I hate playing “The Heavy“.
I really do.
Everybody seems to love me and the ones that don’t are jaded people that don’t trust that another human being can be so nice.
The people who really love me, and by love, I mean people who want to take advantage of me, do so because they know that I have a hard time saying “No!” This includes husbands; past and present.
As a mother of four children; his, mine, and ours, I have had to learn, on many occasions what tough love is all about. When you have children, you learn pretty quickly the ways that they will manipulate you to get their own way. If you are a smart parent, you will learn to nip their manipulations in the bud, when they are in their “terrible twos” so that by the time they are five and fifteen, they know that Mommy will not be trifled with. Eventually, you can teach them to have their tantrums, in private; that it’s okay to be mad at Mommy, but Mommy will not tolerate disrespect and their feelings about their discipline or their lack of certain privileges are not Mommy’s problem, so long as their fundamental needs are met and they are safe. My children are not punished for telling me “I hate you!” or “You’re the worst mom, ever!”, but, they are reminded that I have their best interests, at heart, and one day they will come to realize it, even if it takes years.
The traditional husband and wife dance has similar issues. One spouse wants something that they know that the other spouse is not pleased to support, so the one spouse throws a tantrum, causing consternation in the relationship, in hopes of getting the other spouse to back down, to keep the peace or they use other forms of manipulations, like gifts or sex, to get their way.
In a FLR home, this behavior cannot be tolerated. Much like a five year old must be disciplined for throwing their toys at their siblings, an obstinate husband must be reminded who is in charge.
In a comment on my last post, I was asked why I insist on making My Pet smile, regardless of how he is feeling, particularly since feelings are personal and should not be moderated. There is an exception to that rule. The exception is when you are aware that someone is using their emotions to manipulate yours. Forcing My Pet to smile, even when he is not in the mood, particularly when we are in public, is because I am aware that his moody look is his passive-aggressive way of drawing attention to himself and forcing me to baby him, either publicly or privately. He knows that I cannot stand his puppy dog face, that my emotions get the better of me and that I let my guard down and turn to rescuer rather than leader. This is why our FLR has been stumbling. Because, like Laura Ingalls, I want everyone, especially my husband, to like me, and so I will let my guard down, time and time, again, let him have his way and before we know it, we are back at our troubles and he is whining about why he hasn’t been allowed to have sex, yet again.
In fact, our recent troubles, the troubles that led to that last email and subsequent blog post, were precipitated by the fact that we had sexual intercourse, for the first time in months. I let my guard down and there he was, with his puppy dog face. He had assumed that because we had had sex that things were back to normal; before FLR, normal. He was upset that I was still treating him as My Pet and he was acting out, believing that we were equals, again, but that I wasn’t respecting him.
That was the point that I realized that he was using moodiness to try and control me and how I treat him. What spouse wants to hear, “You’re the worst partner ever!”?
Then, I thought of my kids and the many times they have tried to use their moods to manipulate me (if I give her the silent treatment, she’ll feel bad and then she’ll come crawling back to give me back my XBox privileges and I win).
This is also where memories of my first bygone marriage came flooding back; how The Wasbund used to use his moodiness to manipulate me to cancel my Girl’s Nite Out Plans or even call in sick to work because “he needed me”, even if I invited him to come along, how touched my girlfriends were because The Wasbund was “so sensitive” and how, he used to his moodiness to control everything in that first marriage. I eventually learned not to plan Girl’s Nite Out, to avoid his moods. I did, also, however learn to put my foot down when it came to going to work (I was self-employed).
My Pet was never moody when he was getting all the sex that he wanted, in the way that he wanted. He was as happy as a clam, even when I wasn’t. But, when I wanted to use sex toys to enhance our love-making and make it more pleasurable for myself, he would get moody, so I wouldn’t bring them out, except for when I was alone and then, eventually, I would avoid having sex with him, all together, because I knew that sex was not going to end in the result that I wanted. Of course, this made him moody, as well.
I am well aware that some of his moodiness is real and truly heartfelt. He lost his means to take care of me and his family and now must rely on a part-time job, in which I am his supervisor, in order to pull his weight in our household. I totally get that. I totally get that his ex-wife is a shrew and that his mother is also on his back about his inability to care for us like he has done in the past. He feels like a failure and I know that he takes it hard when I tell him that I don’t like how he does some things. It broke his heart to hear that I was unhappy in our bed.
But, another reason that I seek to control whether or not he smiles, is to teach him to control his moodiness, whatever the reason. Nobody else, in the real world, gives two shits that he’s having a bad day or a bad life. They want service with a smile. Period. When he comes around being moody, real or FLR-induced, he is putting on a face that nobody else wants or needs to see. He has gotten by with this because he has most often had jobs where he was invisible, where he was just a voice on a telephone or the guy in the backroom, just doing what he is told. But, he is not invisible to me and this new job that he currently has, requires him to be more upbeat and outgoing. I’m trying to teach him to fake it, even if he doesn’t feel like he can make it. I made him start a gratitude list, so that he can reflect on it in order to help him find a good reason to smile, even if it’s a small one.
I’m also trying to train myself to stop being such a big softie. I am very perceptive, so I know when he has reached his limit, but just like with the children, I try to communicate with him in a stern voice, remind him that I do love and respect him, but that I have his (and our) best interests, at heart, even if he doesn’t realize it, just yet.
I have to be tough to get him to understand that I am in charge, that his tantrums (via his moodiness) will not be tolerated, and that the sooner he understands that, the better we will get along. We are both still learning. In fact, just like with my children, when they are giving me the silent treatment, I try to give him his space, so that he can be allowed to feel his moods, until he is ready to come to me with a genuine and loving heart. He sees this and later comes to me, sometimes even sitting and waiting for me, so that he can kiss my feet and kiss my lips, with apologies for being obstinate.
Maybe it’s too soon to tell, but for now, I have no regrets about being tough on him.