Thank you to reader Angela who wrote the following comment on my “People-Pleasing: Today Is Not Your Day” post:
I really appreciate this article today because I am also struggling with this issue in my life. I feel like I am leaning more towards ending my current marriage with my selfish, taker husband because I am tired of him not respecting my boundaries and his keep taking advantage of me and my kindness while I build more and more resentments against him. However, I have done the math and I do not make enough money to support my self and my daughter and both of my parents are deceased. Does anyone have any suggestions of how to move forward in a situation like this? I feel stuck because I feel I have pretty much made up my mind to end it, but do not know how to get out, where to live, how to afford to live and so on.
And thank you to reader Julissa who wrote the following on that same post:
This topic was something I guess I didn’t want to read or face. I notice how I constantly want to please my significant other. I’ll do practically anthing to please him. And I just feel like I’m not getting the same in return. It bothers me very much, but I can’t help myself to constantly people please him. I am quite aware of my actions, the problem is how do I stop? How do I bring myself to end the relationship or let him know that I’m feeling this way, and that all I’m doing is growing to resent him?
First, here are two reader comments that I think have valid points on these questions.
Babs, who always amazes me with her insights, wrote this heartfelt and beautiful story:
This is for Angela and others in a similar situation in their marriages. For many years I focused on all the “unselfish” things that I did for my husband, all the while growing in resentment at his lack of response. After awhile, I stopped making the efforts. I didn’t love him any more — and he knew that I didn’t respect him. Angela, I swear that I could have written your letter word for word, including the part about not knowing how I would be able to support myself if we divorced.
Fast forward to the last year — we were “lucky” enough to have him lose his job, and be forced to take one that kept him on the road for weeks at a time. With him gone, I had time to think about how much of my energy was focused on being angry with him because he didn’t meet my needs. As long as I did that, I did not have to face that my only reason for my “unselfish” kindnesses was for the return I would get from him. Of course, my anger had made him withdraw further. To make a long story short, I decided that I didn’t want to spend my life angry and resentful with him. I needed to make changes in myself – my neediness, my dependence upon him, my disappointment in him — and I did. I reminded myself that through all my craziness, he didn’t divorce me — God knows he could have. I began to show interest in him when he was home. Over some months, I found myself looking forward to his weekends home, instead of dreading them. I wasn’t faking interest, or ultimately affection. He could sense that my doing little thoughtfulnesses when he was home, was not to get something from him for myself. I think *that* made the difference. One day I came home to find that he had put a single red rose in a bud vase. This from a man who always has resented the sort of occasions (birthdays and holidays) when presents are kind of expected. When I asked him why he gave me the flower, he said because he wanted to. Believe me, that flower meant much more to me than any other gift he could have come up with.
We’ve been married for thirty years this December, and I can honestly say that this is the first time that I have felt love for him in twenty or so years. Things are not perfect — I don’t expect them to be. But once I changed my dance, he had to change his. The key, I think, was taking my focus off his “inadequacies,” and making changes in my own selfishness. One other thing: when I finished school and realized that I didn’t have to be dependent upon him financially, it freed me up to feel like an equal. Once I felt that, it was easier to release the anger I directed toward him for not living up to my expectations. He is who he is, and the problem wasn’t him — it was me.
I hope this helps someone in a similar situation.
And Kelly (and several others) also shared a valuable perspective:
It is so helpful to be here for insight, and not feeling alone. Angela, I was where you are 1 year ago, with a husband who took advantage of my giving for 20 years. It is false to think you can go on in a relationship being sucked dry with nothing given back to you. It wasn’t even that I EXPECTED anything given back, but I did expect to not have somebody make me feel guilty if supper wasn’t at a certain time, or I didn’t act just how he thought I should. My happy personality was continually stifled. If I had stayed in the relationship I know I would have gone to an early grave…literally. I commend the women who can manage to turn things around but it isn’t always the case. The love was gone and I had no more energy to even “try”. I was also faced with finances, and how could I make it on my own. I didn’t think it would ever happen, until one day, something just fell into my lap, something i thought “My God I think I can do this” My gut told me this was it, so scared and alone I made the leap. I have not once regretted my decision, and the finances have worked out even though I worried myself to death about it. I am still adjusting but am slowly coming to know who “Kelly” really is, the lost part of my soul that disappeared long ago. Good luck with your journey, YOU WILL find the strength and courage to get through this, just listen to the voice inside and when the time is right it will happen. I can’t tell you it’s all easy, but life can be better than what you have known. YOU DESERVE THE BEST LIFE HAS TO OFFER!