Do you sometimes think you hate your husband? Can you become filled with resentment and bitterness when he walks into the room? Do you cringe when he touches you? Do you daydream of a life that is far different than your own?
Debbie, a client of mine, confessed, "I hate my husband." Debbie was someone with whom I had a very strong coach-client relationship, so I really pushed to get at what was going on behind the scenes, deep within her subconscious mind.
After this, Debbie described the outcome as the single biggest breakthrough she'd had in her life thus far, so (with her permission and use of a pseudonym) I am happy to share our conversation in this post.
She laid out her feelings in spades.
"I feel so completely dismissed, irrelevant and rejected. I hate him so much! I can't have an opinion without him correcting me. I can't ask for anything without him making me feel guilty. I can't even give him a gift without being told in some way that I have fallen short of his expectations. He's so selfish! I just hate him."
She was reduced to tears of resentment.
"I want to leave him so bad. It’'s what I think about every day," she continued.
"How long have you hated your husband?" I asked.
"Well, we've been married for thirteen years and I am sure I've hated him for twelve," she finally said.
"Twelve years is a long time to hate. Amazing you've stuck with him” I responded.
"It's complicated," she explained with a degree of patience. "I feel like I shouldn't hate him—that somehow this is all my fault, so I have no right to feel this way. I keep telling myself that hating is wrong and if I can just stop…and I don’t think he would do well without me, besides. He thinks he's all that, but it's really me who keeps his life together."
"I am still amazed," I repeated.
"If you hate him, it seems you wouldn't be so invested in keeping his life together for him. Besides, he can make it on his own. He is a grown man," I added.
"What are you trying to say?" she sounded skeptical.
"Well, when an explanation doesn't do a situation justice, there is usually something else going on."
She stopped breathing for a few moments, "Like what?"
I continued, "First let's get our minds around dislike and hatred. When you dislike something that you have a choice about, you avoid it. Dislike broccoli? You don't eat it. Dislike baseball? You don't play it. Hate Hawaii? You don't vacation there. Dislike a man, then stay with him for twelve years and counting?”
"Yes," she agreed, "but again it's not that simple, Mike. Marriage is not a vegetable."
"I know. And twelve years is long enough to decide to leave and work out the details if you dislike it that much. It's such a long time to endure a miserable, hateful relationship. And the stress takes an overwhelming toll on your body. Anyway, I'm just taking you at your word. You say you hate this man. You've wanted to leave him for a long time. I can't imagine why you'd stay so long after knowing this."
"I really do dislike my husband. And I have no positive feelings for him left, and it's been this way for a long time. Why on Earth am I still with this guy?" she was beginning to wonder more open-mindedly.
I dove in, "That's the most important question you could ask. It's not because you want to keep his life together for him. In fact, you probably resent doing that. And it's not because it's all your fault. I am sure you understand that you are both responsible for this marriage."
"I know, I know. I just can't figure it out. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all go away!"
"We can do that. Once you understand the real reason why you are staying, it will all go away, one way or another. Do you really want to know?"
"Yes." She sounded congruent.
"Let's talk about rejection, then. Your husband rejects you a lot, right?"
"Have other men rejected you besides him?"
"Well, my father was pretty good at it! I never felt good enough for him—ever."
"OK. Have you ever been in a relationship with a man who accepted you wholeheartedly? A lot of women haven't."
"Yes," she said.
"What happened there?"
"Actually, I've been with a few guys who were kind and accepted me. But, I lost interest. I didn't stay with them for very long."
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