Opinion: Am I out of line taking time out to help a female friend?
VOLKSAHOLIC - Feb 3 2015 at 00:00
I wanted to get a reality check on this, but I didn't want to bring my friends into it. I'll be kicking it around with my therapist too but sometimes I feel like his responses are a little harsh.
I'm a 53 y.o. married guy. My wife and I have had problems that run too deep to get into here. We spent a couple years living apart and "dating," but stayed married and kept the house. I love her dearly and we've been back under the same roof for nearly a year. We both play music and were at a party last weekend playing with friends. A large group was playing music in the front room and a smaller group started a second jam in another room. My wife migrated to the other room without saying anything to me, while I continued to play in the front room. Over time, a few more people left the room for the other jam and a couple others left for home. About the time the room cleared out, a friend of ours who we see very infrequently came in and started asking me about some mandolin technique (she's been gradually learning for several years). She's attractive and about 14 years younger than me. Other than playing mandolin, having mutual friends, and the fact that she's friends with my younger brother... we don't really have much in common. She's VERY active outdoors, and I'm more of a homebody. I don't believe she would ever be romantically interested in me.
My wife was upset with me for not only being apart from her at the jam, which has been a previous complaint of hers, but that I was alone with this other woman for 30 minutes or so in the front room. I apologized for making her uncomfortable and causing her stress, but pointed out that she was the one who left my side to join the other jam and that that's a common pattern. I also informed her that the conversation between this woman and I was similar to our last encounter with the woman in the spring of 2014, where my wife and I were both giving her advice on the mandolin and played some tunes with her while camping at a music festival. I didn't feel as if the woman acted any differently toward me or asked any more of me in private than when the three of us were hanging out.
My problem is twofold. 1) I know I end up not standing up for myself enough in the relationship, and I've let my wife run roughshod of me and my kids in the past. I'm kind of offended because I haven't ever cheated on my wife (or any committed relationship for that matter) but she doesn't trust me. I love my wife, but have been honestly questioning the viability of our relationship due to trust and anger issues. Honestly, if I were single and I thought this woman were interested I'd love to explore it, but I'm committed AND I don't see any indication that she's looking for more than what we've discussed. 2) I don't know whether I'm being insensitive. I consider this woman a friend and she's been asking me for years to give her lessons. She brought that up again the other night and I agreed. I don't want to hurt my wife, but I think it would help my own playing to put some time/thought into helping her get to the next level. My wife doesn't want me to "throw her under the bus" by letting anyone know how she feels about this, but if I were to give an honest reason to this woman as to why I can't give her lessons I would have to tell her that I can't do it because my wife is uncomfortable with the situation.
I know there's a lot of behind the scenes stuff that you all know nothing about, and that you're only getting the problem from my vantage point, but I'm hoping to get some objective viewpoints on the situation. I understand the concept of "would you rather be right or be married" but I find myself thinking that I'm giving away too much of myself to the marriage and it's only eroding my desire to stay married. I will get my therapist's take on it as well, and he knows more background. I just don't want to sound it out on any of our mutual friends... many of who know our history too. That would feel too much like throwing her under the bus.
Anyway, thanks in advance for any perspective you can provide.
OK not sure if I can help but I just had to respond. First of all this website has done wonders for me, where I thought I had problems with my wife not understanding me and it turned out to me my misunderstanding her issues and we have some really deep issues behind us, no that's wrong I have some really really deep issues behind me.
As a man and a 75 years old 50yrs married man I can see exactly how it is with you. I have been guilty for years of wandering off in parties and mixing or working the room as I and my mates called it, being a naturally extrovert chap and she is introvert. My wife got accustomed to this and saw no problems, but I started to go wrong on the hunt so to speak and was successful. However we kept things together through lots of tempers and rows, but somehow we managed.
I do think your wife is being unfair, but you must think deeply about the whole issue. Maybe I am utterly wrong and I am sure the good people in here will sort you out as they did me, so good luck.
(Bait taken and understood, Moody, thanks. ;-))
Maybe your therapist is 'harsh' because anything softer doesn't seem to get through to you and/or because you keep repeating mistakes using playing dumb as your cover? Or maybe he's just a Tough Love type. Whichever,...I'm going to ignore your sneaky little apartheid request for only those that are squishily PC and socially timid to respond, Mr Control Freak Number Two Zillion and Three. But nice try. ;-) So here we go... Objective observations and opinions...
1. You are not a guy, you are a MAN. Particularly when talking about something of an important, deadly serious, adult nature.
2. You - YOU - decided to stay in your relationship with your wife and work at correcting any pre-existing, ongoing, onerous issues. One of your wife's issues with you obviously was your failure to act like her exclusive and committed lover-partner on any mating grounds, as typically include house parties (which must mean you would too often in the past act like an available singleton).
Is she right or is she wrong? Neither. (Unless your yardstick is optimum relationship health and 24-Carat payouts, of course.) It's how she is, something she obviously feels strongly about. It's called moral fibre. It is *not* "riding roughshod".
Saying that, why you *wouldn't* want to mark your relationship together as out-of-bounds territory to third parties, considering you're supposed to be back in Honeymoon Period yet simultaneously on probation, is not rocket science.
If you don't like how a product features a certain setting that you can't get around due to it being essential to functioning, you either take it back to the shop for a different model or learn to accept that downside for the sake of its many other plus points (which may be features or reciprocal tolerance of your own downsides).
You, by your vow to keep yet work harder (supposedly) at making the marriage one to be proud of, communicated your agreement to accept this standard feature of hers.
3. Are you accepting it in practise? No. You're subtly yet wholly rebelling against it, in the process pinning the blame and responsibility onto HER for having ended up in separate rooms, via the spin of, SHE migrated. The truth is, YOU failed - despite re-contractually agreed - to migrate with her the minute she did so or/and the minute you could see you were in any iffy position - TO WIT:
"My wife was upset with me for not only being apart from her at the jam, ***which has been a previous complaint of hers***"
"My wife migrated to the other room ***without saying anything to me***"
As if you didn't already know...A previous complaint, whether lodged repeatedly-mildly or one-off gravely and impactfully, *is* her 'saying something'.
My, aren't you slippery. It's called Passive-Aggressive. So already I can see why your therapist is 'harsh'. It's a pre-emptive measure to save him from having to NAG. Because *men*, especially, hate having to nag another man; it makes them feel like HIS DISRESPECTED WIFE. They're not *used* to being treated like a second-class citizens, ergo it makes them want to right-hook you.
4. " a friend of ours ***who we see very infrequently*** "
Then by logical definition, she is not a friend. She is just a MILD ACQUAINTANCE. But nice try again in terms of slippery, biased-to-self spin job. ;-)
By the way, did I mention I'm greaseproof? Oh, well, I expect you've gathered that by now.
5. "Other than playing mandolin, having mutual friends, and the fact that she's friends with my younger brother... we don't really have much in common. She's VERY active outdoors, and I'm more of a homebody. I don't believe ***she*** would ever be romantically interested ***in me***."
If you were initially trying to imply you didn't fancy her, it failed even *before* you went on to openly admit you did once now safetly sat (or so you hoped) against the backdrop of your wife just picking on you for the fun of it thus deserving of everything she got.
6. "I'd love to explore it, but I'm committed"
Error, Does Not Compute! Committed does not feel even tempted to explore it.
(Do you suppose your wife understands the above simple concepts?)
7. "but that I was alone with this other woman for 30 minutes or so in the front room."
Were you really? Despite already knowing how your wife felt about you knowingly putting yourself in such affair-conducive conditions, meaning you knew even TWO minutes was two minutes too long? So why did you still do it, then, hmm?
8. "I apologized for making her uncomfortable and causing her stress,"
The thing about apology, what makes it worth diddly-squat, is that you put it into PRACTISE, meaning, you don't have to blah-blah apologise for it a second, third, fourth, fifth...time. And as you're *not* five years old, you knew that. SO WHY DID YOU DO IT AGAIN?
9. ""***but pointed out that she was the one who left my side to join the other jam*** and that that's a common pattern."
Under-The-Table Bullying Alert!!!!
How low can you go?
10. ""but she doesn't trust me""
Nor do I and I'm not even married to you. Ooh, I wonder why. Life's a bleedin' mystery, ain't it? Or, ignoring that one subjective, is it actually so simple it's childplay: you doing everything you can to behave exactly like a man who's constantly "this close" to committing adultery, given half the chance.
11. "but stayed married ***and kept the house***."
I.e. didn't lose half its equity and chattels, etc., etc., in a divorce.
Thanks for, oops!, pointing that out. But you really didn't need to. Neither do you need to point out how, your main reason for not wanting to split being about MONEY, you can meanwhile afford to play around within and with the relationship, including flexing your ego via sneaky little gaslighting manoeuvres and manipulations for the sake of petty, resentments-based vindictiveness AND other-female, mid-life crisis-staving flattery - all under the public cover of VICTIM-BULLY, a la, 'Yooou made me stab you and get covered in blood, you nastibicz!'.
Either that or you really are only five years old.
(Rides roughshod over you, does she? What, like, HARSH?)
You don't just need counselling, you need self-assertiveness training. Maybe then you can cease behaving like a snake-in-the-grass and stand up STRAIGHT, like a man who knows what to DO with his pair.
Could you do that? Be assertive, i.e. bothered to stand up for yourself the fair and honourable way - on your feet rather than constantly your belly like a powerless and naughty toddler trying to escape mum's rules and boundaries? If not, then do the right thing - for her and your kids if not for yourself - in taking your strong, straight-as-a-die (but by now, exasperated) wife back to the shop and replacing her with a younger, wimpier, less experienced thus more easily duped and confused model instead of grudgingly re-entering the marriage just because you don't want to end up "poor".
Trouble is, though, if you somehow way-back-when managed to snag your strong'un thanks to her having been laid uncharacteristically low and weakened at the point when you fancied swoopingly plucking from a normally unreachable league, then - know this: her replacement is that much more likely to be your exact Like. Passive-Aggressive, liable to Victim-Bully-ing, either when out of anywhere to hide or as a first, lazy resort. And you know what they say? 'The female of the species is more deadly than the male' (to wit, you UNABLE TO SEE "any indication that she's looking for more than what we've discussed") meaning, YOU'RE going to be sampling, year-in-year-out, EXACTLY WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE YOUR WIFE.
Tsk... Cuh... Looks like there's no way out, doesn't there. Except, of course, for getting that assertiveness training underway asap and then insisting on a SECOND renegotiations exercise with your wife due to you now no longer being the same person who entered the original re-contract.
In the MEANTIME:
"My wife doesn't want me to "throw her under the bus" by letting anyone know how she feels about this, but if I were to give an honest reason to this woman as to why I can't give her lessons I would have to tell her that I can't do it because my wife is uncomfortable with the situation."
What - a cleverly cunning chap like you? Here you go, then, as it's yer birthday: "So sorry, friend, but I'm going to have to renege on my offer of mandolin lessons for the time being, due to other sudden, unforeseeable commitments having entered the frame (ones too sensitive to go into)". For future reference, it's not that far off your own opening statement of, "My wife and I have had problems that run too deep to get into here", is it.
Ach, my poor brain, it hurts so, oh, the effort of composing that get-out sentance, owwww.... But, hey, at least it was worth it because now you don't "have to", whoops, humiliate your wife in public, nor, as a result, come across yet again as passive-aggressively out for petty revenge over the fact your wife has (how very dare she!) tried to "tell you" what to do.
I expect you love your therapist all over again now, don't you. Meaning you CAN now tell him at the next session like you claimed you intended.
Glad to be of service. :-)
I appreciate your input too... although I have to admit I don't have time to really absorb it while at work. I'll re-read it in depth this evening. I see some observations that are spot on, advice I need to factor in, some assumptions that aren't valid but are understandable given the sparse description I gave of our relationship, and some either I didn't communicate properly or you missed the details.
For example, on #6 my point was that I'm committed to my wife; IF I were single I would be very open to exploring a relationship with this woman... however unlikely it might be that she would feel the same. The fact is that I'm NOT single, I'm NOT available, I'm NOT open to exploring other relationships, and I WILL stay monogamous until my wife and I agree that the marriage is over. Conceptually I don't have a problem with an open relationship between consenting adults, but I don't think I could handle it and I know she couldn't. I don't know how much of it is being too socially inept to manage relationships when I was younger, how much is integrity, and how much is Catholic guilt, but I've never been one to cheat on a committed relationship. I don't intend to start now, and I'm not going to end this marriage on the prospect of the grass being greener with someone else. It's got to stand or fall on its own.
I've got an appointment with my therapist this afternoon and I plan on discussing this with him, then it will be helpful to read back through your post and probably reinforce at least some of what he has to say.
I smell honey. Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice...
Nope, sorry, that was a one-off. And it was a perfectly analytically logical set of observations, deductions and extrapolations, not assumptions. If I did get something wrong then that would be down to miscommunication... only how convenient would it be only now, *after* the fact, to suggest I entertain any such allegation on your part of having failed to accurately represent yourself and what you wanted to say or mean, as well as events or that, conversely, you simultaneously *were* aware of every single statement you were making, including HOW, to qualify an accusation of misassumption in the first place. This is NOT a case of Schrodinger's Cat. Not for me, anyway. It's perfectly macroscopic... a basic case of flow, order, tone, emphasis, syntax, semantics, paradoxes, contrivances and spin.
Regardless, I'm not in the habit of helping other therapist's clients moonlight on them; cheating by whatever even small degree is still cheating - on whom is not the point. And it starts in the head. Furthermore, you're not nearly as unique or uncharted as you seem to think you are. So I'm not about to waste what little time I do have, getting into debates over whether the sky is Blue or Monday logically follows Tuesday. Prime example being, your ludicrous insistence of being relationship-committed despite above-quotable claims as include how you at the very least agreed - against the common sense of a genuinely committed individual *and* without consultation with your wife! - to fraternise regularly with a woman you DO find highly attractive and WOULD have a relationship with, were you only able, and, now, that the idea of an open marriage holds certain appeal!
NOTHING of what you've demonstrated up there supports any claims to a committed frame of mind. Quite the contrary. Committed partners don't think like that, let alone talk like that, and certainly not that repeatedly and expansively. So how you believe this uncooperative attitude constitutes any fair facilitation of 'it standing or falling on its own' is beyond me. You are open to cheating or creating the right conditions where cheating can, whoops, "just happen", and it's this which makes it IMPOSSIBLE for your marriage to have any chance at thriving to where you become closed to it.
You may appreciate my input but your wife and I and all earnest, honest, hard-working relationship partners on the planet are not appreciative of yours when it comes to your marital so-called knuckling down.
There are piranhas in denial, and if you don't watch it you're going to get bitten to shreds.
So you're obviously not listening to yourself as you neither pee nor get off the pot. Otherwise, you'd see as plainly as I, how you keep landing yourself more and more in it. But, yes, I agree you should (cough!) better-commit to your existing therapist and from here on in, take his 'harshness' like a man, safe in the knowledge that your head *won't* actually self-combust, and that you might in the process actually learn a few things (not least how to tell your emotional a*se from your emotional elbow) so as to make your life, *and* all those who have to sail in you, easier from now on.
If you begin by finally knuckling down with your therapist in said spirit of substance over style, I won't even *need* to wish you the best of luck.
Volks old son, Beetles or Campers?
Listen to Soulmate, no - read at your leisure and several times.
I had to. Seems wordy and difficult but it's good and sorted me out.
(had '73 T2campervan but no beetles)
Looks like trust issues have been eroding your relationship from quiet sometime. Why is she so insecure? could it be that probably you haven't been able to settle her insecurities through comforting re-assurances? Generally women need to hear it in words rather than just actions. So if you are not doing that may be you can try that. The issue here is not about you helping a woman. It runs deeper and this issue is only a by product of the whole thing. If you can give us some more insight, might be able to put our two cents into it.
@SOULMATE You're pretty sure of yourself. I admit that I lack self confidence, but I would say that you are overconfident. Call it miscommunication, but I clearly prefaced the original post with "My wife and I have had problems that run too deep to get into here." I know there's a lot more history than anyone would want to hear or read, but you have made some pretty deep assumptions to arrive at some of your "perfectly analytically logical set of observations, deductions and extrapolations." You also have clearly determined that I'm either cheating or "open to cheating." It really doesn't matter what you think of me... I know my own mind. I know my doubts about the future of my marriage don't help our situation, and those relate to many issues that I'm not going to elaborate on here, but I also know that I won't cave to external temptation until a decision has been made to end the marriage. In a healthy relationship I don't believe there's anything wrong with recognizing that another woman is beautiful or sexy, it's whether we act on it or recognize that a relationship is much more than a physical attraction.
You've given me some good food for thought, but there are assumptions about me and my marital history that invalidate some of what you say. You are spot on that I need to be more assertive and direct; something I've struggled with as long as I can remember, and one of the things my therapist gets on me about. I'm afraid, though, if I dropped everything on my wife as my therapist would have me do, the decision about whether we proceed with repairing the marriage would be made; it would be time for divorce. In hindsight it was probably unfair to ask for input on this one issue without being able to put it in the larger context of my wife's and my history.
@MOODY Mostly vans, but I've owned Bugs, Ghias, and many Busses. I decided 15 years ago that I was spending too much time on VWs and not enough on family and music, so I sold 6 project VWs, a chicken coop full of parts, and pronounced myself a recovering Volksaholic. I now have one '88 Vanagon that we've had some wonderful family trips in, and it's my wife's and my camping/music festival rig. It's an asset to my family relationships rather than a detractor like the old air cooled VWs were. Oh... and I collect VW toys to satisfy my classic VW lust!
@SHIVANGI My wife says it's the opposite. I try to reassure her constantly. I tell her (sincerely) how attractive I find her, how much I enjoy being in the house with her... just hanging out, being a homebody. I hug and touch her throughout the day, and I try to do little things to let her know I'm thinking about her throughout the day. I get short lived appreciations but then she tells me actions speak louder than words and I constantly feel like my words fall on deaf ears and my actions have no value. Things like this come up and I'm sure the "action" of discussing music with a friend (or mild acquaintance) accounts for a much larger debit than all the credits for day-to-day honey-dos, bringing flowers, touching her, bringing her coffee in the morning, etc. I makes me want to shut down and hang it all up, but then those sweet moments when we connect keep me going.
I met with my therapist yesterday and we stepped through this from different vantage points. One is the culture of our circle of friends. If this was a strong religious group where the "norm" was that you don't even open yourself to the appearance of impropriety, then it would be clearly out of line for me to sit alone in the front room with another woman. These friends are not "swingers" (no wife swapping or the like) but certainly comfortable in our relationships with each other as individuals as well as couples. I thought about the hours some of these folks spend practicing music with members of the opposite sex without raising jealousy in their spouses and I've come to the conclusion that there was no reason for either me or the other woman to feel like we were crossing a line of impropriety.
That said, the relationship between my wife and I is more important than the cultural norm, and it clearly made her uncomfortable. I need to discuss that with her and find that where that balance is. In thinking this through, I think I understand better where's she's coming from. Her father left her mother after having an affair. We have been on shaky ground and have a lot of baggage we still need to sort out. I need to find that balance between being who I am while respecting her feelings (DUH!). I'm not good at balance... something I've worked on for years and will continue to work on. I've got some good food-for-thought from these posts and kicking it around with my therapist yesterday, and I think I know how the conversation with my wife needs to go. One thing I know from experience is the fact that we've let it sit for a few days may allow us to broach it without the intensity of emotion that was involved in the initial conversation.
This post is probably chopped up because I tried writing while I work, with constant interruptions (fair enough... they don't pay me to sort out my relationship!). Sounding it out here has helped, though. I feel better prepared to discuss it with her without my defenses up and hopefully with some idea of what's causing her concern. Thanks all for your input.
Volks, thanks for the VW stuff but I didn't intend this to become a vehicle forum, just adding my bits of help that I found useful from various people in here.
Yes that's it then. The insecurity she experienced when her father left her mother has got embedded deep into her. She is finding it difficult to come over that and trust anyone. Its not about you at all.
Ask yourself, "If the person wanting the lessons was male, would you still be as motivated to provide lessons?" I think you should tell the young woman wanting lessons that you are unable to provide her lessons - you don't have to give a reason why.
Ace serve by Gwendo!
@QWENDO Interestingly... that's a really reasonable question, a really obvious one, an important one, and you're the first person to ask it! I had asked myself that question and can honestly say yes, given similar circumstances, I would.
It really is about the making music. It's one of my passions. I was asked to teach mandolin at a local music store 7 or so years ago. I was really tempted and discussed it with my wife. Ultimately I decided it was more of a time commitment than I could take on with her and my kids in school so I declined. That was when my wife and I first talked about how it would help each of our playing if we were teaching. Over the last couple of weeks, I haven't found myself thinking of the woman in question outside this context, but when I'm practicing, mandolin, working up a new tune, or playing fiddle, I find myself paying particular attention to the technique that she asked about. I think about why I'm using it in a particular place and how I would explain it to "a student", regardless of whether it was her or someone else. It really adds mindfulness to my playing.
I find myself doing the same thing with a younger guy at work who is learning guitar and poses specific questions about technique, theory, or practice. I'm not a strong guitar player but I enjoy taking time out to try to answer his questions and it makes me think about the process of learning to play in a way I haven't since I picked up guitar 35ish years ago. My wife and I were going to his house for a birthday gathering. We brought our mandolins and played through one song with him to give him some experience playing with other people, and I've been trying to get him to come to one of our jams. I enjoy encouraging him. I admit that having a young woman approach me stirs a different set of set of emotions, but in both cases having a younger adult seek out my experience about something I'm passionate about is flattering and feeds my ego. And no, by "stirring a different set of emotions" I don't mean I got a hard-on while we were talking mandolins! :)
So back to the point of this forum: The conversation here, with my therapist, and a co-worker gave me food for thought. I asked my wife to discuss the issue on Saturday when we had some downtime and I felt we could discuss it without interruption. I'm usually an "explain or defend my position first" kind of guy, but having given thought to this I opened by explaining to her my understanding of her feelings. She was still anxious about discussing it but that put her enough at ease that we were able to have a calm discussion. I know, that's a pretty basic approach to conversation but it doesn't come naturally to me so I was probably right to let this sit until I had time to frame it in my mind. I told her that I think I understand why she was concerned given the tenuous state of our relationship. I mentioned that I think the history with her parents plays into it. I assured her that I'm not on the prowl and explained that I didn't think it was a socially questionable practice in our circle of friends so neither the woman or I had any alarms go off in our heads that this might appear inappropriate. Despite the cultural "norms" I'm going to try to be more sensitive to how she feels about it should a similar situation arise. I'm pretty ADHD and get distracted in crowded social settings so it's easy for me to miss queues about what she might be experiencing in those situations.
The conversation went well. We still haven't settled on whether I gracefully bow out of the lessons, make it a co-teaching situation, or whether we both trust enough to do a one-on-one. My wife doesn't use the technique in question and said she wouldn't have anything to contribute but I pointed out that she has a good grasp of melody and harmony that would benefit the discussion. I won't do the one-on-one without my wife's blessing, and I guess if the other woman has any ulterior motive that I'm too clueless to detect the prospect of my wife and I co-teaching will bring an end to the lessons. :) We talked about the fact that the woman told me she may be getting a job offer out of state, and that we've got another friend near the new job who is a better mandolin player than either of us and might be able to help her along.
I'm glad we revisited it after I had time to think about it and get outside perspective. We have a couple other big issues that I don't know if we can resolve, so I'm glad to have this one out on the table and open for discussion. I appreciate the time you all took to weigh in. It really helped.
Oh, good grief. (Sorry to jump in, Gwendo, but, "aaargh!")
"@QWENDO Interestingly... that's a really reasonable question, a really obvious one, an important one, and you're the first person to ask it! I had asked myself that question and can honestly say yes, given similar circumstances, I would."
Yeah, Voksaholic. Prove it! You can't, can you.
It's already too late anyway. Because, you can say anything you like but your actions drown you out. One of which is now you deliberately missing Gwendo's point. Her operative words were, [would you be] ***AS*** motivated [as all this].
The fact of the matter is:  this student-to-be is *not* a man,  you've already admitted you *fancy* this "not-man", and to the point where were she willing and you able, you'd hop, skip and jump into a relationship with her!, so  (and what I reckon Gwendo was getting at) if your wife had objected for whatever reasons to you tutoring a *male* student, you wouldn't have baulked nor tried to self-justifyingly push it - not in front of her, not here with us. Just, WOULDN'T. You wouldn't have given a sh*t about him and what he did or didn't think.
It's called sense of protectiveness over your relationship. Here's how a genuinely mentally and emotionally-committed married man would have thought: If his wife underneath it all was saying how his fraternising regularly under whatever seemingly socially-acceptable veil with a woman he found attractive (which suspicion of hers he, by his open admission here, has proven correct!) threatens her sense of security and safety with regards to their ALREADY SHAKY marriage together, the committed man, on registering a desire for this woman, would have taken that realisation as his cue to say NO to her request for lessons! He wouldn't even *need* his wife to point out the whys and wherefores!
A lesser- yet still sufficiently-healthily-committed man might have said yes to the idea but on reflection changed his mind, a la: 'Stuff that mere *student*. My wife and my the chance to fix my marriage with her is too darned important to mess around with, even one iota. I'll tell this woman I can't tutor her after all, make some excuse'. (He owes that woman NOTHING. Who CARES what she concludes or doesn't conclude from his rescinding! The only person whose opinion matters to him is HIS WIFE'S!)
You? Instead, you've been going, 'But, but, but...'. That is you showing *already* that your present relationship plus whatever might/might not potentially develop with this young woman, warrants defending/protecting in your mind as opposed to that urge going WHOLLY towards your wife and marriage... a marriage that needs far more demonstrations of protectiveness on your part than ever before.
So you who can't see the forest for the trees (itself yet *another* symptom for the evidence table) - through the action of the decision not to tutor said woman *not* having been of your own volition (in fact, worse - somewhat coerced) - have *proven* you do *not* have 100% sense of protectiveness/defensiveness over your marriage exclusively ergo are *not* as befittingly committed to making it work as you should be and as one would have expected, *particularly* in a climate of post near-split come supposedly all-out attempted reconciliation!
So I don't *care* what and how you and that group NORMALLY do and behave. This climate you're in is NOT SITUATION NORMAL! It's called, 'This is probably my very last chance so I'd better be on my very best behaviour, which means not put one foot wrong if I can at all help it!'.
AND, OH, YOU *COULD* HELP IT. Instead you tried to do the opposite and are *still* trying to justify your lack of appropriate action.
DO YOU GET IT NOW? It's called, we nearly split up, meaning, the trust we had between us got damaged, meaning, wife feels precarious, meaning, *my* side of the workload features rebuilding her trust in me AND P.D.Q.!
So stop farting around and giving her ANY cause for concern! Once you've rebuilt her trust in you, THEN you can enjoy the freedoms that come with it, including giving mandolin lessons even to the Queen of bloody Sheba herself! Meantime, you're on probation. SO ACT LIKE IT.
That's it. That's ALL there is to be said on the matter. If you don't like it - BE SINGLE!
Oh, sure, you obviously believe you SOUND like you've got with the programme up there, but we're still hearing those 'But, but, buts'. And so is your wife.
And, I should add, so is your therapist.
Be veeeeery careful. ADHD won't save you because ADHD does not mean clueless. And those cues, as I've just illustrated, should come FROM YOU.
*You* tell this woman no. Don't wait for this woman to say it, for the deed to be done *for* you courtesy of her change in circumstances. Because that's a further action that (as per) speaks volumes.
@SOULMATE, you again are making assumptions about the nature of our separation and reconciliation. I'm not going to share a lot of details, but suffice it to say that my trepidation about the relationship has to do with a lot of other things including whether a severely damaged relationship between my wife and my daughter can be repaired. My daughter has to feel welcome and safe in my home. Your assumption about this being my fault, I'm on probation, that it's about money, blah, blah, blah are things you have wrongly assumed from the start. To your point about being single, I've had that conversation with myself too. I adore my wife and daughter but my daughter should come first and I've put my wife first too often.
I held out an example of a guy I give musical advice to, one on one, and if he wanted to stop by to run through some specific things like this woman has requested I'd be happy to do it. That was something I asked myself at the onset of this meltdown... would I be treating a guy the same way as this woman.
I know I've got my flaws as a partner and a human so you don't need to beat that point to death. I would do well to be more assertive and direct; I'm generally not good at that, and I end up shelving a lot of what's important to me to keep my wife "happy". That's something I've been slowly improving on throughout my life but it doesn't come naturally to me. I dance around the periphery of issues rather than standing my ground and saying what's non-negotiable... with one exception being when I stood up for my daughter the night that preceded the separation. My wife has a lot of anxiety and anger issues too that she's done a lot of work on but has a long way to go. On this particular front, though, I feel good about the follow-up conversation I had with my wife and as long as we talk things like this through I think we can weather them... assuming the bigger issues can be addressed.
My point stands. You ARE in the midst of trying to reconcile so you should be taking better care accordingly. Berbom. That doesn't obviously exonerate your wife with regards to whatever she's been doing wrong from your POV, but she's not here, is she. You are. Just because she might likewise be on probation as far as you're concerned, that doesn't mean you're not on probation as far as she is.
"I adore my wife and daughter but my daughter should come first and I've put my wife first too often."
Wrongggggggg. Your wife comes first out of all adults and your daughter comes first out of all children. It's up to YOU to possess or learn to acquire the self- and time-apportioning skill of a grown adult whereby OVERALL, neither of the two feels second-best in their station.
And I disagree. I think I DO need to REPEAT that point when every self-criticism or admission on your part comes with a 'but'. You want to 'but' to death? I'll repeat to death. If you don't *like* the flavour of choccie bar that comes out of the dispensing machine, cease putting the wrong coinage in.
It wasn't your wife who failed to skidaddle to the other room on finding herself suddenly alone with fanciable man, and then promising to extend the one-on-one contact, was it. So I wasn't even concerning myself with your wife or - suddenly - your daughter. I was dealing with what you put on the table and that alone. If there was more to it than what you furnished, you should have said so earlier. But again - convenience noted. Or maybe you should start this thread from scratch and do it properly?
It's funny how you don't have any problems asserting with me, though, isn't it. 'Lack of self-assertiveness' or 'found a BETTER, more elusive way to get what I want'? Me, you can run or flounce off or take a breather from; plus you have the protection of ether distance. Not so easy to dodge your wife, though, is it. You cork it, it festers, and then explodes - UNDER the table.
"My wife has a lot of anxiety and anger issues too that she's done a lot of work on but has a long way to go"
And so do you.
"On this particular front, though, I feel good about the follow-up conversation I had with my wife and as long as we talk things like this through I think we can weather them... assuming the bigger issues can be addressed."
Translation: I think we can make it...but...
If I could reach my arm through my monitor, into the ether, and out again through yours, have a guess at what I'd do with it, go on. ;-)
Meantime and before you say another word, answer this question:
"*You* tell this woman no. Don't wait for this woman to say it, for the deed to be done *for* you courtesy of her change in circumstances. Because that's a further action that (as per) speaks volumes."
ARE you going to do that or are you NOT?
[c] I'd rather stand there opposite my wife with my arms folded until SHE does something, even if that means we both stand there forever and ever with arms stubbornly folded.
Wow!!! Tenacious. As I said in the very first post: my wife and I have problems that run too deep to get into her. I'm not trying to resolve what years of private and couples therapy have not, I was looking for perspective on this incident. I understand your position: That I was clearly in the wrong for sitting in the room alone with this woman, and I should severe any further contact with her. I respect that even though I don't think it's the only right answer. I could be wrong... I accept that.
It seems like you want to be combative and contrary, or maybe that's just self-assertion. :) I'm not expecting everyone to be warm and fuzzy. I thought I was pretty clear that my wife and I established an open dialog regarding this subject. We are no longer squared off with our arms folded; we talked about it civilly, and I accept that if she doesn't want me to provided one-on-one lessons for this woman that I will gracefully bow out without "throwing her under the bus." You weren't the only one, but you were the first one that pointed out that I can be honest about why I can't give these lessons without being specific... I was being rigid in that regard. You're also correct that it's easier to be self-assertive when it's not people you live with and see face to face every day. My family corked problems, and even though I recognize that as being a failing in my upbringing, it's hard to overcome. Lastly, I agree that my wife should come first among adults, and I should rescue my daughter if she's in the wrong, but when it's clear to me that my wife is being disrespectful (or worse) toward my (or her) children, I feel it's my duty to intervene. I haven't been consistent about that, and I feel like I've let the down when I should have been there for them.
Correction: I agree that my wife should come first among adults, and I SHOULD NOT rescue my daughter if she's in the wrong,
It's bluntness and not tolerating any - repeat, ANY nonsense. But were truth your aim, you'd look to the actual substance rather than keep fixating (time-wasting) on such trivias as style of delivery. WHEN you start behaving in ways that show an improved marital attitude rather than contrived by-rote-ness and hence deserve warmness and fuzziness, THEN we'll see.
Meantime, up yer 'but', AND ANSWER THAT DIRECT QUESTION WITH A DIRECT AND NON-COMPROMISED ANSWER. It's [a], [b] or [c] typed in full in your own words (and those things trailing loose around your ankles are called *laces*). So don't make out you've already answered it up there and deserve my new-found tone of approval, because you've YET AGAIN included a caveat: "I accept" and "IF SHE doesn't want me to", not to mention "GRACEFULLY" and "BOW OUT".
No - it's, if YOU - repeat, YOU don't want - repeat, DON'T WANT - to further shake her already dented faith in you! And did you "gracefully" make a situationally-untoward arrangement without first checking how SHE felt about it? Did you "bow IN"? No, you didn't.
You are not to be lauded for reversing a unilaterally-created, shoddy, two-part event. Plus, if you do so based on nothing but whatever degree of begrudging sense of duress, rather than because you feel SAD AND CAD-ISH about the fact your wife feels that horribly insecure and you having just exacerbated it, then why even bother? What would be the point? Mere futile delay of a future repeat inevitable?
And please cease going on about what I am or am not. I could be Coco the Circus Clown for all you know but that still has absolutely zero to do with the price of fish.
I am H.A.L., there you go!
So go on, then - see if you can warm and fuzzy me up by impressing me!
Warning you now in politest poss way, Soulmate doesn't take prisoners but if you can read between the lines, many wordy lines, the advice, precautions and kudos are well formed and meant well.
Thanks @MOODY_ONE. I've been reading and taking away what I think is relevant from SOULMATE's posts. As I've stated; a lot of what SOULMATE has offered is based on assumptions. I deliberately didn't delve into the entire depth of our marital problems, yet much of the advice assumes things about our situation like that I only came back because losing the house would cost me money. Where the hell did that come from? I'm sure I could have framed my original request for advice better but I would like to know what I said that planted the seed about my trying to save the marriage for financial reasons.
I have answered SOULMATE's multiple choice question, but it wasn't as direct as it should be:
[d]Now that my wife and I have established a dialog and are no longer squared off as in [c], and she has had a few days to digest the conversation, I will proceed with that dialog and make a joint decision on how to proceed.
I was thinking this morning about the song Edelweiss from The Sound Of Music... one of my wife's all time favorite movies. She was out of town a month ago and I let her know I was thinking of her and started working it up. I had worked up most of the melody using "double stops" or two finger chords... which is what the woman was asking about. If we proceed with the lesson as a trio, I'm going to write out my arrangement as I think it illustrates the concept nicely and teach it to both of them since it has personal relevance to my wife. Even if our joint decision is [b], I'll run through it with my wife as something new we can play together.
Music is organic... it doesn't grow in a vacuum. Playing with other people, male and female, young and old, broadens our horizons. This woman's question broadened how I thought about my Edelweiss arrangement. If we'd been in a large group setting this woman would not have interrupted to ask about technique, although I know from last spring's camping encounter that she'd feel comfortable asking if it was just my wife and me. Teaching to ANYONE, male or female, my wife or my kids, strengthens my playing. Music is an important part of my life, and it's what brought my wife and I together. I know not everyone gets that, but I think I'm on a good track by having an open dialog with my wife about how I proceed. I'm trying my best not to sabotage a fragile marriage while continuing to feed an important part of who I am. I try to include my wife and bring her on my journey into music as far as she wants to go with it and as our interest intersects.
I may be horribly wrong... clearly SOULMATE thinks so. I expect SOULMATE to interpret most of the above paragraph as self absorbed justification to pursue my own interests at the expense of my wife's feelings. We all need community to help us sort through these challenges but ultimately we have to walk our own paths.
I think what you're "horribly", is passive-aggressive, disingenuous and bl**dy-minded. Sorry but it direly needs to be said and you direly need to face up to it at your late age and stage.
You're a supposedly mature, full-grown man. You're supposedly trying to reconcile with your wife and improve your patently precarious and fragile marriage, which to be worth the bother requires such on all levels, including romantic/sexual. You already have the wherewithal whilst in this run-up to (cough!) "her" increased sense of insecurity getting sifted and root-sorted, to comprehend WHY your wife objected to you fraternising in close proximity with this younger woman ...whom we know you fancy! (Did you tell your wife what you told us, did you? I'll answer that for you: NO, YOU DID NOT because if you had she wouldn't even be considering your co-tutoring proposition, meaning it would now be a moot point!) You therefore know full well that the only right, sensible, and healthy thing to do where this woman's concerned - WHICH SUPPOSEDLY SHOULD BE ZERO SKIN OFF YOUR NOSE - would be *not* to spend increased time with her at close quarters, let alone on a regular weekly basis, and instead focus all your attention back onto your relationship with your wife. Instead, you insist,...lately going so far as to contrive some ridiculously slippery excuse to get around having to do the right, current-climate-befitting thing... an excuse fashioned expressly to convince your wife your intentions are innocent and in the process make her feel any further objection on her part would now appear *beyond* unreasonable, meaning that 'joint decision' coming out in your favour is now a dead cert, isn't it!
And when I who is *not* dupe-able outwardly refuse to swallow your pretences, you scrape the barrel for 'the audience's' benefit out of a hope that someone will argue with me, by going on about how you somehow need a considerably less capable and experienced pianist - *this* student you fancy, in particular! - to help *you* play and arrange better, and go on and on about Edelweiss as if it helps your Machievellian scheme suddenly appear more genuine to those (you *hope*) haven't a clue about chord arrangements, by passing it off as you being considerate towards your wife's interests!
What about ideas from your *wife* if supposedly she's qualified enough to co-tutor and knows the film's songs so off-pat! Funny, that.
Want your wife's help, MY BOTTOM. Do you REALLY think I came down in the last shower or haven't met 'you' a thousand times before? And, news for you, your wife is not stupid, either. She's just not yet ready to pull the plug and *keep* it pulled! Emphasis on Yet.
Still you engineeringly insist on pursuing placement of this selfish and self-centred long-con scenario, despite knowing the potential damage and cost. Insist despite knowing people with healthy sensitivity and moral values frown majorly on it for a reason. Insist despite it's not rocket science to work out that your therapist already disapproves. Insist on subtly, underhandedly creating an ongoing atmosphere to do your work for you in keeping your wife evermore COWED instead of asserting yourself like a man... because that takes EQUALITY AND PLAYING FAIR, doesn't it - something you, your own worst enemy, don't want to do.
So you insist, you insist, you INSIST...despite you also ADMIT: "I expect SOULMATE to interpret most of the above paragraph as self absorbed justification to pursue my own interests at the expense of my wife's feelings." It's called, TRYING TO HEAD ME OFF AT THE PASS BECAUSE YOU ALREADY KNOW WHAT YOU'RE UP TO AND HOW IT AT THIS LATE POINT LOOKS TO ANYONE WITH HALF A BRAIN! 'Nasty old Soulmate's just picking on me, mew-mew'. No, matey, I'm trying to stop you picking on your wife!
Anyone would think this young and attractive-to-you woman were the only piano student alive and that no male students exist, so utterly determined are you to get to be around her. And what will it take to make your wife keep sloping off until she eventually doesn't bother gracing the room with her presence to begin with? How's about, make it BORING for her...make her feel in a co-tutoring sense like a third wheel as well as lulled into a false sense of security as you continue to slowly, slowly, time-bindingly set your scene! Don't suppose that cunning little plan occurred to you on any level, did it? Noooo, course not, who, YOU?!
And then everyone wonders why your wife is so hyper-sensitive, and assumes age-old baggage, just because it was in your interests to paint it that way. Or was your therapist "harsh" because you're so compliant and cooperative over what he too saw as pure commonsense! You could make a Zen Buddhist climb the walls with confusion and insecurity, you could.
OBVIOUSLY your therapist disagrees with you or why else come on here wanting opinions over just over that one, isolated issue yet so patently loath to have the rest addressed when all this time you could and should have been taking sole advisement from HIM! If he were that crap you needed to seek out supposedly data-disadvantaged strangers on a forum, and crap was something you didn't want, you'd have sought a replacement counsellor, not come on here!
*In* my highly experienced opinion, you came here seeking nothing but pack-approval-based self-justification heavy enough to counter your therapist's viewpoint and your own pricked conscience, in your bid to avoid feeling and looking like a cad who uses unhealthily underhanded tools in place of his having to expend any greater effort beyond the bare minimum in endeavouring to get his unfair way.
Oh, and I'm not about to explain where and how I picked up on your wish to avoid having to halve your wealth and assets, despite it was too damned easy, so linguistically transparent are you. You'd only deny it, anyway. In fact, you, sir, would deny there even IS a sky, let alone that it's Blue.
Well, unlike your wife and your therapist (who clearly isn't harsh *enough*), I don't do banging my head against a brick wall, and nor I'm I helping this site's owner to assist emotional manipulators of whatever method. So I'm out. And until you change your tune you deserve everything you meet as you wantonly walk towards it.
Wow... that's quite the rant. I don't know how much is really directed at me and how much is pent-up anger toward men. While knocking this issue around here helped me sort things out, my personality, values, and cultural norms clearly make this forum the wrong place for me to discuss my relationship. I took away some good bits from your posts, but the judgemental assumptions made it all the more hard to sift through the rubble for the gems.
FWIW: when I said my therapist was "harsh" I meant that he would prefer I present my issues with my wife all once, including the MAJOR issue about the relationship with my daughter. He's harsh with me for not being more confrontational with her when he feels she's causing me to walk on eggshells in my own home. I'm too big a pussy to do that because I think it would send her into an anxiety induced panic. I hate conflict with her, I don't want to stomp her psyche into the ground. I'm sure you think that's a bunch of crap, and that's okay because you don't to live with me but I do. He agreed with me that, given norms in our circle of friends, she was being irrational about my talking to the other woman. I told him in our session today exactly what I told you all here first: that I broached the subject with my wife and that I'm willing to honor her decision about how I should proceed.
I came here first for advice because I didn't want to drag our friends into it. My wife would have been mortified if I told them how she reacted. I was pretty pissed off about her reaction and thought it was out of line. It was going to be a couple of days before I saw my therapist. I wanted to get someone else's opinion. As I said... it helped me put it in perspective, and helped me arrive at the conclusion that regardless of how irrational I thought her reaction was I need to respect the fact that it was distressing to her. I accept that, and I WILL give her the final say without any guilt or bad-vibes if she prefers I don't follow through with the lessons.
My wife and I also perform at senior centers and community events with another female friend of ours. Since I was thinking about Edelweiss this morning, I fully expect that the three of us will work that up for future performances. It will be a perfect song for the senior centers. I'm not saying that to prove anything, I'm just speaking my mind.
I have no doubt that you mean well. There seems to be a pretty big cultural divide between us, or maybe you have some bad experiences with men who look for excuses to cheat. I honestly believe that men and women can have non-sexual relationships, platonic friendships. I haven't cheated on a committed relationship yet, even though I've had a couple women cheat on me, and I'm not looking to start. Maybe that indicates a lack of testosterone... I don't know and frankly don't care. I am who I am, which is not always who I wish I could be but I try to be honest and live with integrity. I'm not good at navigating life and relationships but I'm trying to do better. I'm better than I was 30 years ago, maybe I'll figure it out before I die! :)
I'll bow out now... Peace to you all!
Told you so.
Read and digest as I am sure you will. I was peed of when I got THE RANT but it did the trick and made me sort myself out which when I realised, it was needed. My thread has over 120 responses mostly between SOULMATE and me, but I often read it back. I was at probabtion yesterday and cut up while there but I came to see sense and someone elses point of view
No, you do NOT get the last say. And it is NOT hard to sift or are you claiming you've never read even one chapter of a book before aside from Where Is Spot.
It wasn't a rant, it was a damned deserved lecture, and not solely for your benefit, either. You don't have the power to get me emotional, let alone manipulate me. I'm the one who's all this time been manipulating *you*. And I'm sure you'd love to be able to claim I have a problem with men, only I don't. Or, even leaving my beautiful marriage aside, what are you suggesting? That the owner of this site and all the men on here I've assisted and supported, including Moody, are actually women?
Nice try, still not nice enough, but thanks for the laugh as well as the further symptomatic clue (as if I needed it).
You as an individual type, and your relationship, are the antithesis of me and of my diamond, two-way straight-as-a-die relationship and for WHAT? A bit of bloody mental exertion out of your, to me, *patent* parentally-conditioned issues and lack of hard-work ethic (- ref, 'shouldn't* be forum-ing at work but I'm not going to let that stop me'). And this I feel for the simple reason that at the end of the day you refuse on the basis of zero good reason bar petty wilfulness, vindictiveness and vengefulness to do the far, FAR easier thing at zero cost or harm to yourself of removing a perfectly understandable cause of unsettling upset for your wife - SHE WHOM YOU CLAIM NOT TO WANT TO STOMP THE PSYCHE OF - and your marriage and everyone it touches. AS USUAL. Or are you telling me your wife objects to you not circulating with her at parties because she's overweighted on one side and would tip over without your constant bodily propping.
Put more simply, this is a psyche stomp which you refuse not to commit or at least persistently threaten to! Your determined refusal to drop this particular battle, started by you and you alone - involving you trying to re-shape it to where it'll slip through a loophole, asserting as you go a yardstick of social impropriety instead of fragile marital - takes inordinately more time and energy than dropping it. INORDINATELY MORE TIME AND ENERGY THAN DROPPING IT. How queer for a man *not* on the prowl that so desperately wants to *remove* causes for contention and confrontation. And if you have a "major issue" with your wife over your daughter then why not dedicate that lesson time to sorting it out once and for all.
You don't NEED "an open dialogue" because you don't NEED to proceed with these lessons. END OF. Ah, but you do, don't you.
And a woman who's had a WHOLE YEAR to seek other-quarter answers to her 'musical queries', who has a PLETHORA of musician acquaintances aside from you, AND is possibly about to relocate geographically to where a better tutor exists, does not see fit to go so far as to arrange a course of lessons beforehand. So if what you say about her actions is true, I've got her number as well. But don't kid yourself it's because she fancies you. What she fancies is seeing if she can compete with your wife. Woman-hater meets woman-hater, agendas mesh - voila! And that's why to you, despite too-copious evidence to the contrary, it seems so logical to suggest I must hate what you merely assume is my opposite gender.
If you find yourself walking on eggshells - which I refute since I've seen you are perfectly capable of throwing missiles from within the deep grass, meaning, you just like to be SEEN to walk on them as a way to present as the innocent, injured party - then manipulating her into doing likewise is so far from an adult, relationship-respecting, reasonable, rational solution it makes me want to ask, 'Is mummy there, can I speak to her instead?'.
There is nothing "irrational" about your wife's case-in-point reaction given the almighty context (and nor her reactions to your Mini-Me and then her lack of patience with her own offspring). Were your relationship as oppressive *to you* as you claim, you'd have left it when you had the recent, golden opportunity to. Yet you didn't. Funny, that. Plus, were you unable to take the harshness you allege your therapist subjects you to, no way in HELL would you have kept responding to, this case, harshness personified. You're not "a pussy", you're just passive-aggressively furtive. NOTHING you say adds up with the actual evidence, least of all your most persistent statements and allegations.
And any good in-person therapist would urge you to get self-assertiveness training or give it to you himself IN MANAGEABLE BABY-STEPS rather than opt to waste his time sitting there foie-gras-ing and nagging harshly into deaf ears to the point where you allege this your reason for coming on here. Or what are you now suggesting - that your *therapist* has a problem with men?!
How's about you flexing your assertion muscle over something that DOESN'T and CAN'T self-sabotagingly chip away at your wife's already pithy confidence in your agendas thus very foundations of your already tenuous marriage, like what you're having for supper or where you'll go for your summer holidays. Too easy, eh.
The divide is not cultural, it's moral, incorporating maturity, courage, honesty, a sense of personal and social responsibility and respect for conscious existence itself. Not even hard, hard lives replete with left-field traumas has ever made myself and my soulmate resort to lazily cutting corners like you always try to. And yes, "always" - because when it comes to this ONE expression of that SELF-, PARENT- AND WORLD-hating attitude of yours, if you'd stay standing painfully on the toe of your number one raison d'etre despite ceasing would be child's-play, then what on earth would stop you from treating lesser gifts like that. NADA.
So I don't CARE what you choose to waffle on and lie about in your bid to exonerate yourself to yourself. You CANNOT. Because, I repeat, your sustained actions, those pieces of evidence that can't lie, increasingly drown you out and expose your nature. Every. Single. Time. But until you can dare look at what I so easily see, see and sort it you never will.
You do NOT hate conflict, you love it and need it thus create it, nurture it and protect it. What you hate is OPEN, IDENTIFIABLE disagreements and rebellion lest it might ever lead to forcing you to finally take a long, hard look at yourself and what formed you to believe a lose-lose existence productive and preferable to win-win. You'd rather lose just to ensure the other party loses. Drag them down to avoid you having to step up.
(And, no, Moody, this is not a man in your league with your potential and willingness to get back on the right life track after having merely lost his way, needing only a damned good reality-slap as his step-stool. He's jelly, determined to be nothing else, thus impossible to nail to the ceiling and constantly bringing his therapist to his wits' end. Therapy first and foremost requires admission of the truth which passive-aggressives refuse ever to do. Up-close relationships with such are THE most wretched despair-making ventures known to man.)
DROP this needless, avoidable threat to your wife's welfare to prove you're trying to make this marriage work for her and not just for you, or do the decent thing in divorcing her.
As for me, aside from countering until your face drops off if you yet again try to pull the group wool, I am not prepared to futilely enter into the personified epitome of a problem that just keeps on giving.