Author Topic: Relationship  (Read 14131 times)

Garbanzo

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #450 on: June 18, 2020, 03:54:48 PM »
Wow Catatonic sometimes is a strong statement. I guess he is frustrated and needs more attention.

Hopalong

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #451 on: June 18, 2020, 05:40:08 PM »
I think he'd be happy with 24/7 attention, unless he's scholaring.
I ain't giving it.

We had a pretty calm talk about it, and I got to explain there were two sides to why that remark stung. One is that the "deep retreat" I can get into has two sides that feel vulnerable;

Side One: It is the kind of near-trance stillness that sometimes produces my best writing and thus I feel very protective of it. Always had that need, always will. Margaret Atwood says: There's no such thing as writer's block, there are interruptions from other people.

Side Two: It is also on the surface just the same stillness as my depressive withdrawal into non-functional sedentaritude. I don't need a highly-executive personality yapping around my ankles with TIPS on ADD or such, I'm working on it in therapy.

And sometimes I can't tell the difference. But I'm glad he heard me out last night and seemed to be respectful of me. I was defending my important boundaries but without hostility (or sarcasm, like here...).

Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

sKePTiKal

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #452 on: June 20, 2020, 11:24:19 AM »
I am just coming up for air Hops. Buck left yesterday and then I spent all day with Hol in hospital; she fell - onto one of the rocks around here and broke 4 ribs. Up late last night for required me time - and that retreat you speak of.

I just wanted to share how I frame my own version of the "retreat". Maybe there's something useful in it?

Side one - is well-known to me. It's my painter's trance; where I'm able to become "one with the void"; enter the zone. It's a necessary balance point for me - because of how busy my mind is.

Side two - is necessary for me, because I have such "melty, fusible" physical perceptions and it's very very easy to establish a sort of Vulcan MindMeld in situations with others - on those non-verbal levels. Problem IS, of course, the inescapable imposition of my own interpretation on others. I usually have to pull back, re-establish my skin location and ordinary "personal space" (or distancing)... and then engage brain & mouth to query the other person about the accuracy or validity of my other perceptions. Otherwise I'm PRESUMING and ASSUMING way too much.

I'm told this is a problem for some empaths - not that I claim that label. Definitely have that tendency and some aptitude. But I'm more like a loose cannon that depends on luck and synchronicity... than any kind of intentional, directed force.

Anyhoo... that's my framework for what sounds similar. Chuck it, ponder... whatever.
Hugs. I guess there's always more dance steps to learn.  :D
Success is never final, failure is never fatal.

Hopalong

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #453 on: June 20, 2020, 03:46:46 PM »
Amber, thank you.
It was so comforting to read your depiction of the artist's necessary trance (quite like a poet's), and its flip side...which is really just an individual PERSON's necessary solitude periods. You get it, so well.

Makes me mindful to recognize that underneath it all, I am also a weird kind of introvert. Just another kind of person who needs to tend to her separate self.

I'll respond about Hol's injuries (!!!!!!!) over on Farm Life.

hugs
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

Hopalong

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #454 on: June 26, 2020, 03:55:10 PM »
Well, there's a new how-de-do. I think it could bring us closer or the opposite, and am not too worried about the result. My part is my work, my awareness. His is his.

So....I have gradually gotten increasingly frustrated about M's food obsession. In brief, it's as though obsessive and frequent talking about food (what he will cook, what will be in it, when he'll order ingredients and from which store, what time he'll start the dish, etc -- followed by a deeee-tailed recitation of the preparation once I'm there and a slow plodding repeat of all the steps/ingredients/sources, etc during the meal--while he groans in pleasure as he eats--.... and it's become fossilized). So I recently told him something I'd love a lot would be if the next time I come to dinner he not email me about the food or the cooking during the day, and not tell me anything, and just let me enjoy the surprise meal when I'm there, when I'd be delighted to hear all about it.

He goes, "Understood! XXXXOOOO." Then that afternoon, he sends another email: I did this, and that and got the other thing done! And now I'm ready to COOK!! (It's as though no matter what boundary I ask for, he's going to poke it, often subtly. So I'm learning not to trust him when he says Yes, Understood, or similar.)

Long (and riiiiidiculous) story shorter -- I've also told him I'm avoiding bread and white flour right now (gained weight). But he keeps setting bread on my plate or adding croutons to salads (he still occasionally tries to pour me more wine despite all THAT discussion). Anyway, went over for dinner and the MOMENT I came in the door he launched into his obsession like a fancy waiter: "This is a thick sort of soup, Hops..." and I wanted to screeeeeam. I hadn't even had time to set down my bag.

And then, perched as I always am at the counter to chat and listen while he "narrates" the meal...(but I was willing)...I look at my bowl and....(drumroll!).... there are croutons in the bottom. Reflexively, without thinking (I thought he was about to pour the hot liquid in) -- I reached over and snatched them out of the bowl and put them on the counter. BUUUUUT....they're not croutons. They're lovely little cubes of baked tofu. Oops! And M is (justifiably) pissed! It was a rude impulsive move on my part and when he said, "I'm annoyed!" I thought, bravo! Then he goes on to say in detail what I should have done instead: inquired, confirmed what they were, (or IF croutons, reminded him), etc. Like a grownup. And I completely agreed, recognized what I'd done wrong and why it was a rude and inappropriate move, and apologized. About three times.

Finally during dinner I said M, I've agreed and apologized repeatedly but you're not letting it go....can you let it go now? He goes, Of course, it's over and done. Two minutes later he's eating and says, Oh I just got another mouthful of ha-ha ... crouton! Does that a couple times.

Then after dinner when we go to sit down and converse...he starts up with a mini-lecture on what's wrong with my character because I did that move, and my blood begins to simmer, and by the time he gets to "You're petulant" I, errrr, blew up.
"If there's one thing I am NOT it's petulant! I am honest and direct and I own my mistakes and am accountable, and I am capable of genuinely apologizing and I am absolutely NOT PETULANT!" And then I announced I still loved him but had to leave because I needed to cool off. Retrieved Pooch and left.

(What all that was, was what I WISH I'd been able to do in his jungle house when he did a similar--but more scathing--lecture about my defects after I'd pissed him off, when I didn't speak the language and had no way of just leaving, which I wanted to do. Rang the same bell.) Only two times this has happened.

Then once home I emailed him a calm, mature explanation of agreeing with him entirely that my gesture had been impulsive inappropriate and rude, that his annoyance was justified, but that I'd left because he wouldn't let it go and then had escalated into negative characterizations about who I am, etc.

He wrote back late that night: It's really okay, was just unexpected and unexplained.

So now my goal is to unload all this, without any anger, in therapy with him, to say that I'm worried about the food obsession and its effect on us, and I'm worried that when he says "It's okay" or "Happy to respect your request" but then doesn't...and how that impacts my dreaming about a lifelong commitment and how I manage my own frustrations better and don't get angry when if I'd said how I felt all along it'd be less intense. (All true. T thinks I need to speak up, and regularly.)

There we go. Sturm und drang...and All About Croutons. Exhausting. But funny in a way.

hugs and thanks for your patience!
Hops

"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

CB123

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #455 on: June 26, 2020, 11:22:36 PM »
Hops, I actually would have loved to have seen your face when you had an unexpected handful of tofu (who knew? Tofu in the bottom of a bowl? We used to make soup with tofu but that's a bit strange) Anyway, I would have laughed hard enough to fall off the stool. And I'll bet if he had reacted that way, you both would have been doubled over and it would have ended up making one of those secret stories that lovers have where one of you whispers "croutons" at a dinner party and the other starts snickering.

On the other hand, I'm imagining your thoughts whirring when you saw them in the bottom of the bowl. The first unconscious thought was " I can't trust him to not sabotage my food preferences, I need to protect myself".  That probably happened before you even had a conscious decision formed. I can see you trying to set up protection from the verbal onslaught--asking him to not email you with food details, or call you with them, or start talking about them. I sense that you are tense and on guard trying to protect yourself from that and from his unwillingness to honor your food and drink preferences. It seems that it puts you in a defensive mode in something that looks an awful lot like a power play on his part

I was thinking that, although I would also find that verbal barrage grating, it's a little sad that he is being asked to give up something he enjoys doing so much--it sounds like all the description and minute details are part of the cooking experience for him. I'm imagining that it would change his experience with preparing food by quite a lot and that biting his tongue will take out an integral part of what he enjoys.

I can picture what you want too-- a quiet glass of wine while you talk back and forth about your day. He's deglazing the pan and adding a bit of wine, and there's soft music in the background while you set the table and ask him how many forks you should put out. A completely different feel to the evening. Perhaps neither one is "wrong".

Maybe there's no bad guy here. Maybe what each of you want from the dinner experience is simply mutually exclusive. Maybe there is nothing he needs to change in therapy (nor do you).  As a compromise, I could see you taking turns making dinner and when he is in charge he does it loudly and full of gusto the way he enjoys, and when you make it, it's calm and conversational and relaxed. If he refuses to relinquish being in charge of dinner every time, or if you can't bear even one more evening with the verbal play-by-play, that probably tells you something important that you need to know.

CB


When they are older and telling their own children about their grandmother, they will be able to say that she stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way -- and it surely has not -- she adjusted her sails.  Elizabeth Edwards 2010

Twoapenny

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #456 on: June 27, 2020, 09:15:09 AM »
What CB said :)  I have to say, though, - and I freely admit not being a foodie or being much into manners or proper ways of doing things - I wouldn't consider someone taking something out of their bowl (especially if it was because they thought it was something else) wrong, rude or inappropriate.  It just wouldn't register for me.  Seems like a very small thing to get upset about, with the caveat that I don't get 'foodie' stuff so maybe that's why it seems less of an issue for me.

I have a got a couple of friends who I love to bits but they are very foodie and, like M, will talk a lot about planning, prepping, shopping for ingredients, how it was all put together, how to serve it and so on.  I find it tiring to listen to.  I don't particularly enjoy food - I see it as something I need to do.  Things I really like are unhealthy so I try not to eat them too much.  I hugely appreciate someone else cooking for me - the kindness of it is the thing I love - but I'm just as happy if someone bungs a pizza in the oven or turns up with a takeaway.  It's the action of doing it that I love rather than the food itself.  I just don't find it interesting.  I think my palette is probably very unrefined.

Do you think he's got bigger stuff he wants to say, Hops, but doesn't feel that he can?  Or even know he wants to, really?  I'm just playing Devil's Advocate a bit.  There just seems to be a pattern (from the things you post) of him saying what he's supposed to rather than doing what he's supposed to (or what you ask him to, I suppose is more accurate).  And almost like he's pleased when you get something 'wrong' because it gives him a chance to critique you?  I don't really know how to explain it.  I just feel like when I read about 'crouton gate' it seems like there is something bigger than croutons?  I may have been in lockdown too long and be seeing things that aren't there.  Whatever it is, I hope you are able to get things sorted out.  And obviously ignore all of this if it's nonsense, I think I'm spending too much time talking to the cat :) xx

Hopalong

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #457 on: June 27, 2020, 11:52:46 AM »
CB, your response sobered me, in a good way. You showed a lot of compassion for M. Cooking and food-obsessing is a big part of his "love language." He's said so: "This is how I show love for the people I love." So the struggle to balance appreciation and gratitude (this generous man is feeding me great meals!) with my inner aversion to the volume of attention he pays to it (and insists I pay in return) is difficult. I feel like such an ingrate.

The truth is, I have a deep recoil at times. It's not the topic but his obsessiveness around it that gets to me. My reaction isn't rational, it's visceral. I think on a deep dive I'd find it has something to do with my father. He was the main cook and also clearly had some version of OCD as M seems to as well. So even though I was desperate to help, all I could ever do was sit and watch Dad. I adored him and wanted to be part of it. M is similar in the kitchen, in that he has total control of absolutely everything that's happening, and no matter how often I ask, he wants to orchestrate every single step. One difference is that my Dad never lectured, narrated, or held forth aloud about every single aspect of his cooking, as M does. So even though it was frustrating not to be allowed to participate, I still was happy to be around my Dad.

It reminds me of M's "forced teaching" thing I described here at one point. I'd like to just enjoy a meal, ask a few appreciative questions about it and enjoy learning a bit. But not the entire Julia Child step-by-step recreation of every single thing that went into it. M's style of teaching is to go through each conceivable detail at microscopic level. "And then at 2:00 I took out a medium bowl and placed the whatever in it, to marinate in a blend of A and B and C and D and E...." So if I ask, what's that lovely XX?, I just get Too Much Answer. I also feel that my role is to clap. It's just hard. Doesn't mean it should be, but it builds up.

It's a weird response and I'm going to work on it. If I'm going to eat both greedily and gratefully at his house, I do think I should find a way to just accept that all the narration is the price of admission. The other day, when it started the second I stepped into the house (on a day when I'd asked for less of it), I think I couldn't handle it. I was on edge instantly, realizing nothing could really change.

Tupp, you're right. If I'd spoken up (a theme I have to work on) in a calm way, nothing would have happened. I actually *snatched* them out of the bowl, and suddenly. I think that's what upset him. There was no grace involved. He is very formal and fixates on the sort of ballet involved. Every meal is a production, with an audience. I understand it but find it the opposite of relaxing sometimes.

CB, you were also completely on target about the feeling of needing to protect my food and drink preferences because he often doesn't. Just subtly pushes things on me. He has a rigid sense of how each dish should be and it seems to cause him pain when I want to skip bread, refuse wine auto-refills, or do my own salad dressing because I prefer less. So there is chronic tension in me about what he's doing, and I guess my abrupt move with the non-croutons also came from that.

It's almost silly to micro-analyse a minor event like that, but it does seem to reflect a lot of things for me. And given that it culminated in him grinding away with a passive-aggressive commentary on my "character flaws" and me raising my voice and leaving.... I guess it contains truths to ponder. One of them is M's weight. I have never made any reference to it and would never shame him. But he is quite overweight, with a huge belly, etc. And when he insists that food is only about pleasure and celebration (but never makes a single reference to health), it troubles me. His meals he shares are both delicious and mostly healthy, but I believe he eats a lot of sweets alone. Not my job, but at times I feel inner tension over that too (I did spend years writing health books and nutrition things professionally). I've never been with a man as overweight as he is.

CB, your suggestion that I cook sometimes too is a good one. The thing is, I'm a much less relaxed cook for other people...it makes me tense. So to cook with M asking constant questions or also running commentary wouldn't be an easy choice. It's simpler to just be the non-cook in the relationship. But I could ask to negotiate with him that I be allowed to do the dishes. (He doesn't even permit that.) It'd make me calmer I think to have a role to play other than forced-student.

Quote
Do you think he's got bigger stuff he wants to say, Hops, but doesn't feel that he can?  Or even know he wants to, really?  I'm just playing Devil's Advocate a bit.  There just seems to be a pattern (from the things you post) of him saying what he's supposed to rather than doing what he's supposed to (or what you ask him to, I suppose is more accurate).  And almost like he's pleased when you get something 'wrong' because it gives him a chance to critique you?  I don't really know how to explain it.  I just feel like when I read about 'crouton gate' it seems like there is something bigger than croutons?

Yes, I think I've finally caught onto M saying the "right" thing in response to requests (even in T) but basically doing whatever he wants to anyway. The more depressing possibility is that M doesn't just have N-ish traits (as I do too) but perhaps he is far more narcissistic than I've been willing to face.

It seems odd, when I think of his emotional, vulnerable side. But if I'm honest, his emotional expression is usually all about his own feelings. He doesn't show much empathy for mine.

Sigh. I don't really know. But I've found myself watching a whole bunch of Dr. Les Clark videos (Surviving Narcissism on YouTube) lately. I don't know if I'm trying to confirm a fear or rule it out. No firm answer yet but a definite trend I need to think about very soberly.

Thanks guys. I will survive Croutongate! And maybe M and I will survive it together. I feel fortunate that I know we can dump it in the lap of the Sikh on Monday, and get some insight.

Much gratitude,
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

lighter

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #458 on: June 27, 2020, 12:13:03 PM »
Hops:

It seems like M's fairly entrenched in his NEEEEEED to talk about food.  Maybe.... OCD type stuff?

That he agrees, so quickly, to back off, then bolts forward again, with the behavior you've asked him gently to put down... means?  That he's unable or unwilling to put it down?  With his companion?  You're his companion.  He's used to behaving this way with his wife, I suppose.

The questions are....
can he learn to do something else?  Maybe look forward to keeping it all to himself, as you suggested, then "surprising" you with, and providing details in person.

Or...
can you get used to the chatter?

I have to say, although I might be happy to have someone cook gourmet me for me, I wouldn't be happy to be held captive by all the details either.  It's like hand holding, and ego massaging that's beyond me too.

I'm curious what your couple's T says and how he handles it. 

About your snatching food, and his reaction to it.

I think there was a conversation to be had about what was in the bowl. 

That you snatched it, IMO, spoke to M's trouncing your boundaries... about your feeling unheard. 

That M had the reaction he did speaks to his resistance to your having those boundaries.  As you've noted, he's very food focused.   He wants you to drink
more than you want to drink.

From here it looks like you missed an opportunity to be straightforward with him, talk about that, and figure out what was in the bowl, as you and M already agree.

Under it all is the unrest, feeling of boundaries being dishonored, feeling of having to be constantly on guard, and maybe that's both of you... M and Hops, for surely having to hold his tongue and NOT share foodies stuff feels like a burden to him, even if he's not succeeding.  He KNOWS he's failing, IMO.

Failing, for him, likely feels very bad and he doesn't want to face up to it or own it or change it, bc not doing it perfectly is already taxing him...  maybe.  I'm just throwing stuff against the wall here.  I can't be sure of one thing I've written. 

At first I felt he was bullying you over the tofu pawing incident, but I'm not sure it's that straightforward now.  It makes sense he'd try to change those behaviors, in you, that bring him discomfort and feelings of failure. 

Here's the thing that gives me pause.....
what if changing his behaviors,  and NOT talking compulsively is super difficult for him OR brings up feelings of abandonment he doesn't understand or have the coping strategies to deal with successfully yet.

I've always seen M in that light.... lacking coping strategies to deal with his young M's reactivity and feelings of abandonment that aren't right or wrong... they just ARE, until he figures them out with enough professional help and self awareness/reflection.

If he needs more support, that's different than his willfully forcing his way or the highway on you, iMO.

Is he bullying and picking fights?  I'd have to say, ya... he is.

Why is he doing it?  I'd say his younger M self is reacting, rather than his adult
 self by forcing you to take responsinilty for all the negative feelings, yours and his, and requiring you to TAKE responsibility and FIX it for him, and for yourself.

 Honestly..... what does that mean?  Nothing if it's not accurate, and the lovely couple's T knows the situation and you both pretty well.

Food for thought.

Lighter

lighter

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #459 on: June 27, 2020, 12:30:45 PM »
Ok... I see you guys puzzled on this a good deal before I posted.

Hops... I dated a chef once, and it almost ruined cooking forever. 

It DID ruin golf, forever, bc he was so picky and wanted me to feel insecure.  He WANTD me to need him to do everything in the kitchen, which was how that went eventually.  I never thought about doing any food prep or planning again WITH him.

I stuffed all that, btw, and actually fed him a lovely meal I prepared for another boy, I wasn't actually dating, but who wanted to date me.  It was a huge FY, and he felt every inch of it, while I wasn't truly aware of it, on a conscious level... it just came out sideways. 

So....
food.
Ya. 

The trauma of food sensitivities, and health issues compounds things, as Tupp mentioned. 

It's perfectly reasonable for you to have concerns for M's health.  With your background, it's almost impossible not to, IMO. 

CB... you said a lot with fewer words.  I agree with it all. 

Lighter

Hopalong

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #460 on: June 27, 2020, 01:56:04 PM »
Lighter...but CB suggested maybe this doesn't even rank for a therapy session? Are you agreeing with that as well?

Confused.

Struggling.

hugs
Hops
"That'll do, pig, that'll do."

lighter

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #461 on: June 27, 2020, 02:11:15 PM »
I'm saying the tofu isn't reason for a T session.

I'm saying what's beneath it, likely is.

Lighter

Twoapenny

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #462 on: June 27, 2020, 02:30:42 PM »
Hopsie, I wish I could say just don't think about it until you speak to the therapist again but I know it's almost impossible not to, especially with the current situation meaning it's not easy to pop out anywhere to do something to take your mind off it.

What I did want to say is, maybe, if possible, concentrate for a while on how you feel, overall, when you're with M.  Not the analysis or if there's NPD/autism/adhd/past problems/current problems and so on and so on.  My bottom line for relationships these days, platonic or otherwise, is that I want to feel safe and comfortable pretty much all the time.  A bit of insecurity or 'trying something new' I can cope with but overall I want to feel that I can be myself and be able to speak/do what I want or need to do.  Do you mostly feel safe and comfortable with M?  Mostly when you talk about him on here it's problematic but that might just be because you don't need to talk about the easy or comfortable bits on here.  If I'm honest it seems to me that you've put, and are putting, a huge amount of work in to just be able to share space with someone.  But that might be because I only know one portion of it (because much of it doesn't get written about online).  So it may be that view isn't an accurate one.  I'd really like you to be having relaxing dinners where you can slurp your soup and lob croutons across the floor and feed Pooch tidbits without anyone complaining about it.

I'm hopefully the lovely T will be helpful in shedding some light on it all.  And I hope you can get a bit of rest tonight xx

CB123

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #463 on: June 27, 2020, 02:32:48 PM »
Hops,
I think of therapy as something you do to get to the bottom of something in your psyche that needs healing. I guess the reason I said that is because I dont think either of you are doing anything that is unhealthy. The incessant talking about food is something he does because of who he is and your need for some calm and relaxation around food is who you are. No one needs to be fixed.

The fact that he doesnt respect your boundaries is another thing. You shouldnt have to guard your plate and your glass and your body from boundary breaches. You have definitely made yourself clear and he has definitely heard you. If you think that therapy is making an impact, that seems like something worth continuing with.

I wonder if taking the future off the table would help. What if you just enjoy each other's company without trying to change each other? No one is auditioning for a lifetime position, you are just having fun. You get together for as much as it continues to be fun. If you need to get away for some no contact time, let his calls go to voicemail and his emails go to spam. If that starts feeling weird (it is, he should be listening to you) then decide what you want to do.

He probably has some real issues that you as an empath are picking up with your spidey sense. I just wonder how satisfying it will be to spend the future trying to fix that. I dont get the impression that he is unhappy with the way he is or that he would have delved into his deeper motivations on his own. It's possible to really enjoy the company of a person in some situations and at the same time know that you don't mesh on some basic level.

I dont think that makes either of you a failure. Just not a good marriage prospect.

CB
When they are older and telling their own children about their grandmother, they will be able to say that she stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way -- and it surely has not -- she adjusted her sails.  Elizabeth Edwards 2010

Hopalong

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Re: Relationship
« Reply #464 on: June 27, 2020, 03:25:51 PM »
Thanks, everybody.
I am going to ponder a while, and see how it goes.

CB, I'm not ready for a definitive conclusion about marriage, or about changing to "just friends." I know you care and I know the goodness and wisdom behind that conclusion. It's just not the question I want to answer right now. I might wind up in the same place, or I might not. I'm not ready to conclude (though it's on my mind).

Sigh. I'm trying to factor in a whole lot of things, only some of which I talk about often.

Boundaries, YES.
Assertiveness, YES.

hugs
Hops



"That'll do, pig, that'll do."