Time for a reality check!! I professed that I have changed. So let’s see how this impacted the money fights I had been having with my husband for years and years and years.
Here is a chance for me to take note of the old dysfunction and to be very clear about what is happening now. As they say, the beast has reared its ugly head. My husband just went on one of his his mini-fits of putting me down, saying he’s very hurt and globalizing my spending problems because I bought take-out tonight. He felt it was not in our budget.
The story is not important. Or is it?
On the one hand, I had always said that it’s not WHAT he is saying, it is HOW he is saying it. In other words, I felt that if he can express his reactions to my actions in an appropriate way, I would probably listen to what he is saying and either agree or disagree but I definitely would not shut down. When he lashes out instantly, as he did tonight, and berates me and goes on and on , as he is wont to do, I feel attacked and undressed. I will fight him tooth and nail, without even considering what the content of his discontent is.
Wouldn’t you do the same?
I had been so fed up with his accusations that I completely shut down from him emotionally. We still lived together under one roof, however there was no communication. Unless you count grunting. I wasn’t interested in hearing him vent – because it was always about “my wife”. Lovely.
Now that we have been talking more, he may be feeling more comfortable to go back to his old ways. And tonight he struck gold by starting up with the old money script.
Here is the other hand. On the other hand, I can surmise that he is handicapped in the area of expressing himself effectively to a wife (a very specific handicap, or should we call it BPD ? ) and I can perhaps tune out all the static that comes along with the message. So that would translate to mean- don’t respond to the put-downs and only respond to his area of concern.
Tonight I couldn’t do that. I was getting my food ready to put out and eat. I didn’t want this sick money script to ruin my appetite. Plus I was hungry. Plus I wasn’t sure that I agreed with his accusations. There was a very good reason why I bought take-out tonight.
Maybe I could have said “I see that you are very concerned that we will use up our money on wasted things.” Or something like that. But, it was not a time for validation or psychology. He was in middle of eating and I was about to sit down with my food and this was all about me and my mistakes in life and my “never-ending” spending problems.
I had to take quick action and make a decision about how the conversation would continue. This is the first time he started on this topic since our relationship has thawed over the last two months. Accepting his abuse would definitely have taken away my appetite. I set a limit instead. I asked him, “Do you want me to sit at the same table as you?” I told him that if yes, then he would have to stop yelling at me. The BPD in him said “Does it sound like I am yelling? Is my voice raised?”
I said no. You are not literally yelling. You are putting me down.
One thing I need to work on if I am to stay in this marriage is to be clear and honest about my feelings. In the past I clamped down and stayed away. I shut down and felt anger, resentment and hatred. That is toxic. Now it is time to learn how to set boundaries. He sulked the rest of the meal and we sat at the same table.
I wonder if I can ask him to hold off with talking to me when he is feeling overwhelmed and angry at me. My husband has a problem- he cannot wait, he’s quite impulsive. When the smallest bit of food gets put down in front of him, he goes at it immediately without thinking that perhaps he should wait for me to sit down near him, or perhaps the rest of the food will come out and it would taste better to eat everything together. If he thinks of an idea he tries to take care of it right away. If he cannot, it causes him tremendous anxiety. He does not write things down for later. If he wants to complain to or correct or criticize someone who is not near him, he will just text him immediately – as soon as the thought crosses his mind. When I am not the culprit, it’s easy to say I can’t control him. It is his choice… However, here I am the subject of his impulsivity and I really need to think hard about how I will react.
I know that I cannot control him. I realized that after trial and error :-). I can set boundaries related to me controlling me. “You want to talk to me like that – I cannot stay here . I will take myself away from you when you give me immediate preachings without regard to my feelings or to any background story on my end.”
Trial and error indeed. I’ll let you know how it goes!