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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:30 am 
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It's been over a year since D-day. After a period of honesty and openness last year, which was very painful, my husband has shut down again. He told me a lot of things that were very painful for me to hear about how he felt about me and us, but when I told him something honest but painful for him (that I haven't felt attraction for him for a while) the shutters went down again and he withdrew. He's been acting like everything is fine, trying to be a good father, etc but there's no connection between us. When I've tried, many times, to talk to him he's listened but not responded really. I've told him that he's in danger of losing me, that I need to feel like I can trust him and that we have a connection, that I need him to go back to therapy, but there's been no emotion from him. A few days ago, I was really upset and in tears. I told him I feel he isn't interested in saving our marriage but that he doesn't want to be the one to say it. He was on his way out with our son, so he just shook his head 'no' and said we'd talk later. The whole day passed and he said nothing. That night going to bed, he said nothing. The following morning, I asked him what was going on really and was he trying to tell me something. He said no, that he was just running away from difficult conversations as usual. I said I feel like I'm knocking on a closed door and he admitted that he is closed off to the world, out of self-protection, but he couldn't say what he was protecting himself from.

The full depth of his intimacy issues hit me like a ton of bricks in that moment. (Well either that, or he just doesn't love me and can't say it, but I didn't get that sense when we spoke). He said he feels numb. I know for sure that nothing between us will get better unless he faces up to his issues and what is behind them, but I'm not sure if he has the courage. And if he does, it will be a very long road. Do I have the strength to wait? How long should I wait? I don't think I can be any more honest with him about how much danger our marriage is in, but he still can't seem to take action. I feel that there are a lot issues from his childhood behind this, but I'm not sure if he will deal with them. I'm still in therapy myself and trying to look after myself and find happiness in the day to day.

Any advice from anyone out there in the same boat?

Thanks.
B x


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:37 am 
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Btw, just a note to say that I didn't have that conversation with my husband in front of our son.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:32 am 
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Hi beachcomber,

For so many of us, a tipping point happens, where we see, very clearly, what is sometimes called 'shallow affect' in our partners. And really, it kind of blows one's mind away. It sounds like that happened to you, and I am sorry, because I have been in those shoes and understand what an extraordinarily helpless feeling accompianies it.

Your husband avoids you, but more critically, as you observed, he avoids himself. He lacks the capacity to know even where to BEGIN to reform his life and develop depth as a human being.

Indeed, you have waved the warning signs, and I have no doubt that should he say to you "Ok, beachcomber, I want to do whatever it takes to not only save this marriage but change my life" you'd have resources ready to point him to.

But that part--the part where HE makes a decision to change his life--is beyond your control. And that's so hard.

I want to emphasize you've done everything you possibly could on your end to highlight how his issues are harming your marriage, you, and him, too. You have done enough, likely more than enough, and now it's on him.

You asked for advice. For too many years I stayed around, hoping and believing in change without seeing any concrete, consistent follow-up actions on my husband's part. It took a very good counselor to help motivate me into action and begin planning to leave. And recently, I informed my mom of pretty much everything (she was totally in the dark) and her additional push for me to leave and grab a chance at a better life for myself was helpful in getting me the inertia I needed.

When we are in the midst of being abused (and I strongly contend anyone in a relationship with a sex addict who isn't in sincere, empathic, healthy recovery is being domestically abused), it is hard to find ENERGY. Their presence can leech it out of us and make it difficult to think and see objectively and take healthy steps toward detachment and changing our own lives.

I decided this life is no longer acceptable for me. And it goes so far beyond his sexual compulsions. The intimacy disorder, lack of adult responsibility for his life and continued ducking of issues hurt me far more than naked women. They make for an instable life.

It helped me to think of my future--what do I want for myself in a year? In five? In 10?

You're a mother. What do you envision for yourself in a year, in 10 years? For your son? Gently, I suggest it may help you to consider how your husband's issues impact your son.

There is much to consider: everything from custody issues to your emotional well being. The decision to leave is not an easy one. It is the hardest decision I've ever made, but once I got firm on making it, people and the Universe lined up to help me make it happen in a positive way.

I want that for you, if you want that for yourself. It would be wonderful if some day your husband deals with his issues, his childhood, his lack of depth. But will that be on your watch and on your time?

So many stories abound here of how, if any change does occur, it happens so slowly. Any person in recovery has a long road ahead. WIth proper motivation (coming from within, not from you) they can recover more quickly. It seems most do not. It is two steps forward, two steps back. Fumbling around. REsistance all the way.

Do you want to live through that? Do you believe your husband would embrace recovery full on, take the reins of his life, and show you, day by day, he is a different human? What do you believe, really, deep down in your soul?
You have this one life, beachcomber. Our one life is such a gift. How will you honor the gift of life you were given?

With so much compassion,
Meep


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 4:22 am 
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Ah...avoidance. oh yes. This has cropped up for me this week. My mum has terminal cancer and I am having to think about her funeral. I don't live with the SA any more but we were together for 23 years and he wants to come to the funeral when it happens. I told him for that to happen he would have to make amends and explain his behaviour to my brother and sister. I got a call from him the next day, after coming home from the hospital, telling me he wanted to 'move on' and if they wanted to ask questions he would answer them but that was it. Great. So, once again, I'm left trying to deal with it all, and presumably try to talk my brother and sister round, while he just gets to 'move on'.

Why the hell should I? He gives me two years of PTSD and then expects to 'move on' while I smooth it over? WTF? No way does that work for me....Grrrr!!!

SS x

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'The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows'. Buddha.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:08 pm 
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Thank you meepmeep for taking the time for such a considered reply. Your words are hard for me to read because they're giving voice to the thoughts I've been having and that am finding so hard to accept. I said to my therapist the other day that I believe in marriage vows and she said 'they're a load of old bunkum really'. Two people enter into a contract with each other, to treat each other a certain way.. if one person isn't honouring their side of the contract, she was effectively saying that the vows no longer apply. It's easy to know that in theory, harder to accept in your heart.

Shell shocked, I'm very sorry to hear about your mother.

B.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:52 am 
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Hi All - First, shellshocked, I'm so sorry about your Mom. Sending you healing thoughts during this difficult time.

Beachcomber, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. When I started to realize just how challenged my husband was on being a healthy adult, it was overwhelming. That feeling of overwhelming awareness went on for about 6-8 months. The shutting down and inability to resolve anything...that leaves us in a very lonely, helpless position. My husband won't talk, won't listen, won't engage, has trouble going deep and identifying his emotions and his thinking. He withholds. He stonewalls. And, here's the important thing: my husband is in active recovery and making changes in his life. It's just very, very slow. It's also not a straight line of continuous improvement.

I do see the deep wounds in my husband, and actually I see them now more than he is able to accept himself. Underneath all of the abuse (and I agree with meepmeep, my husband was an emotional abuser and still is trying to change those behaviors), I see an immature boy who is overwhelmed by life: by emotions, ideas, decision making, stress, success, conversation, responsibility. My husband really can't handle his life and can't tolerate his own internal life. No wonder he was constantly trying to "feel good" and escape reality. No wonder he became addicted.

That said, as we are painfully well aware, our husbands are the only ones who can address their issues. I think your husband MUST get back into therapy to start dealing with his stuff. Marriage counseling (with a very good counselor) could help with some of the communication problems. That said, I'm doing that and the progress is very, very slow. The best thing I did was find a trauma counselor for me. My healing progress has been faster. I can get bogged down, but I keep moving forward and healing. Focusing on me, as is taught here on RN, has made made me feel so much better.

Should you stay or should you go? Isn't that the question that overwhelms us. I agree with meepmeep about the paralysis and lack of energy that affect us partners. I have now come to see that as a symptom of our abuse. The blows to our self esteem and self worth; the gaslighting and lies that caused us to doubt our own truth; the inability to express our feelings and needs without punishment; the disregard of our values and feelings; the lack of emotional connection and availability. I could go on. Addressing my own trauma has helped me regain my sense of self and self worth. I needed to do that in order to clearly think about my husband and my marriage. It's not easy. None of my options are easy.

So, we know. You are not alone. Be gentle with yourself. Keep posting here and finding trusted people who will listen with compassion, and validation.

With deep compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:11 pm 
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Thank you dnell.. it's so nice to be understood here! I'm back to doubting myself today, wondering if I'm expecting too much / am too demanding. It's all part of it I guess, this self-doubt. My husband is acting like there's no problem, being upbeat and cheery, pleasant, chatting about the day-to-day. Maybe that's all he can do. Maybe he thinks that if we give it enough time, it will all just fix itself. But I know it won't. One minute in my head I'm letting him go and planning the separation, the next I'm giving it more time.. I just wish someone would tell me what to do. I find the lack of connection and genuine warmth between us tortuous. And I don't want to lose him as a friend, no matter what happens.. I don't hate him. I just don't know if we can be husband and wife anymore.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2016 5:32 pm 
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Beachcomber, no you are not being demanding. And that was/is a really important issue for me to work through---that I'm not demanding, I am totally reasonable, even not asking for enough. I needed therapy to help me realize that I settled in to not asking for enough and tolerating too much abuse an withholding. But, like you, I'd go up and down on this. The longer I have been in therapy and worked on this issue, the more confident I am.

Here's the harder part. What I am asking of my husband is so reasonable, but my husband's ability to be an adult is not going to happen overnight. It's going to take years. He's sticking with recovery and over two years I've seen breakthroughs with significant changes in him but the reality is he has a lot of work to do. So my dilemma is: is it worth it to wait? Isn't that always our dilemma.

In the interim, he is not going to provide you emotional connection. My MC and IC are explicit that I have to find emotional connection elsewhere. Since I became isolated after D-Day, this is an important thing for me to work on...to get out and make connections. Since I had moved right before D-day, I lost my old support networks and now have to recreate them.

I go back and forth on whether or not it is in my best interest to wait. It helps to really know my bottom lines that would cause me to leave. It helped me to look really hard at my finances to consider the implications of separation or divorce. I also consulted two attorneys who were very helpful in thinking through the legal issues about divorce, separation and staying. Continued detachment was the key for me. Getting information was key for me. I did not tell my husband about my meetings with the attorneys nor do I tell him every reason I would stay or go. He can't be trusted with that level of honesty from me and he isn't mature enough to handle it in any event.

The other thing I am doing is learning to set boundaries. Combining that with detachment and getting information has made my life easier. I have created more bottom lines: Like, my husband used to mock me. It's very degrading and very immature. One day I just had had enough and I was clear that if he ever did it again I would file for divorce the next day. I told him that. I was dead certain about this. In my husband's immaturity and self absorption he complained to his IC about this, and his IC said, 'um, you have to stop. You need to use your words to describe your thoughts and feelings." Well, yeah. There's healthy adulthood. If you think about that whole issue, it shows just how much work my husband needs to do. So, where I come out is that as time goes on I create more bottom lines, I communicate them well (they really are boundaries), I know what I will do if they are violated (and that could include divorce), and I calmly state them. It's up to my husband to decide how to respond. It's a game changer, our setting boundaries.

For a long time my husband wanted us just 'to start over and move on." Our MC took about a year to convince him that was not realistic. He now gets it. It's slow, these changes. My husband has been an addict for over 50 years. More like 60. He is acutely aware that he doesn't have a lot of time left on the planet, while I am aware of how much work he has left to do. And, I'm aware of the passing of time as well.

Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself your focus. Give yourself time to muddle.

With compassion,
dnell


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2016 7:43 am 
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hi beachcomber,

to add a bit to dnell's nuanced and thoughtful response, I'll share from personal experience that I would begin to doubt myself and my sense of reality in response to my husband's laissez-faire attitude.

Day by day, the 'facade' of our marriage seemed, from outside looking in, normal and healthy. We'd laugh, go to dinner, watch tv. All these things acted as a numbing agent for me for many years. The cycle looked like a period of time of living like that would go by, and then my internal pressure would rise out of discomfort. My discomfort would be about everything from his porn use to the feeling of my relationship not being nearly deep enough and emotionally satisfying for me.

In response to my emotional discomfort, I would attempt to rectify it by 'connecting' with my husband via a conversation about our marriage (which might address anything ranging from the porn use to our lack of any emotional depth).

Things would be heated for a day or two, and I would assume my husband understand and (this is key) was ready to assimilate change to improve the marriage. In fact, his return to a casual normalcy I frequently misinterpreted as us being on the right track.

Except, as we know, NOTHING got done. No changes were made at any level beyond superficial for a week, maybe two.

And I'd get lulled back into complacency and into believing things were ok. It was, in many ways, my own form of denial, as well as what dnell mentioned-a lack of willingness to truly believe I deserved more.

My point: it takes a lot of strength to overcome the facade of our environments. When we analyze the minutia of our lives, so much seems "fine" and ok. At that point, we begin to consider whether it's worth rocking the boat, ending the relationship. We tell ourselves things like if we can do this each day, it's not so bad, is it?

Yet, in the overarching THEME of our lives, which encompasses our values and vision, our goals, dreams and values are not being met or honored. And that bigger picture doesn't necessarily hit us or numb us on a day-by-day basis. Instead, it is something we must look closely at, be very honest with ourselves about, and then often find the strength on our own to decide we will uphold that vision, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel in the immediate term to do so.

In an odd way, I see parallels to our process to that of the addict: the decision to honor a bigger system of values and vision instead of being lulled into complacency by what is immediately seen and felt.

It takes so much inertia to do this, beachcomber. Indeed, it seems easier (and bluntly, int he moment, IS easier) to just accept what's going on from a daily perspective, and ignore that bigger picture. It's what I did for years.

The more detached I get, and the more focused I become on my plans to leave, the easier it becomes to see just how not acceptable and not healthy my day to day life is. But that was a big whale to swallow, you know? And as dnell noted, it came from much compassion, much muddling around, much time spent in my head, in analysis, in weighing everything out.

We each walk a different path. For many of us, the path becomes one of going round and round in circles for years, until we see a fork that shows us a different way to journey. Yet, the years of the circles were what they were: they are as much a part of our story as the moving forward is. You are in my thoughts as you walk and find your way.

meep


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:19 am 
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Thanks dnell & meepmeep.

Meepmeep the type of life you describe is so like mine.

My husband works away from home Mon-Fri so our only time together is weekends. Anyone looking at us would think that things are fine. For so long, I used to try to connect with him when he was home, set aside time, make myself available for general conversations, but he had no issue keeping himself busy with activities instead of spending time with me. When I try to explain to him what I need, e.g. for us to 'really' talk, for me to feel like I really know what's going on for him & how he's feeling, he can't seem to understand. He'll take that as meaning that he needs to tell me more over the phone about his day, or that he should sit down with me instead of being on the xbox or out somewhere when he's home, and he will do those things, but they are still bringing us no closer to being really connected. He can't seem to open himself up to me, or to really want to connect with me and know how I am doing. And he NEVER initiates a conversation with me about us, even though it's so obvious that things are not good. Instead, he acts like nothing is wrong, goes about the day trying to be upbeat etc. If we disagree about something, I'll see a flash of how he's really feeling but then he hides it again. And our children may or may not be picking up on this.. either way, I don't feel it's a healthy model for them. That's one of the things that keeps nagging at me to not slip into old ways. I could just carry on, as you say, and tell myself that 'it's not so bad', but what effect is it all having on them. For that reason as much as any other, I don't want to slip into complacency for years and years to come.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:38 pm 
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Beachcomber - Feels to me very familiar, like a chapter in my husband's recovery: "I only have to be nicer to my wife, not address my addiction" phase. They get weird ideas if they really are not totally sincere about recovery, and starting to develop an awareness of just how much distorted thinking and acting out has been going on. They lie to themselves, in addition to lying to us.

I can't remember what your husband is doing for recovery. He HAS to be in a recovery program and you have to be able to see him actively working it. Not listening to what he says early on, because you're seeing a variation on the past (avoidance, inauthentic, fleeing from intimacy but with a "nicer" tone). Jon's point about looking for spontaneous, meaningful conversation, especially initiated meaningful conversation, still seems to me to be one of the most important things for us to see. They just can't seem to fake this.

My husband is improving at meaningful conversation and little baby steps of emotional connection, but he only initiates once in a while. Lots of growing up he needs to do.
He needs to continue to do some really hard work which requires insight, tolerating discomfort, learning from mistakes, and learning new skills. Very hard to do when you have spent a lifetime avoiding discomfort, not learning from mistakes, not owning mistakes, and just not being adult.

dnell


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:13 pm 
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Dnell, he is not doing anything about recovery. At all. His porn addiction lasted about a year and he tells me that he stopped before he revealed it to me over a year ago and has not gone back. Maybe he thinks that abstinence is enough. But, for me, everything now feels the same as it did when he was keeping secrets from me, so I have no objective way of knowing whether or not anything has changed. He is acting the same way, is still miserable in a job that he hates but cannot bring himself to leave, is not exercising any more, is not going to therapy and is putting on weight. All of the things that were happening when he was addicted to porn and stuffing down his real feelings. I don't trust this 'normal' any more and have told him so. I need things to be different, better, if I am to trust him again. It's all so obvious to me as I write it - he's avoiding everything all over again, and will end up back in the same cycle if he hasn't already. But I won't let him take me back there with him, I really can't go back there. And yet, I don't feel ready or strong enough yet to make that choice, so I'm going to keep going with my therapy for a while and hope that it will take me where I need to be.
Thanks again for replying.
x


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:15 pm 
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Ps the meaningful conversation piece is the one thing I've been waiting for, and for him to initiate it for once, but it hasn't happened yet. If it did, even just once, it would give me a slight glimmer of hope. I totally agree with you on how important that is.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:24 pm 
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I keep coming back to RN, .....tho I don't have the energy to write it out here, I want you to know I'm walking a parallel path with you, Beachcomer.......so much of what I read here only confirms my boundaries and understanding of the years and years (if ever) for change to be visible. My husband still wants so much for me to believe he's in recovery when he goes to meetings couple times a week and spends an hour each morning on it!!! The rest of the day, week, who knows?!?! He doesn't share, only acts his old upbeat ways and spends a significant amount of time in avoidance. No wonder it takes years!!!! How can we work on a relationship that has so little effort put into 'working on it'?!?!?

My own feelings of "overwhelming awareness" seem like a tide that rushes over me on a regular basis and I momentarily feel hopeless..........of course it passes, and I move on with my day, my life!!!!

_________________
It is always OK in the end...if it's not OK, it's not the end!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:56 am 
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Sorry to hear you're in the same boat kajer.

Something in my therapy session last week really clicked with me and I saw clearly why I had been so desperate for my husband's affection for so long. I grew up with people-pleasing, hoping for a little warmth or approval from my alcoholic father and trying to be a 'good girl' for my mother to ease her stress levels. I saw it so clearly. I also stumbled across something about avoidant-dismissive attachment and it sounded so like my husband. He hasn't been able to do intimacy and I've been longing for it so much, because I thought I needed it to feel worthy / of value. Light bulb!

So, (after a big deep breath) I told my husband that I can't live like this forever, that I understand and feel compassion for his issues around intimacy, but that I want it in my life. If I was to look forward 5 years and see myself in the same situation with no progress or change, I'd feel so disappointed in myself. So, I told him that, if nothing changes between us, sometime in the future (I don't know when), I will be asking him for a separation. I felt so light afterwards. It was so difficult to say, but it was honest, and I felt really proud of myself for doing it.

He's been pretty energised since then (he is away with work) and gentle in his conversations with me, which could mean a number of things - maybe he's relieved that the decision is not all on him and that he won't destroy me if we end up separating, or maybe it was a kick in the butt that he needed. Time will tell, but I don't feel as stressed about it as I did and am feeling strong atm. I'm sure that will change again soon, on this rollercoaster. I'm clear on what I need from him, and I have my doubts that he can give it to me, but I'll wait and see for a while. It would be a long hard road for him to get to where I need him to be and I'm not sure if he's willing or able to do the journey.


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