My first attempt to post something to /r/marriedredpill and not just comment. Hope y'all enjoy it.
I've noticed with men having problems with their marriage, their wife's behavior seems to fit three archetypes. I'd like to outline them here and I'm curious if you gents will agree with me.
1. The Drunk Captain With A Pissed First Officer Who's Had to Take Command:
Your wife asks you to pick up something from the grocery store for dinner. You pick up a slightly different brand, size, etc of whatever she wanted. This results in her yelling at you and criticizing you for a lot of unrelated issues. She works all day, she's waking up all night, breastfeeding your infant child, and you're apparently so worthless you can't even pick up the right kind of ground beef. The warmth is draining from your marriage, and you feel you're try your best to make her happy, but she seems to find fault in even your most minor mistakes. In the morning, she hinted at having sex that night, which you were really looking for to since it's been a whole month. But then you had to go and buy 90% lean ground beef instead of 93% lean ground beef, didn't you? That 3% more fat might as well be the 0% fat chance you have of having sex that night.
The Problem: If your story starts with saying, "I was alpha, met my wife, and turned beta," this is probably you. But your wife didn't turn you beta, you did. In other words, you're the Drunk Captain.
It's not about the groceries. She's berating and henpecking you because she's pissed off that you haven't stepped up as leader of the household. She's reluctantly had to take the reigns, because she feels the ship will crash otherwise. She's no longer telling you what structural improvements she wants -- she's given up completely on your ability to execute anything meaningful. So all your attempts to "help" are looked at almost with contempt. No amount of running errands or doing chores will make up for the major deficiencies you've allowed in your life.
The Solution: Get your shit together. Read MMSL, and start working on your MAP. Make those structural improvements she wants. Hit the gym. Focus on work. Make real improvements in your life and in your children's lives, if you have them. This will almost definitely piss her off at first. Like I've said, she's written you off. When she sees you doing things like going to the gym, her gut reaction will be, "Oh, the Captain thinks he can just sober up and take command overnight? I don't trust him for a minute."
There will be a period where she doesn't trust your leadership, and on top of that, now sees you declining the pathetic ways you used to "help" her before. This will be tough and you can expect a lot of Shit Tests, but your road is actually is the easiest to navigate of these three scenarios. This is because your wife fundamentally wanted to be a First Officer, not a First Officer Who Had to Take Over For a Drunk Captain, which is why she was attracted to the Younger Alpha You to begin with. Follow your MAP, maintain your frame, and become that guy again. You'll know you've turned the corner when those Shit Tests have given way to Comfort Tests, and you'll eventually be able to regain her trust, respect, and eventually admiration.
Degree of Difficulty: Depends on how long you've been figuratively drunk, but this is the easiest of the three dysfunctional Captain and First Officer scenarios. The failure mode here is the husband's decline into betadom, the woman's nagging/henpecking as she's resentful she's had to take command, and the husband lets himself be beatdown by said nagging/henpecking. Then they go to "marriage counseling," which only encourages a deeper rift. The husband is told, "you need to appreciate your wife," but no amount of appreciation will make her happy -- she doesn't want to be appreciated for being in command, she doesn't want to command the ship at all! And the wife is told, "you need to stop busting your husband's balls," but the easiest solution to that is to stop making them such a big target!
2. The Captain and the Constantly Complaining Passenger:
You've made plans to meet up with some friends for happy hour after work, and you're excited; you haven't seen them in months and you feel lucky they're even still talking to you. You're wrapping up your day at work, when your phone starts vibrating; it's your wife. Just seeing her name pop up on your phone causes your gut to tighten and make you feel slightly anxious, even if you'd never consciously admit that to yourself, let alone her. You pick up the phone, and she immediately launches into how annoying her job was that day. Normally you'd entertain the hours of verbal diarrehia that inevitably will come out of her mouth, but you're going to be late to meet with your friends. You try and gently interrupt her story, which immediately causes her to direct her wrath at you. "So it's more important for you to get drunk with your friends then listen to your wife's problems. I see how it is." You try and backpedal, offer to keep listening to her, but now she's entrenched in her anger at you. You defend yourself, saying you're hardly going to "get drunk," and will be home well before 7pm. Some how this leads her to start crying, saying how stressed she's been lately and how she feels so unsupported by everyone, including her own husband. You sigh, tell her you'll be right home. Looks like happy hour isn't going to be so happy for you after all.
The Problem: You're the Captain, but somehow this means you're responsible for everything that goes wrong, and don't get any credit for anything going right -- pretty much as discussed in Rollo's post "Mutiny." Your wife isn't a First Officer, she's just a passenger -- and a very critical one at that. If your wife feels negatively for any reason, it's automatically your fault. If anything negative happens to the family; again, your fault. It's impossible to reason with her, because so much of her responses to anything are based on her "feelings," and she has a way to twist anything she doesn't like as your lack of consideration for said feelings.
Pick your analogy: eggshells, a tightrope, or a bed of nails, either way, you're walking on them constantly and it sucks. Any suggestions from her are basically just negative criticism, and work much like George Steinbrenner's old rationale for insulting players in the media. If you fuck up, she was right. If you succeed in spite of her criticism, then she "lit a fire under you" or "is glad you proved her wrong by finally stepping up." Your sex life isn't barren, which is nice, but only seems to happen after an epic fight, which isn't so nice.
The Solution: Your story probably doesn't start with "I was alpha, then became beta." Sadly, you were probably "beta" for most of your life, likely stemming from codependency issues developed during your youth. Your parents divorced and you found yourself having to console and comfort your mom or younger siblings, and this what you equated with "love" -- protecting people from bad feelings, even if you have to take responsibility for all of them. Or attributing love to dealing with some sort of conflict, even if it's self-imposed.
So Mr. White Knight, this doesn't get any better until you stop that. The good news is, you're probably already a pretty good Captain. Anyone viewing your marriage from the outside would probably see a nice house, happy kids, bills paid, and food on the table. You can't turn your wife into a good First Officer overnight, but you can stop caring about her criticism about your failures. It's going to be terrifying for your wife to not have you taking responsibility for all her emotions, and you're going to see that right away. She'll alternate between Shit Tests and Comfort Tests, sometimes within the same conversation. She'll criticize you, get hysterical when you brush it off, and then end up in tears because, "it just seems like you don't love me anymore." This likely won't end until you manage to hold frame through a level DEFCON1 Nuclear Shit Test, but then there's nowhere to go but up from there.
Your bible is WISNIFG. For too long, you've attributed your value to how pleased others were by you. That needs to stop, especially because chances are your wife isn't the only codependent relationship you're in. But while your game is boundaries, this is going to instill a radioactive level of Dread in your wife without you even trying all that hard. Focus on techniques like Fogging and Negative Inquiry and Negative Assertion, because this gives you the best chance to navigate setting boundaries without your wife freaking out that "you hate her and she can't live like this anymore," and torching your house.
Degree of Difficulty: Generally this marriage is what happens when you mix a codependent man with a "Cluster B" (narcissistic, histrionic, or borderline) personality disorder. If these traits are acute in you and/or her, get ready for a lot of intense drama that your marriage may not survive. Your wife may decide that taking responsbility for her emotions was her condition to being married to you. Or you may feel her hysterics are just too emotionally trying for you to keep maintaining frame.
Otherwise, if you'd describe your wife as just "emotionally needy" but not necessarily to a pathological level, you should be able to come out of this just fine. The only other pitfall is when you inevitable instill that Dread, you'll be tempted to enjoy and relish it. The opposite of Dread is taking you for granted, which is what she's essentially done for most of your marriage. You've probably built up some resentment about that, and it'll tempting to watch that Dread and even intentionally fail Comfort Tests. But you do you want to save your marriage, you're going to need to learn to resist this.
For what it's worth, this is only scenario that I consider talking to a professional -- separately -- to be helpful. Individual therapy can help you overcome your codependent ways of thinking, and if your wife truly is truly a full-blown Cluster B, a professional will be able to help her deal with (or medicate) her moods in ways that you can't.