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Rotten Values

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dbellanon posted 8/10/2013 17:47 PM

Some thoughts have been rattling around in my brain on the subject of values, specifically the values that my WW held that influenced her behavior during our marital crisis, her affair, and our divorce.

I have found myself worrying that my WW's attitude towards life and relationships in general may ultimately be askew. How else could she have done what she did and feel justified in it? And I worry, more importantly, that these rotten values will corrupt our daughter in subtle ways. I want to be vigilant so that I can do my best to raise my daughter not to be like her.

If you could generalize, what attitudes and values do you think your WS had that may have led them down the path they took. And how do they differ from your own?

I'll give an example.

My WW acts as if our relationship served one purpose: to make her happy. When it failed to do so, she felt justified in discarding it.

Happiness, to her, seems to be a good in and of itself, and she'll chase after it at any cost.

In contrast, I believe that happiness is something that you can't get by chasing after it. She says that she did what she did to make herself happy. But if I had done what she did, I can't possibly imagine ever being happy with myself. I would have had to give up my honor and dignity. How could I be happy with that? I would have had to build myself up at the expense of another person. How could I live with myself, then? So to hold on to the sense of happiness that she gained, she has had to sacrifice a piece of her very humanity. In a sense, she sold her soul.

This is an example of what I mean by rotten values. I feel that the better I am able to articulate what these values are and the problems with them, the better I can teach my daughter to avoid the same pitfalls in her life.

So what say you all? Have any of you tried to do the same?

hardtimesinlife posted 8/10/2013 19:21 PM

I see what you are getting at. I think the difference is that for the bs with high morals, cheating wouldn't make us happy. Where the ws doesn't hold those same values, IMO.
I think for them happiness is confused with ego strokes, not morals and values. So I doubt they feel they sold their soul.

Ashland13 posted 8/10/2013 20:27 PM

I will confess to having spent too much time on this topic, DBellanon. I think of Nearly ExH in the way you wrote this post and so do quite a few other people.

One thing with regard to values that is affecting our daughter is the lying. Now, I don't know if this is "her age", but it came into play about the time that Nearly Exh started the different behavior that started about the time the cheating did.

Growing up, I had a totalitarian father and NPD mother who couldn't coordinate parenting to save their own lives. But the one thing they each actually agreed on was lying. So it was burned into my brain that this is simply unexcusable in life and not to be tolerated at any level. It's become a trigger for me now and I'm trying to trust people again, but the lying Nearly ExH did affected almost everyone we know.

Sneaking is another biggie and I won't list them all, but these are two that led me to file, because if he could do it once, certainly he could do it again...right?

What I'm "seeing" in him is that his decisions and the consequences he's facing may be playing a part in the loss of his morals. He thought he could have a fling and just go on with being married, but I think OW was smitten by him as I was, as he can be charming when he wants something.

Yes, I, too, tend to look a little closer at our daughter's behavior than before, though I was considered controlling before. I find myself over- analyzing now and don't like it, do you ever do that? I don't want her to think I don't believe her, but they don't make it easy.

Yes, Nearly ExH also is said to feel justified in his cheating because he had periods of "being unhappy" but never told me. Nor did he display this, until suspected OW pressure made him crack like an egg.

And he felt like he had "done enough" or spent enough time on our marriage and could be all done. He decided I wouldn't work with him on his issues, but he never told me what they were.

What's going to be hard now is that we can't control our children or their choices, we can merely be examples and perhaps over time and their aging, become their friend, so that perhaps they may follow some of our lead or seek our help in times of their own need, rather than hide their feelings.

Of all, that's my wish for our daughter, is that I can open some lines of communication with her so that I can walk by her side on her path, rather than lead her, as she ages.

FWIW, I believe that happiness is something that we create for ourselves and it should come from within. Nearly Exh got ego boosts from other people and openly admitted it one day, when speaking of family during false R. I try really hard to find happiness from inside, from things I do (or don't) and goals I set and make. People are for company, friendship, companionship, but not use. They come into my life for periods of time and I am lucky to spend time with them where we each get something out of the visit and then we go back to our routines again.

I'm sorry to veer off your post, this is a big topic for me. I agree with your thoughts and wish you well.

kickboxer posted 8/11/2013 06:03 AM

Quick Tempered.
Verbally Abusive.

And, yet, I love him.

I pray the experience of hurting me to my core gives him the motivation to grow up. After 15 years together, and 13 years of marriage...I don't know, though. I mean how long does it take to get your act together?

FoolontheHill posted 8/11/2013 10:37 AM

The question of happiness is an interesting one. STBXW I believe suffers from BPD. She claims that she felt responsible for my happiness and thus could not be herself. Taking on my happiness was too much for her..

Her PA she says was an escape. The weird thing is she still thinks of OM fondly because he "has good characteristics" and she "learned a lot" from the experience.

Then with her EA she says it was validating because he paid attention to her and listened to her. Again, she thinks fondly of him because he is a "great man with good qualities"

She spent over 3 years lying to me and now decides she can no longer live with lying so has to tell me "her truth" which inc,uses the continued fondness for those she betrayed me with.

So ultimately it's not so much a question rotten values but a question of no values.

[This message edited by FoolontheHill at 10:41 AM, August 11th (Sunday)]

PhantomLimb posted 8/11/2013 11:52 AM

You will be able to teach your DD over time with proof of action and consequence. Right now, your WW has hurt someone who loved her very much, you, in pursuit of what she calls happiness-- but no one can be truly happy if they are hurting others.

Time will tell, on the face of it, WW is acting immaturely. In the next few years it may become obvious that the quality of her life is not something to be emulated.

nomistakeaboutit posted 8/11/2013 12:24 PM

Very interesting post.

In my situation is was:

1. Valuing family. I did. She didn't.

2. Communicating openly with spouse, versus internalizing and ignoring. I was poor at communicating, in many respects. She was unwilling.

3. Empathy versus lack of empathy. She is not naturally empathetic.

And of course, raw selfishness, which was an ugly umbrella under which items 1,2 and 3 resided.

dbellanon posted 8/11/2013 17:15 PM

Here's another one.

I believe that my WW would say that the primary feature of a successful relationship is compatibility. While compatibility can certainly make things easier (It can also make people lazy, but that's another story), I would say that the primary feature is commitment.

And of course, one of the lessons I've learned here is that commitment needs to mean more than just the determination to stick it out no matter what. It in involves faithfulness not only to stay, but to work hard to understand and love the other person, but commitment it is nonetheless.

My WW thinks that we might find people more suited each of us after we are divorced. That would certainly be nice, but I don't believe for a second that marriages stand or fall, founder or thrive on that basis.

What I would teach my daughter? Search for a partner who is a good match for you, yes, but recognize that you have a lifetime of changing and growing to do together, and you need something more than compatibility to carry you through.

Spelljean posted 8/11/2013 18:21 PM

The lying part. Lying to avoid hurting others. Not the same as a little white lie to spare someome's feelings, like "Oh thats a lovely haircut"

Life changing lies. WH feels its ok because he didn't want to hurt either me or OW. I told him it is actually ok to hurt a woman that is involved with a married man. He disagreed.

Also. The "me first" attitude some people have. Its almost admired in our society. People feel they deserve to be happy at other's expense, no matter what, don't let anyone stand in your way.

Wonderingwhy11 posted 8/11/2013 18:43 PM

I agree with Ashland13 post. I think we easily focus on the traits that allowed a WS to justify having an A. I think a WS needs to recognize what led them to have an A and it is up to them to work on those traits if wanting to reconcile.

I believe that my WW would say that the primary feature of a successful relationship is compatibility. While compatibility can certainly make things easier (It can also make people lazy, but that's another story), I would say that the primary feature is commitment.

I think a success relationship takes both commitment and compatibility. Since we started MC WH and I have talked about what makes a relationship successful. We are very compatible with work, family and most goals. The areas we are not compatible (WH wanting more money and higher lifestyle and I was content with less stress and less money/lifestyle).

What I would teach my daughter? Search for a partner who is a good match for you, yes, but recognize that you have a lifetime of changing and growing to do together, and you need something more than compatibility to carry you through.

IMHO you teach your daughter to be independent and secure with herself no matter what choices she makes. You teach her to find someone who treats her with respect. You teach her a relationship takes work and you can't work on it yourself and importantly you marry the family not just the person. How you interact with her will give her an example to look for.

Ashland13 posted 8/11/2013 20:39 PM

This thread hits home because I've often felt like an example for our daughter, as well.

One thing that I keep coming back to, as a wish for her, is independence and the ability to support herself, first and foremost. In life, in general, I've been very shorted, I feel, by circumstances of other people...both growing up and by the demise of my marriage.

And so it's my first wish for our daughter that this not happen to her, that she be in control of her life and if she chooses a partner or spouse, that they recognize this as a strong trait and accept it.

I think along with that, security in herself and her own abilities and love of herself too, are other things that I wish for her. They're things that I have that have been lost, right now, and so I have this determination to pass down to her those ideals.

This week we had an occasion and on the way home, she was remarking to me her dismay in anyone who didn't show up. She had a wonderful time and even had school friends there to share the time with and people made things to eat based on her dietary needs, going to lots of trouble.

So I sat and thought while I drove and kindly reminded her of all the people that did come and all the treats to eat they brought. I told her that I was thrilled with that and the effort people put in the occasion for us and was not going to think of the ones who didn't come. I reminded her there was nothing I could do about it and why make a happy time sad with those thoughts?

By the time we got home, she was smiling and nodding. I don't know if I can always accomplish that, but it felt nice and is shared to try to show an example of what I wish for her.

I used to spend too much time dwelling on negative things and find my mind doing that with Nearly ExH. I don't know why our minds do that? but I don't want it!

dbellanon posted 8/11/2013 21:52 PM

I like the focus on independence, strength and self-sufficiency. I want these things for my daughter as well.

Here's the tricky thing, though. My WW likes to see herself as a strong, independent woman, and in many ways she is. But I feel like the affair revealed a deep insecurity... the fact that she needed to seek out validation from a man in order to feel good about herself... It's tough because I'm sure she would see the affair as an example of her exercising her independence, taking what she wanted (regardless of it's impact on me and her family) and not being limited by... whatever it is she felt limited by in our relationship. But I see it as just the opposite. I see her craving validation and in the process allowing herself to be used by someone who didn't really care about her either. She sees as strength something that I see as weakness.

I know that my daughter will probably be looking to her mother as her primary female role model. That's something that I just can't be for her. On the surface, my WW might appear to be an strong and empowered woman, but what good is strength if it's not tempered by virtue?

I find myself thinking a lot about the Aristotelian idea of the virtuous mean, that on either side of every virtue lies a related vice, either of deficiency or excess. I would like my daughter to be able to see good in her mother's virtues, but also be aware of how easily they can become vices if she is not careful.

My WW is ambitious, but she doesn't deal well with disappointment. She's has a singularity of mind when it comes to getting what she wants, but she's shown herself willing to bulldoze over others to get there. These are a few examples. I want my daughter to be able to extract the good and leave the bad. And I want her to be able to do the same with me. I want her to be the best of both of us.

Of course, most of us end up being a mix of our parents' virtues and vices, but it is something to strive for as a parent. I just wish that I didn't have to be doing it alone.

[This message edited by dbellanon at 9:54 PM, August 11th (Sunday)]

Ashland13 posted 8/12/2013 09:53 AM

I know the alone feeling too, DBellanon.

One thing that's a word I think of every day is, "boundaries". I speak of it with our daughter nowadays and try to talk with her about different types of boundaries. I don't only bring it up when she's in trouble, rather, try to make it conversational and I don't know if it helps any, but feel that Nearly Exh let his boundaries disappear when he struck out to cheat. He's always known right from wrong and yes, he also bulldozes and controls to get his way and this is where I try to spend more time with our daughter. Showing her ways in life that we can get things we want without hurting other people, but it's not easy.

I also understand your worry about your WW as a role model for your daughter, for I feel it too...I work hard not to sit in judgment of people, but as example of the same worries, Nearly Exh's family is big and so are their personalities. Our daughter soaks up the attention when they choose to share their time with her, but they are almost all people who's morals are really different than mine and I don't know how that's going to turn out for our daughter. The way of life there and that Nearly ExH is displaying is to spend his time getting out of trouble, rather than planning a course and staying on it. This includes minor police things, drugs, alcohol, and they hide it so well that people are tricked (my entire family was).

Their lives when they shut the door is very different than whey they open it again and this is the influence that I don't want her to have. I think they can be good people and so can Nearly Exh, but it seems to be when it suits him now and this is what I don't want for her.

Yet, if it turns out she will be this way, there's only so much I can do.

I'm sorry for the long note again, but your topic is something I work on and think about each and every day.

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