June 3, 2017 Office Hour Recording

Relationships Topics

This is the full recording of the entire session from the June 3 office hour for themes related to the course content of Strengthening your Relationship and How to Talk to your Kids about Sex.

If you want to listen to the June 3 Relationship Office Hour from start to finish, play the above recording.

For listeners who prefer to browse -- to read the questions and selectively listen to their responses -- or who have difficulty streaming large audio files, the individual questions in the above recording have also been extracted into separate segments below for easier browsing.

Note that there is no question in the above full recording that is not also found below, and vice versa. They are recordings of the same office hour.

Question #1

How do I know if I'm good enough or not trying hard enough?  (E.g., was I a good mom today, or should I have been more present with the kids?  Do I need to put more hours into my businesses, or should I slow down?) I agonize over whether I'm being too critical of myself or if I genuinely need to try harder (which I see as legitimizing that self-rejection, though rationally I know that everyone is a work in progress).  I'm always at war with myself; often I feel arrogant, that I'm smarter and more talented than my husband and many around me (I hate to admit that. He actually agrees though, which probably isn't helpful to either of us).  But other times I think I'm a crummy, OCD, crazy person.  I definitely deem my husband's attraction to me as poor judgement on his part, but largely just the physical attraction.  That's probably what makes it hard for me to trust him to be a good provider, or just trust his judgement in general. I want him to be as insanely ambitious as I am, but I know that's unrealistic.  I do feel like I have a lot to offer as a person and wife; I try to be kind, helpful, and honest, and my husband and I think the other is pretty hilarious.  But perhaps this overdrive ambition is just compensating for subconscious self-loathing.  So I suppose my question is how, exactly, do I make room for myself as I am?  I've thought about it a lot, and I honestly just don't know what it would take to make it clear to myself that I'm desirable and worthy.  Are there any real-world exercises I could try to start shifting this mindset?

Question #2

I’ve just finished all of the lectures in your course and am very grateful for them.  I think that I am beginning to see that my problem is that I can’t seem to hold on to a sense of my worth in the face of rejection from my spouse.  What can I do to develop a sense of worth and to hold myself together in difficult times?

Some additional detail.  I should have plenty of reasons to think highly of myself.  I earn a very good living and am well respected at work for the things I can do and for being a reasonably good person.  I have at times (although not currently) held important callings at church and served valiantly.  I love kids and am a devoted and loving father.  I have good health.  I try to list things like this and to focus on them, but sometimes none of that feels like it matters.  I can try to count my blessings and feel happy but I know that I am faking it and not really feeling anything.  Often the only feeling that feel is disappointment, rejection and helplessness.

My wife is a very capable person and an excellent mother.  She gives everything she has to our children and home.  She has a temper but at times she can also be very fun and energetic.  She is also a beautiful woman.  Yet she is strong willed and as the years have passed she has become less and less attentive to my needs.  When I suggested that we see a counselor, she resisted vehemently saying that our marriage has always worked fine for her.  I guess she had no expectation of passion and love in marriage, or maybe I was doing a good enough job at meeting her needs?  After some insistence she reluctantly agreed to do your online course, but has quit about halfway through and never really took herself on.  In any event, I am beginning to see that I deserve a lot of the blame for where we are because I have tried to force her to meet my needs through punishing withdrawal or by going into a one-down position and hoping I could earn her love.  As that has failed I’ve built up more and more resentment and I’m struggling to let go of that.  That is compounded by her apparent lack of interest in helping to make our marriage work for me.  I think that as I’ve continually gone one down or into costly accommodation I’ve also lost my sense of self and am trying to rediscover it.  How can I let go of resentment, see my part in this and also build a sense of worth?

Question #3

I'm listening to your third class right now where you're talking a lot about the need to belong to yourself and function in a way that you feel is good. This way you can genuinely validate yourself and be able to tolerate the invalidation of others, even invalidation from your husband. My question is what if you're at a place where you do feel that you can validate yourself, but you feel that your spouse simply does not like who you are? I've struggled with some emotional/mental issues my whole life, but it wasn't until a few months ago that I got my brain scanned and was able to see exactly where my brain activity was off, and am finally figuring out the correct medications and supplements that are working for me. One of these mental problems that I have is ADD. For people with ADD, doing normal everyday tasks (cleaning, homework, practicing, etc.) is something that is really hard because we have lower brain activity in our prefrontal cortex than we should have. I'm an aspiring opera singer, but getting myself to practice everyday consistently is very difficult. Even though my doctors and I are getting very close to finding the right combination of meds for me, I still go to ADD coaching as having had untreated ADD my whole life has created bad habits that still need to be worked on even once good treatment is found.

I feel that even though I still am not functioning in a way that I feel is best (being consistent, dependable, and organized are super hard for those with ADD!) I feel that in the past couple of years I have finally gotten so much better at not loathing myself when I make mistakes and don't reach all my goals, such as practicing voice daily. I'm much more patient and compassionate with myself as I am figuring out how to function as best I can with a real mental disorder. But sometimes I feel that my husband is not as understanding of the fact that I won't become this perfect functioning adult overnight when I have a problem like ADD, which is actually just one of several other issues I have. He only says things to me every once in awhile that clearly convey his disappointment in my lack of ability to do simple things like practice voice everyday; but I feel the disappointment from him even when most of the time he is biting his tongue and not saying anything about it. It has become a painful way to live. It took me a long time to get to the point where I can be compassionate with myself as I continue to work toward my goals, realizing that that progress will be slower when I have mental illnesses that I have to work through. But then I married someone who doesn't seem to have much understanding or empathy for the fact that I'm dealing with real mental issues, and that when you have ADD you have to work really hard just to be average. I've even had him read books about ADD to help him understand the issues better, but I don't think it has helped him much. It leaves me with this feeling that my husband just doesn't really like who I am. That only if I'm completing all my goals to perfection will he find me worthy of validation. As I said before, I finally am able to be more patient and validating of myself as I work through these hard things, but what are you supposed to do when your spouse is not?


Question #4

I'm having some confusion about one-up and one-down.  I'm asking for a general clarification of the concepts of one-up and one-down.

Question #5

My husband and I have been married for 11 years.  We’ve been through a lot of hard times for most of our marriage mostly related to pornography addiction, an emotional affair, and my husband leaving the church. Every time I try to talk about any of these things our losing strategies kicked in and it was never a productive conversation.  They usually ended with empty promises or an “I don’t want to talk about this right now” and then we go through this never ending cycle where it seems like nothing ever changes.  Now that I’m almost finished listening to your course I recognize that there is a much more effective way to communicate, but my husband is so tired of me “always bringing up the past” that I’m afraid if I bring anything up again our marriage will just be over.  For example, I recently discovered that my husband had been lying about texting a female coworker and after I told him how it made me feel because of an emotional affair he had a few years ago with another female coworkerhe started to delete texts from the current female coworker so I wouldn’t know about them or be able to read them and then later just said he is done talking about this and basically I just need to get over it.  Since then we have started these courses and for one of the assignments I even said I was afraid to express my desires for fear that our marriage will end and he didn’t respond.   I wish I had known all these things you are teaching before we got married.

THE QUESTION: Do you have any advice for couples with a long history of pain and heartbreak on how to begin discussing and healing from past hurts?

Question #6

What you teach about differentiation and enmeshment has completely changed my life. I have so much relief and peace when I think about how I view myself and I'm not filled with anxiety about interactions with others. My wife is struggling to understand differentiation and enmeshment and I'm finding it difficult to try to build/rebuild a relationship with her because I'm not really sure who she is. I realize now that she has been my wife the bishop, my wife the FTSOY pamphlet, my wife the book she read, etc. In other words, she is enmeshed with those people or ideas and ties her validation to them, which means it's me against her and whatever source is the most current in her mind. There have been improvements in our relationship, but I'm worried that it's my wife the Jennifer Finlayson-Fife or my wife the therapist we're seeing here locally. I now understand that this has happened in the past when there have been periods of improvement in our relationship. She didn't change, but she did temporarily shift her focus of enmeshment to a source whose views were closer to what I hoped for our relationship.

How can I build a relationship with her while I'm concerned that she'll shift again in the future?