Rebuilding Respect and Trust

I'm seeking some advice and input on helping me with my marriage. My wife and I have been separated for about 2 months now and I've spent a lot of time reflecting and improving on my issues such as being negative, obsessive compulsive and taking her for granted. It has been a very painful time, with many lessons involved that I've needed to work on myself. Although she may have her own issues such as anger and being overly sensitive, we have had a wonderful history together for almost 10 years that I would like to restore. It's my goal to show her that I can change while rebuilding respect and trust.

My wife is coming over this weekend to collect some of her things. She's also bringing her parents as a means to comfort her which I can't avoid. This may be the last opportunity that I have to interact with her, so it is very important to me that I can establish that improvement while she's with me. Are there any suggestions from those who have had relationship difficulties that could further help my situation?
 

Beau

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I think you need to give her some space and respect her decision. I do not think it's a good idea to broach the subject of reconciliation when she comes over this weekend. She's bringing her parents so that she doesn't have to be alone with you and deal with the discomfort of talking about something that she's either not ready or willing to discuss. You may want to restore the relationship, but what about her and what she wants? Considering her needs and making her as comfortable as possible this weekend is what you should be concerned with, and if there is any chance of getting back together then you doing that could be the best way for her to reconsider the relationship. Forcing her to talk about things as a means of "establishing improvement" is most likely the best way to drive her away. You will not rebuild respect and trust that way.
 

BlackCartouche

Jedi Master
we have had a wonderful history together for almost 10 years that I would like to restore. It's my goal to show her that I can change while rebuilding respect and trust.
it is very important to me that I can establish that improvement while she's with me.
Combined with eagerness this could easily tip over into an imposition. Careful not to abridge her sense of free-will.
 

Alana

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I agree with the others, Celtic Warrior. If she is coming to get her stuff and she brings her parents with her, I think for her it means the relationship is over and she doesn't want to be alone with you. I know this might be very hard for you to read, but if she has made up her mind and she made this known to you in words and deeds (it sounds that she left your home?), then you trying to convince her to reconsider would be futile at best. She knows a "you" that made her decide to distance herself from, for whatever reasons, so how about trying to show her a "you" that she hasn't seen before? One who places her comfort and wellbeing above your own, one who doesn't create a scene or try to change her mind, who is polite and helpful towards her and her parents for those few hours they will be there? Since as you say, you are working on yourself.

Even if she was the one who left, the ending of a marriage is painful for both, the "coming to pick up my stuff" from the place that was considered home for so long, is a very hard thing to do. So I would advise against making it harder for her... or yourself.

The breakup of a relationship can be the loudest alarm clock and the biggest mirror for us, forcing us to see ourselves and our relationships with others as we have never done before. If you can see these faults of yours now and attempt little changes every day, you will be changing yourself and your life as well, and creating a future where you have a relationship where the other person wants to stay for good. So perhaps start actively working on this change in you this weekend when she comes over by following our advice?
 
"She knows a "you" that made her decide to distance herself from, for whatever reasons, so how about trying to show her a "you" that she hasn't seen before? One who places her comfort and wellbeing above your own, one who doesn't create a scene or try to change her mind, who is polite and helpful towards her and her parents for those few hours they will be there? Since as you say, you are working on yourself."

I fully agree and want to allow her to experience a different side of myself. It should be her comfort and security that concerns me. Also, I hadn't made it clear that I'm not attempting reconciliation because she is not ready for it and mentioned if she chooses to remain apart then I can accept it. My outlook is to share mutual respect and understanding.
 

munaychasumaq

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FOTCM Member
If your outlook is to share mutual respect and understanding,maybe you have to make the first step.Respect her decision to be away.Maybe she needs time to realize that she feels happy or unhappy,safe or unsafe without you.
Maybe you need to realize and work in yourself that,for this time,"your train is gone".It is in this situations if we are aware and open that WE LEARN something from LIFE.
 

Alana

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I fully agree and want to allow her to experience a different side of myself. It should be her comfort and security that concerns me. Also, I hadn't made it clear that I'm not attempting reconciliation because she is not ready for it and mentioned if she chooses to remain apart then I can accept it. My outlook is to share mutual respect and understanding.
Then I wish you strength and awareness to accomplish that. I'll be rooting for you, so let us know how it goes when you can. :flowers:
 

Ant22

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Hey CelticWarrior, I agree with others here. If she asked her parents to accompany her, she most likely made assumptions about how this meeting may play out and she wants to protect herself from the discomfort. You probably know best what her assumptions could be since they are based on 10 years of her experience of you.

The best thing you can do is to do none of the things she has potentially assumed you would do. There may come a time for you two to reconcile, but this meeting is exceptionally unlikely to offer this opportunity. And if you do act the way she assumed you would, it will probably be the ultimate evidence that her decision to leave was right and there's no capacity for any change.

I do hope it goes well. It's a really difficult lesson but if you learn from it, you won't need to go through it again.
 
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And if you do act the way she assumed you would, it will probably be the ultimate evidence that her decision to leave was right and there's no capacity for any change.

I do hope it goes well. It's a really difficult lesson but if you learn from it, you won't need to go through it again"
I will heed your advice. Many thanks for your input.
 

Keit

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Others already gave you good advice, CelticWarrior. But I just wanted to share with you the following quote from the book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life" by Mark Manson. It is an excellent, poignant and funny book, and I highly recommend it.

In any case, I think that beside giving her the space she needs and respecting her free will, you also need to understand that this is probably the only or the best way you are going to accept the reality as it is and then move on to the stage of seeing how things were and how they could be different. :-)

My first girlfriend dumped me in spectacular fashion. She was cheating on me with her teacher. It was awesome. And by awesome, I mean it felt like getting punched in the stomach about 253 times. To make things worse, when I confronted her about it, she promptly left me for him. Three years together, down the toilet just like that.

I was miserable for months afterward. That was to be expected. But I also held her responsible for my misery. Which, take it from me, didn’t get me very far. It just made the misery worse.

See, I couldn’t control her. No matter how many times I called her, or screamed at her, or begged her to take me back, or made surprise visits to her place, or did other creepy and irrational ex-boyfriend things, I could never control her emotions or her actions. Ultimately, while she was to blame for how I felt, she was never responsible for how I felt. I was.


At some point, after enough tears and alcohol, my thinking began to shift and I began to understand that although she had done something horrible to me and she could be blamed for that, it was now my own responsibility to make myself happy again. She was never going to pop up and fix things for me. I had to fix them for myself.

When I took that approach, a few things happened. First, I began to improve myself. I started exercising and spending more time with my friends (whom I had been neglecting). I started deliberately meeting new people. I took a big study-abroad trip and did some volunteer work. And slowly, I started to feel better.

I still resented my ex for what she had done. But at least now I was taking responsibility for my own emotions. And by doing so, I was choosing better values—values aimed at taking care of myself, learning to feel better about myself, rather than aimed at getting her to fix what she’d broken.

(By the way, this whole “holding her responsible for my emotions” thing is probably part of why she left in the first place. More on that in a couple chapters.)

Then, about a year later, something funny began to happen. As I looked back on our relationship, I started to notice problems I had
never noticed before, problems that I was to blame for and that I could have done something to solve. I realized that it was likely that I hadn’t been a great boyfriend, and that people don’t just magically cheat on somebody they’ve been with unless they are unhappy for some reason.

I’m not saying that this excused what my ex did—not at all. But recognizing my mistakes helped me to realize that I perhaps hadn’t been the innocent victim I’d believed myself to be. That I had a role to play in enabling the shitty relationship to continue for as long as it did. After all, people who date each other tend to have similar values. And if I dated someone with shitty values for that long, what did that say about me and my values? I learned the hard way that if the people in your relationships are selfish and doing hurtful things, it’s likely you are too, you just don’t realize it.
 
Others already gave you good advice, CelticWarrior. But I just wanted to share with you the following quote from the book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life" by Mark Manson. It is an excellent, poignant and funny book, and I highly recommend it.

In any case, I think that beside giving her the space she needs and respecting her free will, you also need to understand that this is probably the only or the best way you are going to accept the reality as it is and then move on to the stage of seeing how things were and how they could be different. :-)
it was now my own responsibility to make myself happy again. She was never going to pop up and fix things for me. I had to fix them for myself.

I was choosing better values—values aimed at taking care of myself, learning to feel better about myself, rather than aimed at getting her to fix what she’d broken.

I learned the hard way that if the people in your relationships are selfish and doing hurtful things, it’s likely you are too, you just don’t realize it.
I like the idea of moving on while having introspection and how things could be different. It's interesting to think about regaining independence again, giving myself strength and self-love/respect. Responsibility lies within and I can't ignore that.
 

fabric

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I think you’ve gotten some good advice Celtic Warrior, and want to add a couple of things that I noticed. I hope they don’t come across as too harsh and I could be totally wrong but these were my initial impressions...

I fully agree and want to allow her to experience a different side of myself. It should be her comfort and security that concerns me. Also, I hadn't made it clear that I'm not attempting reconciliation because she is not ready for it and mentioned if she chooses to remain apart then I can accept it. My outlook is to share mutual respect and understanding.
I think what maybe led to the misunderstanding is what you wrote at the beginning of your post: “This may be the last opportunity that I have to interact with her, so it is very important to me that I can establish that improvement while she's with me.” To me it says that you care more about yourself then her. Why do you place so much weight showing how much you’ve improved in one quick visit? It might be important to you but what about her? In any case, whatever you do proves nothing except that you can behave decently for just 15 minutes (or however long it takes for her to get her things but I imagine it won’t be a long stay).

Now, my two year old nephew can behave decently when we go out to eat in a restaurant for about 45 minutes. That’s it. Any longer than that all hell breaks loose. This is likely to go on for a while until he grows up a bit more and learns how to manage his behavior. There’s not much you can do at that point since he’s two although they usually grow out of it (good parenting helps as well). But in either case there is a process that has to happen and it can take a long time before decent behavior becomes an integral part of him. For some it can take their whole life.

In other words, a single pleasant interaction is not going to demonstrate much in terms of what you are like all the time. My nephew is pleasant – until he’s not. You have 10 years of ‘not pleasant’ moments that are not easily dismissed. So I think that the best thing to do is to let go of the idea that you are ‘showing her I can change’. In order to show someone you can change you have to actually change, and that doesn’t happen overnight, or a day or a week or sometimes even months or even years. It takes a lot of effort and work to break out of ingrained thoughts and habits, especially things you’ve been doing your whole life which you are just realizing (or acknowledging) now.

For example you also write: “{I} want to allow her to experience a different side of myself.” It sounds like you are saying she needs your permission to experience a different side of you (by that you mean the pleasant side right?). Why should she need it? Because she’s not deserving of it? Or is it that you see yourself as about above her? There seems to be a lot of resentment in that statement and to me it looks like you are nowhere close to where you think you are in terms of having embraced any kind of lasting change or understanding of how you arrived at this point in your marriage.

It's my goal to show her that I can change while rebuilding respect and trust.
Perhaps that could be better reframed as something like “It’s my goal to prove to myself that I can change and not stay stuck where I am.” Placing your goal on an external factor, like to ‘prove’ something to another person is not a good approach. What if no matter what you do she wants nothing to do with you? Does that devalue the work you put in on becoming a better person? Or, will that create a narrative for why you can’t change?

The other problem is that it takes away the burden of failure off of you and externalizes it, which is not productive. How about instead making the measure of your goal contingent on yourself?

What I mean by that is to start clearly defining the steps you need to act in such a way that earns the trust and respect of everyone, not just her. As you do, things around you will begin to reflect that. She might notice it or not – it actually doesn’t matter. But if you continue to work towards a better self and take on greater responsibility then you will improve your life, whether she’s a part of it or not. To really grow and learn you need to start with the assumption you are responsible for everything you’ve done; in other words own your burden and use that as the impetus for change, not another person.

I don't know if you've seen Jordan Peterson's Future Authoring program, but I highly recommend it and found it helpful in working out what I wanted to work towards, what steps were needed, what happens if I fail and many other questions that get you to really think about what you are doing, why, how and etc.

FWIW
 
I welcome your take on things, Fabric. It's not too harsh at all if it's something I may need to hear but don't want to. However, this has not been the only interaction I've had so far and I've been looking forward to seeing her including her parents who care very much about me as I do them. There has been gradually, a progressive number of interactions both in person and in writing. All in all this particular interaction will involve some concerns that have to be raised on both sides.

You must excuse my initial phrasing of allowing her to experience the best side of myself. It was not intended that way, more so I am wanting to work on my own self sabotage in which I could forget that I'm a very decent person deep down. As Joe Quinn remarked to me when this first all happened: "Don't get bitter". There's always two sides to a coin and it's my responsibility to be the best version of myself no matter what pain I've experienced.

How about instead making the measure of your goal contingent on yourself?

To really grow and learn you need to start with the assumption you are responsible for everything you’ve done; in other words own your burden and use that as the impetus for change, not another person.
A wise observation my friend, this perspective and your comments have carried their weight with me.

As for the Jordan Peterson recommended program I haven't shied away from his lectures so far. Worth looking into it.
 

Mariama

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I don't know if you've seen Jordan Peterson's Future Authoring program, but I highly recommend it and found it helpful in working out what I wanted to work towards, what steps were needed, what happens if I fail and many other questions that get you to really think about what you are doing, why, how and etc.
I can also recommend some of Jordan Peterson' s videos where he talks about relationships. I think this bit from his book 12 Rules For Life is particularly meaningful:
On many occasions in our nearly thirty years of marriage my wife and I have had a disagreement - sometimes a deep disagreement. Our unity appeared to be broken, at some unknowably profound level, and we were not able to easily resolve the rupture by talking. We became trapped, instead, in emotional, angry and anxious argument. We agreed that when such circumstances arose we would separate, briefly: she to one room, me to another. This was often quite difficult, because it is hard to disengage in the heat of an argument, when anger generates the desire to defeat and win. But it seemed better than risking the consequences of a dispute that threatened to spiral out of control.
Alone, trying to calm down, we would each ask ourselves the same single question: What had we each done to contribute to the situation we were arguing about? However small, however distant... we had each made some error. Then we would reunite, and share the results of our questioning: Here's how I was wrong...
It's not easy coming to terms with our own actions and behaviour, realising where we went wrong and how we hurt our loved ones, but it will give your life meaning when you do.
 
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