When Relationships are Out of Balance

I’ve been married for about 12.5 years with 2 of those years spent separated from my husband. This journey has been an interesting experience and I’ve learned a lot about myself during that time.

Some of you will know that I verbally ended my marriage back in the spring but have stayed living with him for financial reasons. We’re not the first couple in history to end up in this kind of living arrangement and I know we won’t be the last.

All relationships have their quirks, issues, and problems, mine is certainly no exception. I want to use this post to share some of those challenges with you in hopes that it helps anybody that might be living with similar challenges.

Relationships are about taking responsibility for our individual side of the relationship. We can’t make the other person change or do anything for us. They have to “go willingly” in a sense if they want the relationship to work. Taking responsibility for ourselves means not blaming the other person for how we feel. Our feelings are our own individual responsibility, regardless of what is happening or not happening in the relationship. Relationships get out of balance quickly if there is a lot of blame going on, particularly if the blame is lopsided in one direction or the other. Having only one person in the relationship take responsibility for themselves quickly tilts the relationship. That’s essentially what’s happened in my marriage.

I stopped making my husband responsible for how I felt a while back. He is who he is and I can’t change that. He does what he does, and while it sometimes ticks me off, asking him to change to make me feel better serves no purpose. For this reason, I rarely if ever point out things he does that I don’t necessarily like. The reverse is not true however. He expects that I will change to suit him and that it is my job or duty to do so. Doing anything less means that I am disrespecting him, which is something he has stated before.

Ultimately this is an issue of control for him. He needs his surroundings to be a certain way in order to be okay. He is unable to be okay if the surroundings aren’t right. I’m sure we all know somebody that tries to control the outside world to no avail and wonders why they are upset all the time. I live with somebody just like that. Unfortunately, this manifests in our relationship as him trying to control me when I am the thing he perceives to be making him upset. It is then that we have a problem.

I am not a perfect person and I admit to catering to him, probably more than I should in order to keep some calm in the home. Lately this has been coming up as a feeling of being trapped in the relationship. It’s there because I’ve outgrown the box he tries to keep me in. We are not on the same wavelength anymore and I can no longer keep reaching back to meet him, when I do I victimize myself every time. That is no longer okay.

I am a conflict avoider. My Cancer crab self likes to make people happy and conflict avoidance, which essentially means giving in, is how I’ve chosen to do that over the years. Since we teach people how to treat us, I have taught my husband that he can control me by using conflict to do so and he takes full advantage of it. It’s not healthy and as I’ve become more aware over time, it’s no longer okay.

I’ve broken a few of the patterns of control in our relationship by going cold turkey, just suddenly stopping something I had been doing. One such pattern revolved around food in our house. My husband is an extremely picky eater, which was very limiting to me. The only way I could stop cooking for and catering to him every night was to go vegetarian for a while. He won’t eat beans, chilli, quinoa, rice, or most vegetables, so he wouldn’t eat the foods I was making. To this day, even though I’ve gone back to meat, I still only cook for him a couple of times a week.

Help with the housework is rationed. He counts how many times in a row he does the dishes for example. After 2 or 3 times he will stop and they will sit there until I do them, for days if need be. It’s not connected to whether or not I cooked a big meal. It could be Christmas dinner, but if he’s done dishes a couple of days in a row prior to that, I have to clean up regardless. My request was always that if I cooked he cleaned, but he viewed that as punishment for him. Apparently getting a meal out of the deal isn’t good enough. So help is rationed based on what he believes is fair with little regard for me. It’s not a fight I’m willing to have anymore, so it is what it is.

What’s fascinating is that he doesn’t understand why I ended the marriage. In his view, he has “done everything he can” to make me happy. But when I point out imbalances at his request, he argues and is unwilling to do anything about them. If he doesn’t see himself correctly, is unwilling to make any changes, and perceives creating any sort of balance in the relationship as a punishment for him, then we are done. There is no place to go and I am unable to fix the problems.

I am and have always been willing to work on myself and fix things that are out of alignment, but not to the point where I’m doing backflips to please him. There is no requirement for me to bend when he does not. Relationships require both sides to give and take, preferably simply accepting each other as is without needing the other to bend or change for any reason. Find a person whose humanness you can live with. Don’t take somebody and try to make them into whatever it is you think they should be.

If you have found yourself in relationships with scenarios like these, please don’t live in a cage anymore. Free yourself. I am just biding my time at the moment until I can leave. I encourage you to do the same thing. You are far more valuable than the situation you’ve found yourself in. Find your worth within yourself, not within the people and things around you.

You are allowed to have the life you want. Figure out what that is and create it for yourself. Let go of the people and things that try to stop you. You are far more powerful than you give yourself credit for.

Sending love to all.

Laura

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