Resentment Suppression

Arwyn is off to her women’s step meeting.  Tonight would be her first one, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes out of it.  I’m not expecting overnight miracles, here, and if I see nothing different for awhile that’s fine.  If it’s something she enjoys, that’s good enough for me.  Truly, I do want her to be happy and I have no problems playing with and putting the boys to bed while she’s out. 


I think I need to spend some time discussing my resentment.  I represented it as mountain peak but it is more like the Himalayan mountain range.  High, broad and rather old.  But not so attractive.  It’s more like an over-sized pile of shit.


My confession of my last post was a stab at honestly facing what it is that sometimes enables me to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on those few occasions that Arwyn does actually offer something up.  On occasion I’m given some chance to actually deposit some positive points in Harley’s love bank, and I muck it up.


Arwyn’s wanting me to attend a 12 step group is not such an occasion, IMO.  It’s not like we would be going together.  It was her trying to fix me the same as me trying to fix her by trying to get her to read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.  And we know how THAT went over.


No, there have been other occasions when she wanted to just talk that I was abrupt or too short to be bothered.  I often get impatient with her over stupid things in a way that makes her feel stupid and incompetent.  And the shit pile of resentment is often at the center of my projected hostility.  Resentment is such a millstone; no relationship can long survive its weight.  It is also a stubborn and pervasive thing that once loosed totally evades control, moderation and reason.


But I’ve suppressed it before. 


I have lessened the resentment, if only for a time before.  I’ve managed to have it contained and diminished to almost nothing.  It even seems to almost get turned around and thrown judo fashion into more productive energy.  Yes, I have had my resentment contained before.  Perhaps it is time to try it again. 


Yes, readers, you know of what I speak.  Most of you have read of it before.  For some of you, it is one of the only reasons you keep reading.  For others, it is something you’ve never quite understood. 


  Can it work again?  Is it worth trying again?


I have a couple of reasons for going to this particular well, yet again.  The resentment and general wreckage that is my marriage is just one of them.  I’ll share the other when I finally decide and get committed. 




3 Responses to Resentment Suppression

  1. 2amsomewhere says:

    On occasion I’m given some chance to actually deposit some positive points in Harley’s love bank, and I muck it up.

    Arwyn’s wanting me to attend a 12 step group is not such an occasion, IMO. It’s not like we would be going together. It was her trying to fix me the same as me trying to fix her by trying to get her to read The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. And we know how THAT went over.

    I have to throw in a brief note here, having been involved in a 12-step group similar to AA. If she tries to pressure you into going to a similar group, keep this in mind. She doesn’t understand the underpinnings of the 12-steps and 12-traditions. The literature is pretty clear that entry into a fellowship should be voluntary. You do it for yourself, not to benefit someone else.

    After seven months of really hard reflection and analysis, I think that Chapman’s “love tank” metaphor and that of Harley’s “love bank” are of limited value. Yes, they can characterize how relationships can suffer, but they don’t get at the heart of things.

    Some of the best reading I’ve seen on relationships have a common idea: we tend to form intimate relationships with people who are at about the same level of dysfunction as ourselves. The nature of the dysfunction may be different, but the level is what matters.

    Long term intimate relationships suffer from a paradox. As the duration of the relationship grows, the other person becomes increasingly important. Stability takes a greater importance than honesty. When your actions start to deviate widely from who you are, things get out of whack.

    One might argue that the emphasis on stability is just picking one’s battles carefully. There is something to be said about being able to let things slide, but what I’m talking about is something much more pernicious. Compromising your integrity while avoiding outright conflict means that things go covert. Its ammo is that big pile o’ resentment. Arwyn’s got one, too, if I had to guess.

    The covert war is fought through acts of denial. She won’t have sex with you. You refuse to do certain things for her. Some marriage therapists would suggest that you two compromise, e.g. Digger does a, b, and c for Arwyn, while Arwyn does x, y, and z for Digger. The problem is that you will probably do these things begrudgingly or half-@$$edly.

    A bigger change has to occur. The good news is that only one person in the couple needs to decide to make the change in order for things to get started.

    The change is a wholesale realignment of yourself. You dig deep into who you are and decide what you really want. You own up to the things you do to torment your spouse. You learn to soothe yourself when you come to these realizations. You learn to derive validation from within. You disclose this to your spouse without expecting her to do the same. You start to live your own life in agreement with who you are. Because you know your limits, you compromise with Arwyn where you can, but hold your ground where you don’t.

    This will change the interaction between you and Arwyn, and she’s likely to panic because it’s not what she’s used to. She might even try to coerce you to back down. At worst case, she might even bolt from the marriage. But the other side of that risk is that if she doesn’t bolt, she will have to confront herself in the same way. She will in essence rise to the same level of functionality that you now have achieved.

    I think that a big part of the problem is that you’ve not been able to strike the balance between compromise and holding fast.


  2. diggerjones says:

    You’re right, 2amsomewhere, and I did have a brief conversation with her about taking someone else’s inventory.

    Much of what I’ve been doing is based on trial and error but I learn a bit more with each error. She is moving, in her own way and in her own time in response to where I am. I think if I made a sudden change, she might panic, but I’ve not been moving all that fast, much to the chagrin of my readership.
    Your blog is a good study on the dynamic you speak of, but I’m still waiting to see what “success” might look like with your approach. I see more volatility in your situation which lends itself to more sudden changes for good or ill.


  3. Val says:

    2am, that is a really profound comment…I’m going to be coming back to chew on that for a while.
    & Digger, I really don’t know whether to laugh or cry for you — w/today being a grey frigid day, maybe the tears win…
    You “cupped her breast” for the 1st time in over a year?!? while I used to pride myself (way back when in Marriage #1) on being the Wife Who Never Said No. In the end that “goodwill” bought me nothing…

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