a) I am not happy with me (in that moment), and
b) I am not happy with him (in that moment), and
c) He is happy with me (and maybe just not happy with himself).
RE: your one-liner: I am frustrated with him because he takes more than he gives.
If your one-liner were to have been “I want him to stop taking more (from me) than he gives (to me),” you would want to find ways that you want yourself to “stop taking more from yourself than you give to yourself.”
When you have done your own inner work on needing him to change in order for you to be happy, you can set the tone that your love is NOT conditional (i.e., on-or-off, based on his behavior). And you can let him know that, in the meantime, you are not going to be a doormat or expose the kids to violence.
You have the choice to clearly ask for and “enforce” what you need to do to make your life work and take care of the little girl part of YOU as well, without communicating to others that they are bad or wrong or less than. We’re all just doing the best we can, and when your job becomes to model taking care of yourself, without ostracizing others in the process, other are also less likely to entangle their garbage with yours.
Be a Role Model & Love Unconditionally
If you just let him know with all your heart how much you love him and how much you trust him to be OK and work it out, you will see more and more results like your recent small success. It is hard but also really will set the tone for the relationship you SAY you want, and for him and the children. You are the decider of how you want to be in this marriage, and setting a loving, but also clear, tone is the best thing we can do in our marriages and with our kids.
And you don’t have to be perfect yourself to ask for that.
I would like to say that I think men have bigger challenges with anger and testosterone, but many moms carry so much frustration that they end up being the intimidating, angry, loud offenders in the house.
Whether the angry controlling one is a man or woman, the more “timid “other parent in some ways is the WORSE offender in children’s wounding, by not standing up to the violence. Because the other parent’s own trauma can make them feel little and clueless about how to handle the situation, no one tells the kids that the parent’s level of frustration is not their fault, and that the level of intensity is not about them. No one takes them out of the situation. No one tells them that they are OK, stands up to the offender, and lets the kids know it is the grownup who needs to find other ways to deal with what is upsetting them. No one gets them out of the house, but allows them to be exposed to the ranting and raving and blame.
(Domestic violence counselors will tell you that throwing things and punching walls and slamming doors and yelling and those kind of things are violent because they communicate to the other that it’s not OK to stand up to them–or you could be next.)
Ask Him to StopHaving had that conversation, if it happens again, ask him to stop and let him know it is not about your interpretation vs his of what is violent. If you feel threatened and let him know, that is enough. (It may take practice for you to recognize it, since it has been so minimized in your household.) If he can’t stop, he needs to remove himself. You want someone who is going to advocate for you when you feel unsafe. You don’t want to have to justify why you feel unsafe, but want him to stop what he is doing immediately. The back-up plan that you both discuss in advance is that if he doesn’t remove himself, you will remove yourself and the kids.
When you lay this out in advance, then he is choosing–knowing in advance what the consequences are–and is not forcing you into an in-the-moment decision about what to do. It has already been decided during calm, lucid moments. You just need to follow through. Domestic violence literature will tell you to have some things ready so that you can be on your own for a while… make a plan that accounts for the needs of yourself and your kids, plan on a place to stay, open a safe deposit box with all important documents (leave copies in your old box). Even if it’s making sure that whoever you would stay with is aware that you may show up unannounced and will provide you with a key.
P.S. If you’re dealing with intense dynamics within yourself or your family, feel free to reach out and have a free strategy session with me. We are about to start another cohort to go through our Get-YOU-Back Bootcamp together. Given what an important and life-changing digital course this is–complete with multiple touchpoints of LIVE support from me and 1-1 coaching within group calls, we have decided to meet with people in advance of signing on to make sure this life-changing six-week introductory immersion in the NO-MATTER-WHAT Way (the process I teach) is a good fit for you, and you are truly motivated to grab the happy changes it offers.The focus is HOW to end self-criticism, self-abandonment, and self-compromise in your marriage and other high-stakes relationships, especially the one with yourself! If you are ready to create real change in the patterns that separate you from yourself, others, and all life’s possibilities–even after years of inner work–then it is never too late to uplevel your peace and happiness by coming home to a place of sweet Self-Solidarity. This course teaches you HOW to turn your inner critic into the champion of your happiness, and turn your greatest challenges into your greatest breakthroughs.
If you want to learn more or see if you are a good fit for the Get-YOU-Back Bootcamp, just CLICK HERE TO BOOK A CALL or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a call soon. You are also welcome to write PRIVATE in the subject line and tell me as much as you want about your own stressful situation, whether or not it relates to the topic of this email.