Not too very long ago, I tried to express to my spouse why I changed my behavior. Most changes surround new boundaries put in place to keep my distance from behaviors directed at me that I will no longer accept.
Two things came to light that really surprised me.
I cannot speak verbatim, but I can share as I remember our conversation - but only from Liz's end. I was talking about my actions over the years of being a People Pleaser. How Liz took responsibility for everything that was wrong in our relationship. How Liz made part of her life's work the job of keeping her spouse happy, which included giving in too much, and letting go of my hopes and dreams. My learned response to anyone else's displeasure towards me was: "Oh, oh; they are mad/angry/disappointed in me. I must be screwing up." I developed a pattern of responsive behavior to an angry look, a raised voice, an out-n-out accusation - I shut down my voice; smoothed the water; kept others happy. That behavior worked to keep the peace, but NOT to address the issues.
#1 - my spouse saying that I accused him of being a monster. No matter how I racked my brain, I couldn't find that accusation. I don't call names. I have made a life choice of No Character Assassination - Not Ever. I raised my children with that important guideline for our home. It seems a conversation happened where I was explaining how I had always changed MY behavior in a misguided attempt to control HIS behavior - and since my action created this monster, my actions had to disassemble it.
As a result, I can see how he interpreted my words. I meant a "Monster of a situation". I apologized for that - now he has to choose to hold on to that misinterpretation to justify his anger at me, or he can choose to try to figure out how the voices of his past had filtered Liz's words into something they were not meant to be.
This gal had lots of warts and hang-ups and problems. This gal also worked damned hard, for a really long time, to get to a place of feeling comfortable and - Taa Daa - most times quite wonderful inside my own skin.
#2 came to light during a conversation surrounding parent/child dynamics. I fully realize how my own Mothering behaviors towards my spouse had a negative impact on our marriage. I also started to understand how those same parenting dynamics happened in reverse - from my spouse towards me. I understand the value of his rescuing me when I first met him. Unfortunately, that dynamic of relating to each other has not been able to change. I DO NOT want to be rescued any more. I do not NEED to be rescued any more. I do not want a father, I want a man with whom I can share my life. My spouse was sharing with me how angry he was that I had "Defied his wishes. . . . . . ." My response was, "You are not my dad, you are my husband. We are adults and we need to compromise. You did not want to share our RV, and I did. Your 'wishes' were not the final say in the conversation." My spouse's responses were surrounding the fact that he did not drink and on and on bringing up some poor choices MY Dad had made when I was a child. So there it was - I meant DAD in the figurative form of the word, NOT specifically MY Dad. My spouse also had been getting that same image when I would say "I am NOT your Mother." Wow! I never meant HIS Mom, just the Mother Dynamic:
"a parent-child marriage is defined by the inequality of the partners. In order for a relationship to thrive, partners must be just that - partners! Both must work at sharing equally in the burdens and success of the relationship. Typically both spouses must change to be respectful, supportive, and flexible in their relationship with one another. Neither is a "parent" or "child" to the other. Instead both are adults."
So, Liz can see this. I can only hope my spouse will choose to see it.
I do NOT like feeling controlled.
Oh, folks, I am not perfect. I still mess up. I try my best. I recently had a conversation with my adult daughter. She mentioned her disapproval at some behavior she witnessed when I walked away from a conversation with my spouse when it started to turn ugly. She said, "Mom if that was me when I was growing up, I would have had to write a long essay." And there it is - the big difference. A parent is supposed to train up a child, and let them know when their behavior is not respectful of an adult. There is a big difference between maybe saying "Shove it up your bum" and walking away, versus saying, "I refuse to participate in a conversation where I do not feel respected."
It gets VERY hard to express my own actions, NOT be accusatory towards her Daddy, hear her, yet not allow the conversation to get to' Daddy is right, Mommy is wrong, and Mommy needs to change her behavior to keep Daddy happy.' Because, sadly, that is what I modeled for her when she was growing up. What I can do today is take responsibility for my own actions, and now that I know better, I do better.