Should we talk about it or let it pass?
From Feb. 2018 until Aug. 2019, we had a lot to work through in our marriage and we were in therapy/counseling during that time. In August, we all (including the therapist) felt we had hit a point that we went as far as we could with her, and we have made a slow and steady progress since.
Last night, we watched a show and it stirred up some of the past and the feelings. I actually unintentionally opened the door by asking my husband if “he felt that way”, speaking of the man hitting a midlife crisis. He took it further and was relating to the storyline as a whole.
I listened to his feelings. I let him share what he had felt during the similar time in our life. He had felt unwanted, not good enough, unloved, like he was losing everything, etc I kept my mouth shut knowing I owned a part in the whole thing, very aware I made wrong choices.
But now, his sharing has stirred up my own remembrances of what I was feeling back then. That my wrong choices weren’t just made in a vacuum. He was the one who didn’t want, didn’t love, rejected, and abandoned first. He may have been the final “victim”, but he wasn’t the only nor the first.
In your alls’ “professional” opinion 😉 Do I bring this up again, potentially stirring it up more, yet it allows us both to know what’s going on in the other? Or do I just let it pass, because he got to share how he was feeling, I have some ownership in that, so let’s avoid any sense of “the blame game”?
Thank you for your thoughts, I really do appreciate them!
After I wrote it out and read it again, it was like processing it, and I decided just to get up and talk to him. One concern was his memories tend to get altered pretty easily. It would be easy for him to let the things that were stirred up last night, get blown up out of proportion. Any uncertainty I had about whether I should say anything disappeared, by the doors that opened as soon as walked into the room.
“Good morning babe, what’s on your mind.” Do you really want to know? “Sure I do.”
It wasn’t a long or deep conversation, it was basically what I wrote. I acknowledge the feelings what he shared and that they were real, so I am not trying to dismiss them, nor put any blame on him, but to remember that it all didn’t happen in a vacuum. He hugged me and he acknowledged and asked that I probably felt much of the same way. As I went back into our room, I said, “You have to remember you weren’t the only victim.” and he finished with, “yeah, I was the second and you were the first.”
I suggested the morning sex that he has been wanting to incorporate back in. All has ended well.
I see you have done it, glad it went well. Hee is what I would say to anyone else in a simial situation:
If he can react as you did, then there is no danger in bringing it up.
It’s a chance for growth, with some degree of risk.
If you do, I would preface it by saying you appreciated him sharing how he felt, and you would like to do the same. Tell him you own you were part of why he felt as he did, and you are not trying to deny or lessen that by sharing what you felt.
Having just gone through a midlife crisis this year, I can say that those feelings are common for men to have if / when they reach it. I analyzed everything, and I was my own worst critic. I was failing in my career, as a husband and father, extreme depression, and the years of parenting and avoiding hard conversations made my wife a complete stranger. You are ahead of us, and like you, there were mistakes made by both parties. Regardless of our best efforts, marriage is a journey of learning about our spouse. Older bible translations would say “Adam knew his wife, and she conceived…”. DW and I have learned a lot about each other this year, and sometimes I will still apologize about the past. She always says, “it’s in the past. We’re moving forward.” My gut feeling is that at a certain point, you need to leave the past behind you. You asked the question, so he just answered it. Maybe it helps for you to not take it so personally if you know that those feeling would likely be there in a midlife crisis even if you had been closer.
A really good story or movie can pull me right into the plot and narrative. Sometimes the feelings are bittersweet, nostalgic, ‘scab picking,’ painful, etc. The ‘moment’ can last an hour or a few days. Usually, I keep my thoughts to myself knowing that ‘this, too, shall pass.’ Occasionally, I’ll share it with Mrs. Oldbear, always careful to keep things in perspective – a moment of reflection to be accepted but not defining. Generally, I’ve found letting the ‘moment’ pass is better.
To this day, the movie ‘The Way We Were,’ conjures up all sorts of emotions as it carries me back to my unsettled college years during the Vietnam war, drug culture, free love, Watergate era. There were lots of stressors on relational and emotional dynamics. Today, if I watched the movie, I wouldn’t bring up some of the challenges that Ms. Youngbear and I experienced during those years.
I think you’ve got to examine these questions: Do you think your feelings on this have already been heard? Were they already brought up in therapy? Would it help you to get those feelings out right now? Would it help him to know you better? Will it cause problems down the road for you to just let them go?
I’m all for bringing what we are feeling into the open. Not doing that is what caused the problems in our marriage. However, if you’ve already done a good bit of work on what you were feeling, then perhaps it is time to let it go.
After my breakdown, when Dh and I were in therapy, we realized that we kept rehashing things that we had done to each other pre-breakdown. Things that I had done before I realized I was mentally ill. Things he had done in reaction to that illness. We couldn’t change the reality that things would have been different had we known I was sick. We could only work forward. So we decided, after we had discussed some very important wounds from that time, that we would let everything else from that time go. My diagnosis and treatment onset became our do-over point.
Love does not dwell on past wrongs. If you feel like you’ve already been heard, and that things from here on out will be better, then move on.
Late to this thread, but did want to throw out my opinion in case someone reads it later.
I think it depends on the individuals involved. For Zelda and I, we do better to discuss things. Many of my early questions/issues here at TMB could have been resolved with more discussion with Zelda, specifically me asking her. When she read through some of the things I’d written (before we had a joint account), it was very surprising because she did not know how strongly I felt about things (e.g. how I was hurting or missing some things). It was certainly unfair for her to learn via that avenue when I could have (and should have) tried talking with her more thoroughly first.
However, we are both “thinkers” and logical about discussions a lot of times. Not that emotions aren’t involved and felt. We can usually talk about the past without becoming hurt, though that was a bit learned over time.
So in this situation, since SC’s DH was willing to discuss the past in detail from his POV, then as long as SC was willing to discuss the same issue (from her POV with a few additional details covered) within a few days, then I’d say it’s fair game. In the end, communication between spouses tends to be a good thing, though I understand that in some situations it’s not the best (especially if one spouse is obsessed with a past event that needs to be moved on from).
“I suggested the morning sex that he has been wanting to incorporate back in. All has ended well.”
All’s well that ends well… I’m sure he was happy with that. 🙂 But wait, it was Turkey Day in ‘Merica–why weren’t you running a 5k? 😆
Do I bring this up again, potentially stirring it up more, yet it allows us both to know what’s going on in the other? Or do I just let it pass, because he got to share how he was feeling, I have some ownership in that, so let’s avoid any sense of “the blame game”?
This is a very difficult thing to know what to do. As I wasn’t in your counseling sessions, it is impossible for me to speak to the issue directly. But it would seem to me that if in the counseling sessions those things were addressed and dealt with to an adequate degree, they should be left back there and just let it pass. I find the exercise of not repeating something from the past is a discipline that helps me get over it more. It might be different for you – or for more serious issues.
When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Some counselors think the way to overcome past hurts, problems, relationship issues, etc. is to discuss them until they do not bother you anymore. I am not sure if this method always works. I have read that the evidence of marriage counseling actually being helpful, on average, is debatable. The measurement of success may have been whether divorce occurs. Coming up with the right metric may be the problem.
Proverbs 17:9 comes to mind.
He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.
If you have forgiven each other and things are fine now, and bringing up problems can could lead to argument, leave it alone. If, however, you think about the past and you realize part of the problem rested with you and you want to admit what you did wrong, apologize, etc., IMO, that rarely leads to an argument if you aren’t digging for an apology or admission of guilt (again) from your partner.
I agree with whats been said. Its helping me, as well.
I am the one that rehashes things and feelings from the past. DH doesn’t bring stuff up. I am learning to let it go. Whats happened, has happened. Sometimes, I also ask myself, what could be done to rectify the (past) situation? Usually, the answer is nothing. I am also learning to accept how DH makes up, versus how I think he should, or how I do.