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Personal growth in conflict with BS recovery?

peachmelba posted 1/12/2020 12:37 PM

My conflict avoidant WH is telling me that he thinks having more conflict in our relationship is necessary for him to grow as a person and is good for our marriage. We were basically conflict-free before the affair because he would do whatever he could to avoid making me mad. I can't verbalize why I feel like this is completely the wrong way to go about things. While I get his point that eventually we need to learn to deal with conflict in our marriage, right now (while I still haven't even healed from the affair or committed to R yet) doesn't seem like the right time.

Example: I sent him a text. No response. When I asked him about it, he said the text wasn't delivered. When I called him out, he admitted that it was in fact delivered, he just missed it (although he read the texts I sent immediately before and after it). Honest mistake on his part. He can't understand why I consider that lying (saying the message wasn't delivered) versus owning it (saying he didn't see the message). We fight a bunch over text about it. I get a frustrated "I'm sorry" out of him when he gets home. Next day when we're talking, he says that the fact that we fought about it is good because he's not avoiding conflict. He sees apologizing and just agreeing with me as his own previous conflict avoidant nature--so not acceptable to him. Whereas I see apologizing and agreeing with me as owning up to his impulse to deflect blame (blaming the system for not delivering the message instead is just admitting he didn't read it).

So the entire exchange I feel like is putting me back at ground zero at trust with him, but apparently he's grown...?

Is this reasonable thinking on the part of a WS? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Is this just par for the course when dealing with conflict avoidant WS.

Help, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

[This message edited by peachmelba at 12:42 PM, January 12th (Sunday)]

LLXC posted 1/12/2020 16:48 PM

You need to heal, regardless of what he does. If he wants to stay with you, his goal should be in helping you heal. Then you fix the marriage.

He needs to learn how to communicate. And of course you are confused, he makes no sense. He really needs a therapist to help learn how to communicate.

Take your text esample. He lied to you. You confronted him, then he told you the truth.

His first instinct was to lie. Thst is conflict avpidant behavior.

I do think I understand your husband's point though: apologizing and meaning it is good. Apologizing just to shut your spouse up IS conflict avoidant.

I bet you think when he apologozea he means it. Or at least, you want him to meam it.

But I wonder if he only apologizes to "get out of trouble."

In your text case, he was not sorry because he felt like he did nothing wrong, but he apologized to shut you up.

This requires a lot of work on his part.

landclark posted 1/12/2020 17:41 PM

I agree that itís an issue that his first instinct was to lie. Thatís something he definitely needs to work on, and doesnít show a lot of growth. However, I also agree that being conflict avoidant is a bad thing. That seems to be a common W trait. My WH is also conflict avoidant.

Do they need to tread lightly for a bit? Sure, but ultimately he canít be afraid of conflict. It leads to nothing good.

peachmelba posted 1/12/2020 17:50 PM

LLXC I think you hit the nail on the head with apologizing just to shut me up. He argued through text and for another half an hour at home about how he didn't lie...turns out he was arguing that "he didn't lie, he really didn't see the message". Well duh, I never doubted that.

Landclark, has your conflict avoidant WH tried to become less conflict avoidant? Mine warns me that "we're going to have more conflict because I'm going to express myself". I think he thinks changing his conflict avoidant behavior gives him license to be an ********.

PSTI posted 1/12/2020 19:34 PM

I think he needs to reframe it in his mind that not all disagreements are conflicts. It's okay to have conversations about things without it devolving into blame- it should be more about resolution. In fact, his method of "avoiding conflict avoidance" is going to make it less possible to actually resolve issues.

He needs to change that mental goal line, so that he's not looking at things as giving in to you to avoid an argument, but instead working to achieve your goals as a team.

In this case, the goal is accurate communication and trust. Telling you that he'd missed your text is how he gets there. You accepting that and moving on would be your part in that.

Discussions aren't always conflict. Disagreements don't have to be, either. Remembering that you are a team and not adversaries is the most important part of reframing things, in my opinion. Until he can look at it that way, he's going to be focused on "standing up for his own rights" which is just as counterproductive to the team as giving in all the time. This is not any form of improvement.

peachmelba posted 1/12/2020 21:03 PM

We had another discussion about it. I had a mini meltdown where I basically said I wasn't going to bear the brunt of his new conflict-non-avoidant-for-its-own-sake (no idea how to write that)...I'd rather just kick him out because God knows I already have enough reason to with his cheating and lies. I tried to explain to him that manufacturing conflict (over what?? I asked him what he expected we were going to disagree about--no response) between us is just another wedge. More nails into the coffin so to speak. I already feel totally unloved by him--this crap he's peddling is just more shit on top of the shit pile. I asked him if this idea came from his IC and he said no...

He listened to everything I said and he thinks he understands, but I can tell there was no light bulb moment in his head. but I could tell he's not getting it. Over the last 4-5 months I've never gotten the sense that he understands how I feel. He doesn't "get it" the way some of the WW on SI do.

In the end, he tentatively agreed that maybe it's not the best approach. I told him to take his plan to his therapist and get his input.

And he's still withholding shows of love and affection, which is the one thing I've asked for all along, since well before his affair. Of course now I'm not very receptive so he doesn't try at all. In our marriage I just assumed being reserved and standoffish was his nature, but no, that's apparently reserved for me. He had no trouble with coming up with nicknames and playlists for the AP.

The1stWife posted 1/12/2020 21:17 PM

he's still withholding shows of love and affection, which is the one thing I've asked for all along, since well before his affair. Of course now I'm not very receptive so he doesn't try at all. In our marriage I just assumed being reserved and standoffish was his nature, but no, that's apparently reserved for me. He had no trouble with coming up with nicknames and playlists for the AP

This is where the CS doesnít get it. He will ďchange his behaviorĒ when it suits him but not when itís hard or difficult.

Good luck with this. I feel your pain and frustration.

OwningItNow posted 1/12/2020 21:53 PM

I sent him a text. No response. When I asked him about it, he said the text wasn't delivered. When I called him out, he admitted that it was in fact delivered, he just missed it (although he read the texts I sent immediately before and after it). Honest mistake on his part. He can't understand why I consider that lying (saying the message wasn't delivered) versus owning it (saying he didn't see the message).

So, do you feel he simply chose not to answer you or didn't feel like answering you? Then covered it by saying it wasn't delivered? Then admitted that was a lie, that he just didn't see it, which was ultimately STILL a lie? Has he been passive aggressive in the past?

To be honest, he sounds a little manipulative. Do you feel he is?

peachmelba posted 1/12/2020 23:58 PM

So, do you feel he simply chose not to answer you or didn't feel like answering you? Then covered it by saying it wasn't delivered? Then admitted that was a lie, that he just didn't see it, which was ultimately STILL a lie? Has he been passive aggressive in the past?

No. I think he didn't see the original message (somehow skipped over it by honest mistake or distraction). So it wasn't a double-lie per se. And I don't think he was trying to avoid the message. I'll have to think about the passive aggressive thing. I don't think so but his mom is very p-a...

gmc94 posted 1/13/2020 01:19 AM

Peach - Has your WH read how to help your spouse heal? That's like step #1 in my book.

He can do whatever the eff he wants to.
The question is - what are you willing to put up with?

Dday is TRAUMATIC. The WS job #1 is to help and support the BS through that trauma (and all it involves) and trying to heal (or at least a WS who would like to R). Bitching about a text does NOT fall into the helping her heal category. It falls into the "you're not the boss of me" category - something I would bet contributed to his rationalizing having an A. Part of #1 is to STOP LYING (which is clearly still his "go to" when he's busted - ie "the text wasn't delivered" then becomes "I didn't see it"

His lying (silly or little as it may be) is a TRIGGER for someone coping with betrayal trauma. He needs to understand that to your lizard brain (which can basically take over EVERYTHING in a BS' mind, for weeks/ months/ years) sees a "white" lie exactly the same as a biggie (like, no I wasn't f*cking your friend). You did nothing to cause your lizard brain to start to drive your brain - HE did that all on his own.

And their #2 job is to find some damn empathy for the destruction they have caused. His behavior is NOT empathetic to a trigger that is only a trigger because of his shenanigans.

I saw one of your earlier posts from less than 2 weeks ago where you said: "I think his desire to separate is actually based on his primal urge to run away" . From what you've written, sounds like he wants to run from the hurt he's caused faster than a jackrabbit... but somehow manages to muster some courage when it comes to admitting he didn't read a text? That's some pretty effed up (ie wayward) thinking.

If you two manage to R, he can have the rest of his life to stop being conflict avoidant. In the meantime, if he has any hope of R, he needs to pull his head out of his arse and find some compassion and empathy for you. This is why therapists who work from the relational betrayal model BEGIN with teaching the WS about the trauma that has been caused by their A, by validating the pain experienced by the BS, and helping the WS see and own the consequences to the BS (whom they profess to "love" ) by their shitty choices.

I think you are in MC and your WH is in IC. This kind of response sounds like a WS whose IC is clueless about infidelity and relational betrayal trauma. I would seriously ASK the MC and his IC what their specific experience and training is in infidelity AND trauma (I learned the hard way that one with infidelity experience but not trauma not only did not help, in many ways it's made things worse. Now that I have an IC who specializes in trauma [and not infidelity], it's been kind of a game changer for me). I would bet that his IC is saying that his conflict avoidance is a factor in the A. And that may be true. The problem is the antidote for that is NOT to create conflict with YOU (at least not at this juncture and especially not over bullshit like whether he read a text). The reason why this isn't the antidote right now is bc it takes awhile for a WS to start to change their thinking. So, when they are told to stand up for themselves, without any real deep work, a WS will think like a WS: Because he's likely scared sh*tless about facing himself and the harm he's caused, so instead he will "face" stupid shit like a text (and with the attitude of a 5yo who took the last cookie and doesn't want to "face" the consequences).

It's completely unjust and unfair, but you will have to put in a considerable amount of energy to your own healing. He cannot do it for you. But he can be supportive - and really NEEDS to do so if he has any desire to R. It's like physical therapy after you break your leg: only you can do the exercises, but he can drive you to the appointments, bring you water and an ice pack, count the leg lifts, count out the advil, etc. That's supportive. Or, he can tell you that the cast stinks and he needs to stay in the other room while you move around - even though he is the one that drove drunk that caused your leg to break. That's wayward.

It took me awhile (maybe around the 6 month mark? But I was in a weird working in another city on a highly stressful project, so I've always considered myself a bit delayed) to recognize and accept (which was a biggie for my badass/wonderwoman self) that it really was trauma (or in my case, PTSD) and it really was serious. And I decided to start educating myself about trauma - generally and in conjunction with an A. There is a ton of really good stuff out there to learn, and with it comes something even better: hope for ourselves and our futures (with or w/o our WS).

There is a thread in General titled something like Finally a therapist who gets it. That thread has some links to podcasts (a 2-part with marnie breecker on The Addicted Mind, and a couple from a podcast called Helping Couples Heal). I will bump it for you (it gets bumped a lot, but General moves quick, so even bumps can end up off the page pretty quickly). Listen to those podcasts and learn about trauma and how a WS can be SUPPORTIVE of your healing, and educate yourself about what a truly experienced/ trained IC/MC looks like. This does not mean that you - even as the BS - get away with whatever you want (you are still responsible for you) - my IC can kick my ass (but good), while ALSO being sensitive to my trauma. It means that the trauma from a dday needs to be UNDERSTOOD by your WH, so that he can learn how to be supportive and empathetic.

Godspeed.

[This message edited by gmc94 at 1:26 AM, January 13th, 2020 (Monday)]

landclark posted 1/13/2020 06:42 AM

Landclark, has your conflict avoidant WH tried to become less conflict avoidant? Mine warns me that "we're going to have more conflict because I'm going to express myself". I think he thinks changing his conflict avoidant behavior gives him license to be an ********.

I think my WH is trying to do it in a healthier way, but itís still hard for him.

As somebody else said, expressing yourself isnít necessarily always conflict. Using it the way your WH is using it, based on the comment quoted above. does seem like he just wants to justify bad behavior which is not ok. Itís a very simplistic or immature way of looking at it on his part.

sisoon posted 1/13/2020 10:25 AM

I don't think you were confict-free before the A. I suspect you didn't recognize the conflicts.

I also recommend looking inside yourself - you might like avoiding conflicts, too.

M is conflict and conflict resolution. R is conflict and conflict resolution. One of the main activities of R is identifying issues and resolving them. One of the best ways to rebuild bonds and trust and love is to work together to resolve an issue.

Both you and your H need to notice where you want different things, and you need to work those things out.

You've mentioned 2 biggies: 1) his continued lying, and 2) his continued lack of affection.

I recommend making 'no more lies' a requirement for R. IOW, if he lies, he's out.

I also recommend requiring affection - if he doesn't get sufficiently affectionate with you (and with no one else), or he's out.

These are major issues, and you will probably have many conflicts over them - but you can't R with someone whose go-to act is to lie, and I can't see why you'd want to R with a WS who won't be affectionate with you.

Courage - if you fight over these issues, you'll either get an honest, affectionate fWS, or you'll get your freedom to look for honesty and affection from someone who will give them to you.

[This message edited by sisoon at 10:28 AM, January 13th (Monday)]

peachmelba posted 2/2/2020 20:22 PM

I appreciate everyone's advice and thoughts and re-read them often. We had a major setback today. I had given him a new phone around New year and taken his old phone. I didn't have a plan for it. I considered trying to do some data recovery, but I didn't think I would recover much. So I haven't really done anything with the phone Found out today that he snuck into my bag, took his phone back, and used software to overwrite the free space.

I feel done. It was like being betrayed all over again. He defended his actions because he said he wouldn't allow the threat of me discovering more to hang over his head. He protected himself at the cost of my feelings.

brooke4 posted 2/3/2020 03:46 AM

I would be done too.

hikingout posted 2/3/2020 10:06 AM

Hello - I am the ws. I have some thoughts on this if that's okay...

First, you guys are 6 months out. This is very early times. Your husband has discovered some of the things he needs to change, that's pretty normal on your timeline. And, he's clueless on how it will work. Also very normal.

I also have the conflict avoidance thing. I have had to do a lot of experimenting to "practice" new skills. And, I have practiced them wrong, and I have practiced them right, and sometimes I have frustrated the living daylights out of my husband.

Your husband is unlikely to "get it" the way many WS here do because we are further out. The only way we have gotten to anything was through a lot of trial and error and failing and getting back up again.

Now, I can completely understand how that is not compatible where a BS might be on their own timeline. I haven't read any of your other posts, but I know my husband was fully in the anger stage at about month 6.

One thing I was not expecting as the WS is how long this process really would be - not even the marriage part, or the R part - but the internal changing part. Changing who you are from the ground up is an awkward process. The fact he does want to change and go about things differently to me is a good sign.

That being said, you are within your rights to call it off at any time. There is no guarantees he will change, or how long it will take. But, at the same time this awkward attempt is his attempt at doing it. I would lay down the law on the lying part especially though - because that's a big problem - he is still going into the mode where he is lying to avoid conflict and when he is being called out then he is practicing conflict. My H told me no lies, and he meant it. I would start with that boundary.

The other stuff? He is going to need to have some room to settle on how to be more authentic in his quest to bring things to the table to be negotiated. But, this whole getting caught up with something and then believing he is bringing something to the table to fight about is really very misguided and I can understand your frustration with it. This can be a lesson in the steps though. When I would realize how misguided I was in something it provided another insight into myself that gave me a bigger list of things to work on.

sisoon posted 2/3/2020 12:55 PM

That IS a 2nd betrayal, IMO.

He was dishonest in going into your bag, he was beyond dishonest in trying to erase the truth, and he did this in a conflict-avoidant manner.

Since I think honesty is a basic prerequisite for R, I don't know how he can come back from this.

Has he changed in any positive way over the past 6 months?

I'm really sorry he did this - but doing this moght have saved you time, energy, money and it might have prevented some heartache, too.

crazyblindsided posted 2/3/2020 20:21 PM

He defended his actions because he said he wouldn't allow the threat of me discovering more to hang over his head.

I would be very concerned about the above. I'll never understand WS's who protect themselves at all costs. It causes way more damage than to just be forthcoming and actually work on R. Eventually it becomes too much for the BS and when the WS finally pulls their head out of their arse the BS is done.

(((peachmelba)))

After everything I've gone through since D-Day with a conflict avoidant NPD and unremorseful spouse I won't ever entertain cheating with another partner again. Too much time wasted on someone who never deserved it.

[This message edited by crazyblindsided at 8:22 PM, February 3rd (Monday)]

hikingout posted 2/3/2020 20:33 PM

I apologize, I missed the sneaking the phone and deleting it. He not only should know better it says that he is trying to hide something you donít know... thatís a different topic that would have warranted a different response from me. I agree with Sisoon itís a second betrayal.

Justgetitoverwith posted 2/4/2020 04:37 AM

No, it's not reasonable behaviour from your WS, but I think it's pretty common. I have had massive issues with my WS, who also labels himself as conflict avoidant, and used it as a factor in his EA turned 2 month PA. However, he may say he cheated, hid it and lied about it and lots of other things because he didn't want to have uncomfortable conversations, but he is VERY comfortable with disagreeing and arguing his opinion with others over a wide range of political, religious and other issues. So is he really conflict avoiding, or just avoiding of admitting and owning up to his own shitty behaviour? Does this sound familiar at all?

Mine also lies as a habit, to cover his ass. This has caused the most damage, both in the YEARS of denying anything happened, to more recent lies about spending time alone with a colleague he fancied, porn and other issues. And that was well over a year from dday iirc. So again, all concerned with covering his ass, just like your WS. He needs to realise how damaging this is to any chance of a future with you. Mine didn't get this until I kicked him out after another ass covering lie. Does yours understand what's at stake if he doesn't kick the habit? Why does he continue to lie when each one further erodes a chance at rebuilding trust? He needs to discuss this with IC, its absolutely crucial to any R.

And in further similarities, mine has also detailed how he will now not just accept things if he disagrees, and will argue his point. Which I dont really get, because the only difference now is instead of it being religion he's arguing with me about, it's his own behaviour and shoddy attitudes, which shouldn't be defended by any decent morally adjusted human anyway! And yet, after me going on and on with the facts of the case and him disagreeing (with the facts!), he'll try and shut me up by saying I'm right and he's sorry for what he did. So I don't understand his definition of conflict avoidant at all. It seems very specific to avoiding conflict caused by his deliberate bad behaviour. And therefore sounds like a handy excuse more than anything. Maybe that's a good conversation for MC, until it's resolved.


nekonamida posted 2/4/2020 08:56 AM

So I haven't really done anything with the phone Found out today that he snuck into my bag, took his phone back, and used software to overwrite the free space.
I feel done. It was like being betrayed all over again. He defended his actions because he said he wouldn't allow the threat of me discovering more to hang over his head. He protected himself at the cost of my feelings.

This is beyond the pale. It means he's still lying and think he's justified in deceiving you further to keep the truth from you. There is nothing to work with in R while he withholds the truth. Be done. 180 him. See a lawyer. And if he begs and pleads, don't even think of giving him another chance without a passed polygraph test.

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