This is my first FR / question on r/askMRP. I've been reading/lurking for about 15 months. Swallowed RP over Labor Day weekend. I've been submitting OYS reports for a month now.
I have a question based on my changing experience over the past two months of working on my mission, goals, and self.
TL/DR: I am making great progress on eliminating my codependency on my wife's needs, and as that happens, I like her less and less.
My first OYS gives some context of how I arrived here, but I need to add a bit of detail. Some of this I wasn't even aware of when I submitted my first OYS, but I'm learning as I keep working on myself and think about the comments from other MRP users.
I've been with my wife for 20 years, married for 16. Met in law school. She is highly intelligent, professionally motivated, and capable. We had two demanding professional careers before she left hers when we had first child. After second child, she reentered workforce part time. Now SAHM with part-time job.
Marital background: Wife is a child of a dysfunctional home with physical and emotional abuse. When we first dated, she showed signs of abuse. No coping mechanisms for stress, prone to massive bouts of rage, saw and assumed the worst motives in people even when there was no reason to suspect malice (e.g., if I forgot something at the grocery store, she would fly off the handle, accuse me of intentionally not listening, not caring, etc.). Her strategy for accomplishing goals was basically bullying with high intelligence. Effective in short-term outcome but not in relationship building. Any normally functioning man would have run.
But I didn't run. Instead, I built a life where my psychological well being was based on making her happy. I found codependent validation in my ability to care take, fix her problems. As a result, most of my adult life was spent on eggshells, literally feeling a pit in my stomach when my cell phone rang, lying to her about going out for drinks after work, hiding my whereabouts, and generally suffocating my entire self to her whims, needs, and emotional terrorism. We would have blowouts and fights, divorce was threatened by both of us, but we always moved on and kept going.
For context, this behavior was probably about 15 percent of the time. When she wasn't acting out, we shared interests, had fun together. Sex has always been ferociously good and frequent. I knew I didn't like her behavior at her bad moments, but I was convinced I loved her, and that this was just a part of love. Marriage is hard, right? What I didn't realize until I discovered RP was that I had absolutely no independent self or life at all. I was entirely codependent, framing my emotional happiness and sadness through hers. Which is a fucked up way to live.
Fast forward until today. To my wife's credit, she has worked hard on her mental health. She lost about 50 pounds and has a hot little 40+ body now. She is dedicated to exercise, which she credits to her mental health improvement. She adds a lot of value to the household - does lots and lots around the house, manages projects, earns a second income. And sex is great. She has gotten treatment for her emotional issues as well. So we're now at a spot where the behavior I identified earlier has dramatically decreased. We might have one day a month now where she exhibits that kind of behavior, instead of two days per week. And the severity and duration of her episodes is lessened as well.
My codependence, however, did not lessen. I framed my worldview in terms of OUR goals, OUR interests, OUR family. Until recently, though, I couldn't see that OUR life was just HER life with me living in it.
My change: Come 2017, I discover RP and spend a long time reading. I read WISNIFG and NMMNG. I recognize myself inside. I spend months doing some really hard instrospection and questioning and learn that I am a 42 year old man with no sense of purpose or self independent of my wife, and that my entire life has been based on validation-seeking choices and actions. Come 2018, I swallow RP and begin to work on myself. Fitness and business are on the right path, but the hardest work I need to do is figuring out what I want and asserting myself, ending the codependency I have lived with for so long, and living my life for me.
So, after years of struggling with this, I have found a personal mission, written goals to further that mission, and plan to accomplish those goals. I'm following it, making progress, stumbling along the way, and trying to learn from the veterans here.
My question:I haven't been living with this purpose for long, but I am feeling changes in my relationship with my wife already. I don't want to rehash OYS details, but I am now leaving the house to see friends frequently. I am stating my feelings, desires, and preferences routinely and comfortably. I end phone calls with her now easily. I have taken two trips out of town with friends and simply told her I'm going, didn't ask for her thoughts or permission. My leadership skills need a lot of work yet, but I am making big strides in ending codependency. It feels great to allow myself to live for me.
Here's the thing. As I build a life around what I want and my mission, I find that I am liking my wife less and less. This does not feel like anger or resentment. I get along on a day to day basis. I am still sexually attracted to her and sex is frequent, good, and pretty raunchy. I tease her and game her as often as possible. I went through anger phase about a year ago as I was reading. This is different. It's a calm observation that I just do not enjoy her personality as much as I thought I did. I'm able to see much more clearly that I don't like the way she handles a lot of her emotional life, and those parts of her are ugly enough that it influences my entire view of her.
My question is whether this is a common stage on the RP journey? In all of the FR and OYS reports I have read, I haven't come across much discussion of this issue. The conclusion I'm coming to is that the "love" I thought I felt for her was actually just my own codependent emotional investment in her feelings and emotional state. As I'm breaking that unhealthy emotional link, I'm noticing a gap or hole in my relationship with my wife. I'm glad for this, because it means that I'm making progress on ending codependent, validation-seeking behavior. But I'm confused about figuring out what I legitimately want from my marriage now that I'm setting my own goals and mission.
I'm not looking for a quick answer to this personal question, I'm going to work through it as time goes on. I am curious from the community whether anyone else has experienced this shift, and what opportunities and pitfalls I might be overlooking or blind to here?