We May Be Asking Ourselves The Wrong Question …

I believe that a lot of us here on ILIASM are asking ourselves the wrong questions when we agonize over the decision to stay in (and endure/continue to work on) our dysfunctional marriages. We see the question here all the time … “Why do you stay?”  Instead, that question should be “What are you afraid of?”  And, when you ask yourself that question dig deep, think hard and give yourself an honest answer.  I answered this question for myself and was surprised (and embarrassed) by my own truth, which for me was the following:
1. I feared that every negative thing Mr. K9 has said about me over the years was true and that a relationship with him really was as “good as it gets” for me.  Basically, I had been criticized ad nauseum inside my marriage and had started to believe his spiel.
2. I feared that every negative thought I had about myself was true.  You see, I had a very dysfunctional childhood, the details are not important however the resulting message conveyed to my childhood brain was that I was unimportant, I was “bad” and I was not worthy of love.  This was the embarrassing part because I thought I had worked through all my childhood crap years ago.  However this (heretofore unconscious) belief in my own “unworthiness” became a self-fulfilling prophecy in my case because it led me to “buy into the bvllsh!t” from a spouse who reflected that negative belief back at me.  BTW, this was my contribution to the fvckupedness in my marriage … yup, my fault.
3. I feared that I couldn’t trust my own judgment as to staying or leaving … years of being gas-lighted will do that to you 
Truthfully answering this question was a revelation for me because I KNEW I didn’t have the usual fears related to being alone or financial fears.  And, for fvcks sake, the “college plan” was over a year ago so WHAT WAS KEEPING ME IN THE MARRIAGE (?!).  Examining my own fears was the catalyst that moved me beyond sexless/dysfunctional/indecisive hell, and it might benefit others here too.  If you look with an honest and critical eye, you can see your own fears by examining the patterns of YOUR interactions inside your marriage.
k9sportchick k9sportchick
61-65, F
24 Responses Sep 11, 2012

This is exactly right. We create our own prisons and are the wardens to boot! It takes a long time to crawl out of the SM hole. But once you start moving toward the light, there is no going back. The light keeps shining brighter and draws us more and more.

There is no harder place than living in limbo. I lived there for more years than I care to admit. Now that I'm out of my marriage, I am looking forward to what the future might bring my way. We are fortunate to have grasped this and freed ourself from this self-inflicted pain.

Bravo to you K9. You are an insiration.

I guess ladies as I read the article and the post I see ll of you ave still missed the fundamental question. Yes a good question to ask yourself is what am I afraid of ? but you should ask yourselves. Why did I ignore the red flags from the beginning? It seems to be a little late to complain about a man you chose to make children with and build a life with.

The sad part is the loss of intimacy. Now as a man having a woman that is no longer interested in you physically is devastating. The feelings it generates are those of rejection, isolation and anger. Now I don't claim to know what goes on in your lives but some of the stories are blaming the man for the issues. There was at no point where any of you actually said my part in this dysfunctional marriage is this or that. I remember when I was on the verge of divorce that the one thing that helped our road to recovery is when she finally acknowledge her role in the dysfunction.

If money and the kids are the reason you stay then you are ding more harm than good. The kids know that there is dysfunction. The kids are extremely affected by it. I think in one post the lady said the her husband would leave her and the kids high and dry. I have to ask what kind of a monster did you marry? I mean he obviously has always been selfish and controlling. Yet you stayed and had babies with him. I just don't get it.

If you know you are in a bad situation and don't have the courage to make a change for yourself and your kids then you deserve to stay unhappy. If that is the case then stop complaining. If you have daughters you are teaching them to stay with men that are seriously screwed up and there chances of finding a man like the one you found are very high. If anything teach them to have courage to stand up for what is right no matter the consequence. Just my take and forgive me for butting in.

I wish I could email this to a friend of mine...

I have asked this question so many times, but all I come up with is..its complicated. When he loves you, but you dont have have any intimacy, when he helps you with housework and other jobs daily but takes away your money in a not-meaning-to kind of way, its even more complicated. When you dont have anything in common, not anything that you even enjoy doing together, but you're afraid of how badly he would be hurt if you went away, its too complicated. I think the real reason for all these difficulties is the legal difficulty and delay in getting a divorce. Its so easy to get married, you dont have to go to court. But its so difficult to get a divorce, just the thought of it is daunting. This is the weight of society on your shoulders..

Everyone deserves to be happy and nobody and I mean nobody should be in a dead-end relationship. Being in a relationship with someone who doesn't appreciate what you are doing for them or who doesn't reciprocate the effort you put into making the relationship survive is not worth of your time. It's easier said than done though. but i think the moment you get out of this relationship, you'll regret every moment you spent with this abusive person. Some people just don't appreciate relationships or human contact.

what you haven't said though is what it made you do realising all these things - so how have you made things better for you?

I think that I need to consider all of what you've said before I take any drastic measures. I'm glad that there are insightful people like yourself on here! Keep posting!! :)

Your story has helped me. Thank you. I really need to think this one through.

Our daughter leaves for college in a week! My reason for staying is no more, so Why do I stay? What do I fear?

My family and friends already see me as unworthy of "Mr. Wonderful", I have never shared my problems with anyone not even my so called close friend... How do I begin now after 25 years to tell my story? I tried recently and did not get very far when my 'friend' shut me down and I did not hear from her for a week!. have no support.

I was previously married, in my first marriage the same thing happened. I didn't tell anyone, I hid the problems... and when I divorced him for abuse and major addiction problems which including stealing and putting us in debt thousands and thousands for his habit, no one knew. I was disowned and cut off from some family for leaving 'such a great guy' and I walked away from all of our so called 'friends'. I decided two things, I would never hide my problems again AND that if someone though bad of me, it was their loss. Because I *am* a good person. If they can't see it, I refuse to justify a marriage or a divorce. The cool thing is, after that, I found out who loved me, really loved me. And I made friends that were loyal, and wonderful and unconditional. Friends that, 15 years later are like my sisters and brother. I don't miss the people who fell out of my life then... I'd give them all up 100X over if it meant that i could be one step closer to healthy. Good luck to you. Don't underestimate yourself.

Yes fear. Fear of being alone and never finding anyone again. Fear of being broke. Fee of screwing up my kids. Fear of what my family will think. Fear of being a failure.

I can relate to what you've written.

I know my answer to the question, "why?" I am here because I have three kids and he has told me that if I leave him, he'll take every penny we have and walk away from ALL of us. Me working has been a hot button topic for years, long story short, he made it impossible and begged me to allow him to be provider. For a long time I thought I was compromising for the sake of the marriage, now I realize I was simply being controlled.

I am slowly working my way into a stable position for me and my three young children. So, if I make him angry by leaving him and walking away.... well, we will hopefully not be destitute.

I also understand the lifelong dysfunction that has gotten me here. In a way, being sexless has helped me break my emotional bond with him and look at our interaction more objectively.

I still morn the loss of intimacy.... but I hope that making this sacrifice now will give my kids and me a better future.

I entered my relationship with so much baggage that I honestly thought that I had worked through years before, but have since only gotten worse. Your thoughts are exactly what I need to hear and how I know that? I read this and immediately stopped thinking about it and went to another site. I had to come back and re read your post because even though I was doing my best to avoid the questions, I couldn't stop thinking about them either. <br />
Thank you. It's good to go inward sometimes and assess what's going on, maybe then I can figure out what I'm doing and why I'm not doing.

spot on!

I don't have time now to read all the responses, but you have made some excellent points. In my case, my husband and I do love one another (well, I think it is called love... I need to do some examination of my own) and there is no critical BS going on, thanks to the universe and the heavens, both. I'm so glad you realized these things, no matter how long it took -- at least you got there. Brava!

Hi, love your post it really hit a nerve!! My reasons therefore for staying I suppose are<br />
<br />
1) Having had a failed marriage to my first boyfriend (we split up when I was 24 ) and then only remarrying (my never been married before husband) at 37 I was aware of the warning signs and feel embarrassed to admit I want to end another marriage with a man who looks to the outside world to be Mr Wonderful!! So guess what obviously I am the shxt in this relationship as he couldn't possibly be!!! 2) Having given up a successful career to raise my kids I am dependant on my husband for financial support and me and the kids live very well.<br />
<br />
3) I also have a wide circle of friends (couples) and see how the dynamics change when you are divorced. I know the answer is well they are not true friends but difficult to have dinner parties and invite single women. Another reason is who will do the blue jobs (mend things etc???, help with the homework, juggle after school activities??<br />
<br />
4) Most importantly it would kill me to have to share the children and not have them sleeping under my roof every night and not have them every Christmas etc and also Infeel it would have a devastating effect on them!!<br />
<br />
I am in utter confusion!! My selfish self says leave the basxxxd and make him pay but my mothering side says keep your mouth shut, enjoy the lifestyle, have an affair and stop moaning about it x

Your number four is a tough one! I grew up in a divorced family and holidays were fine. But, both of my parents cared for me. I worry that my husband won't be able to give my/our children good/safe/healthy experiences.

A great story and great observation, K9. It really is amazing how our deep seeded perceptions of ourself impact and play out in our relationships. Those of us, like me and it seems you, that question our own attractive and/or worth, take our partner's rejection as a confirmation of our deepest fears about ourselves. The rejection only feeds into our fears and self-loathing and creates a nearly imperceptible downward spiral. Without our knowledge, we lose any semblance of confidence that we had and question our every move. In my case, I did not even realize how deep I had fallen until I was told by a friend. When. We finally make th realization, it's almost impossible to keep from succumbing to the anger that builds up within you. Luckily, you seem to have made your realization. I wish you luck and success!

Yes! Its everything you said for me too. I question every move I make to the point of not making one. And at the moment, I have zero confidence in my ability to be me, in how I look, my self worth. . . it is a confirmation of my deepest fears, and those fears are so personal, its not easy to talk about them. I know I have certain skills that I am good at, but just me alone in a room? I don't know what I have to offer anymore. I was always confident before I got what I wished for, my unhappy man.
I am at the point of resentment and anger and seeing my life for what it is. I can't ignore it or try to make anything/anyone better anymore.
I'm kinda excited. Change is on the horizon.

I posted a story on Fear a while ago. Its worth a read if your intrested.<br />
<br />
Stay Strong & Good Luck

"If you look with an honest and critical eye, you can see your own fears by examining the patterns of YOUR interactions inside your marriage."<br />
<br />
K9, I am so impressed in every way with your story. The last sentence, quoted above, is pure gold indeed.<br />
<br />
I was much as you describe at the end of my first marriage. My ex was abusive and my childhood had some significant deficits. I literally didn't know who I was. I could not say with confidence that I believed in certain things - or liked/disliked certain things. Such was my insecurity that I was like the proverbial reed in the wind - blowing whichever way the prevailing breeze took me.<br />
<br />
Paradoxically it was my second marriage that did so much to "cure" this. My second husband is a good man whose love for me helped me to recover my sense of self. Gradually I found the things that made me "me"!<br />
<br />
I say this to encourage you to LEAVE your present situation, because I doubt you can find the real K9 until you have had the opportunity to heal from those experiences that have robbed you of your self confidence. <br />
<br />
Leaving when you are full of self doubt and lacking in a belief in yourself is VERY hard indeed. But try to "rob" some of your self confidence from other areas in your life, such as your professional self confidence, to help you get out. You are the same person in your personal life as you are in your professional life - even though you don't feel as if that is true. So take some of that professional confidence and apply it to your marriage. Know that you would never allow yourself to be treated like this professionally, and apply the same standard to your personal life.<br />
<br />
You are a brave wise woman and all your ILIASM friends are here for you. {{{hugs}}}

Right on. I needed to hear that.

I have two fears/concerns. 1. I signed on the (many) dotted lines and brought a baby home, even if on the instigation of the wife. I need to be responsible to him. 2. The fallout of a separation may spill over into my professional life. My non-fears (or non-concerns) are whether this marriage is "good enough" or if I "deserve any better". I am no longer in the relationships market, so I don't care at all. But the baby and my profession, I do have to watch carefully.

Thanks for this - well written and certainly speaks to my fears.

This is really going to make me think. Thanks!

So very true..Fear plays a huge role and it's facing those fears and realizing what it is you really want,what makes you happy, only then would you be free to get on with the task of making those things a reality...Thanks for sharing

Yes, the fear is a huge factor. I'm certainly not a poster child for taking early action, and had to get to the point where I took responsibility for that, for my inaction.<br />
<br />
I suppose the other thing that helped was treating these negative emotions (fear, anger, rage, dismay, betrayal, being bereft, abandoned etc.) as useful, "helpful" emotions. Providing we listen and attend to them, they will look after us, and keep us safe - the paradoxical thing being that the SM status quo is actively harming us, is unsafe, and this is less obvious because of the boiled frog effect.<br />
<br />
And I did the dumb thing, which is to wait till the pain outweighed the fear, and I was desperate, had no choice, when the burning path was the only way. And the value of this board is hopefully, if people will listen, that some people will be able to short-circuit the wasted time, and get to a position where they can act much sooner.

" ... till the pain outweighed the fear ..." - that was me.

I've said before that I was "lucky" when I was in a dysfunctional marriage, in as much as I processed much of my grieving and suchlike whilst still in the "Financial Partnership" (as I regarded it at the time). My personal diary, in review, reveals I was pretty well checked out in the early 2000's, and definitely checked out by the mid 2000's.<br />
<br />
Consequently, so was my fear level greatly abated (although it still bit pretty hard as D day approached) as I had rolled numerous scenario's over in my head as to what I'd do etc WHEN I got out, and I had a plan as to how I'd get out too. It was really only a matter of time. It suited me to stay at that point, and probably I'd have stayed another few years had not circumstances intervened and provided a trigger point for me.<br />
<br />
I think your post, sister K9, is very valid. Fear is a HUGE part of the handbrake thinking we have all suffered from in these situations. I was just "lucky" that I could process it in managable grabs over a period of years, rather than in what is often a headlong rush to the exit under all sorts of extremes of pressure.<br />
<br />
Tread your own path.

1. Yes 2. Yes 3. Yes<br />
<br />
It's almost like I have an alternate identity posting my own story here for me to read and learn from. Thank you.