How to Break the Pattern and get off the wheel

For ten years I have been stuck like a hamster on a wheel, in the same pattern, over and over again.  How do I break it?

STEP ONE:  I started with hope and excitement that my marriage could be fulfilling and with the confidence in myself to be the loving wife I want to be. 

STEP TWO:  After a period of time, onto frustration b/c I was working alone - not only could I not figure out and make him happy, but I got none of my needs met - I had to do everything, I had no partner in life like I dreamed of.

STEP THREE:  Onto anger towards my husband for the lack of connection.  Seriously how many times do I have to nicely say how I'm feeling only to have you sit there and stare at me with no emotion whatsoever? Or how many times do I have to ask for some physical touch only to have you oblige for one day and think you have done your duty for a lifetime?

STEP FOUR:  After getting angry, quickly comes the strong guilt for getting upset and not being the bigger person and loving him for who he was.  I should be able to put up with it, get my needs met by God and friends, change my expectations of what marriage is. Plus in the anger stage he almost always points out why it's my fault or what I could/should do differently.  Armed with this new knowledge that if "I'd only do this, or this, or this....he'd be happy and we'd be better" I'd feel some sense of control and then.....

 IT STARTS AGAIN.....Back to step one, hope, back to giving control over to God and having hope.

The cycle sometimes took months, if I prayed and stayed solidly in the Word.  Sometimes weeks.  But it's the same cycle. 

Definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results right?  I'm smart and logical, so why do I continue to tell him how I'm feeling, beg for attention, grovel for love. 

After eight years of it, I decided to set boundaries, to accept him how he was and take care of myself.  As soon as I did the accusations from him about me "changing" grew strong and our relationship grew worse.  Though there was no intention of doing anything other than getting off the hamster wheel, unfortunately it led to an affair.  I hate myself for it, tried to get away often, but it was hard b/c it was so nice to finally have an escape - albeit a horrible one.

I tried and wanted to tell him right away, but I was warned me against it.  So I fought a long battle to get through it alone.  More alone.  In February of this year I read You, Me, and ADD and was shocked that I was not alone in how I felt - the stories fit me to a tee.  I asked him to see a doctor and get on medication.  It took a lot of fights and threatening, but he ultimately did.  I saw a quick improvement.  We still had the pain of the past to work through and given he wouldn't admit he had ADD, he was just taking a pill b/c I made him - we quickly went back to the hamster wheel.

I finally came clean a couple months ago about the affair.  He found things that set him off again and even though the physical affair had ended, I still spoke with the person, though less often.  So against others judgment, I told him and fully cut off the other person.  But of course now we are dealing with the pain he is feeling from the affair, and I'm back on the wheel.

One moment I am sick and remorseful and just want to be a good wife to him - the next I try to express my needs and the "why" behind the affair - when not heard I get angry - and then back to guilt.

I REALLY want to accept him for who he is, to adjust my expectations about marriage.  But if I'm being logical - ten years of experience shows that I can't.  I can't be/stay happy like this and in turn I make us miserable. I want to be a good example for my girls, but I don't want them to think this is normal or something they should marry into.  But I don't want to leave either - I am being stubborn I guess.  I want the relationship I want and in the face of not being able to have it.....I continue to run on the wheel.

Any advice from someone who has escaped from their wheel and is onto a more positive future?


I'm on the wheel, too,

I'm on the wheel, too, although occasionally I get off for a little while and occasionally I see signs of a permanent new path.  Here are a few details about my situation that might be relevant for you, depending on your situation.  (1) I work at an office part time and also do freelance work at home.  Now that my kids are away in college, I've made a point of indicating my availability for as much work and as many hours as possible.  This year, things are looking up; my increasing financial security has made me feel that I can live on my own, if need be.   Even while my kids were at home, I made sure to do as much paid work as I felt was realistic, but now that they're away for weeks at a time, it's a lot easier.  (2) I also have gotten my other financial ducks in a row.  I know where my money is and how much bills are.  I set up a separate bank account approximately two years ago, after my husband was fired.  We split bills for joint expenses in half.  Again, the increased financial security gives me hope for the future.  (3) I have been developing my own interests and keeping my friendships going.  I'm not extremely outgoing (and the need to not spend much limits my social life somewhat) but I've worked on solidifying my relationships with certain people.  They have been great supports for me as I struggle in my marriage.  

Good luck.  

I understand where you are

I understand where you are coming from. The thing that I have learned to accept about all of this is that my marriage is never going to look like my friends'. There was a time that seeing all the statuses on Facebook gushing about how wonderful their husbands were really set me off? Why can't I have that? I still stumble into that territory on occasion, but for the most part, I have changed my thinking to praising the good things that my hubby does, otherwise I defend my marriage to the hilt. It may not be what other people think I should have, but it's what I have, now leave me alone. Lol.

I'm still on the wheel but it's starting to slow down. I think the one thing I need to learn to accept is that my husband will probably never be able to focus on all the things that he needs to do to make our marriage work--at least short of an act of God, which of course, I'm not ruling out, but... I'm trying to be more attentive to the small things. The times that he remembers when I want to do something special (that may be just ordinary for him)...for example, I mentioned a couple of days ago when we got our Christmas tree that I wanted to decorate it tonight. I didn't say anything again yet this morning he says, "Wake me up in time so we can decorate the Christmas tree" (he's a 3rd shifter). I think there are joys in our type of marriages, we just have to find them, not take them for granted, and then hold on to them like crazy. There are times that I excel at this and times that I don't. Wednesday I was having a meltdown because he came home late from playing tournament pool the night before and then he left the house to run errands at the same time I got home from work. When I told him, he got a little irritated with me, reminding me how much progress we had made (he's stopped smoking, we've finally regained a physical relationship, etc.). I felt like crap after he numerated all the positives. So I'm going to have to watch more carefully. I think it's very important to be not let outside forces (whether good or bad) effect the small changes we manage to cobble out.

Have you guys been to counseling? It has helped me and my hubby a great deal. We were separated for while, but after five months of counseling, we were able to move back in together. While it bothers me that we may be in counseling indefinitely, at the end of the day, I want my marriage to be successful and I will do whatever I need to to make it work.

Best of luck to you.

Thank you for the encouragement

Thank you for the encouragement.  We have been to counseling for 10 years - since a few months after being married when he totally changed and I couldn't figure out why.  I have spent every year trying to adjust and change myself.  About 7 years into it we read an article on ADHD and it fit him to a tee, but we didn't think much of it.  About a year ago I told him I wanted to look into it as I think it could explain a lot and if we had an explanation, while I would still get frustrated, I could at least love and accept him and move forward.  But he does not believe he has it.  He went on medication b/c I feel I forced him - it definitely helps the focus, but doesn't help the overall emotional part.  Last week at the counselor he said "why would I take the medication if I didn't think I have it" so the counselor said "ok say it, say you have it".  And he couldn't.  He doesn't think he does.  And when I suggest it he just goes into what must be wrong with me.  Recently told him that as soon as he's willing to accept on it and work with me, I will gladly work with him, but if not, I need some space/separation  I feel like a lousy person to say that, but I have to break the pattern somehow.  It's hard though, b/c of course he's mad and resentful and making me feel bad, and all I want to do is slip into the old patterns of saying ok, you are right it's me, I'll try harder and make him feel better and take it on myself.