to being nice is another form of manipulation. Had it happen in my own bad relationship and saw it happen with my BF’s ex when they separated. (He went through very much the same as you. Lots of emotional abuse and controlling behaviors.)

(You should google emotional abuse, controlling people, and possibly borderline personality disorder. Also, look at my previous thread on borderline personality disorder. You may recognize yourself on the receiving end of someone with mental health issues.)

Keep in mind that kids mimic their parents very well, and whatever kind of marriage you have, the kids will probably repeat in some degree when they get older. They perceive those behaviors as ‘normal’. Yes, a divorce might be traumatic for them, and it will definitely be stressful and scary, however, it might also be a good thing in the end.

My parents’ divorce was the best thing that happened to me as I went from a very chaotic environment and poverty to stability and a lot more care about me. In fact, I had been so traumatized by the marriage itself that I shunned marriage for many years after. So, as long as both of you put the kids welfare first (note: this doesn’t mean spoiling them or caving in to their demands), it can be a positive thing. Let them know that they will not lose you or their father and that you both love them implicitly.

Finally, ask yourself if you’ve done everything you can to save your marriage. Ask yourself if you truly believe that he will change. Ask yourself do you want the kind of marriage you’ve lived in for the last decade. Then finallly, ask yourself if you will be ok living alone and being without him…allowing him to date others.

Should you decide to remain in the marriage, demand counselling as one of the conditions to returning. Also start creating boundaries about what you will allow him to do and how you will allow him to talk to you. Never cave in on those boundaries, and always make sure there are consequences to his breaking them.

Yes, you deserve to have a relationship with someone who likes you as you are, and yes you can have that, although it may take some time to find that person. Do not define your self worth through your marriage. If someone demands great change in you, won’t listen to your input, and is controlling, then they don’t love YOU, the person. They are in love with their creation. You deserve and can get better than that. Make your life a full life. Surround yourself with your children, family, and friends. Find peace and happiness. My prayers are with you.

I truly appreciate your response. It’s exactly what I needed to hear. I need to work on my self esteem and confidence and he needs to go away.
You’re right about learning from your parents, his dad is exactly the same way and I cannot let my son grow up in that dark shadow.

Thank you for reaching out and helping me, your validation and support are like ice cold water for someone who’s been stranded in the barren desert eating sand for ten years.
Bless you.

How are things going for you now?

I can totally relate to this comment of yours: “And also, if I admit it, I don’t like fighting with him and I want him to be nice so I give in and try to do and say what I think he wants.” Did that ever work for you? He doesn’t sound nice, he sounds manipulative.

I tried doing things that my ex wanted and being concerned that he’d get angry. I ended up feeling resentful and mistreated and finally got tired of it. I tried to work with him to come up with mutually satisfying agreements and all I did was waste time and money on attorney’s fees. He didn’t give a flip about what I wanted, so I quickly learned that I had to protect my own interests. Now we are headed to court for settlement.

You are a good person and mom. Have confidence in that and tell him to buzz off when necessary. Be true to yourself and don’t let his actions or fear of them change your behavior.

Thanks “Stronger Now”,
I’m finally moving out after living on separate sides of the house for seven months. You’re absolutely right, he’s not nice–he’s a master manipulator. I do feel resentful and mistreated and I need OUT. Thank Goodness I will be out from under the same roof in five days.

The latest problem is that he absolutely will not turn over his financial information to my lawyer…he keeps saying he didn’t get the letter or the emails and then nothing. He has several accounts that he’s never shared with me. Two months ago when I told him the kids and I were moving out, he withdrew his paycheck from our joint account without notice and bounced everything we owed. Oh, and my job was reduced from 40 hours a week down to 24 at the same time. I consider getting out my main priority so I’m in emergency mode right now. I can’t stand living the way we’ve been any longer, it’s killed off most of who I ever was. I make significantly less than he does and ended up withdrawing money from my retirement account just to get out of the house.
I don’t have the extra money to litigate and force his financial information for the separation agreement and without it I have no child support…what in the world do I do now?
I feel stronger and calmer that I’m taking charge and getting out, but financially I’m sunk. UGH!

ASAP…You need to file a motion for post separation support, child custody/support, and possibly one for equitable distribution as well since he’s taken money. You may wish to consult Erin in the other forum about the best ways to do this, but it can be done by yourself.