How do I save a relationship

johnnyleeJuly 18, 2008

I am not sure where to begin. I have been married for six years. I had been in the military for 14 years when we got married. She wanted me to get out at that time. I wanted (and did) to stay in and retire. In addition, she is from a different country and had to move away from home. The first three years were rough. I spent a lot of time away (close to two full years away). During the third year, we had a child. The last three years, I had a decent job and did not spend much time away from home. I worked a nearly 9 - 5 job. One most of the few times I went anywhere, my wife and child when along. Things kept sliding down hill though.

This last winter I retired. We moved closer to my family, I went back to school, and she went back to work.

She is still angry that I stayed in the military even though things are much better for us. I know she endured a lot those first three years and did move to a new country for me. I appreciate that so very much.

For three years, things have gotten worse instead of better. I used to kiss her every day and any time I left to go anywhere. She rarely lets me kiss her anymore. I tell her that I love her and she replys with a "No you don't." She tells me that our relationship suck because I choose the military over her. She has also told me that there is no way to forgive something like that.

We did see a counselor for a while but things went back to the way they were as soon as we stopped going. She refuses to go back to a counselor because I have already made the choice of the military over her.

Since she is now working long hours, I try to take care of our kid and keep the house clean. With school and all, I am not setting the world on fire with the house cleaning and all. I do my best and keep the house from falling apart completely. The best way to describe it is we have clean clothes and dishes but would need to spend a day getting ready for any guests.

Now I am left wondering what to do. I do love her. I just am not sure if I can save our marrage.

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But your choice of continuing your long career with the military is how you provided for her & your child. She knew you were i the military when you wed, correct?

I really hope you can change her mind about the counseling. You are now retired and hopefully she can get over this mindset. You could always say to her "You are choosing to hold onto old resentments instead of holding onto us & our marriage..

I hope you can work things out, I really do!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 1:43AM
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She knew I was in the military and intended to stay in until retirement when we got married. I was also honest and open about it being a rough lifestyle.

She has a different outlook on the situation. She is very concerned with "fault." I know I made the decision to stay in. She looks at it as I damaged the relationship and that can never be fixed or overcome. She does not want to see a counselor.

I know I am not perfect...and have made mistakes. Most of them involve choices I made about work. I feel like she tried competing against my work. For me it was more of a balancing act than a competition. I read some of the other forums here about husbands being workaholics. I can understand what is going on from the other side.

After the first three years, things calmed down at work a whole lot for me. the resentment remained...even now that I am retired.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 10:09AM
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johnnylee, I don't know how to make her do what she won't. All you can do is what you can do. But I can tell you this, every marriage, if you stay married long enough, has that thing that causes resentment. Either you work through it or you don't. Every marriage. She has to let go of being "right" (even if only in her eyes, I'm not agreeing with her. Some decisions are yours and yours alone to make, your home away from home is one of them, in my opinion) if she wants to stay married. Now she must make a choice. She must understand some how, some way, that you didn't put work above her, that her opinion mattered, even though you decided against her choice. Keep going to counseling without her. Talk to them about how to deal with the resentment as it stands on its own.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 12:21PM
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Hummm... she really needs to try to get over it. But, I could understand how she was so disappointed in you.. sometimes that kind of stuff is harder to get over than you think. It sounds like she really needed you and you weren't there. How would you feel if you really needed her and she wasn't there for you? I would guess she has lost trust and faith in you as a husband because of it. I can only imagine how alone especially a foreignor may have felt in her predicament.

I also wonder how long she has been acting so negatively towards you... and I wouldn't dismiss a possible affair on her end (maybe an emotional one). If a woman's emotional needs aren't met for a period of time, they too, often look elsewhere. Could that be going on and contributing to distance in your marriage?

I would sit down and ask her what she wants and expects from you now.... how you can make it up to her in a way... I'm not sure there's any more you can really do. She can either decide to forgive you and move on or not, but at the same sense, don't give her anything else to get upset over. Like, don't make any life decisions about yourself without her agreeing with them.

Has she asked for or hinted at a divorce? Could there be more/other problems going on that you aren't aware of? Maybe you think you know what she's mad about (you staying in the military), but it's actually something else. (Like you had a fling when you were in the military or you've decided to take early retirement while she has to work, etc...)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 12:28PM
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Carla's got a point. The thing is "now"....and the rest of your lives.

If I was required to go back in time undo every "bad" thing I'd ever done, my situation would be quite hopeless. Nobody can do that.

If your wife is capable of moving forward, by all means attempt it. However, from your description, she's set out an impossible task. Whether or not there's a way to for her to see that and work constructively moving forward, I have no idea.

For myself, I wouldn't be willing to enslave myself to hopelessness. The presence of the child would modify my thinking but I would endeavor to create a new beginning with my spouse if it was at all possible. Otherwise, I see a miserable home-life ahead.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 1:10PM
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The counseling for me might be good. The situation really is getting to me.

I let her know things would be rough before we married. I had 14 years invested in the military. That left me with 6 until retirement. At the time, she had just finished up her education and had not gotten a job yet. I was looking at it from an economic standpoint. I was making decent money and had retirement in sight. I thought I made the best decision with the information I had at the time.

I won't say she has not been there for me...that is not really a true statement. I have been on my own for a while and am used to being on my own. What I did/do need her her companionship. That has been somewhat lacking. She shows little to no interest in anything I do. I have went back to school. She shows no interest in how things are going with that. She gets irritated if I even bring it up.

For how has been a while now. I was deployed when our daughter was born. When I got back, things had turned very cold. We went to my next assignment (a good job that kept me close to home and on really good hours)but things continued to go downhill.

I have tried to be a decent husband. When I ask what I can do to make things better, she tells me that I have already proven that I love my job more then her. I still get that response even now that I am retired. With the "don't give her anything else to get upset over," that is tough. I do the laundry and she will say I used the wronge settings....overfilled the washer...underfilled the washer. She is great at finding any mistake I make...and I admit that I do make plenty of mistakes.

I have asked her what she was all mad about. The reasons always come in long lists. I have never had a fling..and don't think she has had one either.

I sometimes feel like it is a comptetion. She wanted me to get out and felt my job in the military was competing against her. When I got a better job, it is almost like she resented the fact my job in the military could be decent. Once I retired, things actually got worse. I sometimes feel she is angry because we now are benifiting from the miltary while her idea of having a career is not all she thought it would be. She is working long hours even though she really enjoys where she works. She works she wakes up and spends the morning checking her emails and a on line forum she likes. Then she rushes off to work. When she gets home, she checks her computer again before heading to bed. I have waited up to meet her when she gets home...but I seem to distract her from the computer. I am fairly sure it is not any on-line affair...she spends her time talking about appliances and home stuff.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 1:46PM
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She sure sounds angry about something!
But no marriage will work if she keeps blaming you forever.

As Asolo wisely said, there's simply no way to undo your past decisions, whether they were right or wrong. It's easy for me to see why you made the decision you did, but for goodness' sake, it's time for her to get over it.

Have you ever flat-out apologized to her for staying in the military? Not agreed that it meant you didn't love her, or loved your job more -- but apologized for letting the situation get so she would feel that way, and asking her to forgive you for that? A subtle distinction certainly, but possibly an important one.

What about asking her what kind of marriage she wants to have? If she made all of the major decisions from here on out to fit her own 'perfect world' vision, what would your marriage look like? Ask her, and see if there's anything in there you can work towards --

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 2:05PM
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"...what kind of marriage she wants to have?"

There it is. Of course you'll have to work on your stuff but, from your description, that isn't it. "It" is whether or not she has the desire to move forward or not. If she doesn't and you cannot engender it in her, that's the ball game. She would have to be pretty hard not to respond, but it will be up to you to make the presentation. What you've described is no way to live. Can't believe she would want it to continue.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 3:32PM
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When I said don't give her anything to get upset over, I didn't mean using the wrong laundry detergent, I meant something more along the lines of taking a new job in Montana without her agreeing to it.

Have you really apologized like sweeby mentioned? I mean a real apology without any excuses or explanations, but accpeting blame for what you did do? I'm in the camp that even if you told her what she was getting into that if she thought it was too much once you were married, you probably should have respected that and found a new job. Sorry, but once married, I don't think men (or women) get to make decisions like these on their own and if it's really too much for one spouse, it really needs to reanaylzed regardless how much of money or benefits you may get. There's more to life than that as I'm sure you are now experiencing... you may get your military benefits but end up with a failed marraige.

It sounds like with her negatively, pickiness, and lack of interest in anything about you that it has gone beyond disappointment and in a sense, she has really written you off as a husband and companion. That doesn't sound good. That's why I'm still wondering about an affair.

What does she want from this moment forward...
status quo,
better relationship with you but not sure how to get there,
or separation/divorce?

Come out and ask her... and ask for suggestions on how to make it work right for her. Although I wouldn't be surprised if she hinted at keeping the status quo... it sounds like she may feel she has nothing left to give (at least, to you).

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 4:18PM
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I have apologized to her. I willingly admit that I have made mistakes in my priorities. It is easy to see one thing as the right decision at the time and then later realize it might not have been the right decision. She does not consider it a choice I made about a career but a choice I made between her and the military.

I think the idea of her having a "perfect marriage" concept is on the money. The decision I made did not live up to what she had in mind. She has said that if we love each other, being without a job would not matter. At the time, I felt if we love each other, we could make it through a rough time to enjoy the benifits later. I never thought that the rough times would be too rough to make it through. I figured if other guy's families held up, so would mine. I know that sounds selfish, but that was how I was thinking then. No doubt, the first three years were rough. I did not even really have a choice about getting out then. After that, I was at my next assignment. Even she says that was a good job. I did my last three years in a sweet assignment. But to her, the damage was done. The decision for me to retire was a joint decision.

I do feel like she has written me off as a husband and companion. When we do talk, it is either about her work or about what I did wrong this time. I have asked what I can do. The standard response is "the damage is already done."

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 5:34PM
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So, I didn't totally understand, you did apologize for choosing the military over her, right? That's the apology she needs to hear. No reasons, justifications, excuses, and no implying it was a career choice when in fact the bottom line is that you did choose the military over her. Get it? That bottom line is all that needs to be addressed at this point; I would bet you have rehashed everything and offered your reasoning, and mentioned how good it turned out in the long run, but that's not relevant in her mind only in yours. And, it's actually probably just adding more fuel to the fire.

It still sounds to me like you are offering excuses and not really taking full responsibility for what you did do (or didn't do). I would bet she senses your lack of being able to take responsibility for what you did. I don't think you realize what a full and complete apology without excuses could mean to her. It's very hard for most people to forgive and forget when the person offering the apology doesn't apologize for the specific wrong doing. You did choose your job over her. I know it seems simple enough but so many people really don't get how to apologize. Below is a link with some tidbits.

I don't know if your relationship is beyond saving at this point. It sounds like it maybe. Regarding the computer: First thing in the morning and last thing at night, when you're not around... have you checked her history? How much is there to say about appliances?

Sorry, I don't mean to sermonize and seem uncompassionate; I'm really just trying to help; hope you see it as such and try a full hearted apology.

Here is a link that might be useful: apologize like a pro

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 6:50PM
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You sound like a patient person, to deal with all this on a daily basis.

I would say to both of you that your relationship, and family life, and the way you both communicate with each other, is being observed by your child. Do you want your child to have that role model in how to have a successful marriage ? There is more to this than just to two of you. The child will see how you resolve conflict, how you express you love for each other, how you have fun together...if that is not happening in a healthy way, then how will that child grow up ?

I agree with all that has been said in other posts.

The way to go is forward, move on, enjoy the moment, not dwell on the past, but I think you know this.

Did you ask her "what sort of marriage to you want?"

Your motivation for staying in the military was a good one, she is being very immature to not recognize that.

Perhaps you should go to conselling on your own, and learn how you can get the best out of the situation.

All marriages have tough times, its how you deal with them that makes the marriage a success.

All the best, good for you for trying to sort things out.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 6:51PM
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"The standard response....."

This is precisely what must change. I'm reminded of the old saying: "The first thing to do when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging." At this late date, your wife is choosing this. And there's nothing but a miserable future ahead for all of you if she intends to live there.....which I think is a pretty stupid thing to want to do.

Oh yes, you have to own your stuff too. However, if you're willing but she isn't that's a pretty sad state of affairs.

Then is over. This is now. How does she want to live? How do you want to live? These are things rational people can decide and act upon.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 7:02PM
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I don't think you have to apologize for staying in the service. These were your plans before you ever met her. It's your career, your profession. If you were a doctor it might be the same situation and you certainly needn't apologize for that. I am curious about the country she came from.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 7:25PM
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Carla, that is a lot to think about. I am truely sorry for the mess I made of things. I made the decision and take full responsibility for the decision. When posed with the two options, I made what I felt was the best decision at the time.

What is tougher to say is that I totally regret staying in the military. Other than the rough first three years, a lot of good came out of it. My first duty station after getting married was in Germany (Stargazzer...this is her home country). It allowed us some time to see her home country. The military is paying for my education, and is giving us a decent monthly check for the rest of my life. She even admits my assignment for the last three years was good. It was the first three years (while I was stationed in Germany but deployed twice)that was rough. We met some great friends along the way. We actually redid our wedding vows between the two deployments. Duing the deployments, we managed to save the money for a new car for her as well as a large down payment on a house. During the first deployment, we talked on the phone almost daily and sent countless emails. I even tried to get a snailmail letter out every other day. The phone calls and email were a little more difficult during the second deployment (still made contact several times a week) but the letters continued at a regular pace.

Carla, I don't take it as a sermon...I understand what you are saying. I guess it is tough to express my feelings on the military decision. Some of what happened turned out great. As time goes on, it gets tougher and tougher to say staying in was a bad decision.

Asolo, I am not sure how she wants to live. If I ask what I can do to make things better, I get the damage is already done. Then she says our relationship sucks. If I ask what she wants me to do, replies that I just think it is her fault. I try to say it is not about fault but what we can do to move forward but that goes nowhere.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 8:34PM
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stargazzer, You know, say I married a doctor and knew ahead of time he was going to work a lot. I thought it would be ok and agreed to it. Well, let's say it wasn't ok. Let's say I never saw him, knew no one in town, had to take of our kids literally all by myself. Let's say I changed my mind. Even if I agreed to this life when I got married doesn't mean I couldn't change my mind. No body really knows what life is going to hold. People change jobs all the times for various reasons. It didn't matter what he did, but the fact that he was never there for her can totally ruin a marraige.

She has a right to tell him to get out. Maybe she was so lonely she was afraid she would start to look elsewhere, (maybe she did), maybe she was even severely depressed, etc. I would be too if my husband was never around and didn't seem to care how lonely I was. And, guys, money really doesn't matter as much to most of us girls as you think it may. Keep that in mind when making job decisions.

Just because you sign up for something doesn't mean you have to stick to it no matter what. I'm sure if he were unhappy enough with his job and life situation, he would have changed it even if she didn't want him too. But she for some reason has no say, because it's not her life... it's his. Nope, not in my book... when you get married you lose your own life; every important decision should be thought of as a couple if those decisions will be affecting both people. No one gets to do something that leaves another person totally alone and miserable. Almost any workaholic husband could use this kind of excuse; it doesn't fly and doesn't make it right. His job was too dramatically affecting his wife's life negatively. He knew, and choose not to change it. Granted, there may be good excuses and reasons, but she doesn't seem to feel that way, and I doubt there would be any way now to convince her otherwise.

I think the poster asked how do I save a relationship, not how do I make it worse. He can continue to try to give excuses and prove he was at least particially right and even bring up all the monetary benefits... but that's not going to win her over... she wants to be heard and really understood, not proven wrong. He may think that trying to explain why he did things or how things turned out will lessen the severity of it, and make her less mad, etc., but it won't.. She needs a real apology... Although by this time, I would think even that is probably too late, but still worth a try. Don't try to be right, try to be compassionate and empathetic.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 8:51PM
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When we got married, I was close to 75% of the way to retirement. I let her know that I wanted to finish up the last six years and retire. I did not hide that from her at all. I tried my best to let her know the military is not an easy life. I did my best to ensure she was not suprised about what lay ahead.

After we got married, I could not get out of the military. Unlike the civilian world, I could not just quit. The ways out all carried heavy consequences. I was not gone the whole time. I left for nine months after being married for nine months. I returned for six months and then left for Iraq for a year. After the first deployment, things were still fairly good between us. We actually renewed our wedding vows then. It was nine months after this that our daughter was born. Things did not turn bad until after the tour in Iraq. Once I returned from that, we moved to a new duty location. That was a decent job. She actually seemed to enjoy everything other than being married to me. I am retired now...she still seems to be enjoying everything but being married to me. Even that is not completly correct. As long as I don't do anything to make her angry, things seem to be great. Making her angry is not that tough...she does not like to hear about how my education is things were going at work while still things are going around the house. I would run 5 and 10K races...she never wanted to hear about them. Other aspects of things are scarce as well...but I know better than bring that up with her as well. That goes directly into the damage already being done conversation.

I used to try to ensure I kissed her daily. She starting pulling away from me some time ago. I am not even saying that she did not kiss me...she did not want me to kiss her.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 9:17PM
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Well, I surely don't know the dynamic between you but you've described a brain-locked termagant.

Take care of your daughter. Keep peace in the home. Otherwise go your own way. Nothing left to lose.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 10:17PM
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I wish I knew what was all going on as well. Things were good between us up to the point where our daughter was born. After that, things changed. It was about a year after that when we saw the counselor.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 10:44PM
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"Things were good between us up to the point where our daughter was born."

First time you've said it that way. Again, certainly don't know, but could be the stereotypical got-the-baby-she-wanted syndrome.

Looking for some way to make sense of what you've told us. That does. If that's the real story, she's got you all wrapped up whether you stay or whether you go. Goal accomplished.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 11:52PM
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I am really sorry to ask this, but do you think she married you so she could live in the US ?

She sounds like she just doesn't want to be where she is, she is a bit irrational, too.

You sound like a decent chap.

Perhaps you could think about an ultimatum ? You seem to have been so accommodating, so far.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 3:39AM
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I tried talking to my wife again last night. It did not go good...or bad. Most of the time she did not say anything. If I asked her anything, she just shrugged her shoulders. This includes when I asked her if she still loved me. I told her that I was a workaholic when we got married. The decisions made early on were mine and I bear responsibility for them. She is now making the decision to keep our marrage from getting better. I told her that I love her and try to let her know. It is her decision if she accepts that love or disregards it.

I am sure she did not marry me to get to the US. It is more likely that she married me because that is what she felt is expected of a woman....get married, have a child, have a career.

I don't like ultimatums but did let her know that things can not stay like they are. I never really got a response out of her. I did not get angry and tried never to back her into a corner. She just shrugged her shoulders. After a while without her saying anything, I went to bed. I am not sure how long she stayed up after that.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 10:39AM
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Ultimatums will have no affect on a person like this. She doesn't care what you do. With you or without you, she's got it all figured out. Even when you're there, you're not there to her. She's already moved on. You've described an agenda at work. Would be useful to know exactly what and why but there's no way to know except from her and she's shrugging her shoulders. All that's known is the behavior -- which is pretty careless.

I think you have a decision to make.

Notwithstanding her behavior toward you, is she a good mother to your child?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 12:37PM
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In my opinion, she is a good mother. She does care greatly for our daughter and tries to be there for her.

I am not sure if she does not care about me or not. It sounds like it is possible.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 2:03PM
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Like asolo said, ultimatums mean nothing to her. You're treating her like she cares, when she doesn't. Telling her she has to care is totally different than trying to make her want to care. Like I mentioned before, she has already written you off as a husband.

I don't think your marriage sounds like you have to make any rash decisions today or tomorrow. It's important to know where your wife stands, but just because she has nothing to give right now, doesn't mean you have to leave her. This may actually be the time she needs you most, but resents you too much to ask and doesn't feel she can count on you. Prove her wrong and try being there for her unconditionally and without ultimatnums even if she's not there for you. Because, right or wrong, it sounds like that's how she felt about you for years... that she was there for you, but you weren't there for her. Not so fun being all alone and wanting and needing her attention and not getting it, is it? I think maybe you're beginning to realize how she felt; maybe even subconciously this is her way of trying to make you understand how it was for her to be so alone.

I know if I were in her situation and my husband implied/said "shape up or I'm outta here" versus... "well, no matter how you feel I'm gonna stay with you because I love you desparately and always will" .. I'd respond more positively to the later. I know you're not being that harsh, but really she only needs kindness at this point. I think she is 'afraid' in a sense to love and count on you... let her know she can. You're really not risking anything; swallowing a little pride to make your wife feel needed and loved may very well be worth it.

You need to let her have her feelings, really understand them or at least empathize with them, and understand how come she may have pulled away from you (even if you don't think she's right). You can win the argument and lose the marriage, or lose the argument and win the marriage. Don't be stubborn. It sounds like you are STILL doing the excuse thing (even to me in the last post to me - I stopped reading after 75%). I don't want to hear it, your facts and specifics don't really matter no matter how right you can prove them to be; her feelings, right or wrong, matter more... just apologize already. You are never going to be able to convince her that her "feelings" were wrong.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 6:58PM
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I think you guys are right. She does not want me to apologize, she wants to punish me. I don't have to make any decisions now. She is going to have to decide what she wants to do. She is still concerned more about the past then the future. That is one thing the counselor told us when we were going a couple years ago.

Things were strange when she woke up this morning. She did not really mention last night at all, but was nice to me. All I can do is wait and see.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 10:46PM
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I think the first thing you need to do is have her spell out all her grievances. Listen intently, and then sincerely apologize.

Tell her that for the child's sake, it's important that you both have a good relationship.

Tell her what you want in that relationship, and ask her what she wants. Commit to helping each other meet these stated objectives. Part of what you want is not to be punished forever for past greivances. You both need to let go and move forward now.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 1:28AM
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I think once you apologize just leave it at that. Don't keep apologizing over & over.
Personally I do not understand it & yes I do believe she is punishing you for some reason though she new you were military when she married you & as you pointed out you can't just quit like a civilian job. Military life is very different.

I would be thrilled if my husband had a nice retirement after twenty in. I think maybe she is not looking at the big picture here & just holding onto old hurts. I have no idea what else you can do. I think you are a very patient man but understand you wanting to salvedge things esp since you now have a little one.

Just don't let her continue to beat you down over it. The next time she said you chose the military of her I would tell her the subject is closed, let's talk about some thing else. I'll probably get a few flames for sayng this from the other women but come on-really how long must this guy be tortured over this?

I think she has a different agenda than you and you need to think about protecting heart and your assets.

Best of luck to you.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 10:04AM
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She can spell out grievances all day long. She does not forget anything. She has a very strange way of looking at things. Our daughter was sick last night. I took care of her for a couple of hours and then my wife took the last few hours of the night. I know my wife was tired...she has had a couple long shifts at work.

Well, my daughter was too sick to go to preschool today. I was at school and my wife called. I asked her if she wanted to drop off the money for preschool or if she wanted me to do it tomorrow. She got angry that I suggested that she could do it. I explained that I had just asked if she wanted to drop it off on her way to work...and did not have a problem doing it tomorrow. She was already angry. I expect that will be added to the things I did wrong.

She does not like to be confronted about anything. I am at the point that I don't know if it would be woth the confrontation.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 5:22PM
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She sounds like she is being defensive because she has a lot of resentment.

A calm, content person has a happy disposition and would not be so defensive.

It is the resentment that needs to be resolved.

Have you done the heartfelt apology for, what she perceives as you letting her down in the first years of your marriage ?

If you don't confront, or talk this through you will become estranged, because it sounds like you will just withdraw as a method of coping.

Talk to a counsellor, again.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 6:47PM
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She prides herself about being a critical thinker. I have learned that this means she can find fault in just about everything.

I have noticed that I am well into withdraw phase. I love her and would like to have a happy marriage. Over the last year or so, it has been just survival. Even though our overall life is much better...our marriage just keeps getting worse.

I have tried to reengage several times but she just keeps shutting things down. I keep hearing the damage is already done.

I have to check into a counsellor again. We did go for a while. It got us nowhere.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 7:01PM
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"....the damage is already done."

Translation: This is the way I'm going to be and you can go fish.

Pretty stupid way to be for someone who wants to stay married.

Disagree with those who recommend counseling. Counseling will be a complete waste of time for her. May be useful for you in dealing with her if you choose to stay. Counseling is for people who want to learn and change. She doesn't. You may succeed in getting her to go, but she won't get anything from it. She's basically waiting for you to leave. If you don't, she'll at least convert you to a manageable non-entity -- which is what she's working on now. Either way, she has what she wants. In her eyes, you don't count for anything. You deserve no respect, let alone affection.

Take care of yourself and your child. Terrible state of affairs.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 7:20PM
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Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and get on with your life. It's a short trip, anyway. Hope you weather this. She sounds dumb as a box of hair.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 8:34PM
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YOU go to the counsellor, someone who will help you explore your options. Only you know the best thing to do.

Its hard to believe that your wife cannot remember a time, where she loved you and you where happy. She needs to capture some of that again.

All the best.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 11:50PM
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I appreciate everyone's advice and point of view. It can be tough seeing another persons point of view at times. This gave me some insight as to what she may be thinking as well as letting me just vent some frustrations.

After the conversation a couple nights ago, she got quiet. Today before heading to work, she actually took a moment to give me a kiss. It is a small step but better than nothing. I am old enough to know that time is my friend in this situation. As long as I keep myself moving in a positive direction, I am good. She is either going to join me or leave me. Either way, I am going to keep moving. I can not let the past overcome me and forget that today is a beautiful day.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 2:18PM
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"As long as I keep myself moving in a positive direction, I am good."

Best attitude in the world to keep if you can manage it in the face of such an obstacle. You're essentially alone in it, but staying strong and confidant will serve you well regardless of the outcome. Your daughter will know the difference as she observes you as she grows.

I pity you your situation, but I admire this attitude in you. Perhaps your hard-headed/hard-hearted wife will, too, over time. The "time" part remains discouraging. Time is life. A shame to have it wasted -- which is what she's doing.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 2:30PM
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Thanks for the vote of confidence. I don't feel like I am wasting my time. I am spending time with a great daughter....working on an education...working on getting my yard to and house nice. I figure all that makes the time great. It is only wasted time if I don't use it and worry about a rotten relationship with my wife. If I could get her to see all the wonderful things around us, I think that would get better as well.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 3:03PM
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Normally, I'd never recommend the "7th grade approach" -- but does your wife have any friends that she would have confided in? Is there someone you could call for lunch and confide that you're concerned about your wife's apparent unhappiness and want to strengthen your marriage -- does she have any insights? Again, it's kind of "7th grade" -- but if your wife is unable to express her feelings to you, perhaps she's confided in a girlfriend?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 3:04PM
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Mr. Johnny, please donÂt get offended but after reading this entire post my first two thoughts were "God what a self centered twat" and "Thank god he didnÂt have kidÂs before meeting her." because she would be a HORRIBLE step parent. Being a step parent would mean every choice, action and emotion would not be centered on her and frankly I am rather certain she couldnÂt handle it.

That aside, I hate to say it but I agree with a few of the other posters who have said in various ways "cut your loses" and focus on your daughter. Is she a citizen yet or no? If she isnÂt legal could that possibly be why she is still hanging out even though itÂs obvious she has no interested vested in the relationship? She has made it pretty clear that she is not happy nor will she ever be happy and the excuse she gives for that sounds like BS to me.

If she was so mad you stayed in service why didnÂt she leave you when you re-enlisted rather than wait till you were out to hold the grudge? That makes no sense. My guess is she is still going through Citizenship application. I could be wrong. Am I Johnny?
If I am wrong I canÂt come up with any explanation why anyone who seems to be so terribly miserable in a relationship would stick around.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 4:38PM
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She is a pessimistic individual. I don't think it has anything to do with staying in the US. I think it has more to do her knowing that she actually does not have it bad now. It is the past that she is mad about. If we could get by that, things would be great. She still finds faults in everything but I do believe that she knows she has it good...or at least that she would find it tough to find a better situation. When confronted, she backs into either not talking at all or the damage is already done. We get nothing resolved that way.

I don't think cutting her lose right now is the best course of action. Time is working in my favor in many aspects. The largest one is our daughter is growing smarter and wiser on a daily basis. She has already told my wife "be nice to daddy," and asked me "is mommy mad at you again?" My wife does not know how to react to those type of statements. I feel like my wife is a miserable person, not an evil person. She is so busy fighting everything that she forgets to enjoy things once in a while. Every once in a while it seems like she makes a half hearted attempt to move forward. It does not take long and she is complaining again. I can make some really dumb mistakes every now and then...things that others either laugh at or just roll their eyes. She makes a mountain out of a mole hill. I bet there are a few wives out there that would be happy if their husband did the laundry even if they did not use the right cycle for towels or loaded the dishwasher wrong. She just sees that at me not caring about her.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 12:17AM
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I think at this point she just doesn't like you so everything you do that isn't perfect (and nothing will be) is wrong or a mistake. I bet she's still with you, because she's married to you and probably considers the marraige vow more sacred than most of us in the US do.

You know my husband did something, obviously not the exact same thing, but something that brought me similar feelings, years ago. I held in a lot of resentment... a lot. I didn't mention it often, but he knew. I really think this one thing brought a huge wedge between us. It may not have been all that big of a thing, but I made it such, and the fact that he didn't really understand how important it was, or seem to understand how much it mattered to and hurt me, was slowly tearing us apart. One day... years after the thing... we got in a big fight and I brought it up... after months of not mentioning it. I expected the same old... "but I"... "well you"... "what do you".. "It's.." responses that he usually gave, when unexpectedly he, from outa nowhere said... "Yeah, I know I was wrong, I shouldn't have done that". From nowhere, no excuses, just a pure apology with sadness and resentment in his voice for doing it. I don't know if he was acting or had an ephinany or what, but at that instance, I got over it. I seriously could not believe that was all it took. It was no longer this resentment thing I was carrying around, but just something that happened in the past that I was then able to forgive. I know I may not be explaining this right, but I really think this is what is going on with your wife... Well, that, or she really was just after a green card... but just thought I'd mention it one last time. It sounds too like your wife may be depressed; I don't know if it's from carrying around all this resentment or what, but she probably could use some help.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 1:03AM
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I wonder how you treat your wife...are you a person who gives her hugs, compliments her, encourages her, buys flowers, chocolates, takes an interest in what she is doing, asks her about her day....or maybe you once did all those things. I can understand it could be difficult to maintain that under you present circumstances.

Do you think that she knows that you love her, do you tell her that ?

Resentment is awful, it festers away for years, and if we don't deal with it, it can eat us up. As Carla says above.
It can hold you back from being who you truly are. If she feels like that, its no wonder that she cranky and unresponsive.

Question is what can she do about it, herself, to move on and be happier ?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 3:31AM
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"I don't think cutting her lose right now is the best course of action. Time is working in my favor in many aspects. The largest one is our daughter is growing smarter and wiser on a daily basis. She has already told my wife "be nice to daddy," and asked me "is mommy mad at you again?"

OK, Johnny It is NOT a good thing that your daughter is as you say "getting old enough" that she can mediate you two through your marital problems. Actually, it's a really really bad thing that she's figuring it out. You and your wife need to decide what you are going to do and stop beating around the bush before your child gets scarred. Your daughter certainly should not be in a position where it appears to her that it is her reponsibility (or even within her power) to "fix" your relationship because when the relationship finally disintergrates she is going to blame herself for not "fixing it" good enough. Thats not kind of guilt you want to put on your child.

Why don't you just ask the woman straight up if she wants a divorce? Have you done that? You may be wasting your time and energy flogging a dead horse.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 11:05PM
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Wise words from Doodle about what your daughter is seeing.
This is what she thinks a marriage should be like, and is this the kind of marriage you want for her? Either side of it?

I remember when my SS was in a destructive relationship. He truly loved this girl, and was all about "trying to make the relationship last." Hubby and I kept telling him it was not making a relationship LAST that was important, it was making it WORK. And if he couldn't make it WORK, why on earth would he want to make it LAST?

So that's my advice to you OP -- If you can't make it WORK, for goodness' sakes, don't to make it LAST!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 10:01AM
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Your wife sounds like she either has a personality problem or is depressed. And even if she had good reason to be angry at your decision back then, long-held resentments are like poison.

There are a lot of good insights here, and I hesitate to add my two cents, but:
This may be too simplistic, but just a thought--although you say she likes her job--does it have long hours and leave her very little time for herself? You are a student and apparently do a lot around the house, but does she still have to come home and do housework and things for your child? Even if she says she wants to do that, there is a difference between being a housewife or househusband and being able to decide when you will do what, however busy you are, and on the other hand, having no choice but to use up all the tiny amount of time you have between getting home from work and going to bed doing house chores.

If her job is too much for her in that way, could she quit or cut down on her hours? Does she really have to work, now that you are retired? Not being so tired--if indeed, she IS tired the way I'm thinking--could make her less irritable. Some people don't have a lot of lee-way in their need for regular, absolutely free time.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 3:29PM
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There has been a few comments since last time I had a chance to log on. First, as for time, I am not looking for my daughter to solve the relationship problems. I just want to keep things moving long enough for her to have a say in what happens. If things fall apart right now, there is a good chance she would end up leaving the country with my wife. In addition, I will have finished my education in a couple of years. That may help our relationship as well.

As for treating my wife good. I TRY to give her a kiss every day...try to hug her. Make sure I thank her when she does things around the house. I know showing appreciating and gratitude is important. We go out for dinner every now and then. I try to good on all the important holidays (Birthday, Anniversary, Valentines Day, Christmas). I have gotten her flowers...but that has slowed a bit. It is tough to do without the least bit of affection back. I tell her that I love her regularly (daily or more) but get "No you don't," in response.

She does work some extremely long hours. She had a chance to get a job with less hours but wanted to keep her current job. She likes what she is doing but does not like the long hours. She is angry at me for the career decisions I made, I try to support her in the decisions she makes. I am not going to make them for her. I do a lot of the housework....cook the bulk of the meals, clean up dishes, do laundry, keep the yard good, try to keep the house clean. She does help out around the house is not like she does not do anything. I know she is working hard.

Now that I am retired, she does need to work but not as much as she does. It would really be rough to make it on just the retirement check. I make enough money to cover a place to stay. We don't need a whole lot more. She works where she does because she likes that job. It is in her field and does seem like a good job other than the hours.

While she enjoys the job, it seems like there is a lot of drama there. I always ask her how her day was...and get about an hour or two of all the excitement. It seems like there are a couple of groups of women that can't get along...she is in the middle of one of the two groups. I have worked shift work myself and know there is alway conflict there...she can not let things slide.

We will see how things go.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 11:38PM
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Hi Johnny,

It seems that you have adopted a waiting strategy. You want to wait until your daughter is old enough to see things your way. That may or may not happen, and even if it does, a mother/daughter relationship is very powerful.

Because you and your wife have a difficult relationship at best, you both may end up competing for your daughter's attention and affection. This would be unhealthy for your daughter.

I am concerned about your wife's response to your expression of love. When she says, "No, you don't," it sounds like she wants to control what is going on between the two of you. It appears that she has been in control, because you are the only one making an effort.

I am worried about your daughter seeing the, "No, you don't," interactions. This will be harmful to her self-esteem and confidence.

You need to tell your wife that it's not just about the two of you anymore. If you are to stay married, you both need to make an effort to get along - for your daughter's sake.

If she doesn't realize or care about the harm that your daughter could experience in an unhealthy household, then that is very serious.

You and your wife need to decide what you both deserve and what your daughter deserves.

I would stop the "I love you's," for a while. Try to have a positive interaction by kissing and hugging your wife without saying anything. Look into her eyes and smile.

Perhaps if you can limit the negative interactions, your relationship can improve.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 11:10PM
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Hi Johnny,

It sounds like your wife holds alot of resentment. Could your wife feel that she's the one that has made all the sacrafices in your relationship? When you say "I love you" to her and she responds with "no you don't", she might be thinking, "if you really loved me, then you would have done what I wanted".

Is she really happy about being back to work or does she wish she were able to stay home with your daughter? From your posts, it sounds like you are able to spend more time with your daughter than she is able to. If she's working long hours, she is probably exhuasted (physically/mentally) by the time she gets home and therefore lacks the energy for mommy time. Did she support your decision to go back to school?

Sorry to throw out so many questions, just trying to figure out where her head is. I am sorry this is happening to you both, it is obvious in your posts that you are in a great deal of pain. I hope things get resolved soon.

Take care

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 10:59PM
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