I was at one time, believe it or not, a "submissive Christian wife." I deeply respected my husband, and had a very hard time coming to terms with the fact that he mistreated me...

After realizing and admitting to myself that I was in fact in an unhealthy marriage, the ONLY reason I was able to escape was BECAUSE I became an Atheist first...Had I still been a Christian, I would not have opted for divorce. That's the truth.

I've been an Atheist now for about 3 years, and yet I still find myself in the mindset of submission. Despite all of the ways he has mistreated me, and disrespected me, and undermined me, I still treat him with the utmost respect. I talk highly of him. To our son and to others...most of the time. I ask his opinion on matters regarding our son. I keep him involved. I ask "permission" to raise child support (when I could just file the papers through the courts and force the issue...) I try to maintain an amicable relationship for our son's sake...

The problem? I am doing all of the work. I am doing all of the appeasing. I'm still bending over backwards. I'm putting my own financial stability on hold so that he can get a leg up financially first. I am submitting to him even still. I am giving him a level of respect simply for the fact that he's the father of my son, not because he's earned that respect...

I wrestle with this. Why can't I become a bitch to him? Why can't I let go of this mentality? Why do I still do all of the work and get nothing back? Well I suppose what I've gotten back is that he is more respectful towards me now than when we were married. It's a step in the right direction. But he still takes advantage of me and he still uses my family for his own benefit.

My dad just recently helped him get a job. A good job. There's no reason he should only be paying me $100 per month is child support. Most men in his shoes would be paying $500. Do I press the issue? Do I rock the boat and force it? Do I stop treating him with such "respect?" Do I just keep living like this? Do I keep emailing him details about our son's upcoming events, and teacher meetings, and soccer practices, etc...when he never comes?

I feel like I'm driving myself crazy trying to maintain a good relationship with my son's dad for my son's sake. The Christian perspective would be to keep trying. Keep going. Keep being a doormat. Keep doing it...because it's what "God" would have me do - submit.

No. I need to stop. I need to find the right balance between doing the right thing, and no longer being the only one trying in this co-parenting partnership. I don't know what that looks like. I'm still trying to figure it out.  

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+1

Easier said than done...but Mike is totally right here. You don't have to tiptoe around what you are entitled to and deserve.

Thanks Matt, you're always so helpful :)

UPDATE: I spoke with him tonight and he's open to discussing the child support issue!

He got a job at the post office and he starts tomorrow. He said to me, "I'm very grateful to you and your family for everything you've done for me. I wouldn't be here without you."

I tHink he's finally feeling like his pride is in tact. He is now making more money than he's ever made. I think it's becoming real for him.

He said after I get home from Xmas break (going to Burque, yeah!) He will WILLINGLY raise child support :)

I'm SO HAPPY!!!!!!!

You see that? Right there? That's how it's done. Letting him "feel powerful" and "being nice" to get what I need. It's more exhausting...but now I have the upper hand. He just gave me what I wanted and I didn't have to take him to court.

And he feels "powerful" which is ok. I'll let him feel powerful :)

P.S. He took our son this weekend and he came home smiling. I am glad.

I see him now with his head held high. Car. Job. Nice clothes...He knows deep down how much I suffered for him. He's now becoming a better man. I can see it. I saw a lot of hope in his face. Not hope for us to get back together. But hope that he is slowly maturing and seeing life from a different perspective.

When I met him he was an illegal Mexican making less than minimum wage. I saw him through his back injury. I supported him tirelessly through recovery. I helped him w/ immigration. He is now a year away (less than a year now, like 6 months) from becoming a citizen. He stopped drinking when I got pregnant. His anger is still a part of him, but it's a LOT better than it was....

I am mostly sad. He's now a better person and really seems content.....I feel like a loser. I'm homeless, been in mental health recovery for 3 years (and still am), I can no longer work in the fields I am most naturally good at (due to PTSD) and I'm trying to make it on my own with a son that's now learned violence towards me.

On one hand I'm really happy he's doing well. On the other, I'm heartbroken. He took everything from me and is now a better man for it. I am now left with nothing and no one. I feel sometimes like, "I'm going to make it." but....just when it seems like that, it's like the universe says, "just kidding!" lol...

I'm happy and sad all at once. Happy for him. Truly. But very sad....extremely sad that I am now homeless. Maybe a little jealous that he has it so good, and I am still trying.

Well played though @Belle, all this good stuff is your doing.  Your son has a happier life as a result.  All of this makes a good foundation for a brighter future. 

Yes....it only shows me (again) - sort of reinforces my point - being submissive works. Unfair? Yes. But it works.

being submissive works

If you really believed that, you wouldn't have published the original post.

A bully is a bully. When his next crisis hits, be prepared to be the victim - again,

You're right..I was thinking about that too. I don't know how to stop the cycle. I am still afraid of him. Why? It's like on one hand I respect him, but I also fear him. It's learned Behavior. Can I ever be his equal as a co-parent?

Being submissive gets you nowhere unless you truly want to be submissive (an uncommon minority) or have absolutely no choice (far too common in Christian Latin America and Muslim Saudi Arabia. The shittiest part about religion is that some force or man in the sky demands that we submit to him...submission...not even a simple respect. Respect is earned. Neither God nor your ex has done anything to deserve it. Submission? Forget it.

Show any weakness or make any concession and he will take it and take it for granted. He wont treat you with respect until he knows how serious you are...and that there are real and harsh consequences by not honouring his part of the agreement. Don't most states garnish wages for child support? You seem concerned for his well being and his financial situations under the illusion that it is important for there to be a father in your childs life. I don't know what othger people here think but I believe its more important that you can provide the minimum necesities for your child (that your screw-up ex pays the child support no excuses) than worrying about whether your ex will have the free time to visit his son. He doesn't deserve visits until he pays his part...and he will be a shitty influence and role model until he gets his shit together. Submissiveness will get you nowhere. Get a sassy friend to come along or a social worker willing to be there when you see your husband if you are afraid of challenging him.

Get HELP!

There are government-run agencies and charitable organisations all over. Just make contact. They know what to do about women trapped in exactly your kind of situation. 

Don't expect to visit them and come home with a solution (a la MikeLong's "Just That Easy" Solution For Everything Agency). They'll step you through it - slowly and carefully. They know the consequences of indiscretion.

I confess I have no first-hand experience here, but I don't believe for a minute that the law is on his side. These laws were crafted to protect women and children. Men don't (usually) need protection in these circumstances.

RE: these laws were crafted to protect women and children. Men don't (usually) need protection in these circumstances.

I am currently helping a woman w/ a legal case that is heart-wrenching. Her ex-husband is trying to get full custody of their 3 children as a post-separation battery tactic. (I just made a MAJOR case breakthrough tonight :-)

Unfortunately he's trying to pull malicious litigation against her....

Point is - the law is not on our side as much as it may be in Europe. I know women who have had their children taken away. It only takes being able to hire (afford) the right attorney.

It does seem very unfair that while he's now "winning" thanks to your courageous tireless efforts, you're still apparently "losing".  But your time must surely come.  It doesn't seem likely that you will stay in a screwed-up position for ever. 

You've just pulled off a minor miracle, and you can't do that by being submissive alone.  Being submissive never achieves anything on its own, other than a lifetime of abuse, like those poor Christian women.  Now, everything's changed for the better, even though a MAJOR miracle is too much to ask.  I believe that on some fundamental gut level, he now sees you like this: 

and that's a very strong position for you to be in.  As well as showing submission, which it seems is a tactical necessity under the circumstances, you've shown strength and compassion towards him.  You didn't give up on him, you kept trying until you properly saved his bacon, and probably this is a brand new experience for him, or very rare in his life.  So imagine the immense visceral gratitude he can't fail to feel towards you, if he has a shred of decency as a human being, which you say he has.  This puts some kind of responsibility on you now not to let him down, although people like him don't necessarily respond in a healthy way to this situation, as he might easily resent the power you now have over him. 

In your strength, compassion, and benefiting him, he is likely to feel a new respect for you. 

But the fact remains that he's a dangerous man and you're taking a lot of risks for the sake of your son.  You know you've got to handle him carefully.  The only thing you can do is to minimise the risk towards yourself and your son.  My advice is to show him you're strong, show him you're worthy of respect, keep being good to him where you are able, and keep yourself safe from his abusive nature as far as you can.  You're forced to act a certain way in order to keep him from flying off the handle.  It's always going to be difficult and risky, and if it wasn't for your son, you would presumably run for the hills like everyone else.  In the exceptional skill, courage and maturity you've shown in handling this situation, think of all the good things it will be teaching your son. 

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