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Marriage in Trouble


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I am afraid my marriage is in trouble.  My first wife died 25 years ago and I remarried and had two more children.  The older two have no contact with the Church and my oldest daughter just came out as a lesbian and married another woman within a few months of divorcing her husband.  Our younger two are doing well and are in the Church.  We keep fighting about my older children.  She is hurt by them and rants about them.  An example would be that my daughter would be better off dead than to do what she is doing.  I have this slow cancer and I want to try and keep a relationship with all of my children.  After five hours of arguing last night, I just wanted to leave and try a separation.  It’s not what I really want or at least I think so.  We have been through counseling together and my wife has been through extensive counseling herself.  I don`t know who to talk to.  This would devastate my children.  Calm may tell me to delete this thread since my wife my end up seeing it somehow.  Maybe after I get it worked out I can delete it.  

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Humans are strange creatures whose choices, often, are difficult to account for.  As you well know (and your wife should, as well) it's called moral agency.  That means, of course (as you have found out) that they're going to make choices we would not make and do things we would not do.  I'm puzzled why your wife, apparently, is attempting to hold you accountable for the choices of your [adult] children.  Does she think that those choices, somehow, are going to reflect poorly on her?  If I were she, and if someone, somehow, attempted to hold me accountable for what they do, I would smile sweetly and reply, "They're not my children!" :D  And, of course, you've both heard the Doctrine and Covenants scripture:
 

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Doctrine and Covenants 121

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood [or even without it, of course], only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile[.]

 

I wish you both well. :)

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A 5 hour battle is serious. There is this rock, and then here is this hard place. A separation will most likely affect your younger kids the most. However, it may be worth a day or so removed from the scene so tempers can reset. Is the current stressful (covid etc) environment adding to the mix? 

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Having a daughter who is also Gay, and married, I don’t think she would be better off dead. However, as parents we often must mourn the loss of what “we think our children should be”, and “accept them for whom they are”, and this is not easy. I think your wife will have to go through this at her pace, and at no other’s pace. Love will win out; and “Always prevail”. Just give it time, and you will all be in my prayers. 

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8 hours ago, readstoomuch said:

Calm may tell me to delete this thread since my wife my end up seeing it somehow.

You know me well. It sounds like you need to talk about it though, so risk probably is outweighed by need. Maybe if someone resonates with you, you can take it private and then ask that this gets deleted.

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After five hours of arguing last night, I just wanted to leave and try a separation. 

I know the first several months on Covid we were having strong conflicts between myself and my husband with the same argument over and over again.  He saw myself and my daughter as overreacting while we saw him as ignoring our concerns about our high risk...seriously if things get much worse for me, it will be downhill the rest of my 30 years of life as it is harder and harder to just maintain and close to impossible to improve significantly enough that a minor setback doesn’t wipeout months of effort.  And I don’t see that downhill as offering enough value to continue the struggle. And I told him that several times as well as my daughter who faces 60 years of additional hardship if Covid creates chronic issues for her and we still had the argument whether he was going to a family get together  or just to visit friends just because he was bored.  I was hiding in my room to avoid any contact with him and resenting him for destroying the refuge that home is supposed to be.  He of course saw it differently.  He felt we unfairly didn’t trust him and were treating him like a child.

Thankfully we have manage to achieve a balance of sorts, though some conversations need to be avoided. It taught me how love does not conquer all and how fragile relationships are at heart even after decades of what anyone would consider a loving and supportive relationship, though not perfect. 
 

It is essential to coping with life to have a safe place where one can trust one won’t be hurt, at least not in a major or chronic fashion. Home is supposed to be that and when it isn’t, when it becomes the thing you want refuge from, leaving becomes attractive too easily because you lack that place you go to recharge, to heal.  Instead for me it felt like I was walking around without a skin 24/7, every word a possible wound because I had no protection left...which made me resort to anger to protect myself that way.  Anger that went to hate at times for the rest of the evening (thankfully sleep tends to dissipate strong emotions for me).  It does seem once we got past whatever it was, however we did (don’t ask me, it certainly wasn’t through communication as far as I can tell, my husband does not discuss his thoughts or the process of his decisions or actions so maybe something I said actually did make a difference once he thought about it or work led him to be less bored), getting back to equilibrium and what is generally a great supportive relationship in my view at least was easy and I am viewing that conflict as an anomaly rather than my expected future, but I am trying to figure out how to get in a better place where I can feel protected without having to rely so much on my husband and I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. 

I don’t have any advice, just explaining why I see your desire to leave as appropriate in the sense most rational people would feel the same way. Your conflict is both more extreme and longer lasting than what I went through, so I imagine the sense of desperation to remove yourself is that much stronger.   Being able to remember what you value in the relationship and finding ways to make those the dominant part again is something unique to your relationship. I can offer prayers and little else since you are already tried counseling

 Maybe try to find another form of refuge/emotional and mental and of needed physical healing place that doesn’t detract from your marriage (a hobby perhaps, some form of physical therapy to help with tension, etc)?

Edited by Calm
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Well, Covid has been tough for us and my immunosuppression is a worry.  She isn't perfect in avoiding contact with people in a way that she might get the virus, but she is careful most of the time.  Home as a place of refuge is important and the thought that it is becoming the place to seek refuge from is profound.  From previous counseling its a drama triangle.  She sees my daughter as the bully, herself as the victim and me as the rescuer.  My daughter is bullying her by trying to reach out after little contact and by living a life that is not in accordance with the covenants she made in the temple.    My wife also has a problem that if she doesn't tell the person what their major fault is, then she is condoning it.  She is supposed to be loving as the savior asks and the person who isn't living the commandments gets away with it.  They should be suffering some kind of bad outcome or problems because they are not living the commandments.  I have set some boundaries and she is going back to counseling.  

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Sounds like her mindset is not an unusual one. It is generally based on fear for the other (which is founded in love) in my experience (such as a relative being told it was better to be raped by a missionary than be baptized...because one was only a temporary hardship while the other meant the eternal damnation and suffering of her soul) while not understanding love isn’t communicated by those kinds of feelings in most cases (even Christ didn’t convince very many to repent when he called them vipers, etc).. 

Your daughter, I am guessing, is seen as forcing your wife to have to act in ways she doesn’t want to, but feels driven to by how she interprets the commandments of being a light on the hill and calling other to repentance, etc.  An analogy would be a criminal choosing to commit a crime right in front of a police officer where they just can’t rationalize ignoring it and still view themselves as a good officer, so they have to arrest and charge them even when they don’t want to.  Since it is your daughter’s choice to ‘rub your wife’s face in it’ in your wife’s view, your wife interprets that as bullying and herself as forced to be the preacher of righteousness.  You probably know all this, I am working out the dynamics for myself to see if anything occurs to me  

I am guessing you have gone through all this before, but just in case....
 

It seems to me the only likely thing that might help would be to point out to your wife your daughter has been around the Gospel and your wife long enough she knows what the truth is even if she doesn’t accept it as such at this point in her life. Repeating the call to repent hasn’t worked so far and therefore likely won’t work to change her for the good  and doing so is causing other problems that are contrary to the Gospel way of doing things (though you may want to leave that out as likely to get your wife defensive).  
 

Challenging your daughter may even be causing your daughter to get locked in more to her way of thinking as she thinks about how to defend her choices.  If instead your wife chooses to teach by example without comment about your daughter’s choices, to show in her own life the blessings and value of the gospel, your daughter won’t feel the need to defend her choices because no one is telling her to do so and instead she may be open up to change because she sees a life that she might value having.  Thus a more effective way of persuading your daughter than straight preaching repentance.

——

As far as suffering as a result of wickedness...if she thinks it is her job to create that suffering, maybe point out that God has said judgment is for him to pursue in his own time and place.  If she doesn’t see it that way, but gets frustrated or confused when she sees those she see as wicked having a good life...that is pretty consistent with scripture.  It is something the righteous need to accept and deal with so they can have more time and energy in doing good. 
 

PS:  I figure you likely know all this already or if I am wrong(not unlikely) know the reality much better than I ever could. I am writing this mostly to show I am listening and registering and I see your situation as a difficult one where your struggle is not being imagined by yourself. That may not be what you need to hear.  If it isn’t, give me some direction on where you would like the conversation to go if you want. 

Edited by Calm
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3 hours ago, Calm said:

You know me well. It sounds like you need to talk about it though, so risk probably is outweighed by need. Maybe if someone resonates with you, you can take it private and then ask that this gets deleted.

I know the first several months on Covid we were having strong conflicts between myself and my husband with the same argument over and over again.  He saw myself and my daughter as overreacting while we saw him as ignoring our concerns about our high risk...seriously if things get much worse for me, it will be downhill the rest of my 30 years of life as it is harder and harder to just maintain and close to impossible to improve significantly enough that a minor setback doesn’t wipeout months of effort.  And I don’t see that downhill as offering enough value to continue the struggle. And I told him that several times as well as my daughter who faces 60 years of additional hardship if Covid creates chronic issues for her and we still had the argument whether he was going to a family get together  or just to visit friends just because he was bored.  I was hiding in my room to avoid any contact with him and resenting him for destroying the refuge that home is supposed to be.  He of course saw it differently.  He felt we unfairly didn’t trust him and were treating him like a child.

Thankfully we have manage to achieve a balance of sorts, though some conversations need to be avoided. It taught me how love does not conquer all and how fragile relationships are at heart even after decades of what anyone would consider a loving and supportive relationship, though not perfect. 

Men are just wired differently, I am sure he tries to understand, just as I do for my wife and children. I have had soooooooo many close calls in the Military, so many emergency landings, flying daily. Then I had 23 years in law-enforcement, so many close calls then, that I just never expected to be here, to be retired. I have also survived so many health scares already, and as a result I just don’t see this as she and my children, and even grandchildren do. They worry over me so much, it is just unbearable at times. It is not that I don’t want to share her views on the matter, I have survived so much, I just feel “bulletproof” (pardon the law-enforcement pun). As a result after 45 years together, I feel God has already blessed me with so much, I thought due to my service, I would have never have seen otherwise. So, if I may, let me at least identify with your husband, since I am unable to apologize for “every man’s behavior”, as it relates to COVID-19, and this truly odd year in total. A lot of marriages are really experiencing serious “stress or strengthening”, depending on many underlying issues. 

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I very much understand the issue of seeing things differently. I am at the point in my life where I don’t believe anyone sees things the same way or really understands the other. I respect he has a different viewpoint and have tried to incorporate that as much as possible into my own behaviour, talking about things he wants to talk about, supporting him in his choices for activities such as concentrating on the yard as he prefers to put work rather than inside the house even though that would increase our comfort level more and be used more. 

edited because this is about readstoomuch

Edited by Calm
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12 hours ago, readstoomuch said:

We keep fighting about my older children.  She is hurt by them and rants about them.  An example would be that my daughter would be better off dead than to do what she is doing

Ugh. I don't think I would get along very well with your wife. I have a daughter who causes me endless grief but I don't know if I could deal with criticism from a  spouse who isn't her parent over her behavior.  There really isn't anything we can do about our grown children's choices. I feel bad for your situation. I wouldn't expect her to love a stepchild in the same way that she loves her own children but I just can't wrap my mind around this propensity for judgement over a person's personal choices. Is it just their rejection of gospel teachings that upsets her or are they disrespectful towards her in general? Is it possible to have a relationship with your older children without involving your wife? Or did she partially raise them and they see her as a mother figure? It sounds like a complex situation with no easy solution. 

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1 hour ago, katherine the great said:

I don't know if I could deal with criticism from a  spouse who isn't her parent over her behavior.

Criticism from a bioparent is difficult as well, imo, when there is really little to nothing one can do.

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1 hour ago, katherine the great said:

Ugh. I don't think I would get along very well with your wife. I have a daughter who causes me endless grief but I don't know if I could deal with criticism from a  spouse who isn't her parent over her behavior.  There really isn't anything we can do about our grown children's choices. I feel bad for your situation. I wouldn't expect her to love a stepchild in the same way that she loves her own children but I just can't wrap my mind around this propensity for judgement over a person's personal choices. Is it just their rejection of gospel teachings that upsets her or are they disrespectful towards her in general? Is it possible to have a relationship with your older children without involving your wife? Or did she partially raise them and they see her as a mother figure? It sounds like a complex situation with no easy solution. 

She raised them from age 6 and 9.  My wife is a lovely person, but this is definitely one of her big faults.  Their rejection of the gospel makes her feel like a bad mother.  The need for people having to suffer for their bad choices is a "things should be fair in the universe" problem.  

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26 minutes ago, readstoomuch said:

Their rejection of the gospel makes her feel like a bad mother.

Yeah-mother's guilt. It's terrible. 😢 Does she realize she's in very good company? Eve, Rebekah, Sariah, Camille Kimball,  Heavenly Mother...(to name a few)

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The idea that good people are blessed and bad people are cursed may be true in the eternities but not in mortality. Otherwise this life would not be much of a test. 

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50 minutes ago, readstoomuch said:

The need for people having to suffer for their bad choices is a "things should be fair in the universe" problem.  

And it is when it comes to eternity, not so much when it comes to mortality.  Mortal wasn’t meant to be fair.  If it was fair everyone would be able to overcome any hardship, there would be no war or crime where innocents get hurt.  God didn’t set things up way. Justice is eternal, not mortal. 
 

The AntiNephiLehites were people that had participated in murder (likely by participating in the culture of ritual sacrifice iirc) and yet once they repented, the consequences of those bad choices disappeared and their children were even extraordinarily protected. Wonder how some  of their victims felt about that. 

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I'm hoping you'll forgive if this comes out harsh. I wish people like your wife and others in the church could get over the SSA/SSM situations. I hope the leaders will say something this conference, fingers crossed, about accepting your children's choices. And I hope your wife will see that your daughter cannot change her orientation. 

In August I attended a reunion of sorts, we had to limit it to only a few people up in the Cottonwood canyon campsite because of covid, so it became a sibling reunion on my husband's side. They are very very true believing and living LDS. Well, as we sat at a picnic table, it's a large family, my BIL asked everyone if they'd like to go around the table and update each other about our families. Well, this same BIL started and talked about his children's lives. He has a gay son who has a partner and who has been on trips with them, like temple square at Christmas, and even a trip to Paris for the open house for the temple. Well, my BIL mentioned that his son and partner are doing well and may even get married. Well, I was shocked at this, and I was so endeared to this BIL that he nonchalantly said this like no big deal and that it was accepted by he and his wife. Believe me, if you knew this couple, they are amazing. She recently was released as a missionary helping the older special needs children attend to seminary etc. And he is in a bishopric I believe. I noticed that everyone was happy for his son and partner. I think things are changing, thankfully! 

I hope things settle down, I believe it's possible for your wife to see through this and make changes. I'm not going to judge her, because I've been know to feel extreme guilt over my own children's choices, and I'm better off accepting them as they are. They seem to do better when I don't judge them, and they are better! It's when I hammer down that they usually rebel and go the opposite direction.

 

 

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Ugh.....I feel for you as well as your children.  I lost my daughter this past March and I can't imagine anything she could do that would prevent me from wanting her in my arms again.  I have a difficult time with parents who wish children dead of not living up to expectations  I would outta there in a heartbeat and try to get some custody.  Sorry if this sounds harsh but this hurts me in a multitude of ways as well as a compassionate plea for the kids.

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Wishing a daughter dead is beyond the pale. Is it possible to call a truce on this topic for awhile? Or at least not respond to her with anything but an acknowledgment of her feelings....nothing to fight back against? She really can't interfere with your relationship with your daughters other than making it unpleasant for you. She is defying church counsel so she can't exactly fall back on church teachings for support. 

What is her goal? Does she want you to denounce them? Stop seeing them? Just agree with her? Discover her end game to be able to make informed decisions.

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I think what people say when they are triggered, including “I just wish they were dead“ is probably not a fair assessment of someone overall.  It’s unpleasant and stressful for me though.  The situation with my daughter is hard for me as well.  She has had some very bad and odd behavior over the years.  The way she divorced her husband was terrible and unfair.  This seems like sort of a rebound situation with her latest marriage.  Like many parents I couldn`t imagine one of my children being homosexual.  So, it is far from the fact that I like what my daughter has done.  It is more of trying to keep some kind of relationship with her.  

As far as my wife`s goal, I don`t think she articulates it like that.  That part of our brain that feels attacked and vulnerable is called a lizard brain.  It just reacts, it doesn`t reason.  I have made boundaries that I need to have a relationship with all of my child and I can`t redo the argument that we had the other night.  Then I said something very hard about hoping it didn`t take us divorcing for me to be able to keep those boundaries.  In prior counseling, the counselor said don`t make the man choose between you and his children.  

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Please let your wife know, that being gay is not the un-pardonable sin, being gay will not send you to the outer darkness. However what she is doing (hating your gay daughter) will harm her eternal soul and may just keep her out of the Celestial Kingdoms.

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1 hour ago, readstoomuch said:

In prior counseling, the counselor said don`t make the man choose between you and his children.  

Unfortunately this may be at the root of her emotion, it may be in a convoluted way from a need of being reassured she is loved by you and is the most important person in your life. Insecurity leads to a lot of self fulfilling prophecies of doom as in by pushing for evidence that you put her first, she creates situations where you don’t. 
 

The problem comes from assuming relationships are hierarchal, one is more valuable than another when it is more that relationships work together and isolation of value diminishes them. For example, if I demanded my husband always put family before work, not only would that impair his ability to contribute financially, but the feeling of accomplishment through and enjoyment of work relationships improves his mood and makes family relationships more meaningful for him as he is in a more social mood, rejuvenated, etc. 

But telling that to someone who has never felt really safe because they never sure if they would be “first” when they needed to be may not be able to reach the core that needs that extreme reassurance (this is an issue in my family and my husband’s family from what I have see. due to some mixed messages parents so unintentionally sent so I may be projecting some here).

Edited by Calm
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14 hours ago, readstoomuch said:

She raised them from age 6 and 9.  My wife is a lovely person, but this is definitely one of her big faults.  Their rejection of the gospel makes her feel like a bad mother.  The need for people having to suffer for their bad choices is a "things should be fair in the universe" problem.  

Expecting fairness in this life is a road to perpetual misery. It can come from people you love not getting what you feel they deserve, people you disapprove of being too happy, your own life not being as good as you believe it should be, and (weirdly) your own life not being as bad as you think it should be.

Is your daughter basically trying to rub her lifestyle into your faces? That can be annoying but the worst reaction is to go to pieces over it. That amounts to rewarding bad behavior. I had a friend who was a pretty strong church member who decided he was done and took up drinking alcohol. I was a little saddened but I still liked the guy. Then it got to where every discussion we had he brought up drinking and he kept asking if he could bring beer to every gathering of the friend group even when it was completely inappropriate for the activity. Even the non-members and inactives in the friend group who drank themselves were put off by the conspicuous showmanship. We largely tried to ignore it and just tell him no so he got more and more demonstrative to try to provoke some kind of reaction until he realized we were just not that invested. I am not sure if he wanted us to join him or wanted us to condemn him or what but I think rising to the provocation would have been bad. Found out later he was telling everyone we were ostracizing him for his choices so it might have been a martyr thing.

I am not suggesting this is necessarily similar to what your daughter is doing though it could be. Some people take such provocations so far that distancing yourself is wise. If it is more petty then if she stops rising to challenge it will probably fade. If this is relatively new your daughter might just love talking about it and provoking your wife gives her a debate partner where both can feel some sense of self-righteousness as they dig at each other. Ideally figure out what your wife and daughter each get out of these exchanges to the point that they keep playing the game if you want to mute it.

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Well, the first thing is not fighting for 5 hrs.   "Sweetheart, our Heavenly Parents have lots of children that choose different paths.  We don't think less of Them do we?  And They don't abandon the lost children either, do They?  If you choose to think about yourself as being a bad mother, or worry about others thinking that, that is YOU making yourself miserable.   I feel for you, and know you must work this out with yourself.  But I can't listen to you on this topic for more than [10 minutes a day OR for more than 1x per week for 30 minutes OR whatever you think you can handle].   Let's set the timer when you want to vent and when it goes off, if you still want to talk I'll just leave the room and go somewhere else for a while."    And then just listen sympathetically as often and as long as you have negotiated, and every.single.time.thereafter get up and leave the situation.    You do not have to agree to be sucked into a spouse's worst moments as a requirement of being a loving spouse.

(You may need to establish a place that is soundproof and away from her normal coping places (backyard?  garage?  basement?  A spare bedroom you soundproof? and stock it with uplifting music and maybe some hobby items to distract you.   And if you do get that, your wife might reasonably want her own space to calm herself down.)
 

 

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