Posted by fxckfeelings on February 9, 2012Share This Post
The only thing worse than having negative feelings about someone or something for no good reason is having those feelings with every justification in the world. Either way, it’s usually better to keep those feelings to yourself, because no matter where the feelings come from, unleashing them sends them to the same place; to confuse, upset, and frustrate everyone around you. The truth about bottled-up feelings is that, with time, they don’t explode, they dissipate. Eventually, negative feelings go away, even if they don’t go quietly.
I’m in a very loving and healthy relationship with a divorced father of a 5-year-old. I feel we are deeply in love and we plan to marry, however, when he has his son I feel like nothing more than an outsider. Although he is very fond of me, I can’t help but be overcome with jealousy at the attention my boyfriend gives him and I distance myself in order to hide my feelings. I end up feeling isolated and alone which ends with tears if he asks me what’s wrong. I’ve tried to separate my feelings from reality, because his son deserves his attention and time. I see him light up when his kid’s around, but it’s hard for me to understand their relationship since my own father is a deadbeat and I’ve been dealing with abandonment issues my entire life. I don’t want him to feel guilty because he’s such a great dad and misses his kid and I don’t want his son to feel that I’m indifferent to him and ignore him, but I can’t help but feel like the jealous older sister. My goal is to remove myself from these emotions and learn to appreciate our unique family blend.
Don’t feel guilty for your thoughts or feelings, particularly when your actions don’t reflect those feelings. You can feel wrong as long as you do right.
And you must be doing a good job with managing your bad feelings, because, regardless of how jealous or bummed you feel when you behold your fiancé’s warm father-son relationship, you’ve done a great job of keeping them to yourself. You’ve succeeded in protecting your most important relationships from the negativity.
One definition of professionalism is behaving in a benevolent, job-oriented way without letting negative feelings show or interfere. You’re obviously a pro, particularly since you’re doing it while managing a shitload of pain.
You’re entitled to ask yourself whether you can put up with the painful feelings, and keep yourself under pretty good control, once you’re married. A better way to put that question is, are the advantages of the relationship worth it, assuming that your control is good enough. My guess is that it is, and it is.
There’s also the possibility that, after enough time goes by, your painful feelings will ease up, particularly if you and your fiance’s son have a chance to hang out and develop your own relationship, creating your own unique bond so you have nothing to be jealous of.
What you don’t want to happen is to let your disgust at your negative feelings destroy your confidence or make you feel guilty. If you feel you’ve got to purge yourself of those ugly feelings, or confess them, you’ll make them worse.
Forget the exorcism then; you’ve got a demon, but disowning her entirely will only increase her power to terrorize you. You came by her honestly, you’ve done a good job of stopping her from running your life, and accepting her will let you re-affirm your solid self-control.
If your fiancé asks why you sometimes seem unhappy, tell him a positive version of the truth; that, because of your background, you sometimes feel painfully needy, plus he’s much nicer than anyone you knew growing up. You’re also confident that the feeling will pass because you love them both so much.
As you settle into your new life and new family, the feelings will settle as well.
“Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, which is to say hollow and mean, but I keep this problem to myself and, as a result, I’ve got a great fiancé. I expect to feel needier in some ways as we get closer, but it’s worth it, and I think we’ll be OK.”
I’ve got an evil father-in-law who is always ready to say something nasty about me, and my wife never really supports me. Right after I set up a rule or schedule for our family, my father-in-law will go out of his way to defy it, and then ask my wife to bring our daughter over for a visit. Instead of standing with me and telling her father that he has to respect our rules and that I’m a part of the package, she goes over there by herself and acts as if nothing happened. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to trust my wife again and, if that’s the case, I don’t see how we can stay married. My goal is to do my best to get her to see what her father is doing.
It’s infuriating, when you’re trying to manage a family, to have someone sabotage your arrangements and make you look like a dictator instead of a parent and husband. Still, it happens, and it’s hard to stop, even when your partner is in total agreement with your every move.
On the other hand, many of your not-so-distant, not-so-wealthy ancestors may have had to live together in close quarters and couldn’t escape. As a result, they probably checked out their in-laws very carefully before deciding to marry, because they knew, once things got started, they were stuck.
If you can bear the humiliation for a minute, stop and consider what’s best for you. Put aside your fury at your wishy-washy wife and meddling father-in-law and ask yourself whether she’s a good partner in other ways—as mother, manager of time and money, and loyal companion (in every non-paternal relationship).
No, this is not an attempt to change your feelings for her; it’s to get you to think about whether getting rid of the feeling of betrayal will be worth the loss of her partnership and the impact of divorce on your daughter, which will push her into your father-in-law’s arms. Your feelings are about betrayal, but if you let them run loose, you may expose yourself to a much greater betrayal with more dire consequences.
If, feelings aside, you believe you’ll have a better life and stronger influence on your daughter by avoiding divorce, then ask yourself whether you can learn to live with anger and bitter mistrust while keeping your feelings to yourself. It’s possible (see case above), but admittedly difficult. If you decide to go that route, seek coaching and a good support group.
If you can’t imagine living with those feelings within a marriage, then you can’t, but don’t expect divorce to provide you with rapid relief. On the other hand, if you stay married, you’ll probably have many opportunities to run the family circus, just not all the time and not with your wife’s full cooperation/compliance.
Your goal, if you choose the trial of living with your Judas wife, won’t be to regain a feeling of marital comfort and trust, but to learn how to live without those feelings, knowing that, on some rational level, the value of your wife’s strengths as a partner outweighs the pain that your father-in-law has stirred up. If you want to remain a full-time parent and husband, you don’t have a choice.
“I’ll never feel that I can fully control my household or trust my wife until my father-in-law is dead. Nevertheless, she and I are a good team and my ability to keep our daughter from over-bonding with her grandpa is better if I’m around full-time rather than during visitation only, so I’ll try to stay married and set quiet limits on an intrusion I can’t always control.
More advice from Dr. Lastname