Thank you, Miracle, for your post. It confirms a lot of things I have been thinking. I have never cheated on her, never hit her, never laid a hand on her, don't have a drug or alcohol problem. My anger issues have occurred throughout and are usually signs of frustration with something other than with her. Usually work-related or something else. Either way, she says she has lived with a knot in her stomach for all 18 years, and I believe her even though she has only showed it when I have my little melt-downs or pouting spells.
Two years ago on New Year's Eve, we were at a party with friends. There was a man and his wife there who were really obnoxious. Somehow the conversation migrated toward the fact that my youngest brother had recently been ordained into the priesthood (I'm the oldest of five boys and the only one who is not Catholic anymore). This couple made a couple of really insensitive remarks about priests and my brother (they didn't even know him), and it immediately put me into a bad mood. For some reason, I couldn't let it go for the rest of the night. I didn't get vocal or anything, just sat on the couch and watched football. It really made my wife upset that I was being so stand-offish the rest of the night, though and not enjoying the evening, and she was right. I was stupid to be like that. Somehow that evolved into an argument with her on the way home, and I recall her sitting at the foot of the bed that night telling me that if it continued on like this, she didn't know how much more she could take.
Again, these little episodes of mine have come and gone over the years. They're almost always over something stupid, and about 5 seconds into them, I realize I'm wrong, but I just won't admit I'm wrong (usually). On New Year's Day, we made up, and I took her to Home Depot and bought her a washer and dryer that she had been wanting for a long time. She now tells me that I've always done that - always tried to buy her forgiveness after the fact in those situations, and the more I look back on it, I think she's right. I've admitted wrongdoing many times, but I should have never let myself get so upset in the first place.
It's usually something like that, or when we go out together, I'll get irritated at the way someone is driving, or something silly. It either turns into silence or an argument. I've noticed over the past couple of years that I've done a better job of controlling these outbursts through conscious effort.
She, on the other hand, seems to have been assuming my role over these same past couple of years. She has starting working more and with the swimming becoming more time consuming, she seems to have been really stressed out a LOT. It's gotten to the point of where it's almost been a role reversal in that respect. I seem to have calmed down a lot, whereas she has gotten to where every little thing sets her off. The kids have had a really hard time with it, too, and have mentioned it to me (and to her) on many occasions. I guess the main difference in this role reversal has been how each one of us has handled the other's emotional outbursts. Whereas she had usually been patient with me in the past during my little episodes, I haven't had that same kind of patience with hers. I'll get upset that she's being that way, and I end up saying things without thinking. I have told her a time or two that the kids can't stand to be around her. I realize immediately afterwards that this is a terrible thing to have said, but I've said it, and it can't be undone. I haven't realized how much she just needed support rather than me just verbally retaliating like that.
Through much self-appraisal and introspection over the past couple of months, I believe we're at where we are right now largely in part due to the above. I think she feels that I've sided with the kids in many cases, and maybe subconsciously I have.
Now, about our oldest. Up until about four months ago, his life was going nowhere. Now, he's my stepson, but I've raised him since he was three. He has always called me Dad and has told me on many occasions that he views me as being his real dad. That night out on the deck that I mentioned before, he cried about a paper he wrote in highschool on who his hero was. He told us all that he had written it about his biological father and that he has felt guilty about it ever since. That's the kind of relationship we've had, though. I've always been very close to him. The thing is, my wife and I have also always been tough on him. Probably tougher than on our two children we've had together. Before a few months ago, like I said, his life was going nowhere. He was working a dead-end job, living at home, sleeping until all hours of the afternoon, never doing any chores we asked him to do, etc. We were really riding him hard - BOTH OF US. He was engaged, and he and his fiancee would always manage to be around only at meal time. I would make little, negative comments in my wife's presence about it, and despite the fact that she was equally frustrated with him, I think she took exception to it.
Then, he got a job with the Fire Dept., and everything started fall into place for him. He did a complete 180, and neither of us had to say anything else to him because he had obviously grown up all of a sudden. We were both very pleased, but I think it began to dawn on my wife that he was headed out the door. During one of our discussions a couple weeks ago, my wife angrily insinuated that I had been the reason he moved out. She mentioned that he came home from work one day with a bag of groceries to make his lunch, and she told him that while he still lived under our roof it was ok for him to eat our food. I felt this was unfair to say this about me since she had actually been tougher on him in the months leading up to it than I had been. She told me that she felt caught in the middle, and that's why she had been that way towards him. Now she won't go in his room, and when I texted him today and asked that he stop by to see her a couple times since she missed him so much lately, he responded that she hasn't been taking his phone calls! I don't understand that.
I sat down with her on the bed last week and begged her to sit down with me and talk about how she was feeling about him, and surprisingly she did. She sobbed the whole time, but I just listened. She talked about how she's always been such a tough mother but not a loving one. I assured her over and over that she had been the most wonderful mother any of our kids could ever have. I told her she has always had the right balance of toughness and tenderness and that we were all very lucky to have had her. It seemed to help her a little. It helped me, too.
I have been doing almost all the housework for the past month or so as she has pretty much just let it all go. I do most of the laundry, some of the cooking, make her coffee every morning (I don't drink coffee), vacuum, dust, water flowers, etc. You have to understand that these are things I've never really done much of over the years. She told me a few weeks ago that it made her feel uncomfortable and weird that I was doing all that, but I do it anyway. It has been nice to put myself in her shoes for once to see what all she's done for us over the years.
Her birthday was last Tuesday. I left work around noon, went to the grocery store, came home and cooked her dinner. She has been on this slow carb diet, so I went to the website and picked out a recipe from it to cook. I even bought her favorite cake and bought her an iPad. (Buying forgiveness again, LOL). When she got home, she looked at me without smiling and said, "What are you doing home so early?" I told her, and she responded, "Aren't they going to be mad at you for missing all this work?" Not a thank you, not a smile from her, nothing. But that's the way it has been since June. I don't let it bother me, though, and I continue. She did thank me later that night and emailed me the next day to thank me for it again.
I'm still improving myself throughout this process. No matter what happens between the two of us, I know I will come out of this a better person. I'm controlling my emotions and making lots of sacrifices, and honestly I feel a lot better as a person. I only wish I had done this years ago, and I just hope it's not too late.
Unfortunately, her resolve still seems to be as firm as it has been since June. I'm not giving up hope while at the same time trying to move forward.