Photo Credit: Jill Allyn Stafford
My wife has a very poor self image. When she is under pressure or stress, regardless of the source, the final result is that it is all my fault. I make her feel bad about herself, I don't ask the right questions, I am not intimate enough, I talk to her like she was a neighbor. I will be the first to admit that I am not perfect, but I love my wife and I tell her frequently how much I love her.
Her reaction in these times of stress is basically "I don't believe it, if you really loved me you would know how to make me feel better. If you really wanted to you could figure it out. The fact you haven't figured it out is proof that you don't want to. You make me feel totally inadequate etc, etc, etc.
She has grown to hate my mother, and anything I do that reminds her of my mother makes her upset with me. I look at her over my glasses like my mother. I walk like my mother. I hold my hands like my mother. My mother really is a pain in the butt, but I don't feel that I am anything like her in personality and I can't tell that I am mirroring some action that she might do. My wife says if I really want to I can stop doing all these things my mother does.
I have suggested on many occasions that we go to counseling together. She refuses to do this, claiming that the problems are all mine. I should go to counseling.
My wife is the most personable, intelligent, and loving person when she is not under stress. She seems to cycle into this "downer" personality every few weeks. I can go to work in the morning and everything is fine, and I come home at night and everything is wrong.
Can anyone give me suggestions on how I can save this relationship. I have tried everything I know to do. I am beginning to think that maybe I am really as bad as she says I am when she is in her "downer" mode. But then I think about things and realize that I am the only one trying to solve the problem. It seems to me that no one can really "make you" feel inadequate. At some level don't you choose to feel that way and maybe blaming someone close to you who is "safe" is a way of coping with that decision.
I really love this woman and want to help her and us.