Conventional wisdom always encourages people to be vulnerable, open & honest. But I struggle with the reverse- the feeling that it isn’t okay to withhold & keep thoughts to myself.
Especially in marriage. James wants me to tell him everything & says it is damaging if I don’t. Which is great in theory, since I have the desire to share all my thoughts & feelings. But in reality it doesn’t work out so well. Frequently he will get angry about my thoughts or tell me why they are incorrect & then I am forced to go through an endless wrangling process trying to defend them. The process is confusing & doesn’t end until I have either accepted his replacement thoughts or am too tangled up to function anymore.
Now to someone else this might be no problem. They would just share what they wanted to share and keep the rest to themselves. But I have this compulsive feeling that my perceptions must be validated by another person before I can trust them. I can hardly be certain the sky is blue without first asking someone. And I also have this compulsive feeling that I must obey James. I can’t withhold information unless he gives me permission to do so, regardless of how much confusion & discomfort sharing may cause. Basically I don’t trust my own mind & have no will of my own.
I guess this traces back to when I was a teenager & my first husband was my spiritual guide & I needed to tell him absolutely everything so he could remove my ego, realign my thinking & enable me to achieve enlightenment. The process involved lots of screaming & public humiliation, including sexual, since these are the most tried & true methods of ego removal. Since then, I have never been able to regain that feeling of trusting my own mind and feeling that I am my own master. I don’t even know how to explain it to people who take having their own mind and will for granted.
I am trying very hard to put these boundaries back in place but it is a struggle. I don’t feel I have the right to make choices for myself without asking someone else’s permission and am scared of what will happen if I do.
My husband likes control. I don’t mean this as a bad thing and maybe it is even a quality I admire. But one rule of our relationship is that he is allowed to make decisions while I am not. He can decide what to do with money- and spend enormous sums- without consulting me. I cannot access money without consulting him and telling him what I wish to buy. The flip side is that he is much more financially generous with me than he is with himself. Generally he will get me whatever I want- even if it is frivolous or wasteful- while being stingy with himself. And this same pattern applies to all aspects of our relationships. If I want something & it is within his power to give it to me, he probably will. But I am not allowed to make decisions without consulting him, whereas he is allowed to make decisions without consulting me.
I am supposed to trust him. But he isn’t supposed to trust me. I am deemed incapable of making any significant decisions even if they impact no one but myself. As an example, I want to see a shrink & there is one nearby I can see for free. Not because I am looking for guidance, I just want the experience of talking to a human without feeling it is such a struggle to get my thoughts out and have them heard and accepted. I just want to experience something new- the feeling of noncombative communication.
But James is against this. So what are my choices? Try to change his mind? Trying to convince James of anything is impossible. The certain outcome is that I will end up adopting his perspectives because anything else becomes too unpleasant. I could go behind his back, but that would violate my compulsive need to be transparent with him. So the only real option is to tell myself it isn’t a good idea anyway.
The official justification for obeying him is that he is more grounded than me and makes better choices. (I should add here that I am sometimes allowed to make choices- it is just that he decides which choices I am or am not allowed to make.) But the truth is I am just scared of what will happen if I don’t obey him. I am afraid he will find a way of punishing me or else stop loving me which is a punishment itself. Any time I attempt to assert my will it turns into a horrible fight from which it can take me a long time to recover.
I feel like everyone reading this will think either A) Holy shit you are a dumbass or B) Wow, what a horrible wife writing something which could cast her husband in a bad light.
And I have no defense against being a dumbass. I am a fucking dumbass and I live this every day. But I am not a bad wife.
The other day I told James I was suffering from having no one to talk to, that I couldn’t be real with anyone or even on my blog. He said, “Why not? You can write whatever you want.” I said, ” Well I’m worried that you won’t like it.” He said “Just try it and find out- it will be fine. You’ll see. Trust me.”
So I am trying it. And trusting him. Just like he told me to do. I am a good wife.