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Skills we were never taught
98
A 3 Minute Lesson
on Ending Conflict
Communication Skills-
Don't Be Invalidating
Listen with Empathy -
A Powerful Life Skill
Setting Boundaries
and Setting Limits
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Author Topic: I want my children to see my parents…  (Read 946 times)
Notwendy
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« Reply #30 on: November 26, 2021, 06:27:54 AM »

Amazing how something nice can be twisted into something else. Maybe just give her the gifts and say nothing, maybe just say "cause you're special to me" and leave it at that.

The control aspect can feel crazy making, but control has a function- it reduces anxiety. It's also typical behavior of young children who are asserting themselves where they have no power in general. Think of the toddler who gets picky about clothing- wants the pink shirt - not the green one. Or only wants to eat chicken nuggets. This is their only realm of control.

My mother is both controlling and also dependent. I think the dependency is something she is ashamed of and resents in a way and compensates by appearing in control. She's intelligent but lacks executive function and also gets so anxious when she's expected to do something. She manages this by getting people to do things for her- one way or another and then presenting this as if she did it.

I recall as a teen that she signed up to bring some kind of snack to a school function and then coming home and demanding I bake something. If she's asked to bring some food for a potluck, she'll have someone else make it for her. I have been with her when she does cook something and she stops to ask questions at each step- did I put enough salt? Then did I put too much salt? What do I do next? I think she can do the job but she gets anxious and needs reassurance along the way. To overcome this, she would demand we do things instead. But something like cooking takes practice. We've all made errors in the kitchen- cooked something too long or messed up a recipe. We just move on from that and learn to not do that next time. For her though, since we did so much for her - she didn't learn and so there's a loss of self esteem with not being good at something.

So it's a paradox- she needs help with something and at the same time, feels shame about it- and so needs to feel she's in control. She's yelled at me while taking the trash bins out- because I didn't put them in the exact place she wanted me to ( they were a few inches away and the location didn't matter). I brought my father a treat and she threw it out because I didn't have her permission to put food in her refrigerator. Her car was in the shop and we offered to pick it up when it was ready and she refused to call the car shop to find out when that would be.

Your wife is in a position of dependency with you. You bring in the income and do a lot of the emotional caretaking. But this dependency creates a sense of shame for her too and she may be compensating emotionally with control where she can have power. If I ask my mother to do something, she also responds with "you are pressuring me" - she will do something when she decides.

I like your response of "OK". Once were were supposed to visit some family members that she likes. I had arranged the visit and the food for the occasion.  It should have been predictable that right before we were supposed to leave, she came up with some reason to back out.

I replied with " everyone there is expecting you and will be disappointed" and she responded with mean insults. So I said fine, I am leaving soon. When I got in the car- she got in the car too. Looking back, I should not have said the first part. Leaving it to her control, she got in the car.


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« Reply #31 on: November 26, 2021, 06:49:50 AM »

Thanks FF,
Yes I realised years ago that it is actually futile to express any disappointment or anger or anything else, when my wife changes her mind. Emotionally this particular one will be my hardest challenge yet. 


So..I think you should change this "back" to normal.

Don't "save" a pwBPD from experiencing the normal reactions to their actions.

An irrational changing on the mind (with no basis in fact) is very likely to get a negative reaction from anyone.  (right..that's normal)

That doesn't mean it needs to be over the top....but think of it as a chance to model healthy behavior to her.

"Oh goodness..this is so disappointing you are deciding not to go.  I will miss you while kids and I do (fill in the blank)"

Now..I know at the moment "taking" kids from her is not something you appear to be willing to do.  I would ask you to sit with the "fact"...that isn't she doing that to you..AND YOU ARE TRAINING HER TO BELIEVE IT'S OK.


Can you take my example and give us a "word track" that you WOULD be comfortable doing at the moment?

Best,

FF

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« Reply #32 on: November 28, 2021, 03:50:21 PM »

Thanks not Wendy and ff,
I’m so happy to let you know our trip went ahead today!  Way to go! (click to insert in post)
My parents were so happy and the older child really enjoyed herself,  though the little one was a bit sad, she is teething. Buti took some nice pictures. The day had its challenges, mostly because my wife had planned it exactly so that we would spend an hour there, we left on time and everything… But we were supposed to be there for only an hour and I think it was closer to two hours by the time we left. This messes with baby lunch and nap times. So on the way home I was accused of taking advantage of her by overstaying and not noticing the time. But I handled these wild accusations well and didn’t shout or argue, actually I said very little. I feel so much more confident handling situations recently. FF, you are right, now that I’ve learnt I can stay calm, it will be easier for me to express disappointment or frustration etc, when my wife changes her mind at the last minute. I’m not sure what you meant by “word track”? The little one is breast feeding so I can’t take her anywhere. The older one I could, but I have never taken her anywhere alone, only looked after her at home while my wife was out for whatever reason. I think even when she has her hair done (rarely), she would be upset if we went to the park without her. There may be an opportunity to try this out soon.
Thank you all for the support and advice. Although my wife still has much of the control, I seriously doubt that today would have happened if I hadn’t learnt some new ways to handle and discuss things with her. Finding the forum has been life-changing for me, and made a difference to my parents too.
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« Reply #33 on: November 28, 2021, 07:33:40 PM »

 Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) Good work!
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“The Four Agreements  1. Be impeccable with your word.  2. Don’t take anything personally.  3. Don’t make assumptions.  4. Always do your best. ”     ― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
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« Reply #34 on: November 29, 2021, 04:40:03 AM »

Congratulates on your successful visit to your parents.   I'm glad this happened and I am happy to see you making positive changes.   

one quick thought:

I’m not sure what you meant by “word track”?

Until FF pops back in,  I will take a shot at this.   

my experience was that arguments or conflicts with my Ex really followed a very predictable pattern.    I bet if you think about it, you could have predicted you would have been accused of taking advantage and not paying attention to the time.   there is a pattern there.    part of how BPD processes information.   

my experience was that my responses also followed a pattern, or a word track.   and that I needed to change how I phrased my response to have a chance of being heard.   that wasn't easy.

you seem to have a very good handle on 'not making the conflict worse'.   when she accused you of taking advantage you didn't shout or argue.    excellent.    that's a great skill.   to know that this isn't about you.   it's about her and her world view.   

I'd say the next step is to learn how to respond to 'you took advantage'    in ways that allow you to state your thoughts and hopefully be heard.   to change your "word track".

what do you think?

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« Reply #35 on: November 29, 2021, 06:38:20 AM »

Yes..."word track".  

It's something you can practice and tweak when you are not under pressure so when you are under pressure it comes out..almost automatically.  

An example of "tweaking" might be practicing "owning" emotions..vice accusing someone else of making you  feel xyz.

Something like "I'm so sad about this" compared to "you made me sad when you.."

Plus the predictability lets you preform more complex word tracks for SET and/or DEARMAN.  At least for me, no chance of forming those "on the fly" when I'm under pressure from my pwBPD.

"Predictability"  is your friend.  In my r/s I could predict about 80-90% of the conflict and prep for it.  "Word tracks" are still good for the remaining 10%..because you can practice saying "Oh babe...this sounds so important.  Let me think about this and get back to you tomorrow."

Best,

FF
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« Reply #36 on: November 29, 2021, 06:45:38 AM »

Nice job! Glad that worked out.

"take advantage of her" oh please. If you really think about it, that's absurd. It's her wanting to feel in control, or special, due to low self esteem. You got 2 hours instead of 1 with your parents and that's taking advantage?

I am glad you didn't JADE. By defending ourselves, we give power to these accusations that really don't hold water. This, to me, is in the pink elephant category. I'd be inclined to not respond to this kind of thinking. It's not something we can change.

I am glad you had a lovely time with your parents. Yes, it's hard to have alone time with a baby who is still breast feeding, but the older one is going to get more independent over time. ( and the baby will too). While breast feeding is a good thing to do, be aware it also brings your wife a sense of control. The natural progression of childhood is for children to gradually become less dependent. Soon they can feed themselves, then dress themselves and more. Then they ask to go to the park, or play with friends, and you can gradually take on more one on one time with them. It's also common to see one parent at the park with the children while the other parent does something on their own. Sometimes both parents are there together as well. It's OK to do either way. Keep that in mind as your children grow.

By sense of control- baby care also gives your wife a sense of purpose. Seems she is good at caring for babies. As the baby grows- she may want another one to regain this sense of purpose. Be mindful that a child is their own person and while being a parent also can be fulfilling- it's not the child's purpose to meet the needs of the parent. It's the other way around. Maybe you will decide on another child, but maybe not. Either way- that child will grow up too. What other activities, interests, can bring your wife a sense of purpose that she might want to develop? Something to think about.

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« Reply #37 on: November 29, 2021, 06:09:27 PM »

Thank you all. Word tracks are interesting. You’re right ducks, I can often predict what my wife will get upset about and what she will say, before it’s even happened. Sometimes I prepare for things that don’t even happen, like the picture mum had printed of the kids, I don’t know if my wife noticed it. Also she didn’t complain about my mum at all, I think because she was greeted enthusiastically as I had said to mum to please make sure she made some small effort to acknowledge my wife a bit more.
So I all feeling somewhat successful but also somewhat muddling through. I obviously said (or didn’t say?) some good things in the car. The children were asleep in the back of the car which also makes it easier for me not to shout. I was suddenly accused of not keeping the two year old awake for the journey, not that I had been assigned this role clearly.
I have heard of set, which I do attempt though I find the empathy part hard. I am not familiar with the term dearman so this may be helpful if you can explain it. I do use “I” statements when I remember. Slight mess up this morning when she said, “we should start budgeting on our food shopping”. To me this spells disaster, because the less food/snacks we have here, the more likely she will order take out. Obviously this does not save us money and I said, “I’ll be impressed if you can go a whole week without ordering food in” and this was “putting her down”, when I was just frustrated hearing the same old story again…
Not Wendy, you asked about my wife having new activities etc to give her a sense of purpose. She is totally aware that she is lacking in this area. She knows that’s why she’s jealous of me playing the piano, making crafts, over the years she has stopped me reading books etc for this reason. As you know, she was feeling very positive about the house move (we still don’t know if it’s going ahead as we’re waiting to see if the buyer offers less money at the last minute and then we’ll say no). So things are difficult, especially with Christmas approaching. My wife is aware that she turns to food and shopping when she feels down, and that she needs different coping habits and different interests. I don’t know how I can help her with this. She doesn’t have much time away from baby, like even in the house… baby is happy to sit on my wife’s lap even when she’s not feeding, but then once handed to me she whines! Yes I know when they get older there will be more opportunities to parent the children separately. I have even pointed out to my wife that the more children we have, the harder it will be to do everything together. Do you or anyone have any ideas how I can help my wife find some other interests? She is  keen to make new friends if we move to a new area. I think this would be a positive thing for our family and for the children to meet more people too.
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« Reply #38 on: December 01, 2021, 07:41:52 AM »

I am not familiar with the term dearman so this may be helpful if you can explain it.

DEARMAN is a dbt communication tool.  if you google DEARMAN and DBT you will get a few million examples.

D = describe
E = express
A = assert
R = request / reinforce
M = (stay) mindful
A = appear /act assertive
N = negotiate

it's not so much a validation technique as it is a way to express a request or say No.

Slight mess up this morning when she said, “we should start budgeting on our food shopping”. To me this spells disaster, because the less food/snacks we have here, the more likely she will order take out. Obviously this does not save us money and I said, “I’ll be impressed if you can go a whole week without ordering food in” and this was “putting her down”, when I was just frustrated hearing the same old story again…

so this sounds like a predictable argument or communications attempt.   let's use it as a handy example.

“we should start budgeting on our food shopping”

a validating question, something like: "what made you think of that suddenly?"
a SET, something like: "Budgeting is a good idea. I am glad you are thinking of it.   I would like us to get on a budget too."
a DEARMAN, something like: "Our food expenses have been growing.  Seems like there are a couple of reasons for that.   We should budget for take out and for shopping.   Can you start putting together a budget?  I think you should be able to make a good start on it, and then we can work on it together."

when we are in conversation with another person, we make choices all the time about which way we are going to respond.   most times we don't think of the choices they happen automatically.   you expressed your frustration and she reacted negatively to your negative emotion.   not a surprise.    and not unreasonable.  everyone one gets frustrated and snaps from time to time.    you might still be in a little bit of a stress reaction from your trip to see your parents.  but as we play with this example you can see how different responses could lead  off into different directions.   

make sense?

. My wife is aware that she turns to food and shopping when she feels down, and that she needs different coping habits and different interests. I don’t know how I can help her with this.

perhaps a good start would be to encourage her to put the baby down, and identify what interests her.   this might be hard as a pwBPD doesn't usually have a well defined sense of self.   Not enough to say "I would really like to learn to bake"  or "I wouldn't be interested in playing golf."    it appears from what you write she is over focused and over fixated on the children. as NotWendy points out that will change as they age.    be aware is helping her.   being aware to not reinforce her fixation is helping.   being on the lookout for when she expresses an interest is helping.   baby steps here.   no pun intended.

'ducks
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« Reply #39 on: December 01, 2021, 05:58:31 PM »

Hi ducks,
Thank you as always for your wise insights and advice. You are right of course, yes I did react badly to my wife’s suggestion of a food shopping budget, but then it’s an improvement on what I feel like saying, “what’s the point? You’re only going to complain that we have no food and then order, McDonalds, pizza, Starbucks, even if I’m not here, even if you have no money…” etc etc I know it’s always a good idea to be supportive of my wife’s thoughts and feelings, even though she talks about many things that I know will not happen. Funny you mention baking.. Ironically it was when her diet was going well that she developed an obsession over watching TikTok videos about baking. Part of this dream was our new kitchen in our new home and a very expensive food processor she wanted for Christmas. We still don’t know if we’re moving so all these plans are not going ahead. She tends to like the idea of something but also seems to want to be these people with their expensive equipment and anyone who’s happy doing anything really. She always seems to feel others have an easier better life. But then when she tries anything it’s too much effort and she gives up easily. I get annoyed with stupid TikTok videos making baking look super easy Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)
We went to visit my wife’s parents yesterday. She accused me of trying to start arguments all morning (before and during the journey). She always accuses me of this and ironically I now know to not argue and not say that I’m not trying to start an argument. She was upset because the baby’s outfit didn’t fit and said, “why does everything have to be perfect when we saw your parents but rubbish with mine?” (Her parents have met the kids hundreds of times).  But then I did my new trick of not saying much and then when we went in then she was fine. It’s worth noting that one reason she doesn’t like my family is because her family just don’t do gatherings and especially with food involved. Her two sisters were disowned by her dad as teenagers and he also disowned his own mother. Her uncle abused her as a child. Her mother seems nice but they never visited her parents as children so although she talks of her grandparents with love, it feels to me like she didn’t really know them. Her mum phoned up the night before asking us what drinks we wanted Laugh out loud (click to insert in post) but then didn’t offer us a drink until we were about to leave. Families are hard work anyway. My mum tries so hard to make everyone feel welcome, but my sister in law is just as difficult to please. Still it gave me comfort when I realised recently that my brother is also some kind of caretaker and it made me feel closer to him.
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« Reply #40 on: December 01, 2021, 06:40:49 PM »

Sorry if I wasn't clear.   I actually don't think you responded poorly to your wife about the budget.    All those responses are perfectly valid depending on what you want to express.  It which choice works best for you.
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« Reply #41 on: December 02, 2021, 07:46:38 AM »


So....you have very clear examples....of how your wife doesn't have good examples of "healthy family life".

Is that fair?

I wonder how a conversation can be started about "traditions" that you guys want to start as a family....maybe ask her about things from childhood she wants to stay away from and things she wants to do....

Likely best to keep discussing this idea here first...before trying it in your relationship.

You are doing well with this..keep up the hard work!!!   Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Best,

FF
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« Reply #42 on: December 03, 2021, 06:05:21 PM »

The good thing is, my wife does want to be a wonderful mother. She recognises that her family were unusual and her stories about childhood are always tinged with sadness. I think she never really felt loved or wanted and knowing her parents, I get this. She wants our children to feel loved, supported, heard, particularly with making friends and mental health. She reads to them, plays with them, sometimes does baking and crafts. She often says that she wants to take them places, as she never went to the zoo or on holiday. In comparison, I went to lots of places and my parents told me stories and helped me with homework. I knew everyone in my family pretty well and enjoyed seeing them. My wife hates the idea that the children will ask me for help with school work, once they realise she doesn’t understand it. I have said on here before that one of my goals is to teach them to play the piano, if they are interested. She has said she absolutely won’t allow it. I haven’t told her that I still wish to proceed.
I have a new thought about a family visit. I know my brother and wife and child are visiting my parents on 28th Dec. We already dropped off their presents as we didn’t expect to see them. They have never met our children. My brother’s wife is also bossy and controlling and she doesn’t like me. I haven’t had such a good relationship with him since they met 20 years ago. But I have recently recognised that he is a caretaker too. We are so very different… who would have known it? I don’t know why, I always knew he was being controlled but then couldn’t understand why… but yet I was always being controlled in my relationships when I didn’t want to be…
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« Reply #43 on: December 03, 2021, 06:07:34 PM »

Oh so I realised it missed off the end of my message, which said that I really would love us all to go up again on that day to see my brother’s family and for my parents to see all the grandchildren together. I haven’t mentioned this idea to my wife yet. I don’t want to heap on too much pressure too soon.
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« Reply #44 on: December 03, 2021, 06:23:47 PM »

I don’t know why, I always knew he was being controlled but then couldn’t understand why… 

Hey...it's good that you can now "see" relationship dynamics at play..this is a long process, much more to "see".

It's often an even longer process to "see" the role that we have chosen to play in a relationship....and then to own your choices or if you are not happy with them..to choose differently.

I would encourage you to approach your brother from the point of view of

"I always knew he allowed others to control him..." or "I always knew he handed his decision making to others.."

Once we are responsible for our own choices...we can make better choices for the future.

Keep up the hard work!!!

Best,

FF
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« Reply #45 on: December 04, 2021, 07:53:20 AM »

It's not surprising that your wife's family is dysfunctional. These patterns can be intergenerational.

Keep in mind the idea of projection when she accuses you of things you didn't do or says things like why is it perfect with your family but not hers? These are her own feelings but she tends to project them outward. Often once they are projected, she likely feels better. You might not, as they are hurtful, but you did the right thing to not respond to the words as they may just be feelings in the moment for her.

Seems she's quite possessive of her relationship with the babies. Odd that she doesn't want you helping with homework or teaching piano. Most parents would be delighted to have their children learn to play a musical instrument. More likely, it's not the piano but the one on one time you have with them. Or that you are better at these things than she is. I wonder- have you ever considered teaching your wife to play? Then she'd have the one on one time with you. Even if she's not interested in seriously studying the piano, she might enjoy being able to play something fun, like a pop song or Christmas carol?

 Interesting about the school work as that is quite simple at pre-school age. And the cooking. One thing I have observed with my BPD mother is the lack of "executive function".  She's intelligent but gets anxious over tasks, concerned she's not doing things well enough. She rarely cooks but has tried to cook when we visit- and asks at each step- "is this enough salt" then "is it not enough salt" "which pan do I use"- she seems to need a lot of reassurance for each step.

When I was a teen, she'd have me do any baking for her. Mostly she's been critical with me. However recently she said something that shocked me- that she was impressed at my ability to figure out a recipe. I think that's the first time I heard a positive statement like that from her. I wonder if, by my teens, she felt intimidated that I had these skills and it may have been a cause of some of our conflicts.

Dad helped with homework. That was a special time for us kids as he enjoyed academics. I think that also caused some friction as it was a relationship that excluded her. However, my parents also wanted us to do well in school so she didn't protest him helping us.

When what your wife says or does - does not make logical sense- consider that the thing she's complaining about or protesting isn't the actual issue but there's emotion behind that. While we can't read minds, ( and I don't encourage trying to do that), addressing the feeling, not the issue might help.

"I don't want you helping the kids with homework or piano" is " I can't do that and I am afraid the kids will think I am stupid". Reassuring her that she's loved and admired might help.

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« Reply #46 on: December 04, 2021, 04:40:39 PM »

Hi not Wendy,
Thank you for your advice and thoughts. My wife has always been jealous of my ability to play the piano because she can’t do it. That’s why she doesn’t want me to play and has forbidden me from teaching the children. I have tried to teach her but she has little patience, tells me I’m a rubbish teacher, and walks away. Of course, at the moment neither of us have much time for it. I’d love to help her build confidence. I try to help her with mathematical issues etc but she says she doesn’t want that from a wife. I think with that kind of thing then I have to wait until the children are older to see how I can deal with it. My wife goes through stages of getting into cooking but then she’ll misunderstand something like putting in a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon and then gets very upset. She has no cooking sense or knowledge because her mother never allowed her in the kitchen as she would make a mess. As an adult her mum still tidied her room against her wishes. Her mother is strange. When we met online, we used to video call. My wife had a severe eating disorder and wasn’t eating, and one day she said she was so hungry and I spent some time trying to convince her to go downstairs and get some food. It was about 10pm when she went down and said to her mother she was going to make some food. My wife was 21 years old. And her mother said, “no you’re not messing up the kitchen and making cooking smells at this time of night!” And my wife went to bed without any food. I was devastated. Her mother knew she had an eating disorder. If that was my child I would be happy about her ever eating anything! Another reason I know my wife is unhappy about my relationship with my mother is how much mum wants to see me. If she asks her mother if we can visit, she’s always like, “hmm, not sure, I have washing to do and dusting and vacuuming…” She is obsessed with cleaning. She has built her life routine and it because she doesn’t work, her husband has muscular dystrophy so she cares for him.
Honestly, I am learning so much about how my wife’s emotions of the moment affect what comes out of her mouth. It is really eye-opening and makes me so much less upset, which in turn reduces conflict.
We won’t be going to the gathering in December but it’s because my wife has two dogs coming to stay, she used to do this to earn extra cash sometimes. I’m so glad she has chosen to step in and help out with the financial obligations, as her maternity benefit has stopped. I know I will be helping with the dogs but I don’t mind.
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