#112 Wife ashamed of her home and cars / Is this a communication problem?
DEAR ABBY: My husband is threatening to leave and my 9-year-old daughter is distraught because I am embarrassed about our home and our cars. We live in an affluent suburb, but we're not one of the rich families. My daughter wants to invite friends from school over, but I'm mortified about their parents seeing our home or cars.
I know these things shouldn't matter. I love my husband, but he says I'm ruining our daughter's self-esteem and disrespecting him by being embarrassed by a life he works hard to provide. What's wrong with me, and how can I get past this? I don't want to lose my family. —EMBARRASSED IN OHIO
DEAR EMBARRASSED: What makes a home warm and welcoming isn't whether it has been professionally decorated. Your problem isn't that you're ashamed of your house or cars. It's that you lack confidence in who you are. Your feelings stem less from what material things you lack than misplaced priorities.
When your daughter's friends visit, cookies in the oven, a welcoming smile and a willing ear if one of them needs a trusted adult in whom to confide will be more appreciated than whether your couch is new or there's a late model car in the driveway. Many children from families who supposedly "have everything" are starved for plain old-fashioned personal attention.
I often recommend psychological counseling, but in your case, perhaps you would be better served by talking to a spiritual adviser about the difficulty you're having with appreciating how much you have for which to be thankful. —Abby
Hi Ashamed: You ask, "What's wrong with me," I say absolutely nothing. You have a problem and you have yet to address the root of it and so it persists.
What's so is you feel uncomfortable and embarrassed and you believe it's because of the reasons you've given, but when you voice your reasons the problem doesn't disappear. This is because you haven't gotten to the truth yet. Once you tell the truth you'll have an entirely new set of problems.
My experience tells me that you are not in communication with anyone. You have lapsed into doing your imitation of communication with your husband and daughter. How do we know? We know because when communication takes place problems disappear, conversely, when talking takes place problems persist.
It’s even possible that you have never created being in communication with anyone and that the moments you’ve had of being in communication with your husband were but unconscious happenings*. I say this because once one knows how to cause communication to take place the ability stays with them for life. That is to say, all it takes is for one person to intend for communication to take place and the other joins in the co-creation or they extract themselves from the conversation.
You can tell you’ve all been stuck using the adversarial communication model because of the withholds. If you’ll look back, perhaps even before you met your husband but certainly on the first date, you found yourself withholding certain thoughts; this is one of the primary characteristics of the adversarial communication model. Most likely you had not had any experiences of communicating openly, honestly and spontaneously, (zero thoughts withheld). For most it sounds like a good idea until they come across a thought they are afraid to communicate. That’s the beginning of the commitment to mediocrity in the relationship. In fact, that’s where you are now, back then, when he would have said something that was a clear indicator of where he was heading; you would have said your truth and he would have realized that you would not be aligned with him on his path.
If you found yourself withholding certain thoughts from your husband during your first date (for excellent reasonable reasons) then you've compromised your integrity. It's quite common for couples to have only a few peak experience of joy during their engagement. Neither have been taught how to create and recreate joy at will through a single sit down.
What you're looking for is the first time you compromised your integrity; you let something slide that you intuitively knew wouldn't work for you. It's possible you voiced an objection to moving into a neighborhood that was for you not comfortable. It could even be that you went along with a huge mortgage, one you’ve never been uncomfortable with. Alarm bells rang but you surrendered, ostensibly as a gesture of teamwork and partnership. I suspect that you attracted and married someone who has been leading you in ways that conflict with your integrity.
It could be said that you’ve been asked to wear fancy jewelry when in truth you’re of the opinion that such ostentation is inappropriate in a world in which people are still homeless and hungry. Possibly what makes you most happy is meat and potatoes and sufficiency that supports generosity and community service, rather than showy accumulation and ostentation. For some people it’s uncomfortable to hang around people who are unconscious, prattling about things that don’t add to the aliveness of others.
In any case, you’ve sold out. You’ve become used to having your brilliant intuition, your feedback, be invalidated and ignored. This does not speak well of your leadership communication skills. He’s supposed to know that your happiness is of paramount importance. Men who commit themselves to serving their spouse are rewarded ten-fold. That you are unhappy and nothing you say can effect a change says that you both need relationship coaching.
Re: "…but he says I'm ruining our daughter's self-esteem and disrespecting him by being embarrassed by a life he works hard to provide." This is a blame statement. Notice that he has no sense of equal partnership, of your support that empowers him to do well financially. That you both unconsciously intend and put up with this old fashion relationship model indicates that you are addicted to abuse, to abusing and to being abused. If you recall he was into blaming back when you were first dating also. What did you make more important than being treated with respect? Also, it's true, you have ruined your daughter's self-esteem, she has watched you compromise your values and now she's programmed to do the same.
I have more but first I need to have your feedback after reading my reply.
Check back from time to time, I might edit or add thoughts. —Gabby
* This is so for the majority of divorced couples. The communication model they used to attract their partner is what's referred to as the adversarial communication model. It's also referred to as talking, so as to distinguish it from communicating. With talking one doesn't have control, they simply can't choose to not argue when they are in the middle of an argument, they don't have the ability to effect happiness through communication with their sparring partner. They are an argument-generating reaction machine. There's no creativity in their interactions, they never learned how to create a communication from nothing and so they are merely using words they've used before, which of course doesn't produce an experience of love. Any love they experienced early in their marriage merely happened. Talking produces blaming make-wrongs, communicating with the intention to experience love always always works.