Standing Up To Toxicity

My unhappiness in my marriage has affected almost every aspect of my life. The negativity has stuck me pretty much everywhere I have been and everywhere I go. I am distracted and uninspired at work and with my own children. I fail to engage with my friends and my parents. The negative energy at home zaps my desires and passions. My love for hiking, live performance, and political/social engagement has been dulled and have become uninteresting. Difficult issues with the children became easier to ignore. I truly hate how I have reacted to the toxicity and my own weakness to stand up against it. My inability to stand was out of fear of getting less intimacy than I was already getting, creating even more heated conflict, and causing the family to be split apart.

The fear of standing and living who I am for the large history of the marriage has resulted in me seeking intimacy out of the marriage out of basic need and as a way to distract myself. I thought of my own avoidance as a means of waiting either for her to change, waiting for me to have a better understanding of where I stand, and waiting for the right time to leave.

I shared with the group for a while now that I am ready to leave. I also shared that with my therapist. He supports my desires, but has also presented me an alternative that I have accepted. We live in an angry, anxious, and nervous house. For years I have waited for my wife to change. Instead, I get swept up in her world and adopt her own negative behaviors. This negative/anxious family energy is certainly reflected in my unsatisfactory sexual connection with her. What was taught to me today is to say NO every time she brings her anxiety into the home. When she shows up as a mature adult, states her feelings or desires, and communicates as an equal, only then do I connect to her. Whenever she comes from a place of anger or anxiety (whether or not the behavior is directed at me or someone else, I say "NO"). This home is unauthentic to me, and as long as it lack authenticity, the will be no intimacy. That includes sexual intercourse. As my therapist presented to me, intimacy can not occur in a home that feels unauthentic and unaccepting of who I am. So now, I stop the dance and take charge of the home. If I do not get my way, I do not participate. These values are not negotiable.

Initially this new plan felt like a let down. I was ready to leave, and feel the lifting of the incredibly heavy weight of our life together. I am now in for standing to her and demonstrating to her and the children what I stand for. I so want to feel love, joy and acceptance with someone capable of sharing that. I will feel those things. I will also feel what it is like to not compromise who I am. I will make my stand today. I will open my heart once more to her, but dictate my terms, no compromising, no wavering. Whether she embraces my path or chooses one without me, I am comfortable and at peace.
chroniccalm chroniccalm
46-50, M
6 Responses Dec 14, 2012

Hi chroniccalm

Just a thought I would like to share with you. You say that your marital situation has affected a much wider aspect of your life involving others that aren't part of the immediate problem. But does it need to? Could you compartmentalise these different aspects of your life and lessen the overall impact? I would suggest that might be beneficial to you and those others while not diminishing the misery that you are enduring in your marriage. However, it does not need to be like that surely? And it may well benefit you to marginalise the misery you are experiencing without undermining the significance of it to you.It is bad but surely no more than it actually is?

It is too true that “intimacy can’t occur in a home that feels unauthentic and unaccepting of who we are.” Your therapist is definitely right about this and it makes me understand why my partner and I have not had intimacy for a long time. The biggest problem for my partner is that he can’t accept who he is and believes there is a better alternative about his life and even though there is no complaint from me or our child.

The household simply is not nurturing enough for members to explore their new adventures; it is stuck and staggering because there is always someone who is unhappy about who they are. This unhappiness eats up all the energy for exploration, joy, laugh, and love. The family becomes less passionate and prosperous in a way that nurtures the strength to develop and eventually the family is withering and failing. However, I take the responsibility that I did not see through this and let it divert for years, and it is too late to bring everybody together as I don’t have the strength to get everybody on the track. I can only choose to leave because I refuse to try any more. My partner has the choice for his new era of life and I have mine.

This is wonderful, in particular for your children, who will finally see that THEY don't have to take the BS either.

Your stand is highly likely to precipitate the option that you were hitherto coming to terms with.

Again, you'd do no harm to seek legal advice as to how that is likely to shake out for you.

Tread your own path.

I will do so. I lost years taking different approaches being patient, and nothing happened. I am not making the same mistake again. I have been clear on my intent with my therapist. Unlike in the past, my expectations will be on an aggressive calendar. In the interim, I will seek legal advice as you suggest. I am not concerned about the expense or unnecessary trouble in the event exploring legal options was not necessary.

Once again, thanks for the advice.

CC, this is an honourable road to choose but it will be HARD. Be prepared for the negativity and the anxiety and anger to ramp UP considerably at the start. Don'tlet this derail you however - take it as a sign that things ARE changing.

I also encourage you to act on the other front too - don't just respond to her negativity, but actually instigate "good times" in your family routines. Again, expect opposition from all sides - your family will find it "odd" that you want things to be happy and cheerful! But by arranging activities (in or out of the home) that are life enhancing, you will be reducuing the overall stress in your home.

If your wife flatly refuses to participate, involve your children only. Gradually, this emphasis on "life is good" will win everyone over IMO. Will it mean sex for you? My crystal ball is cloudy on that one!! But a calmer happier household is a good goal, regardless of the other things on the agenda!

"For years I have waited for my wife to change.... I so want to feel love, joy and acceptance with someone capable of sharing that." What made you think she would change? Highly likely she never have been the person you wanted her to be...