I think i've been working up the courage to put something out into the universe for people to respond to for some time; i've drawn a lot of courage from all of you who have done the same, thank you! Let me start by saying i'm not so naive to think that marriage is easy or that whilst other relationships may appear "better" on the surface, they too undoubtedly have their own battles behind closed doors. But for the past 6 months, i've been really struggling with my marriage, largely i think i'm a big part of the problem because i've lost a bit of my own identity and don't love the person i am right now for various reasons.
I've been married for 3 years, we were only together for 6 months when we got married, whilst we were very much in love, it was a quick decision based on immigration challenges that gave us the extra push. My husband has come from a very complex and negative family whereby he has only known conditional love and the family can only address their issues when they're drunk or in a passive aggressive manner - subsequently his family and I have no contact after my father in law sent me a poisonous email suggesting i'm to blame for his son remaining in my country and that my husband never loved me but was only after a visa. This caused significant challenges in my marriage, as my husband both defended me but was also hurting in his own way about his family's behaviour which in turn saw him shut down and required a lot of counselling to help him work through both his feelings of disappointment from his family, but also to address his maladaptive behaviours when i came to me ie: bottling things up and exploding once drunk, being conditional in his own love then feeling remorseful, moving out of the house when he was drunk because he felt he had failed as a husband.
I am a very independent and strong woman, let me tell you i didn't tolerate any of his behaviour, i was empathetic and supportive with everything to do with his family, but i made it clear that if he didn't want to repeat the hurt of his own childhood then he needed to get help to give our marriage the best chance - he did that and he has grown enormously as a person.
However, in the lead up to him going home overseas for the first time in 8 years i have noticed a significant regression in his behaviour - drinking more, picking arguments, being conditional, speaking to me poorly and showing little respect. I have been utilizing counselling skills from when we went 18 months ago (i statements, picking appropriate times, addressing the behaviour not belittling him as a person) but he does not seem to want to budge. I brought to his attention that i am feeling very vulnerable with his behaviour as it feels like we are taking 10 steps back, and i can see that as a defence he just brushes it off like its nothing and continues to be defiant.
Subsequently, as someone who works full time, is doing a post grad and owns a separate business; more than ever in my life i just feel like saying "i'm too old for this!!" and having a tantrum because it all seems too hard. I guess i just want some insight into how you continue to stick it out when you don't particularly like your partner (obviously i love him, otherwise i would have walked away!) and how to stay strong in the relationship when you feel like you're doing it on your own.
There seems to be a lot of alcohol fueled problems for him. Now you are in the thick of it.
I suggest you attend some Alanon meetings. This is a a free, self-help group where people living with an alcoholic learn how to cope. It saved my life when I was married to my first husband, an alcoholic. It also helped me to recognize my part in our relationship problems.
It's really important that you LIKE your spouse, IMHO. It's got to be better than "sticking it out." and you are right - getting "too old for this" is an issue I'd be very aware of. Living with someone who sucks the emotional, spiritual and physical energy out of you leaves nothing for yourself. No wonder you feel like you have lost your identity.
Time to get healthily-selfish!
yes - I agree with susiedqq : do some Alanon to see what good you can get from it
you can not take upon you your husbands issues - I see you (both - together ?) went to counseling and you yourself are making use of counseling skills - which is very much to your credit but if he doesn't or can not change- even though you say he has changed a lot - and issues & behavior patterns are coming back up time and again - that means some core problems on his part have not been addressed : counseling can remediate to a lot of problems but when the issue lies deep in the conditioning of upbringing - it relates to the way someone behaves and more so - to the way one's personality is built as well as any sense of identity or sense of self
I believe the problem with your husband may lye there : in his own sense of self : if he is not sure enough of who he really is - to himself - which entails having made clear for oneself what or what not we we will accept as being part of us - representing who we are and thus integrating these values and taking them on as being an integral part of who we are - if he has not done this trashing out of those things, ways of being, thinking patterns, beliefs & behaviors that do not suit him because of not being positively progressive and bringing positive results for himself as well as in his relationships - then of course and inevitably old patterns will come up again and again for him to see, to look at and decide on what to do about it
those are "closure procedures" of old things : either they are trashed or used (thus transformed) as fertile ground for new growth of new things
but this is not your job : he has to go back to doing some more in-depth counseling - and maybe put some (emotional & psychological) distance between his family and him - detach
you have no reason to accept any bad behavior on his part and taking it out on you : period - you seem to be quite busy with a whole bunch of successful things in your life : please do keep going in this direction - you've got a life to life and it's yours - you're the only one to be able to do it
you say you love him otherwise you would have walked away : love doesn't necessarily equate loyalty - even though it does on paper : but if the reality doesn't warrant that - you got to be realistic about it and see it for what it is and ask yourself if what you put in - you get out
you're not supposed to be in a relationship "on your own"
if necessary - go away for some time : find another place to stay - tell him you need some space & time - for you but also for him to find out what and how he wants to go forward in this relationship - if it is to continue - tell him that on this basis - this is not good for you
even when two in a relation - your first relation is always with yourself : so put yourself first - not egoistically but rationally
and also - you've been super fast to get married - only after 6 months - during the "infatuation/high on love" phase : are you sure you have not been used for immigration purposes ?
but even if you did - the point is now : how are you going to go about making a good life for yourself ?