This may seem more personal and I will understand if you decide not to help but I am sick of feeling this way and I don’t know what to do. I know it is wrong to feel this way but I cant help it. I am married to a wonderful man who has a 13year old boy. He lives with his bio-mum and we get on brilliantly. He knows he can come to me with anything if he wanted to although we don’t see him a lot. He haD just turned 12 when I married his dad.
The problem is I hate the friendship my husband has with his ex and I started to not like her because she had a son with my husband.
I know that I knew the situation when I married him. The thing is we don’t have kids and its highly unlikely we ever will as I have fertility problems even though the doctor is trying to solve them its an 80% chance I won’t conceive. It’s very hard for me and my husband doesn’t understand. It’s the only thing that is never mentioned.
When it comes to his son (I say he’s our son but my husband corrects me) I am hardly involved unless we spend time with him together. In the 2 yrs I have known his son I have only had him on my own the once. When the mother lets us all down and I get upset my husband has a go at me saying that it should be him upset and not me however he doesn’t seem upset and since we moved a bit further from the son he hasn’t contacted him via phone like he used to every sunday.
Like I said I hate feeling this way I’m afraid its putting a strain on our marriage and I don’t know what to do.
I hope you can help as I am at my wits end.
I’m glad that you wrote to me and “no” it’s not too personal. What you are feeling is common among many SMOMS and seems to be especially difficult for us “Mothers by Marriage.” Meaning those of us SMOMS who don’t have our own children. I feel a special kinship with you because I too wanted a child and it just didn’t work out for us. I’m glad to hear that there’s a 20% chance for you. Let’s hope for a miracle and pray for some comfort.
There are a few things about your situation that I don’t understand and may never understand but let’s have a go at it and see where it leads.
You write in your letter, “It’s very hard for me (wanting and not having a child) [parenthesis mine} and my husband doesn’t understand. It’s the only thing that is never mentioned.”
Tanya, whatever keeps you two from talking about this is probably making thing worse /harder for you to process the grief. If there some reason he is unwilling to become a source of comfort for you about this? My experience with divorced Dad’s is that their compassion for whatever we’re feeling can be clouded by the things they are dealing with. However, if your hubby has a good relationship with his ex., where did his compassion for you go? I encourage you to ask him this, “what would it take for you to be willing to comfort me in my grief and anxiety about not being able to have a child?” Then listen closely, not just for the first answer, he’ll probably spit out but stay quiet, keep looking at him and see what else comes out.
Look at him and think to yourself, “Please tell me more so I”ll understand!” repeat as often, silently to yourself, until he says more. If he gets antsy and/or defensive, consider asking him another question. Something like this:
“Darling, I’m feeling irrationally insecure and left out of things as I watch you and your ex enjoy something with your son that I may never get to experience AND truly want to experience. It would be lovely if you could muster up the patience and love to talk with me about it. It would really help me. What do you think?”
Now I’m making up words but the intention is more important.
You are taking responsibility for having some feelings.
You are not blaming him (should disengage his defenses)
You are telling him what you need from him (taking the mystery out of it.)
You are asking for something reasonable for a husband to give his wife.
Often, when people are not compassionate to a loved one, it is because of their own stuff. Ideally an intimate relationship is like a dance where the partners take turns leading and following, comforting and being comforted, supporting and being supported. You get the point. I was writing to “Helennotmom” today about this very topic.
(Her thread is something about the Barnacle syndrome- you can use the search feature on the top of the general BB to find it. It’s when we smoms feel like we are attached but on the outside of our husband’s life. That’s a short summary.)
So often a SMOMS life (not every one, but many) is wrapped around whats going on with the stepkids and the bio-mum. That’s true for lots of the smoms here anyway. In our efforts to help and love and connect with our Dear Husband’s (DH) and integrate into their lives, we can often lose our footing and our way, in what we need and want from the relationship. We try so hard and for those of us without our own kids, we can give and give and give without getting enough in return.
This leads to resentment. Actually resentment is a sign that can help signal us that the balance is out of whack. It’s intended to warn us so we can bring ourselves back into balance but if we are already blinded by the trauma and drama of others and we are trying to hard to be included, it’s easy to over look the signal and keep on giving. Sometimes the over-giving becomes a way to believe we’ll feel included. It’s a false sense of inclusion that can sadly often leads to being used and feeling like a doormat (been there, felt that myself) until….until we wake up and see what’s really going on. I’m not saying this is happening to you, just offering this in case there’s anything to this for you. It’s easy for a DH to think your world needs to revolve around and accommodate his world.
Have you read my articles? (relationship articles-link under the “get Help” button):
Over-functioning: a natural pitfall for caring people
So, what does this mean for you? Sometimes our attention is SO focused on what we don’t have, haven’t had, aren’t involved in that we forget we can choose to pay attention to anything else.
What about thinking about ways to reconnect with your DH in ways that have nothing to do with his son or you conceiving? What about thinking about the things you’ve always wanted to learn and find a class about that topic? What about creating a new ritual with your DH where you 2 re-create some of the dates you had at the beginning of your love relationship-just for the fun of it. Maybe even take turns surprising each other. It feels to me like you need a huge dose of his attention and loving tenderness. Could this be true? If so, put on your creative thinking cap and see what you can come up with.
At the bottom of the Cathryn’s mailbox, there’s a post I wrote about a loving ritual you can do with your hubby. In a nutshell, it’s about sharing 10 things that your sweetheart can do to make you feel loved. You each write out a list and then give it to the other. Something like this may balance the life you and he have and take some of the attention away from he and his ex.
It’s so easy to imagine that others have that which we long for. Yet, whether they have it or not, it doesn’t help us heal our wounds. If you still love your husband and you believe he still loves you, see if you can find lots and lots of ways he is comfortable expressing and sharing love with you. Even if you two just do that for awhile, until you feel a bit more like your old lovable, jolly, delightful, happy self.
Do you feel like you can try that? Like it might work for you?
Please feel free to write me again, I will post your reply and mine as well. You bring up an important issue and together maybe we can help you and anyone else who reads figure out how to feel better in the short and long term. OK?
May you have great success in finding new ways to talk to your DH and most importantly, may he open his heart and his arms to you in lovingkindness.
Hoping this helps somehow, Cathryn
CATHRYN AND TANYA’S NEXT ROUND OF COMMUNICATION:
Hi Tanya, It was good to hear from you again. This time I’m going to reply to you within the body of the letter. This can make it easier to digest each point and reference later. My words will be in ALL CAPITAL letters. Please know I’m not yelling just trying to make it easier for you to spot my comments with in your letter.
OK, let’s get started…
Tanya replies to Cathryn’s Answer:
Thank you for replying to me. Your answer was brilliant.
Here are some answers to your questions:
My DH and I never talk about “it” because when we do there is always an argument. This is because when we first discussed having children he said that he wanted to be a dad again but a chance to be a proper dad. The second time we talked about it was due to us not being able to conceive and I wanted to go to the doctor. After a while he said I was always talking about it and that not having children was not the end of the world and he was angry as he felt I was consumed by wanting to have children.
CATHRYN: WITHOUT KNOWING YOUR HUSBAND (DH=DEAR HUSBAND) I WONDER GETTING ANGRY IS HIS DEFAULT REACTION TO BEING FRUSTRATED AT NOT BEING ABLE TO “SOLVE” A PROBLEM. THIS IS COMMON FOR MEN AS IT FEELS MORE POWERFUL TO BE ANGRY, THEN TO BE UPSET OR FEEL DEFEATED OR WEAK OR ASHAMED. JUST LIKE YOUR CULTURE BELIEVES THAT WOMEN SHOULD HAVE CHILDREN AND STAY HOME, MANY CULTURES (PLUS CHAUVINISM) TEACHES MEN THAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO GAGE THEIR WORTH BASED ON HOW MANY PROBLEMS THEY SOLVE AND HOW QUICKLY. IT’S SILLY REALLY BUT DEEPLY INGRAINED IN OUR PSYCHES.
NOT TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO YOU , BECAUSE YOU ARE AFRAID OF HAVING AN ARGUMENT, IS NOT GOING TO MAKE THE ENERGY AND EMOTION YOU’RE FEELING, GO AWAY-AS YOU KNOW.
ONE OF MY TEACHERS HAS A PHRASE, “ENERGY DENIED (EXPRESSION OR MOVEMENT) DOUBLES IN FORCE.” MAYBE EVEN TRIPLES OR MORE OVER TIME.
HIS THREATS OF AN ARGUMENT AND YELLING IF YOU SPEAK WHAT YOU ARE FEELING IS ALSO A MANIPULATION (OF YOU) AND THAT HURTS AND INTERFERES WITH THE INTIMACY IN A RELATIONSHIP WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE AWARE OF IT.
YOUR DH MAY JUST WANT THIS WHOLE THING TO GO AWAY (HE MAY BELIEVE THAT IS AN EASIER, LESS PAINFUL OPTION FOR HIM) BUT THAT’S NOT GOING TO DO IT FOR YOU. AND
IT WOULD BE A LOVING GESTURE IF HE COULD STEP OUTSIDE OF HIS OWN NEEDS AND LOOK AFTER YOURS FOR AT LEAST A FEW MOMENTS. IT SEEMS ONE GOAL WOULD BE TO SEE IF HE WOULD BE WILLING TO “PUSH IN THE CLUTCH” ON HIS NEEDS AND FEELINGS AND GIVE YOU HIS UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.
HIS COMPASSION AND LOVING ATTENTION WILL GIVE YOUR GRIEF, PAIN AND WORRY A PLACE TO FLOW. YOU WILL FEEL BETTER AND HE WILL BE ABLE TO FILL THE ROLE OF YOUR COMFORTING LOVER. THAT CAN OPEN THE DOOR FOR MANY GOOD THINGS.
RIGHT NOW, HIS ATTITUDE IS FORCING YOU TO HOLD BACK YOUR OWN FEELINGS (AND ENERGY) SO HE CAN FEEL BETTER. IF HE BECOMES OF AWARE OF THIS ONE-SIDEDNESS, DO YOU THINK HE MIGHT SOFTEN HIS STANCE SO YOU CAN TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS?
Tanya: He doesn’t understand how I feel and he says he may never understand how I feel.
MEN SEEM TO USE THIS EXCUSE FOR OFFERING COMPASSION A LOT. I’M NO EXPERT ON THE PSYCHE OF MEN BUT THIS JUST SEEMS LIKE AN EXCUSE THAT MANY OF US HAVEN’T GET A GOOD RESPONSE TO.
LET’S SEE IF WE CAN CRAFT ONE.
HERE’S AN IMAGINED DH:
“DARLING, ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE BABY SUBJECT. IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. THERE ARE OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO. GET OVER IT. STOP OBSESSING. I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU CAN’T JUST GET OVER IT.
POSSIBLE THINGS YOU COULD SAY:
“SWEETHEART, RIGHT NOW I DON’T NEED YOU TO UNDERSTAND ME. AS A MAN (NOT A WOMAN) AND AS A PARENT (UNLIKE ME), HOW COULD YOU TRULY KNOW HOW I FEEL! I WANT YOU TO COMFORT ME, JUST BECAUSE YOU LOVE ME AND DON’T WANT ME TO BE SAD. I WANT YOU TO OPEN YOUR HEART AND JUST LOVE ME EVEN IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY I FEEL AS I DO. ARE YOU WILLING TO DO THAT?”
OR HOW ABOUT THIS…
“DH, I WISH YOU UNDERSTOOD AND I HEAR THAT YOU DON’T. SO, OK, LET’S ASSUME YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND HOW I FEEL ABOUT WANTING TO HAVE A BABY AND NOT BEING ABLE TO AT THIS TIME.
[THAT LET’S HIM OFF THE HOOK FOR FEELING ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR SOLVING THE PROBLEM]
HOWEVER, I DO HAPPEN TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE VERY, VERY GOOD AT COMFORTING ME AND MAKING ME FEEL SAFE AND LOVED WHEN I FEEL SAD. HOW WOULD IT FEEL TO JUST LOVE, ADORE AND COMFORT ME FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT?” [YOU’LL WANT TO USE YOUR OWN WORDS.]
THE IDEA IS TO GENTLY SET ASIDE THE EXCUSE HE’S USED TIL NOW AND TO ASK HIM TO DO SOMETHING THAT YOU KNOW HE CAN DO WHEN HE WANTS TO. GETTING RECONNECTED WITH HIM AND ON THE SAME SIDE OF THIS TOPIC WOULD BE VERY HEALING FOR BOTH OF YOU.
YOU MAY WANT TO POST ON BOTH THE GENERAL BB AND THE FORUM FOR SMOMS WITH BIO-KIDS AND ASK IF ANYONE ELSE HAS SUGGESTIONS. TRYING TO CONCEIVE MUST BE VERY, VERY HARD. MAYBE THEY WILL HAVE SOME SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO GET YOUR DH TO OPEN HIS HEART TO YOU.
Tanya: I have always wanted to have children and was brought up to believe part of being a woman was to have children. My fathers side of the family the culture is for women to marry and have children and stay at home being a housewife and it has always been in my blood to do the same but he cant understand that.
I FIND IT HARD TO BELIEVE THAT HE CAN’T UNDERSTAND THAT. IT MAY BE THAT HE IS UNWILLING TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT. DO YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE.
I UNDERSTAND ALL THE URGES, DESIRES, CULTURAL AND NATURAL DESIRES TO HAVE A CHILD. I WAS UNABLE TO HAVE A CHILD BECAUSE MY DH CHANGED HIS MIND AFTER WE WERE MARRIED. I HAD TO CHOOSE, HIM AND NO CHILD OR LEAVE HIM AND LOOK FOR ANOTHER. I CHOSE TO STAY WITH HIM AND GIVE UP HAVING A CHILD. IT TOOK A LONG TIME FOR ME TO GET OVER THAT WOUNDING. I UNDERSTAND YOUR FEELINGS IN MANY WAYS.
ARE YOU SAYING THAT YOU ARE GIVING UP?
ARE YOU SAYING YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GO TO THE DOCTORS AND KEEP TRYING?
ARE YOU SAYING YOUR DH IS UNWILLING TO LET YOU TWO KEEP TRYING?
Tanya: Sometimes I feel that he just doesn’t know how to comfort me when it comes to the whole baby thing.
I AGREE AND BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE CORRECT TO A CERTAIN DEGREE. THE MORE CLEARLY YOU ARE WILLING TO ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT, THE MORE CHANCES HE HAS TO BE WILLING TO SUCCEED.
Tanya: Your ideas (from first reply) are brilliant but my husband he isn’t THAT sort of man. Its not that I don’t want to try I am just afraid that it will lead to an argument and thats not something that I want.
I CAN UNDERSTAND THAT. HOWEVER, HIS SCARING YOU TO SILENCE YOUR VOICE IS VERY UNFAIR AND DISHONORING OF YOUR FEELINGS. I’M SURE YOU KNOW THAT, JUST WANT TO SAY, ON YOUR BEHALF, I FEEL ANGRY AT HIM FOR MANIPULATING YOU BECAUSE HE WANTS TO AVOIDS SOMETHING UNPLEASANT FOR HIM. I hate being shouted at…I AGREE, IT’S NO FUN, DEMEANING AND ONLY ADDS TO THE ENERGY YOU ARE HAVING TO STUFF.
I just end up in tears which hurts my husband even more. HOLD EVERYTHING! THIS BELIEF THAT YOU ARE HURTING YOUR HUSBAND BECAUSE OF FEELINGS THAT YOU ARE HAVING IS UNTRUE! IT MAY BE HARD FOR HIM TO SEE YOU UPSET BUT THAT IS ON HIM. IF HE WERE WILLING TO HOLD YOU AND COMFORT YOU AND WORK WITH YOU TO FIND A WAY TO BRING A BABY INTO YOUR LIFE, YOU WOULD NOT BE UPSET AND HE WOULD NOT HAVE TO FEEL BADLY ABOUT IT. DID YOU GET ALL THAT?!?
DO YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BRING YOUR FEELINGS TO YOUR DH AND BE HEARD AND ACKNOWLEDGED? IS IT ALSO PART OF YOUR CULTURE THAT THE MAN SETS THE RULES ABOUT WHAT IS AND ISN’T ALLOWED TO BE DISCUSSED? THIS IS COMMON IS SOME CULTURES.
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT IT IS NOT (BIG BOLD NOT) YOUR FAULT FOR HAVING YOUR FEELINGS. (THIS IS ACTUALLY A BIG TOPIC, TOO BIG FOR THIS LETTER.)
Tanya: I read your articles that you wrote about comforting ourselves and the idea about love with the list of things to give to our DH for love. For the article again brilliant but I know my husband loves me and he knows I love him.
DOING THE 10 THINGS LIST IS MORE THAN KNOWING YOU LOVE EACH OTHER, IT IS PUTTING THAT LOVE INTO ACTION, ESPECIALLY WHEN ETHER OF YOU NEED A BIG HEALING DOSE OF LOVINGKINDNESS FROM THE ONE YOU LOVE MOST.
Tanya:I already know that I deserve that love.
YOU ALSO DESERVE HIS COMPASSION, PATIENCE AND SUPPORT FOR WHATEVER YOU ARE GOING THROUGH. SOMETIMES MEN FIND IT HARD TO BE THEIR LOVING SELVES WHEN DEEP DOWN, THEY REALIZE THEY ARE PART OF THE REASON FOR THEIR WIVES PAIN.
Tanya: Its just the whole baby thing. I want to be a mum that badly and I don’t know if I could live with not being a mum.
THIS IS A VERY, VERY PERSONAL DECISION. I HOPE YOU WILL HONOR YOUR FEELINGS AND NEEDS SO THAT YOU CAN MAKE A DECISION THAT YOU CAN LIVE WITH, FREE OF RESENTMENT AND REGRET.
THE WOMEN ON THE “MOTHERS BY MARRIAGE” FORUM MAY BE ABLE TO OFFER YOU SOME INSIGHT TO BALANCE THE SMOM-MOMS PERSPECTIVE. PLEASE MAKE WHAT YOU NEED AND WANT IMPORTANT TO YOU.
Tanya:I know that I have to find a way to move on
WHY DO YOU HAVE TO MOVE ON? DO YOU FEAR HE WILL HURT YOU OR PUNISH YOU IN SOME WAY FOR SHARING YOUR FEELINGS? IF YOU ARE AT RISK OF ABUSE, THIS IS ANOTHER ISSUE. BUT IF HE HAS SILENCED YOU OUT OF YOUR FEAR OF BEING YELLED AT (BEEN THERE, DONE THAT) YOU DO HAVE CHOICES.
Tanya:but just the thought of that really hurts and makes me cry every time I think about it.
THIS IS A CLUE TO WHAT YOU WANT DEEP INSIDE.
I really feel like that I wouldn’t be a woman, that I am not worth the body that I am in WELL, I UNDERSTAND HOW YOU WOULD FEEL THAT WAY. I FELT THAT WAY ONCE MYSELF. I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT YOU WILL STILL BE A WOMAN BECAUSE OF YOUR HEART AND WHO YOU ARE. YOU AREN’T OBLIGATED TO HAVE A BABY BECAUSE OF YOUR CULTURAL BREEDING. BUT I DO UNDERSTAND HOW YOU FEEL.
Tanya:and I really don’t know how to move from that, how to fix it.
YOU ARE GOING TO WANT TO HAVE SOME GOOD LONG TALKS WITH YOURSELF AND YOUR DH.
My husband knows I feel this way and I have told him at least twice. I THINK YOU WILL FEEL THE URGE TO TALK ABOUT THIS UNTIL ALL THE ENERGY AND EMOTION HAS MOVED THROUGH YOUR HEART AND MIND. IT MAY TAKE MANY MORE CONVERSATIONS. FEELINGS DON’T COME IN MEASURABLE OR CONTROLLABLE UNITS. YOU ARE GOING TO FEEL AS YOU DO, UNTIL YOU DON’T. WANTING TO COME UP WITH A PLAN AND WORK TOGETHER WITH THE MAN YOU LOVE SEEMS A REASONABLE GOAL. IF HE WOULD TALK AND HOLD YOU, YOU WOULDN’T HAVE TO OBSESS ABOUT IT, YOU COULD BE BUSY TRYING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN WITH HIM. (IDEALLY)
What makes it hard is what it is doing to him. When he sees me in pain it hurts him as well and I feel even worse. PLEASE RE-READ ABOVE. IT IS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO NUMB OR SILENCE YOUR FEELINGS JUST SO HE WON’T HAVE TO HEAR ABOUT THEM.
Tanya: I don’t want to hurt him I want to make him happy.
I BELIEVE YOU.
Tanya:I want to have this marriage and I want to keep it but I feel like this whole wanting to be a parent is going to break this marriage so I am trying even harder to not show it.
DEAR TANYA, YOUR FEELINGS ARE NOT GOING TO GO AWAY JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT THEM TO. THEY WILL GET REPRESSED AND COME OUT IN OTHER WAYS. THEY WILL GET MISDIRECTED AT OTHER PEOPLE AND THINGS. THEY WILL PUTRIFY INTO RESENTMENT WITHIN YOUR BODY AND COULD MAKE YOU ILL. NONE OF THESE IS A GOOD OPTION, DO YOU THINK? IS THIS WHAT YOUR DH WANTS YOU TO DO TO YOURSELF SO THAT HE CAN AVOID DEALING WITH A HUGE, LIFE CHANGING DECISION?
Tanya continues: and that is why when on that day we had another argument because I showed how hurt I was being let down again by the bio mum he had a real go at me which hurt and I felt that I had to find a way to fix this once and for all so I found you.
WELL, I’M GLAD YOU FOUND US. I’M SO VERY SORRY HE TOOK HIS FRUSTRATION OUT ON YOU AND THEN MADE YOU FEEL YOU WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS. YOUR DH IS NOT BEING FAIR TO YOU, FROM MY PERSPECTIVE. I JUST WONDER, IS HE CONSCIOUSLY ACTING THIS WAY OR IS HE BEING UNCONSCIOUSLY DEFENSIVE AND IT MANIFESTS AS ANGER AND MANIPULATION? I’M HOPING THAT HE IS SO BLINDED BY HIS OWN GUILT, FRUSTRATIONS, FEARS AND DEFENSIVENESS THAT HE JUST NEEDS SOME HELP TO SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE. IF THIS IS TRUE THEN MAYBE HE WILL BE WILLING TO TRY A NEW APPROACH TO THE WHOLE SITUATION.
Tanya: Since first writing to you the bio mum came sunday just gone to our house with my stepson and his sister (not my DH child) and spent the day. It was good to finally see him after I think about a month. I did my best and was on my best behaviour… my DH told me I was an excellent host which was good to hear. All round was a good thing.
I’M VERY GLAD YOU HAD A GOOD DAY. I FOUND THAT THE GOOD DAYS WITH MY SS, ONLY MADE MY GRIEF AT NOT BEING ABLE TO HAVE MY OWN MUCH MORE INTENSE FOR MANY YEARS. FROM WHAT YOU’VE SAID, YOUR DH IS ASKING TOO MUCH OF YOU RIGHT NOW.
YOU KNOW HIM. I WILL HOPE THIS IS GIVING YOU SOME IDEAS FOR HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THAT DEFENSIVE SHELL THAT SO MANY MEN HAVE AROUND THEM WHEN IT COMES TO SENSITIVE TOPICS. IF YOU CAN FIND A WAY TO MEET HIM IN A SAFE SPACE FOR BOTH OF YOU, PERHAPS HE WILL SEE HOW REASONABLE YOUR DESIRE FOR HIS LOVE AND COMFORT IS. MAYBE HE WILL THEN, BE ABLE TO GET A SENSE OF HIS TRUE FEELINGS (SINCE YOU SAID AT FIRST HE WAS EXCITED ABOUT ANOTHER BABY) AND THEN TOGETHER YOU CAN FIND A NEW PATH FORWARD.
MANY GOOD WISHES TO YOU AS WELL, CATHRYN