My husband and I were watching TV tonight and the main characters started talking about old incidents (from years past) right as they were about to embark on a new stage in their relationship. They began discussing the possibility of self-sabotage and how they felt they 1. Didn’t deserve each other and 2. That they may find someone more compatible/more like themselves and leave the other.
It was appropriate this evening in particular because it made me look at how I behave in my relationship, how I sabotage it. How I sabotage the place I want us to be (and the place we said we wanted to be) by falling into old habits and letting my insecurities bring me back to old habits.
I felt incredibly anxious about our relationship tonight because I knew my husband was upset about something. My husband struggles at times with being alone with our son. I know the struggle because it can be challenging to deal with a toddler, take care of two rambunctious dogs, and get anything of value done. But I so desperately want him to engage with the family that when he starts showing me how frustrated he is, I feel like I have to jump in and intervene or find some way to make my husband happy. The reality is we are partners and we both need to deal with the struggle of balancing what needs to be done—it doesn’t impact him any more than it does me. Also, we have created this life together—all of these things are the result of decisions we have made and what we have built. I need to let him deal with it as much as I do.
I don’t want to be a martyr and swoop in and save the day—I know better but I still do it because I am anxious that I’m doing something wrong and that I need to fix the situation. In order for all of our relationships to be healthy then we have to work out our issues by facing them. It isn’t healthy for me to fight that battle for him. I also need to understand that these conflicts will happen naturally and that I can’t prevent them.
The other issue that came up related to self-sabotage was the fact that I can’t stand it when my husband plays video games and checks out on us—he can play for hours upon hours while things that need to be done are ignored or I end up doing them. But when he gets in moods (like tonight), his annoyance and aggravation make me so uncomfortable that I give in. I even went so far as to zelle him part of the money so he could buy a new gaming system tonight. It didn’t hit me how truly messed up that was until I listened to the conversation about self-sabotage.
Here I was, so desperate and so uncomfortable with him being frustrated that I tried to provide him with the means to do something that truly gets in the way of the life we are trying to build. In the back of my mind I hope that he would recognize what I’m doing for him and be so grateful that he will give me what I want: time together as a family. Or even my equal share of time apart. But that is manipulative and I still end up hurt. It’s not fair to either of us. It isn’t his job to meet my expectations regarding what this relationship looks like: we have to set that together. It isn’t my job to ease his annoyance with taking care of our kid.
I don’t need to be a martyr to get what I want—it’s manipulative. I need to work on the things I need for myself and let him work on what he needs. That is the only way we will grow as individuals and as a couple. I can’t be afraid that we will disappoint each other or that I need to be doing more to keep him interested and appreciative of me. I need to stay my course and be the woman I know I am. We’ve been together nearly two decades—and I am just now realizing my part in perpetuating this cycle. It’s time to stop it—and the first part of that is recognizing what we are really doing. When it comes to being a martyr, it felt good to be the victim because I can justify why I haven’t gotten farther. I can justify my guilty splurges as well—because he has his. But those behaviors aren’t getting us anywhere. They certainly won’t get us where we say we want to be and they are all habit based. So for the sake of our relationship, for our individual sanity, and for the future we have been talking about, it is time to break the habits. When you have anxiety sometimes it’s a fine line between the habits causing the anxiety and the anxiety causing the habits—but either way, awareness leads to a new path. I’m grateful for each little reminder to keep changing and moving forward—even if it’s a TV show.