The hazards of self-sacrifice and impossible standards

The hazards of self-sacrifice and impossible standards

When I got married, I settled for a relationship that was almost meaningless. I think we loved each other, but there was a certain quality that was missing. I married her because we got along well and I gave up on finding the one that had the sparks to make the relationship fly.

After a while, the relationship deteriorated into a depressing existence that was occasionally perforated by irrationally violent arguments. Later, she applied for divorce, which was another very nasty episode. I blamed her. I blamed her for the whole mess. She was responsible for the lousy marriage, she started the arguments, and she went out of her way to make my life miserable.

This is how I chose to view this entire disastrous chapter in my life for a long time after it ended. Looking back, I finally understand what was missing. She was a feminist, so what we had was an “equal” marriage, but it was more equal for her than for me, and I allowed it to be that way.

Before we got married, I had some idea of what I wanted, but I never expressed it for fear of losing her. Because of that fear, I have a gaping hole in my life that should have been filled with happiness and contentment. So, here is the real blame for the whole mess; I was too willing to bend, at the expense of my desires and needs. As a result of that, I became increasingly unhappy and crawled deeper into my cave.

Nowadays I have gone to the other extreme: I have become unbending and very demanding in the relationships that pass by me. My standards are far too high, and it's quite possible that no mere mortal can meet them. This needs to be tempered, but by how much? I wonder now how many relationships that I have trashed from a snap judgement of a minor human frailty that would have actually been good for me.

I am not looking for perfection in spite of my actions which say otherwise. I have gone from very low expectations to those that are excessively high. I need to bring these expectations down to a humanly accessible level. I struggle now with how low to bring them and still maintain a decent standard from which I can derive an acceptable relationship.

KrosRogue

Comments

well...

I think we're all that way to a certain extent. It's that once burnt, twice shy thing. I know that I, like you, settled into a relationship that ended in divorce too. Should I ever marry again, it will be with a man that knows how to laugh...knows how to love...and knows that putting me over his knee is part of that love.

I wish you luck in your search...cross your fingers for me in mine. :)

Just Settled, Yuck!

The more I think about that word, the more vulgar it sounds. "I
settled for a half-eaten soup bone when I could have had a steak
dinner with all the trimmings". "I settled for a wet-blanket
relationship when I could have had one with sparks that would make the
noon-day sun seem dim".

It could very well be that "shy-burnt" thing, I don't know. Anyway,
thanks for your well-wishing, and I'll keep my fingers crossed for the
both of us. ;-)

KrosRogue

Understanding Choices

I am currently working my way through a book by Barbara DeAngelis, Ph.D. And I do mean working. She has all kinds of exercises to go through to figure out just who you are and the kinds of choices you make regarding relationships. It is titled: Are You The One For Me?

It is a lot of work to go through and I am seeing why I made the choices I did and sabotaged myself in the process. I wish I'd had the book 35 years ago!

One of the exercises in the book was to identify all the negative traits in all of the significant partners you've had. Then you write an ad using all of the traits that they share. Here's mine:

Wanted: Messy, un-ambitious self-absorbed male to control me with criticism, jealousy and other negative comments. Must be able to become impatient and then vengeful when his needs are not met immediately. Expects wife to do all chores including repairs for house and explain to everyone that he is very supportive of her needs. Considers all discussion of feelings to be psycho-babble-bullshit.

The book also leads on into finding ways that help a person get past making these kinds of poor decisions. For the first time in my life I'm in a healthy relationship that is meeting both of our needs. In the past I have mistaken self-centered arrogance for someone who is a dominant who respects and cares for me.

This book is giving me the insight I need to make wise and responsible choices in relationships for myself, instead of being driven by unexamined influences of my past.

Good luck to you in your continuing self-exploration.

Moving On

I think we've all been there in one way or another and most of us come out the other side in the end, regardless of how long it takes. If you learn to love and respect yourself first and become your own best friend, then will be the time to find a fulfilling relationship of the kind you want. If you don't get to know yourself first, you can't expect others to love and respect you either.

Never be afraid to ask for what you want from anyone, even if it means you won't get it. Then you will know whether to accept the choice on offer or move on.

Moving On and Rebuilding

Two of my most difficult obstacles to happiness early on in my life
were extreme shyness and low self-esteem. After the episode with my
ex-wife, I became extremely depressed and emotionally crashed. I cared
for nothing; my career nosedived, my financial status dwindled to
nothing, I became an empty husk. I drifted carelessly from one odd job
to the next. I guess this careless drifting was a good thing in a
back-handed way because it helped me get rid of my shyness.

At present I am working on my self-esteem. Part of that entails
starting a new career, which I am working on right now. While I get
that rolling, I'll work on a few other problem areas as well.

One thing that I didn't have until recently is a sense of direction or
purpose. I have that now, so I can see the light at the end of the
tunnel. It's a long and rough road, but at least now I know where I'm
going and how I'll get there.

KrosRogue

Re: Moving on

I'm rooting for you, Kros! I have faith that someday you'll be telling us all about a wonderful new relationship.

Melanie

Re: Moving on

Thank you for your encouragement. Rebuilding one's self is not a fun
task, and is a very discouraging process. Sometimes I notice progress
and sometimes I become painfully aware of a setback, too much like the
proverbial "three steps forward, two steps back". My improvements try
my patience because they are slow and unsteady, but they are
detectable.

KrosRogue

Any suggestions?

My man is so demanding... I guess, but at the same time not sure of what exactly he wants. He wants a woman who is strong and independent, but not an equal (according to normal society), a woman who understands that there are things you should and should not do depending on your sex, but then wants that same woman to be the scary and successful corporate predator and then to come home and be the domestic goddess and comfort him, whilst bowing to his will, but if you act too submissive he becomes disgusted and angry. "Don't let anyone walk all over you, or control you, except me, but I shouldn't have to make the decisions." As a young woman in love, what can I do? I see the relationship heading for disaster, but I can never seem to get it corrected...

Re: hazards of self sacrifice

Your misgivings seem much like mine. For far too many times I have settled for an inferior relationship, which resulted, much to my "surprise" (LOL), as its ultimate failure.

For my misgivings, I need to learn one concept foreign to my psyche, that of trust. It seems to have been lacking in all of my past encounters.

Perhaps that is the one thing lacking in yours. We both, apparently, suffer from the same fate.

Mick McCleod

I can relate....

First time poster. this post pretty much summed up my first marriage. Everything had to be her way or the highway & I now realize that I allowed it to happen. She was a feminist as well. Now, I'm married again & my wife is more of the traditional type & she will not be getting her way. That's how it was designed.