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#59323 - 12/28/05 04:48 AM What do I say?
Derdlecar Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/08/05
Posts: 1314
Loc: Ogden Utah, USA
What do I say to my wife when she says that I don't understand how she feels as a wife of a survivor? She is right, I don't understand. I care very much and love her like everything, but I don't understand.

Just wondering

Darrel

_________________________
If a man would get his life on track, he must first go back to the place where it was derailed.

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#59324 - 12/28/05 05:31 AM Re: What do I say?
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
Darrel,
The first thing that pops in my mind is that just like you dont understand what it is like to be a wife of a survivor, she doesnt understand what it is like to be a survivor.
I guess it would be the same really.
I think having two different perspectives working together makes you stronger and better, just like it would at anything else.
I know she is frustrated as I am, because in my minds eye...I see him holding the key.
She can support and love the heck out of you...but ultimately it is your decision to move forward.
I think the one thing that helped me most that my husband finally said to me one day was that he realized he really didnt know what NORMAL was, nor the associated boundaries.
The fact that he made that statement let me know that he indeed was a work in progress and that he was trustful enough of me to let me guide him into new boundary settings.
In the beginning when he wouldnt budge I was so frustrated, but seeing him be positive and constructive now between the hard times is very reassuring.
You really can get to the point as the support that you feel so frustrated that you want to run away and hide for a bit.
I dont need leaps and bounds of progress all the time...just as long as we are moving forward. And the times that he is overwhelmed and needing a rest break...it helps to know that is all he is doing and still has plans to carry on in the near future.
I hope things progress for you, and let her know we are here for her in the f/f forum if she needs support!

Good luck!
xo

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#59325 - 12/28/05 04:43 PM Re: What do I say?
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus
MaleSurvivor<

Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 3280
Loc: New Jersey
Darrel,

You tell her exactly what you wrote. You don't completely understand, and as BD wrote, neither does she. That sounds very simplistic, but it is what it is. It's like agreeing to disagree with a twist. Neither one of you is going to ever completely understand what it's like to be the other. It is as impossible as a girl saying she knows exactly what it's like to be a boy and vise versa.

You come here to find people who know the suffering you went through and who are dealing with many of the same problems you have now. Your wife can't do that. She can support you; listen when you need to talk and hold you when you need to cry. She canít be you and she canít feel your pain any more than you can be her and feel her pain.

What you can both do is love one another. Part of that is being honest with each other. Acknowledging the fact that neither of you completely understands the position of the other is part of that honesty, but just because there isnít complete understanding doesnít mean that you both canít learn. The trick, I think, is that you both empathize with what the other has, is and will go through. That empathy will always allow you to reach out and share the closeness you crave. As long as both of you continually try to bridge the gap and the goal is to reach an understanding that works for you, it's OK; more than OK really.

ROCK ON........Trish

_________________________
If you fall down 10 times, Stand up 11.

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#59326 - 12/28/05 09:12 PM Re: What do I say?
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Darrel,

Perhaps the reality is that neither the survivor nor his partner will ever fully understand what the other is going through. But then, is that really an obstacle? I would have to say I never understood what my wife went through when she was pregnant. How could I? But likewise, she could never understand what I was going through preparing to become a father.

I think the most important thing is to keep the communications open and honest, with neither side feeling that their issues and priorities are getting trumped and overruled all the time. That openness is a recipe for conflict to a certain extent, since emotions can run very high on these issues. What will get the two through is their understanding that both of them need to contribute fully to supporting the other and sustaining their relationship. Neither one can be perfect; what's important is to be SEEN to be making an honest loving effort.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#59327 - 12/29/05 04:29 AM Re: What do I say?
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Hi Darrel--

Sometimes people just want to be heard and validated. I don't need my partner to agree with everything I feel or to automatically "get it" all the time-- but I appreciate it so much when he is willing to listen and acknowledge that my feelings are real and make sense to me. Sometimes "It makes sense to me that you would feel that way" goes farther than "I understand" (when I know he doesn't).

You can understand to different degrees-- Larry gives the example of not knowing what it's like for his wife to be pregnant-- but I'm sure that a father who goes to prenatal visits and is there at the birth is going have a deeper understanding and respect for what his wife is going through than a father who doesn't get involved in the process.

Also-- in some ways, you don't want to know what it's like. I'm sure if your wife said "I don't know what it's like to be a survivor" you would tell her "Thank God, I would never want you to know what it's like." Maybe your wife loves you too and wants to protect you from some of the harsher things she is feeling. This is understandable but you should encourage her to get some help or find a place to share so that she's not keeping it inside or relying on you for all her support.

SAR


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#59328 - 12/29/05 05:24 AM Re: What do I say?
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Darrel, SAR,

I went to the prenatal classes with my wife for both of our kids, and as she wanted natural childbirth in both cases it was an important experience for both of us. I could not be there for our son's birth, as he was born by emergency Caesarean, but fortunately I was with my wife when our daughter was born. But I would still never claim to understand how she really felt and what it meant to her as an expectant mother, even though we talked about it a lot. Respect - yes, genuine understanding - not so sure SAR.

It seems to me that when one partner says to the other "You don't understand X", that means the partner is asking for more understanding or more effort in that direction. Sometimes we just need the other to listen and take us seriously, sure, but I guess it looks to me like your wife is asking for more than that Darrel.

Maybe I am just being an idiot here, but if it were my wife I would look for a time when we can focus and talk, and just ask her, Okay, what is it that you need for me to understand?

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#59329 - 12/29/05 05:56 AM Re: What do I say?
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Oh, Larry, I'm sorry-- I didn't at all mean to imply that you weren't involved in your wife's pregnancies or your kids' births-- or that if you'd "done it right" you'd get it-- I hope you didn't take it that way
I only meant that involvement and shared experience go a long way towards creating the environment where understanding can happen.

I had a very traumatic experience giving birth to my second-- of course my boyfriend doesn't really understand it-- but he was there for it, and there for me afterwards. If he hadn't been there, I don't think I would have let him support or help me with it afterwards, no matter how much I needed him.

In some ways, the low point of our relationship is like this. He will not ever get what it was like to be in a house with two very small children and an angry, withdrawn guy who was acting out and lying to me and leaving me with all the responsibilities... and that was a time in my life when honestly, he might as well not have been there and it was his job to be. And when I say he doesn't understand it, I have ZERO interest in explaining myself to him any more than that. It's too much work for me to go back and revisit all that painful shit and spell it out just so that he can feel like he made the effort. That is one area where understanding is too little, too late and where my "you don't understand" means "back off."

Both of us sometimes say "You don't understand" I think, when we are chickening out. I don't understand why he doesn't want to come to bed and he thinks telling me I don't understand is easier (for me? for him? who knows...) than trying to get down to why-- he doesn't understand what I'm so afraid of and me telling him he doesn't understand is less shameful and discouraging than telling him what I am afraid of.

This is just my situation. I agree that mostly people are asking for the other person to deepen his understanding-- but not always.

SAR


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#59330 - 12/29/05 03:01 PM Re: What do I say?
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
SAR,

Sure, I know you didn't mean it that way; I just wanted to clarify. \:\)

I wonder if this "you don't understand" business is also a matter of personality. I hardly ever tell my wife "you don't understand" unless it is followed by an effort from me to try to give her what she needs in order to understand a bit better. But for her that sometimes sounds like a lecture.

For her, on the other hand, "you don't understand" is a signal from her to me that she feels neglected and she is now waiting for an effort on my part without any further specification from her. If I do ask for more information, sometimes the answer is "You should know by now. We have been married 24 years", etc. So for me it feels like a trap in a way.

For us what works best is to drop the whole "you don't understand" thing and try other approaches. She will ask how it went at the T, so I answer and try to think of what she needs to hear in order to appreciate how I feel. And so on.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#59331 - 12/30/05 12:59 AM Re: What do I say?
Derdlecar Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/08/05
Posts: 1314
Loc: Ogden Utah, USA
Thanks

This gives me something to think about. My wife read all of the above before I did. I told her about my post here and told her to come and read it, so she did. We'll keep working on this.

love ya'll

Darrel

_________________________
If a man would get his life on track, he must first go back to the place where it was derailed.

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#59332 - 12/30/05 01:25 AM Re: What do I say?
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
sometimes there's just too much to understand all at once \:\(

But given time understanding becomes natural.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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