What you should do if you are in a long-term relationship or marriage and you find yourself in a constant state of needing your partner, and also feeling like you can’t stand them because you don’t feel like they have any interest in listening to you or supporting your goals and dreams.
In this video coaching newsletter, I discuss an email from a viewer who has been married for sixteen years and has a teenage son with his wife. He says he has recently kicked his six-year addiction to prescription drugs and is still suffering from withdrawals. He often feels powerless in his relationship and his life.
He more often than not has gone along with what his wife wanted him to do instead of doing what makes him happy. He vacillates back and forth between being needy, seeking his wife’s approval, looking for validation, and not being able to stand her at all and wanting out of his relationship. He wonders if he can ever get his power back in his marriage and what he should focus on and do.
I’ve been married 16 years now. I’m 39 and we have a 13-year old son. Right now, we’re trying to have another baby. The problem is, I am in such a state of powerlessness in this relationship, that I don’t even know if it is in my best interest, or any of our best interests, to stay married. I’m so insecure, however, that I am stuck in a “I need you desperately…I hate you, I want out” loop.
When we were first married, I wanted to try to live in Europe for a while teaching English. She threw a fit, but ended going with me, and then got pregnant while we were there and we came back to live with family. Twelve years ago, I decided to quit my publishing job in Boston to get an MFA in Creative Writing. When I got there, I had a nervous breakdown because I regretted not acting like the head of the household. My wife got a job and started referring to me as her second child, while I was on anxiety medication. (So you basically made her your mommy and therapist — definitely not masculine.) When the program was over, she said she was moving back to Texas with or without me, so I left my teaching job and lived with her family. (You should have done what you wanted to do. If you didn’t want to be there living with her family, you should have told her, a man’s got to make himself happy first.) I struggled some more with medication, which she demanded I take, and she threatened to leave me for not finding a job fast enough, until I got a state job. I am in a career that is not at all me and I’m failing at, and my mental and physical health have greatly suffered. (You are doing everything to prevent rocking the boat, doing what she wants, but your relationship sucks and you are miserable in your career. That’s a recipe for self-imposed misery.)
Now, I’m trying to get my shit together. I’ve kicked the medications, including a six year addiction to Benzos, and I’m still going through withdrawals. I’ve decided I’m quitting my state job and pursuing real estate and some other small businesses, and she’s going along with me so far, as I’m still getting a paycheck. (Good for you dude. Make sure you do it in a balanced way. You have to do things that make you happy. Don’t do it to just please her.) She lives for my son, who wants these changes for me too. I spend hours begging her to listen to my needs and express my resentment of having formed my whole life around her, and she plays on her phone, does housework or sleeps instead of listening, even if I try talking about an interest I have unrelated to her. (You just need to handle it and take care of yourself.)
I know what I’m doing, being extremely needy and powerless. I just don’t know if I can ever get my power back in this marriage. (You have to take your power back by taking action.) I also see she is not a bad person, and I love her. It’s me. But I still can’t be in this relationship anymore — not the way it is. How do I change the dynamic, or is it too late and maybe better to get out now? I’d like to figure this out before I get her pregnant again. (It doesn’t sound like a fulfilling relationship. Tell her it might not be a good idea to have a kid with her unless you see things improve in the relationship, and tell her you need her love and support. You don’t get what you deserve in life. You only get what you negotiate. You have to stand up for yourself and tell her what you want.)
“Great relationships and fulfillment in your relationships can only be possible when you have a great relationship with yourself. That means that when you are single, you love hanging out by yourself and having fun with yourself and your friends and family. You don’t feel like you need anyone else to be happy because you are happy with and love yourself unconditionally. You are involved with, or are working towards becoming involved with, your life’s work that makes you feel like you are doing what you were put on this earth to do. By doing this, you will come from a position of strength and love and will be able to give on a level that is necessary to make a relationship work, since you do not feel you are lacking anything. Love is about giving after all. You can’t give away what you don’t already have for yourself.” ~ Coach Corey Wayne