Jane Austen wrote, I paraphrase - a true test of character is not in what we say or what we feel but in what we do or what we fail to do. To me this means that our words and our emotions are to be managed. Our words, our feelings are important but not as important as what we do, or do not do.
A man who can SWAP cannot recognise, least of all manage emotions. He has no capacity to think and feel and then deal with thoughts, feelings and cope with them. His words his feelings are more important, more tangible to him than what he does. It does not matter what he does because that justifies his feelings, his words.
Real love, true love is an act of will. That does not mean that we have to will ourselves to love others but rather that we have to work to find those feelings, we have to do - in order to feel. That is what we women do, we find ways to make lives work to make those feelings happen that make marriages work, that keep childrens lives together. These men, they do things to make their words work their "feelings" matter.
In its simplest form, in ordinary language it is called selfishness. No ability, no capacity to put the needs of others together with your own to find a common way, to honour your promises.
These are the things that I would like to explain to my ex husband but I know that he would not listen, he would not hear it and he could not understand. It is beyond him. I accept that now.
I now have a chance to find a man that can understand these things. Someone who can offer true love. selfless and fulfilling and enduring.
Oh Lucy, you are so beautiful. I love what you wrote, the way you say things. True true true.
Wow! I think what you wrote best describes what drove my husband away or let him be pulled to another. He expesses his gratitude for me and love in cards. However many times he could be mean and prioritized work and school. He would say, "I don't have time for this or that, he wouldn't watch a TV show for all, instead he would go to our back bedroom and be alone." I often thought he was SELFISH. He also ran his finances in the ground where it peaked 4 times in our 17 years and had to be dealt with...the last one was about the same time I'm understanding his fling started. So, it's not what you say, it's what you do or don't do. The things that I miss are his touching me, he was not selfish at all when we made love. We had coffee every morning to bond for the day and share what was upcoming and talked most nights about our days. But then there were those negative threads as previously mentioned. He always thanked me for making him be the best husband, son and father. Now that he is reaching tenure at the University and has joined with this successful scientist...I guess it's her turn to make him be the best research scientist. Wouldn't this be called co-dependency?
You got it, Lynley. As much as you miss him (and you should) he was never a grown up. You accepted him as he was (it's never perfect). But part of what he was was the selfish, or thoughtless, or insensitive, or immature guy you see now. I'm sure he *is* having difficulty with it, but he still made a childish rather than an adult choice, and doesn't seem capable (are they ever?) of making a different choice -- to be grown. At some point (I hope soon), not having that childishness in your life may actually start to seem like a blessing.
It's so strange to see people we knew change so much. I think that once leavers go down this path, and destroy so much, there is often a sense that they can't go back and try to fix things. They feel guilty, yes, but taking the high road is just too hard for someone who was selfish and weak enough to do the damage in the first place. So they commit to a path that they think will preserve their self-image, and I think that often involves chucking a lot of their values ("hmm, if I don't have to honor my vows and promises to her/him, perhaps I don't have to honor anything any more -- it's all about me finally being fulfilled, after all"). It's not an enviable place to be, and I think a lot of them never make it all the way back from that Dark Side.
As devastated as you are, you are blessed in that you are not him.
gail c said...
I like this thread. The comments in it are exactly how I feel about my STBEX. I believe too, a many who can SWAP cannot recognize or manage emotions. When my husbands father died, I do not think he knew what to do to manage his emotions. Our children and I all went thru what I understand to be the normal grieving process, but he did not ever seem to; he just seemed to start drinking more & more heavily. We had a bad 2 yrs following his father's death and buried 25 friends/family most of who were within 10 yrs of our age. This SCARED me and I know it scared him. We discussed it numerous times and committed to each other over and over as well as discussed other friends who had separated/divorced and how we would NEVER EVER do that to each other. HONESTY in our relationship and in raising our children was #1. No he can say NOTHING that is the truth. This site helped me know what might be coming around the corner after the initial shock of him walking out after I busted him on his affair. It warned me that the lies would continue to grow and they have. Everything all of you said that he would say has pretty much happened - she's abused me verbally & mentally for the last 5 years (ironically when his drinking increased); we haven't been happy for years; we would have separated years ago if we hadn't had our 3rd child (this crushed me & my children);she's living in the lap of luxury while I'm having to live on maxed out credit cards - and the list just goes on and on.
Like Lucy, I firmly believe real love, true love is an act of will. There are times married people are "in love" and there are times that you love each other, but may not be "in love" for a bit. It is up to both of you to work to find those "in love" feelings again and it can be done if both individuals truly BELIEVE in the committment made in the wedding vows. It has really hurt me to know that my own grandfather married my high school sweetheart and I and had long conversations with us about the committment we were making and that it was for LIFE. My grandparents were married 50+ years and he promised me verbally and in writing that we would be together longer than they were because they had set such a good example. Now, 32 years later, HE decides to throw all that away and run to another woman and find a happy life for himself that does not include me or his children. I have finally convinced myself that my grandfather (from Heaven) is still aware that I was fully committed to the marriage vows I made and is NOT the least bit disappointed in me. He is, however, very disappointed in the Ex and sometimes I dream that my grandfather talks to me and helps me thru this horrible time. He has ALWAYS been my guardian angel!!
Of course, the other line "I'm leaving you not the children" was given too. Really? One daughter will have nothing to do with him because he drug her to a bar Christmas night where he met his whore; the other just lets him leave messages & then decides when/if she will talk to him and our youngest (16 yr old son) has had less than 48 hours of face to face time with his dad since he left in February - does that sound like "I'm not leaving the children"??
Yes, selfishness is now the characteristic that comes to mind when I think of all my Ex did over the last 5 years with his increased drinking and it is definitely what led to his departure. His words were "you and the children are all leeches and I'm tired of you all sucking me dry of all my $$". I'm a successful business woman who has made as much or more money than him much of our married life - when did supporting your family you supposedly love become "sucking him dry"???
I'm in the 7th month of this life altering ordeal. Thank you ALL for your words of wisdom & sharing your stories. I hope and pray one day I will not become so angry everytime I think about what is happening to me & my family. Through all of you and a new therapist who "gets it" I have seen alot of improvement in myself over the past 2 months. I know because of these things I will survive!! Thank you!
sunflower child said...
Thank You everyone for this wonderful thread. I too have experienced the same. Any clues on how to find a therapist & a community support group that deals with a subject like this. I am not finding anything too helpful.
My husband cannot apologize for anything he ever does nor will he be able to, He gaslights blaming others for what happens, it was one of his sons, or my inabilities, or.... and demands respect of others too.
I recently did a search about people who can't apologize and it's a character defect in them that won't allow them to do so. These people have never been taught how to ever say they are sorry and feel that it is not only an attack on their character, but a sign of weakness in them as a person. They also feel that if they do apologize for one thing, then that will open up a flood of guilt about other things they have done wrong. This type of person is afraid that they will be out of control if they show any emotion because if they do... they won't be able to stop it. Thus a total breakdown.
This explains my husband to a tee. He was a Naval Officer, then in the Corporate world and then owned many business before crashing and burning and leaving me to go drive big-rig trucks and live in one. My husband withdrew from me months before he left me, and I knew 'something" was wrong, but gave him space to figure it out. I never thought he was just going to leave me after being married to me for 33 years. That is a huge amount of time to be with someone, and he never hinted at maybe going for marriage counseling. Looking at this now, I know he couldn't tell any counselor how he felt,
Character tells a lot about a person, and knowing the type of person you are married to matters, My marriage to this man was not meant to ever last for as long as it did. My personality doesn't match with his and never really did, I am an extrovert, and he an introvert. He is a type A and I a type B. But who ever knows this when they marry so young? I didn't, that's for sure.
Wow, wow and wow!
This sums up everything I have been trying to understand about my STBX so succinctly. Sadly, as a helper, giver and fixer I naively have thought (even 5yrs post split ) that I could help him but I know for certain that I can't . And while I had hoped there would be room in my heart to have some sort of relationship with him, for my and my sons sake, I know that for any foreseeable future, that is absolutely impossible. My heart just could not take it again.
Thank you so very much for this post! You have eased my mind in immeasurable ways!
I tried to read all the comments on this post but as an oldie I did not have the patience. People change, fall out of love. That is simply a fact. It could have happened to us. It is okay to split up. Life changes. Do it with respect if you have to, make sure everybody is taken care of. My ex was uneducated and put me on a pedestal and when he got educated my pedestal lowered. When I got old my pedestal lowered again. We had an amazing period of fun, but my ex was horny like hell and when I went on business trips he helped himself with anyone who was willing, without my knowledge (found out later). Yes, I married the wrong man perhaps. His affection was through sex. Then his issues got a hold of him and "he simply had to get out or die". I let him go with a lawyer as he had no clue how that worked..he played victim..but we finally after 3 years got a divorce agreement. I am super mad and disillusioned and will not accept any man in my life right now, because I am not ever going to give sex, without really feeling a new man deserves it enough to make me feel I would enjoy it!!! In the meantime I enjoy my daughters, the weddings, the future grandchildren. He is missing out. Yes, because he was living it up with a cute girl and then committed suicide. He is missing out. Of course I still love him and miss his body and his love and his being with him. But he fucked up to me and his daughters and I refuse to accept blame. I cried for many years everyday...Yes, I was his feedback and yes I was a nag, but hell, I was a good person and offered my view and I respected by my daughters and others. It is a fucking lonely road when you take the high road. Hope to meet you there! It is the only way to survive...CC