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Putting others before their spouse


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Old 26th March 2010, 9:24 AM   #1
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Putting others before their spouse

This is a question a friend of mine was wondering. I am to actually because I've seen this kind of thing before.

Yes, then can apply to women and men. However in this case its the men, because my friend is a woman who is married and her husband does this.

Why is it there are some people (men or women) who will put others first before their spouse? What I mean by that is, they will go out of their way for friends, or other family members or even a stranger perhaps, to help them out, or be there for them or whatever, but they put their spouse on the back burner?

My friends husband is like this. He will have no problem doing something for another person, and lets say his wife had wanted or asked the same kind of thing from him at one point, but he would bend over backwards to make sure something got done for another person, but not his wife?

She said his dad was like this too. He would go to great lengths to help out others or be there for them if they needed or wanted something, but acted like his wifes needs or wants was not as important. Why?
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Old 26th March 2010, 9:57 AM   #2
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Some are emotionally wired to seek approval. A marriage license and cohabitation are evidence of approval so, in essence, they *assume* they're approved of and seek out the validation and approval of others.

Some are detached. My stbx was like that. I don't think she realized she was prioritizing others before our M, even when I pointed out examples. It only became painfully evident to her how the behavior affects someone when I had my EA and prioritized someone else before her. Such prioritizing, as we covered in MC, is inappropriate and unhealthy for the marriage.

Some people are really giving and don't realize how their actions affect their spouse. They have inadequate marital skills, though they might have really good intentions.

IMO, effective communication is the first step. If the W is feeling non-prioritized and/or unappreciated, she needs to communicate that before resentment gets the best of her. If her complaint wasn't just a situational vent, and if H doesn't pay attention to her concerns, she should consider MC as the next step. Get it early, rather than late and save/strengthen the M rather than lose it, like we did.
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Old 26th March 2010, 10:09 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carhill View Post
Some are emotionally wired to seek approval. A marriage license and cohabitation are evidence of approval so, in essence, they *assume* they're approved of and seek out the validation and approval of others.

Some are detached. My stbx was like that. I don't think she realized she was prioritizing others before our M, even when I pointed out examples. It only became painfully evident to her how the behavior affects someone when I had my EA and prioritized someone else before her. Such prioritizing, as we covered in MC, is inappropriate and unhealthy for the marriage.

Some people are really giving and don't realize how their actions affect their spouse. They have inadequate marital skills, though they might have really good intentions.

IMO, effective communication is the first step. If the W is feeling non-prioritized and/or unappreciated, she needs to communicate that before resentment gets the best of her. If her complaint wasn't just a situational vent, and if H doesn't pay attention to her concerns, she should consider MC as the next step. Get it early, rather than late and save/strengthen the M rather than lose it, like we did.
Thanks carhill, this makes alot of sense. I asked her if she has ever mentioned this to him and she said, she has actually said something to him before about it on more than one occasion over the years. So he is aware of it. he didn't really have an answer for it though.

She did say it was almost like him getting approval from others and/or wanting them to think highly of him because he went out of his way for them was how it came across. I think too, even though his father was this way and it was more than likely a learned behavior, I think she isn't real clear on why he knows he does this, but chooses to not do anything about it. That might be where some of the detachment comes from as well. She did mention that before too.

Seeking out marriage counseling would probably be a no go for him. She told me she has asked him to go before and he tells her he has no issues but if she did she could go. He is one of these that knows he does wrong, doesn't take blame for anything and its always that someone else has issues, its never him. I think she could at least go.
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Old 26th March 2010, 10:17 AM   #4
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We have some friends whose husband is exactly like this. Of course he is very self absorbed, and thinks the world revolves around him. His wife and kids have always been on the "back burner."

I think too, if they have any anger or resentment towards a spouse, it might be they do it as some kind of punishment. Where as a friend, family member or stranger has has not wronged them in anyway. I know that might sound odd, but its possible that could be part of it.
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Old 26th March 2010, 10:39 AM   #5
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So, OP, has the H always been like this, even before they were M? I ask because, if that is his elemental personality, as it is for my stbx, one must accept it as his truth, even if it is unhealthy for the M. In my case, I picked someone incompatible at that elemental level, and that's my responsibility. His W, if he is similar, shares her responsibility; her 'people-picker'. She was attracted to that man, just as I was attracted to my stbx. She married him. That was a choice I learned to own in MC. It was a mirror I had to hold up to see exactly where the finger should be pointed.

This underscores the concept of self-control. One has no control over others and complete control over themselves. If the W can accept that, she can move forward. I can think of inumerable examples, but her path is her own. He suggested she go to MC alone. Accepted That's a start. The key is he has no control over her actions either. That's the balance. It'll all work out
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Old 26th March 2010, 10:48 AM   #6
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I understand what you're saying carhill. I don't think she wants to divorce over it or anything like that, and I guess she has accepted it on some level, I think she was just wondering WHY some people did this. I guess there could be a number of reasons. Thanks again!
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Old 26th March 2010, 11:16 AM   #7
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FWIW, I didn't want to divorce either. I gave health my best effort and sacrificed a lot along the way, willingly. IMO, doing nothing is the only failure here. If a woman came to me with such complaints, and one did a few weeks ago, instead of being a tampon, I told her straight up she needed to get some MC. I've lived a lifetime of listening to people complain about their 'lack of understanding'; some will go to their grave ignorant and accepting of their lot in life. Good on em'. That's their path. Don't bring it to my doorstep. If they accept it and don't wish to change it, why complain? Good question to ask. I have. Rubs people the wrong way. I like that
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Old 26th March 2010, 11:34 AM   #8
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Well hopefully she will seek out some IC for herself, and can find some peace with her questions as to WHY. Or just peace in general.
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Old 26th March 2010, 11:50 AM   #9
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OP, a couple of questions:

How old is this couple, generally?

Do they have any children?

If they have children, does the H prioritize the children over his spouse? Reverse (meaning she prioritizes the kids over H)?

If her firm conviction is to remain married without exception, I join you in your suggestion for IC. The counselor needs to know that divorce is not an option and she wishes to work on understanding and acceptance and tools she can use to make that path healthier for her. I think that's possible, especially if she hasn't built up resentment. Hope it works out
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Old 27th March 2010, 1:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carhill View Post
OP, a couple of questions:

How old is this couple, generally?

Do they have any children?

If they have children, does the H prioritize the children over his spouse? Reverse (meaning she prioritizes the kids over H)?

If her firm conviction is to remain married without exception, I join you in your suggestion for IC. The counselor needs to know that divorce is not an option and she wishes to work on understanding and acceptance and tools she can use to make that path healthier for her. I think that's possible, especially if she hasn't built up resentment. Hope it works out
Thanks carhill.

They are both 40 years of age. Been married for 17 years.
They have two kids, ages 15 and 12.

I wouldn't say she prioritizes the kids over him or vice versa. But she is there for them more than he is. In all areas. He doesn't prioritize anyone really, except whatever it is HE wants/needs. I spoke with her early today and she said the more she thinks about it, the more she feels he is just kind of detached more than anything. She also said she has never really known him to be real connected he is there but he is not, if that makes sense, once again his father was like this as well. I know thats not an excuse, because regardless, he is grown now, and if he wanted to change he could.

She did say she thought she would check out some IC.
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Old 27th March 2010, 1:13 AM   #11
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Have you observed him with his children? Does he seem 'connected' to them?

I had this experience with the friend in my journals where she focused on and connected so much with her children, markedly after her divorce, that I could see her 'switch' from cold as a stone with adults, even myself, to a warm, loving, engaged and emotional 'mother' with her now adult children. It was like multiple personalities. I never saw her engage an adult in any way approaching that, even with the intimacies we shared over the years, or even with her own blood siblings and parents. It's like something inside is broken. Her mom is far 'warmer'.

I'm trying to explain one potential schism in personality. H seems like this loving, generous guy but W is getting none of that apparently. Personally, I couldn't live like that, and it's part of the reason I let my friend go. Even in friendships, I need a connection; a feeling of shared empathy and care. Perhaps W doesn't need that; maybe IC can help her accept their reality in a healthy way, IDK.

Sure is a lot of gray in life, eh?
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Old 27th March 2010, 10:32 AM   #12
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Yes, I have seen him with his children before, although not often. The times I have seen him with them, he was more interested in what others were doing (as in I seen him with his kids and wife at cookouts or family functions. It was pretty much left up to his wife to get the kids out of whatever they were in or whatever. In other words she was the main one that watched them like when they were little etc. I have seen her run to their side when they have hurt themselves or whatever while he stands around and looks on. I'm not saying he should do as her, but he could at least act interested. I think thats the whole thing, he is there but he is not, so I guess the correct word would be detached.

I don't think its that she is overly involved with the kids, or has a priority over them, this is simply a case I believe, where he isn't "there." According to her, as far as she can remember he has been like this, but more so after the kids. Kind of like, I'll help you conceive them but thats as far as I go.

I'm basically going on mainly what she has told me over time. Although I've seen a few things she has said. I do believe that it might be worse behind closed doors than out in the open. It usually is. But I could be wrong.
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