What to do When Your Second Marriage Goes Bad

Dear Emily, I am beginning to resent that I fell in love with and married a guy that puts all of his energy into fighting his custody legal battle and raising his daughter. I think that the only thing I have for friendship and kindness is my dog, and he acts like I am crazy for giving the dog tons of attention. I am miserable. Help! “Janice”

Dear “Janice”, Your resentment are comprehendable, and you are not by yourself. To me it seems like your relationship with your husband has shifted significantly every since you two decided to get married, and that your dissatisfaction is getting intolerable.

I would love to offer you a couple thoughts to your suffering that you could begin to use right away, and see if the outcomes you get are opposite than what you are feeling now.

1. Are you acquainted with the thought that “what you resist will persist”? If you are using a lot of your time and energy focused on the things that are wrong in your relationship and what you are unhappy about, chances are you’re going to see a whole lot more of what you DON’T want; and keep getting the outcomes you are wanting to not see. The medicine here is to simply start focusing on what is GOOD about your relationship. This can be difficult to do at first, since you are so depressed. Something as simple as “He comes to the house every night and goes to bed in our bed.” Or “He always makes sure th at there is enough gas in the car.” . . . See if you can begin to examine every way he shows his dedication to you and to his whole family.

2. Create an “attitude of gratitude”. Complaining and Criticizing are habits that we learn as children and they tend to NOT get us what we want. When we criticize, we point out to the someone all that they are doing wrong and how they are failing as a partner, a provider, a husband. This doesn�t typically inspire him to be who you feel like he should be. As a matter of fact, he will begin to get so down and think that {whatever he does will never be as good as you want it to be and so he will just give up|no matter what he does it won’t be good enough, that he’ll just stop trying|. Why trouble when the only thing that happens is that he gets told “not enough,could have been better, too little�” You get the picture. The antidote to criticizing is to start being appreciative and to openly acknowledge every way he is good enough. You will be astonished at the results. It is advancing the noticing a step further and acknowledging with gratitude all that you see – from the heart. If you do this, the more you’ll find things to be grateful for – it can be quite magical! And, you could become very creative in how you express your gratitude. One wife started putting little post-it notes of thankfulness everywhere in the home, so he would find them as he did everything he did in the mornings. Another wife left a voice mail message talking about her thankfulness to him at his business. Did you know that men usually receive recognition is through hearing, seeing or what is done with him?

3. Examine how you could be contributing to the problems. In what ways are you behaving that might be keeping him at a distance from you? Are you pouting? Are you withdrawn? Are you ungrateful to his advances? Are you jealous? Take stock and notice what patterns you may have that get in the way of you receiving his love and attention. The antidote to not receiving everything you want is to begin giving everything that you want to the person you want it from but ALSO to yourself! Stop waiting for him to show up and think about how you can start coming in a different way. And START awarding yourself what you are wanting. Sounds like you are getting your needs obtained by using the dog – but not including the person you love. Can you make sure he feels included also? Is there a way to offer him that level of affection too?

One pattern that might be in play between the two of you is something called “Passing the Experience”. Just as you see him giving all of his attention and affection to his daughter, that’s what you may be doing with the dog. Each of you are receiving your affection needs with someone/something else, instead of reaching out to each other. And chances are there’s so much hurt between both of you that reaching out may be a bit too scary or challenging to do on your own!

I am curious about the age of his daughter, and how you were feeling about life when you were the age that she is. Perhaps if you take a little bit of time to go back to her age in your thoughts, you might get some information into the reason that you are particularly triggered by his devotion to her.

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