My exercise was to discuss the values I see present in MC both prior to d-day and post d-day.
My husband grew-up in an exceptionally conservative religious community, with a self-righteous, controlling and judgmental mother who treated him more like a doll in a display case to take down and show-off every now and again, than a child. He tells a story of placing 2nd at the district-wide spelling bee while in elementary school. He was crying and so upset, not because he didn’t come in first place, but because he knew his mom would be upset that he didn’t come in first place. Growing up with the pressure to be perfect, he disintegrated himself into two images. One for his mom based on her desire for a weak, timid, easy-to-control, but highly academically brilliant boy, afraid to speak up or stand up for himself. And, his other, hidden self to act as he pleased, when he pleased, secretly, and without judgment. Funny enough, when that hidden self was unsuccessfully hidden and expressed as a child or teen, his mother automatically blamed the behavior on the bad influence of others, shielding him from any outside (of her) consequences. This type of lack of integration, separating into two selves, like Jekyll and Hyde, is representative of the man he was, not the man he wants to be. Therefore, in his case, I do not believe it is helpful to separate out differing selves, but rather for him to learn to be an integrated person who matches his actions to his words, and makes choices with integrity, honesty, and courage in all aspects of his life.
All that being said, I do believe that there are values from his pre D-day life that will hold in his post D-day life:
5) Interested in political and philosophical thoughts and ideas
6) Love of travel, fitness and non-ball sports (swimming, skiing, running, SCUBA, etc.)
1) He is exceptionally tied to his to-do list and has, over the last four years, worked exceptionally hard to turn that to-do list from “his priorities” to “our priorities” and to practice flexibility in regard to the to-do list. The to-do list does NOT have to ALWAYS take precedence. However, I do think flexibility on this will be a continuing struggle for him.
2) Flexibility in general. My husband has a hard time switching gears; micro managing is an instinct for him. Though it is good, to a point, to follow through and ensure the kids are on track, for example, there is a point where such actions do not allow them to be in control of making their own choices and learning from those choices (sounds familiar to his own childhood).
3) Moderation. He is either totally on top of everything and everyone, micro-managing or totally lets go of it altogether. There is middle ground. Though he now recognizes that reality, he still struggles with it and I foresee it as a continuing struggle.
4) Lack of spontaneity. Allowing a bit of the spontaneity and fun that he sought in his forbidden life to be a part of our family, and our marriage in a healthy, safe and loving way continues to be a struggle for him. This is part of the integration that I spoke of the first part of this exercise that he works upon, but I see as a continuing long-term struggle.
5) Fear. He has made courage one of his top priorities. He is working on not shying away from conflict, but it continues to be a struggle. I think each time he successfully faces such situations and sees that world has not ended, it does build confidence and reinforce a positive. But, it is not automatic and is a long road ahead of consistently facing those fears.