Posted by fxckfeelings on April 19, 2010Share This Post
Many of us have nasty sides that can do lots of damage if they get out. In psychiatry, we call them “demons” or, to be less judgmental/more technical, “inner assholes.” They’re helpful if we’re cornered by Moonies and need to escape, and they certainly make us less boring. On the other hand, they’re dangerous, particularly since it feels so good to let them fly. Unfortunately, anything that flies has to land, usually on those you actually care about.
When my husband and I first got married (and married young, over 20 years ago), his job was physically intensive, but he enjoyed it and it paid well. Not too long ago he got injured, and it was bad enough that he can’t go back to that line of work, so he’s collected disability and taken over the childcare, which he does well. I found a good job, so we’re making enough money, but I don’t like working and miss spending time with the kids, so I push him to find a desk-job, but he obviously hates that kind of work and can’t seem to find anything that suits him. The whole thing is so unfair, I can’t help but dig into him sometimes, in a way that I know, even as I’m talking to him, is just nasty and inappropriate. It’s really putting our marriage through the ringer, but as hard as I try, I can’t control my temper. My goal is to get through this problem without getting divorced.
You clearly value your partnership with your husband…even if you hate your new role as breadwinner so much that it awakens the asshole within.
It leaves you with a big lump of anger and disappointment that you can’t get over and won’t go away. The expression might be “like it or lump it,” but sometimes, you have to do both.
You’ve found it isn’t easy to shut up about your anger because your inner asshole wants to whine and complain and punish your husband for the unfair suffering he’s put you through. Yes, it’s unfair, but it is what it is, and your inner asshole could ruin things for you and your family.
The good news is that you’re not a complete (or “perfect”) asshole, which, as you know from our scientific papers on personality, is a person whose nasty problems are always everyone else’s fault, and who can be reliably counted on to never, ever change, regardless of the number of treatment programs he or she is sent to by spouses, bosses, judges and bishops.
The bad news is that, having an inner asshole that isn’t the total driving force behind your personality means that you will frequently experience the remorse of a were-asshole, who is always trying to put herself in a locked cell before the moon turns full.
So don’t assume your anger will go away by talking about it with your therapist, friends or husband an understanding where it comes from. Women usually think that talking about things makes them better, but, in this situation (and in most situations), it often makes them worse.
See, while you’re talking away, waiting for your internal rage to ease off and your inner-Oprah to soothe your soul, your internal asshole is venting its stuff and ruining your marriage. So your goal isn’t to get relief; it’s to push your inner-asshole voice down so deep that it might emerge out of its namesake.
You might speculate whether your inner asshole is more like your id, or a reaction to loss or an aspect of your inner child. If so, you might want to shut up. You’ve avoiding the fact that you won’t control it by becoming an inner proctologist. Your goal is to close it.
You’ll discover that, if you’ve got an inner asshole, it doesn’t go away. Close it today, it’s just as strong tomorrow. If you’re ashamed of it, it gets stronger.
So dealing with it requires, as do most such problems, a shameless acceptance of the fact that your inner asshole is going to share your personality for life, and that you need to work hard, every day, to keep it in check, one day at a time.
If you don’t, then there’s more than your marriage at risk; like your actual anus, if you don’t control your inner-asshole, it will shit all over your life.
Prepare a statement to help you bear your burden and tighten your sphincter. “I have a right to be disappointed by the change in my family life but the real problem is that life sucks, my husband doesn’t, and my marriage will if I can’t keep my disappointment to myself. I’ve put together the best compromise for keeping us afloat. Supporting a big family is never easy. The rules are subject to change without notice. The more I hurt, the more I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do. My job is to share that pride and keep the hurt to myself.”
I know it’s a cliché to hate your mother-in-law, but I actually don’t have a problem with mine; it’s my wife who’s decided that my mother is the devil. To be honest, I know that my mother isn’t perfect—she gets on my nerves a lot, too, and has never been good at butting out of my life, and does tend to give my wife a hard time about a lot of things—but I never should have admitted that to my wife, because now she can’t contain herself. When the topic of my mother comes up, my wife becomes a totally different person, like, she dislikes my mother so much it’s almost unhealthy. My goal is to get my wife over her hatred so she can be a normal person all the time.
Blessed be the peacemakers, because they’re always getting fucked by the angry, out-of-control people they like to hang out with.
That’s what warring parties means—people who are angry and out of control—so don’t think for a minute that you’re going to make peace. If anything, you’re going to get blasted from both sides.
Your mother and wife may both have nasty, overbearing tendencies—what a coincidence! Perhaps we should start a linked website, menwholovewomenwithinnerasshxles.com.
The good news, I take it, is that you think your wife is basically a good, reasonable partner, as long as she’s not focused on your mother. The bad news is that she doesn’t see her inner asshole as a problem (and neither does your mother, further coincidence), so you can’t expect her to change and her control will never be great.
Now that your expectations are properly shattered, the real healing can begin. Start by giving up on notions about Sunday brunches with the extended family, and accept the fact that your partnership with your wife is priority one, of necessity.
You can see your mother whenever you want, as long as you don’t see or talk about her with your wife. Don’t try to put them in the same room, because two women will enter, and only one will leave..
Suggest to your wife that it will be in her best interest, and the kids’, to participate in occasional family get-togethers but that, if she agrees, she needs to decide when it’s necessary and how she can best get through it. If your wife won’t agree to contact, there’s nothing you can do about it except to develop your own ways of keeping in touch with your mother and trying to negotiate some contact with the kids.
Either way, don’t try to help your wife to get over her hatred; just make sure to put a healthy distance between her and her hatred’s source.
I have a good partnership but my wife turns out to have an inner asshole that will always make it agony for her to spend time with my mother and it’s my job to work around that fact. I won’t try to bring them together. I won’t listen to their complaints. I’ll make it clear, to both women, that I love them and see the animosity as an unfortunate fact of life, rather than something either one caused. I’ll urge my wife to view the problem as my partner in family management and hope that, without changing her feelings, she can see reasons for occasional diplomatic engagement; but if she doesn’t, I’ve done the best I can and must be proud of that fact.
More advice from Dr. Lastname