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Author Topic: Dealing with silent treatment / being "grey rocked" by wife and children  (Read 420 times)
JediGuy

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« on: May 05, 2021, 10:04:59 PM »

I posted about this in another topic, but I think this issue is worthy of it's own thread.  Thanks in advance for your patience reading this note, as I know it's long.

Background
There is a lot of complexity in my history with my wife.  Her father passed away when she was in college (before we met), and her mom passed away 1.5 years after we were married.  Moreover, after the birth of our third child she she nearly died from a life-threatening infection and now has ongoing chronic medical issues as a result.

We have been sleeping in separate rooms for almost two years, and our relationship has really struggled during the pandemic as I'm now working from home, our oldest is doing distance learning, and my wife is homeschooling the younger two.

Present issue
During spring break, my wife had some medical appointments that she asked me to attend with her, and my oldest girl had all her wisdom teeth removed.  I helped shop, cook, and take care of everyone the entire week while my wife did a bunch of shopping to try to catch up on things the family needed (clothing, living space improvements, recreation).  The week ended with me racing through Walmart on Easter Sunday to find sugar drinks to help my wife while she was prepping for a colonoscopy.  It was a crazy week, but we connected better than we have in months and I had great quality time with my girls.

Things were fine for the first week after spring break, but after a late Sunday night where my wife was showing off more clothing she bought for my girls, I went the next day without seeing them (I was really spent from the weekend and a full day of work and didn't feel like I had anything positive to offer).  The following day, my wife unloaded on me about how this wasn't healthy for her, how she gets "crazy" when I'm home from work, how she regretted our spring break, and how she really felt uncared for with me not talking to them the day before.  I apologized and tried to make it a point to check in with everyone and offer to help, but don't feel like I've been forgiven (and in spite of massive efforts on my part to care for everyone the entire spring break).

Since then (over 3 weeks ago now), there is almost no conversation with either her or my daughters.  I will come to check in on them, offer to go on a walk, or try to start a conversation and I'm directly stared at with no sign of emotion or anything spoken.  On a few occasions, they've spoken to me, but usually only because they need something.  I am almost going crazy.  For awhile, I was trying to go out of my way to show that I do care, before realizing that I don't need to prove this to myself or anyone else.  But it's extremely unsettling and I feel like I'm being boxed-out of their lives.

Possible explanations
Last summer, my wife talked to me about how she thought I was a covert narcissist.  She said she thought I was really self-absorbed, only did things when I wanted to do them, only apologized to clear my own conscience, and wouldn't show empathy (her perceptions).  This never resonated with me as I actually do care a TON about her and my girls.  Eventually, I went to see my Dr. to discuss this, got a referral to a psychiatrist, and went for therapy.  Both doctors and the therapist I saw definitely thought I was NOT a narcissist, and I was very upfront in stating examples of things my wife pointed out as narcissistic.  My therapist suggested that my wife might have BPD traits, which is how I landed here.

I bring this up, because one of the tactics I've read about for dealing with a narcissist is the "grey rock" method.  I'm seriously wondering if this is what my wife is doing to me right now.  My daughters do this as well, as they typically follow mom's lead.

Another possibility that I've considered is that this is an extremely busy time in school right now for my oldest (HS freshman), and my wife is handling all the child care right now (by her choice, not mine).  She's also trying to teach the younger two and help my second oldest get ready to take an algebra exam to get high school credit for the class.

Trying to make sense of this
So there's a part of me that gives her the benefit of the doubt that she's just super busy and that this is her way of coping with the stress she's under.  But I also have a really hard time with the total lack of communication and how far away this is from what I value / consider to be healthy.

Ironically, today I told her some news and said I was planning to get a card for my mom that I'd like everyone to sign.  I left for a walk, and when I came back there was a card at the stairs that she had picked out for my mom that they all had signed.  I tried to thank her for thinking of my mom, but she said nothing in return.  Not really sure how to interpret this - she already had the card in her possession, so was it an act of kindness or just fulfilling an "obligation"?

Questions
Have others experienced this type of thing from their SO?
If so, how did you deal with this?  What worked?
Do I just need to keep positive and give it time to even out, or does this call for something more proactive?
Is there any meaning to be derived from this?
Were any of you ever accused of being a narcissist by your SO w/ BPD traits?  If so, what were you able to do to overcome that?

Thanks again for listening.
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Cat Familiar
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2021, 04:04:12 PM »

I’m a bit confused. You are working from home and you and your wife sleep in separate rooms. Did your family go somewhere else for spring break?

How is it that you can go an entire day without seeing your wife and kids? Were you all living in the same place when that occurred?

To answer your question about people with BPD accusing their significant others of being a narcissist, that is not unusual.





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JediGuy

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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2021, 09:18:43 PM »

Thanks for the note, @Cat Familiar.

To answer your questions, we live in a 4-yo ranch house that has a finished basement.  I have a small fridge, a microwave, and an instant pot in the lower level (where I sleep and have my office).  Long story short, about 5 months ago my wife asked me to buy food separately and cook separately because she didn't like having me working in the kitchen in the middle of the day when she was trying to do homeschooling with my girls in the living area (which is right next to the kitchen and is open).  The solution was to buy these small appliances so that I don't need to interrupt them to eat.  I now eat by myself at all meals (not my preference, but I don't seem to be welcome when I come asking if I can join as I'm usually met with silence).

Since there's also a full bath in the lower level, it's technically possible for me to go a day without interacting with anyone in the house.

The family was all home together for spring break.  All the other bedrooms are on the main level.

Also, I should mention that often times I get accused of "pinging" people to "fill my needs" when I ask "how are you today?", or "what's new with you?"  My wife has asked to not be bothered when she's in the kitchen, or when her bedroom door is closed, which lately is almost all the time in one of those two places.  But from experience, if I were to leave space to let her or my daughters come to me, it would not happen for days and I would eventually hear either directly or indirectly that "I just don't care about anyone else".

I don't understand how we went from connecting, working on shared goals, and exchanging "I love you's" over spring break to 4 weeks of silent treatment.  I would not do this to any of them, and it's very concerning to me that my daughters also seem to think this is OK or somehow justifiable.
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Notwendy
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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2021, 06:21:26 AM »

The silent treatment is a form of verbal abuse and John Gottman considers "stonewalling" to be dangerous to a marriage. It may not be possible to understand what your wife's reasoning is for doing this. Her accusations may be projections, but even if you did something to make her angry, moving into the basement until she lets you out doesn't have to be an acceptable solution to you.

I don't know what is going on with the children, but it's not OK for them to think it's acceptable to treat you like this.

Who pays for the house? If it's at least part yours, you have acccess to it. Now to be fair, being cooped up during the pandemic is stressful for anyone. If you were previously working outside the home, your wife is used to having her home as her space for a while. It would be like having someone in your office at work when you were used to having to yourself. I think to manage everyone being home during this pandemic, people should have some space to themselves, but one doesn't spend all day in the kitchen. People should have access to common amenities like kitchen, laundry, etc.

Just because your wife makes an accusation, doesn't mean it's true. If she asks to not be bothered, and then accuses you of not caring, that doesn't mean it's true. The silent treatment is really awful, but I think if you see it as something you can't control, and let go of trying to change her mind, you won't feel you have to do something to make her stop. I also think people use the ST when it works for them, and the solution is to not respond to it.

It seems your sleeping arrangements have been set before the pandemic, so this is how it is. The only solution I know to the ST is to let go of feeling obligated to do something to change it. Do your own thing and don't react by approaching her and trying to get her to talk. Stay busy. Keep up your usual routine of doing things but don't also go overboard being her servant who then retreats to the basement.

I am more concerned about the children and them seeing this situation, where you aren't allowed to eat with the family, yet are expected to be there to do things for them. I am not a lawyer or experienced with family law but wonder if this is a form of parental alienation? I think each parent has rights to spend time with their children. You two aren't divorced but in a way this is acting like one. Are you able to spend one on one time with the children? Can you take them out to eat ( outdoor seating) or bring in take out and eat with them in the basement? Now that the weather is nice, can you go on a walk or to the park with them? If they refuse, or if your wife won't allow this, then they are being deprived of a relationship with their father.

More than access to a kitchen, to me, this is the most concerning aspect of what is going on, and it should not be acceptable to you. I wonder if you have considered seeing a lawyer- not to divorce, I am not suggesting a run message, but to be aware of what your legal rights are as a parent, so you don't give them up.
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Notwendy
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« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2021, 07:32:27 AM »

One concern, and again I have no legal experience, is that moving to the basement and not interacting with the family might be construed as abandonment, legally. While this seems inconceivable, I would not discount the imagination. Spouses have been accused of domestic abuse when there is none. She's already making accusations.

It might help to post this on the legal board section to see what they advise. It may be in your interest to document legally that you do want access to the children.
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alterK

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« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2021, 08:40:55 AM »

This sounds like a tough situation, JediGuy, and you have my sympathy. Seems to me your wife is doing this typical BPD-ish thing of projecting her bad feelings onto you and then accusing you of being a bad person. Like she’s pulling a monkey off her back, throwing it onto you and saying, “Look! You have a monkey on your back!” Except it’s really her monkey.

You and your wife may agree to have separate bedrooms, but are you sure she has the right to the nicer one upstairs while you are banished to the basement? Why should you not be permitted in the common areas of your own house? BPD people can raise the level of conflict, or threatened conflict, about simple things to the point where you just withdraw rather than fight the battle over and over again. But then the result is that you get into situations where you have no rights. And then they’re still not happy with you. You just fight less.

I agree with Notwendy that the most serious thing may be that your wife is trying to alienate your kids’ affections. It’s very possible she is sharing her negative feelings about you with them. Keeping you away from rooms in the house where you’d normally interact with them exacerbates that problem.
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JediGuy

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« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2021, 01:49:27 PM »

Thanks @NotWendy and @AfterK for the thoughtful responses.

You both bring up good points, things I have been pondering as well.  I have not spoken with a lawyer, but I have been reading up on divorce law for my own protection.  Not easy to think about, but it's definitely a good point about the abandonment issue.  My employer provides a referral service for a free 30-minute session w/ a lawyer, but I don't think that's going to be nearly enough time to discuss this, and my wife will immediately notice the money being spent as she manages the finances.

@NotWendy - You mentioned a board here for legal advice - I think I found a link to it, but it appears to just be lumped into a larger thread.  Is this the one you were thinking of?

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?board=10.0

To answer a few questions, I am the breadwinner and my wife is a stay-at-home mom.  I absolutely have a right to walk around the house, but often find that I'm self-censoring to avoid massive fights that will end up getting blamed on me in front of my girls.  @AfterK, I think you raised a good point about eventually having no rights with continual withdrawing.  But I also haven't been able to identify an alternative.  Any suggestions?

My wife is dependent on me for health care, income, and the freedom to spend extra time with the family by not working.  She also has major medical needs, so the health care is no small thing.  I never lord any of this over her, and have always willingly shared my income, belongings, and love with her.

At lunch today, I approached my wife about setting aside a time to talk as a family.  I stated that I care a lot about her and the girls, that I'm open to listening to whatever is on their minds, and that I'm not going to abandon them.  I also said the silence is not acceptable, and that if there's something I've done, I'd like to hear what it is.  I also said that if they all just need space because the end of the school year is stressful, then I'd be able to respect that, but I would need them to communicate that and maybe tell me how long they need it so there's no misunderstandings.  My wife stayed silent the entire time.  I'm not surprised, and as @NotWendy pointed out, I can't control her reaction.  But it's really hard to put myself out there and get dropped without even a word back.

The worst thing I think I could do right now is to make a threat and not follow through.  That's also why I'm not giving ultimatums about household space / silence, as I'm not sure what my next move would be.  Any ideas?

I'm beginning to think the only thing she's going to understand is if I present divorce paperwork and tell her "I'm done".  I'm not at that point (yet), but I feel like I'm rapidly approaching a fork in the road where my only options will be to divorce or continue to accept mistreatment.  I'm still hoping to find a third option that moves towards reconciliation, but the path is becoming increasingly difficult to see.

Thanks all for your thoughtful comments.
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« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2021, 07:39:11 PM »

You found the board that Notwendy referred to.

Since your wife is so uncommunicative, how about approaching your daughters one on one?

Though a half hour isn’t much time for a consultation, why not practice here on the Conflicted board? Members who’ve been through the process can give you tips on what is and what isn’t important to convey to an attorney. That way you can get a good overview of your rights in a half hour.

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« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2021, 08:15:54 PM »

@Cat familiar - thanks for the suggestions.  I'll gather my thoughts and post something in the other board for practice.

Regarding 1-1 w/ my daughters, I've tried talking and they ignore me or look away uncomfortably.  Commonly, they'll report back to mom that I attempted to "ping" or corner them, even if it's asking how they're doing or making a neutral statement like, "It's a really nice day outside today."

It's kind of a sensitive thing I think because of the whole narcissist belief my wife expressed last year.  They become guarded if I approach them and mom doesn't know about it.  The exception has been the times when my wife is open to me, at which times they've followed her lead.

Not sure what to do about that part.  For now, I'm trying to make it a point to put myself out there each day when mom is around so that they're not feeling cornered but can still hear directly from me that I'm interested in being around them and being part of their lives.
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alterK

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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2021, 06:34:15 AM »

Since, as Tolstoy says, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, it's hard to give advice for your specific situation, which seems very complicated. I can say that for me, just the realization that I had been enabling a BPD spouse for years felt wonderfully liberating. I know it is useless to ask my wife to change her behavior. Still, trying to understand what I can do differently myself gives me something real to get to work on.

I just started posting here a couple of weeks ago, and I fear I'm doing too much, but what motivated me was anticipation of a visit by my son and his family that I knew would be a big problem for my wife. First, I read several of the books that are listed here under "Tools." Originally I found them by searching on Amazon. One had a referral to this website.

Sorry if I'm talking too much about myself, but I'm hoping that by describing the path I took I can give you some things you can use. Reading post after post here, I realized that practically all of us are enablers, and many have done it for years. This isn't intended to blame anyone. Just to try to understand, and maybe open a door.

I myself decided to take it one step at a time. The family visit is coming in a couple of weeks. I will try to get through that as best I can, and then decide what to work on next. Maybe you can do something like that. It took years for you and your wife to get to where you are. You aren't going to get out of it in a couple of days. Maybe you can, though, if you take it one step at a time. As is often repeated here and everywhere, change is terrifying to a BPD person and they tend to feel as if they are lost in the ocean and you are trying to take away their lifesaver. Hope I'm not sounding too preachy!
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JediGuy

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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2021, 11:03:50 AM »

@AfterK, you were not sounding preachy at all, and I appreciate your perspective.

I agree with your comment about enabling behavior and have been doing a lot of reflecting on this myself.  Your comments about taking things one step at a time also resonate.

One thing that I woke up thinking this morning is that my wife is presently under a lot of stress with helping our children close out the school year.  My oldest is under a ton of stress to complete her high school classes, and my second oldest needs to pass an exam this in a few weeks to get HS credit for math (since she is homeschooled).  I am wondering if maybe this isn't just about me, and is more about what she is able to handle right now.  Of course, I believe that open communication would allow us to work together in this tough time and that things *could* be better, but maybe she doesn't see this in her view of the world.

Not to say this has been OK to be ignored, but it will be interesting to see what happens when the school year is finished.  I'm kind of waiting to see how that goes and whether there's a change once stress levels reduce.

Best of luck with you and your family get together.
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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2021, 12:17:21 PM »

Hey JediGuy...

You're right... lots going on here. I reread the earlier posts in this thread to try to pull out some themes.

Excerpt
we connected better than we have in months and I had great quality time with my girls.

Excerpt
...Since then (over 3 weeks ago now), there is almost no conversation with either her or my daughters.

Excerpt
For awhile, I was trying to go out of my way to show that I do care,

Excerpt
one of the tactics I've read about for dealing with a narcissist is the "grey rock" method.  I'm seriously wondering if this is what my wife is doing to me right now.  My daughters do this as well, as they typically follow mom's lead.

alterK:
Excerpt
I agree with Notwendy that the most serious thing may be that your wife is trying to alienate your kids’ affections. It’s very possible she is sharing her negative feelings about you with them.

Excerpt
my wife is presently under a lot of stress with helping our children close out the school year.  My oldest is under a ton of stress to complete her high school classes, and my second oldest needs to pass an exam this in a few weeks to get HS credit for math (since she is homeschooled).  I am wondering if maybe this isn't just about me, and is more about what she is able to handle right now.  Of course, I believe that open communication would allow us to work together in this tough time and that things *could* be better, but maybe she doesn't see this in her view of the world.

Not to say this has been OK to be ignored, but it will be interesting to see what happens when the school year is finished.  I'm kind of waiting to see how that goes and whether there's a change once stress levels reduce.

Excerpt
Regarding 1-1 w/ my daughters, I've tried talking and they ignore me or look away uncomfortably.  Commonly, they'll report back to mom that I attempted to "ping" or corner them, even if it's asking how they're doing or making a neutral statement like, "It's a really nice day outside today."

It's kind of a sensitive thing I think because of the whole narcissist belief my wife expressed last year.  They become guarded if I approach them and mom doesn't know about it.  The exception has been the times when my wife is open to me, at which times they've followed her lead.

...

So you have two teens and an 11YO... are the teens around 17 & 14-ish? Just getting a sense of ages.

OK, and it's obvious to you (and to me) that there's this strongly correlated tracking between all 3 kids' behaviors towards you, and W's behavior towards you.

When did that start? I.e., just this year? Earlier?

What was your relationship with the kids like when they were much younger? What about your W's relationship with them?

...

It is not developmentally normal for kids at your kids' ages to be so... Stepford, I guess. Emotional differentiation is always a task, but especially so for preteens and teens. I hope you can see not just that the "emotional tracking" is happening, but that it is pathological. I say that not to scare you but to highlight the abnormality, because often the longer we live with and interact with a disordered person, the more we lose a handle on what's normal or not.

I asked about your kids' relationships with both of you when they were younger, to get a sense of if Mom has "tightened the screws" on them as they've gotten older. She may fear their differentiation into separate beings and ensuing independence, and believe it would be "abandonment". The more that "they are her", the less abandoned she would feel.

pwBPD often have "black and white" and "all or nothing" thinking, along with a crude sense of "loyalty/betrayal" and "winner/loser" applying to EVERY situation.

If the kids are in any way different from her (especially emotionally -- your W may pay lip service to superficial differences in the kids from her), then they're "abandoning" her and "bad". And, if they show any love to Dad, it "means" they "hate" Mom. There isn't room in her mind for the kids to love you and her.

Your kids pick up on this. Kids are wired to have their brains use adult brains as "scaffolding" until their mature systems come on line. There's a classic monkey experiment where baby monkeys were put in a cage with a poisonous snake. They'd never seen it before, so didn't know it was dangerous and so didn't react to it. Next, the baby monkeys were put in that snake cage, but with their parent. The parent showed all kinds of "danger" signals. I think there may have been a third iteration where the baby monkeys were then put back in alone, and then they showed the "danger" response.

When children are in an emotionally confusion or ambiguous situation, they turn (subconsciously) to adult brains for interpretation and guidance. They pick up on any "danger" signals, which often are not verbal, in order to know what to do. Have you ever been in a personally embarrassing situation around the kids and seen their faces as they waited for you to react? If you start gently laughing, they do too. They're waiting for an adult interpretation of the ambiguity.

Your kids are old enough to see how hurtful Mom's cutoffs are. Did you do it Mom's way? Then you're "accepted" and in. Did you deviate? Well, want to get abandoned and criticized by Mom for weeks on end? They've seen that with you and her. Kids aren't prepared to handle cutoff from a parent. They're wired for survival and doing whatever it takes for that parental protection... even if it's dysfunctional. And Mom's "you're great/you're evil" changes happen overnight. They're unpredictable changes -- there's ambiguity about when they'll happen. Your kids have to be on high alert to instantly align themselves with Mom's interpretations. It feels like survival to your kids.

Your wife is sending "danger" signals about you to the kids. She may be saying stuff explicitly... but she doesn't have to. And your kids are scared enough of her cutting them off that they march in lockstep with her. You've seen it and I've read your descriptions. Easter went well, you and W connected, so your girls felt safe to connect with you. Mom was in a good mood so she wasn't going to cut them off for having a good time with you. On a dime, your W felt ignored, hurt, whatever, so the kids knew it was time to track with Mom again.

It's really, really hurtful when one parent sends "danger" signals to the kids about the other parent. The attachment system is designed for kids to connect to two parents. It's profoundly pathological and not normal for the attachment system to work "fine" with one parent but "not fine" with the other parent. That is symptomatic of something unhealthy.

Whether your W "means to" or not, she is engaging in pathological parenting. I cannot recommend this article highly enough:

https://drcachildress.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Ju-jitsu-Parenting-Fighting-Back-from-the-Down-Position-Childress-2013.pdf

even though you guys are married and living together. PLEASE, read the whole thing.

The thing that stood out to me the most from your posts is this, which Dr. Childress addresses on page 3:

You're being defined to the kids by your W's narrative about you, whether explicit or not.

And, she's defining you in a "double bind" kind of way.

You're insensitive if you don't ask about the kids...

You're insensitive if you DO ask about the kids...

You're emotionally abusive if you don't spend time with us...

You're emotionally abusive if you DO spend time with us...

If you do look like you're caring about the kids, it is a front, you're just using them to feel good...

If you look like you don't care about the kids, it's because you're selfish...

...

Your W is getting something out of crafting a narrative about you and making it a double-bind narrative.

Once you know that, though, doors open up for using that power "against" her. Not in her "one up - one down" way, but in a jiu-jitsu way, where you turn that control and power back around and turn towards health.

Your kids want a real relationship with you, but right now, they're trapped.

And, up to now, you've been trapped by your W's double-bind narrative.

You can get out... by keeping learning non-intuitive skills for addressing the narrative. Not by "proving" you care -- she's crafted things so that "proving you care" means you don't care. And she thinks it's an unimpeachable narrative, because she thinks the only move you make ("showing what a nice guy you are") plays into her hands ("Dad just cares about seeming nice, look at him bother you").

Learn new, non-intuitive jiu-jitsu moves. Read as much Dr. Childress as you can. Let what you do upend her narrative about you. It may take some creative thinking, as you've already tried a few obvious moves, and she seems to use those against you. This is a good place to come up with "arm lock" moves to get around her version of reality.

...

Sorry, that's a lot! I'm just really passionate about helping dads see that they're not stuck, that it'll be hard work, but that there is a different way forward.

Hope some of this is helpful... would love to hear your thoughts on the artice.

cheers;

kells76
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JediGuy

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Posts: 15


« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2021, 10:21:49 PM »

@kells76 - first off, thank you for taking the time to reread my posts and and piece together all of this information!  I've reread your post several times and will need to read it a few more times to get everything.  I'm also still reading the link you sent me - very interesting, though I will have to study it.  I haven't gotten through it all yet, but my initial impression, is that it's quite interesting and provides a different framework to use (other than the double bind of "defend myself" vs. "accept blame").

I also thought your synthesis of the double bind scenarios was spot-on.  That's exactly how I've been feeling about the situation.

I'll try to answer your questions briefly here, though let me know if I missed something.

My oldest two girls are 15 and 13.  My relationship with all three had been very strong.  When they were younger, I read stories to them every night, I used to help them extensively with homework, attended school events, and helped them with nightly bedtime routines.  I built the oldest two a playhouse when they were younger, used to take them to the park / walks when mom needed a break, etc.  I was an involved dad, worked my job, and gave everything I had to the family.

My relationship with my wife had also been strong.  We had fun, worked as a team, and were intimate (both emotionally and physically).  Though in retrospect I can see that she always had issues with mood swings, black/white thinking, or occasional contradictory boundaries - just never as severe as now.

Where things really started to change was at the intersection of my wife's continuous medical needs, the girls advancing to middle school / puberty / greater stress/expectations, and our increasing inability to work through things without lots of conflict.  My wife would blow up over seemingly minor things and I would increasingly overdo myself trying to prevent the volcano from erupting in front of the family.  She also increasingly blamed me for not being mindfully present/distracted, not doing things in the way SHE needed, and other frequent criticisms.  I also increasingly noticed that she would only pay attention to my actions in the current moment - if I had done something really thoughtful the day before it often seemed to have zero bearing on how she felt about me in this moment.

Things really accelerated downhill with the pandemic, though.  I went from working 40+ hours/week outside the house to working from home full time, and the girls being home from school full-time.  She no longer has any space at home during the day like she used to - but also refuses my offers to help or give her free time.

Lastly, you mentioned that you have a passion for helping dads.  Out of curiosity, are you a mental health professional, or what has motivated you to help others in this way?  No obligation to respond if you're uncomfortable sharing that - I appreciate your insights regardless.
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