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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all...
I am pretty new here, been lurking and reading and learning a bit. Now I'm ready to share a bit about my relationship. To attempt to maintain topic integrity I will have to spread different questions across different areas, but this one will work here.

Background:
I am a recovering drug addict. I was addicted to drugs from the ages of 12 to 24. I am now 34, and have been (in my mind) clean and sober for 9 years. I have been with my wife for 17 years, married for 11. She stuck by me through all of it, and I owe her so much for that.
In 2008 I was in a car accident that resulted in severe low back and neck problems. I'm still functional, and I work full-time, but I experience varying levels of chronic pain daily. I am in pain management and constantly try to do what I can to keep active physically.
In addition to the physical therapy, trigger-point injections, epidural injections, TENS Unit, Chiropractor, acupuncture... and many other things I have tried, and continue to try to alleviate this awful pain... I am forced to take narcotic pain medication.
It would not be my choice, but without it I cannot function. Plain and simple. I am extremely self-aware about my past, and use my medication strictly as directed. I have studied and worked off and on as an addiction counselor. I am hyper-aware of my own issues, and the need to be ever-vigilant regarding the use of this medication. My wife and I have been in therapy (MC) for a year and a half, and neither I nor the therapist has any issue with how I handle this situation. The Doctor is also aware of my past and I have been completely honest with him about everything. I will readily admit that I have become physically dependent on the meds, but there is a huge difference between that (which is normal and to be expected), and addiction, which is a whole different animal altogether.
My wife feels as though I am still an active addict, tells me so, and has expressed to me that if our marriage is to survive, one of the things I need to do is stop taking this medication.
Obviously, I have some concern over this, as the medication is the only thing that helps keep me active, able to do things like play with our children and work. I have no problem stopping the medication, if need be. I will be in a tremendous amount more pain, and will be much more limited in what I can do.
I understand her position, and don't hold it against her. I just get hurt by her perception of me as a current and active drug addict, and her desire for me to have to live with even worse pain rather than accept that I am responsible, aware, and vigilant with the meds.
Sorry for the long post... Thoughts???
 

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Has this come up in MC?

Could you stop for a while and let your wife see how much it affects your daily life?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Has this come up in MC?

Could you stop for a while and let your wife see how much it affects your daily life?
Hi Hope,
It has come up in MC. As I stated, the therapist doesn't see a problem. Coincidentally, he also experienced chronic pain issues so he understands a bit I suppose. I could stop, yes... I am hesitant to stop, as I know what life would be like. It's more than that, though. I'm willing to go through more pain physically in exchange for a happier wife. I'd be lying though if I said that I wasn't hurt that she perceives me as being out of control and addicted. There are many, many more issues than this one and they all sort of flow in and out of each other... but I'm also EXTREMELY hurt that my wife is not at all attracted to me, and uses my medication and health problems as a reason for it. Admittedly, the hurt this causes makes me NOT want to do as she wants, sadly. I know that's not a very good reason, but it is what it is. The attraction issue is a huge piece for me right now, and our sex life is almost non-existent. Having said that... yes, I could do what she wants, at my own expense, and it would probably be the right thing to do. I just question how anyone could put their desire for their SO to quit meds over the pain that the SO experiences. I would never ask my wife to stop taking meds and go through what I would go through, just due to my lack of comfort with it. It seems unnecessarily cruel and selfish to me.
 

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So when it is talked about in MC, what does your wife say?

Do you guys work on your relationship in other ways too?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So when it is talked about in MC, what does your wife say?

Do you guys work on your relationship in other ways too?
Well... To clarify, our MC is not traditional, insomuch as we see the same therapist, but individually. Insurance won't pay for couples, but we can go individually as many times as we want. Silly, right? So in answer to your question, I don't know. We sort of work on ourselves individually, in the hope that it will get us back to a place that works in the relationship. It hasn't so far, and it's been a year and a half, so I don't have a ton of hope. I have found, however, that the therapy has been of great value to me personally, irregardless of whether the marriage survives.

We don't really work on the marriage in other ways... we're miles apart. We separated at the end of 2011 for 3 months, and since then we've been in therapy and "trying" to make it work. Her issues with me are that I take medication that she doesn't like, & I lack confidence and self-esteem. Also, she claims I have no "drive" or "ambition", simply due to the fact that I make less money than she does. My major issues are sex-related, that she has no attraction for me... and she has been chronically dishonest. She also had an EA about two years ago, and I still find evidence that she still thinks about the guy all the time, even though she claims there is NC.

There's a lot going on. We're both very unhappy. I'm not exactly sure why we're still together, to be honest. Another major bone of contention is that she has converted from catholicism to christianity recently, & has become very immersed in her new church... and I am a non-believer.

The reason I think neither one of us has left yet, is that (somehow) there is still a tremendous amount of love. We still care very deeply for each other, we just don't know how to be happy anymore...
 

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I can totally see how your wife feels about the meds. You were addicted to drugs and you were recovered for years, she probably felt relief during those times as she did not worry about your drug abuse. Now you are on meds and she sees that as you using it as a crutch. She probably thinks other people go through similar physical challenges and they don't rely daily on pain meds, so why do you? Because you are an addict, so here she goes time to worry about your addiction again.

How long do you plan on taking these meds? Does she hear about you weaning yourself off or is she left to think you will perpetually be taking pain meds now. She has a legitimate concern here and you should not be offended, it simply is the way it is with an addict or ex-addict.

I don't mean to offend you but I have been around a few functioning ex-addicts. They all had a history of addiction that they got past, when an incident occured where they had to be on pain meds all took them longer than what is considered normal and they all came up with the excuses and justifications for doing so.

As for your wife not being attracted to you, I can almost guarentee you that she resents you for one or a hundred things that have accumulated over the years and she hasn't told you those things. People generally are not physically attracted to someone they resent.

Giving her the opportunity to talk to you, without you being hurt or reacting in a defensive way would be the first step in repairing your marriage.
 

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Why don't you go to MC together and have them write the receipt in just one of your names? That's what we do, and we alternate names each appt.

You can't call it MC if you aren't in it together.

There are a TON of good relationship building books. Gottman's 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work is excellent - we started with that one and it helped us both SO much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I can totally see how your wife feels about the meds. You were addicted to drugs and you were recovered for years, she probably felt relief during those times as she did not worry about your drug abuse. Now you are on meds and she sees that as you using it as a crutch. She probably thinks other people go through similar physical challenges and they don't rely daily on pain meds, so why do you? Because you are an addict, so here she goes time to worry about your addiction again.

How long do you plan on taking these meds? Does she hear about you weaning yourself off or is she left to think you will perpetually be taking pain meds now. She has a legitimate concern here and you should not be offended, it simply is the way it is with an addict or ex-addict.

I don't mean to offend you but I have been around a few functioning ex-addicts. They all had a history of addiction that they got past, when an incident occured where they had to be on pain meds all took them longer than what is considered normal and they all came up with the excuses and justifications for doing so.

As for your wife not being attracted to you, I can almost guarentee you that she resents you for one or a hundred things that have accumulated over the years and she hasn't told you those things. People generally are not physically attracted to someone they resent.

Giving her the opportunity to talk to you, without you being hurt or reacting in a defensive way would be the first step in repairing your marriage.
There certainly are quite a few assumptions you make there, but I appreciate the words and will try to address the questions in your post.

I have never looked on the meds as being a life-long situation. I've never intended on taking them for life. I am a pain management patient, and medications are one tool in the arsenal that virtually every PM patient utilizes, so I'm certainly not alone in that regard. So your reference to "what is considered normal" doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Chronic pain is just that... chronic. I give a tremendous amount of latitude to my wife about the issue. I don't just jump on the defensive and get offended. I have, however, proven myself capable of taking these meds without being irresponsible. What I mean by this is that I do not run out early, Doctor-shop, sell them... or anything else that falls into the classic symptoms of "addictive" behavior.

My wife has issues with the pills. I understand that, and am actually planning on making changes. I will be in more pain, but the happiness of my marriage is more important than the pain. I've been in pain every day for years at this point anyway, so I suppose it doesn't really matter.

As for the attraction issue... You really are quick to put the blame on me for that one. I don't actually feel as though this one has a lot to do with me. I'm sure that you, much like my wife, feel it's all my fault. I've done nothing to create this situation. My wife cites my lack of confidence as a major factor, without seeming to recognize that her years of rejection of me and our almost sex-less marriage, are the primary causes.

This isn't really the forum for the "sex-less" marriage topic, though. I also don't want to seem as though I'm bashing my wife on here... that's not the point. I understand her concerns about the medication use, and I will soon be making huge changes in this department. What I don't appreciate is the mean-spirited language and accusations I have to put up with. I don't deserve that. I deserve a supportive and loving wife who attempts to understand how hard it is to live with pain every day, rather than one who adds to the misery...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Why don't you go to MC together and have them write the receipt in just one of your names? That's what we do, and we alternate names each appt.

You can't call it MC if you aren't in it together.

There are a TON of good relationship building books. Gottman's 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work is excellent - we started with that one and it helped us both SO much.
Thanks Hope! I'll certainly look into the book. I agree that we're not actually in MC. I would very much like to do couples, and I know we could finagle the paperwork... my wife does not want to do couples, she barely wants to go by herself individually. Maybe I'm just fighting a losing battle here, I don't know. There are so many more issues than just the meds, or the attraction piece... so many more issues.

I'll check out that book, though it may be difficult to get HER to want to read it. Thanks though!
 

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Please be strong and don't lose hope. You should not only be dependent on meds but try yourself on your own to come out of these problem. You may check http://www.mariadroste.org I hope it will help you a lot. I truly want that you come out of your problems soon. Please do let me know more.
 

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I hate to say it, but it really sounds to me like your wife has checked out of the marriage.
 

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A few things about my post. I do understand better than most about chronic pain. My point about how long you will be on meds was not meant that you will take them forever. The point was have you a course of action to eliminate the meds AND does your wife know that. If she is left to guess how this will turn out then of course she has cause for worry. Even if she knows you have a plan taking the meds concerns her. Honestly, no matter how "good" you have been with taking them as prescribed she will worry, she will not like you taking them. With the past history there just is no way around that. It's not your fault it just is the situation and I don't think anything you do can take away the concern except not take the meds.

I didn't say your wife resents you and that's your fault. I'm sorry you took it that way. Resentment can easily be put on your wife as well. You see if there are things she is unhappy with and she doesn't say anything for a variety of reasons and the problems are not fixed, resentment can still build. She is equally at fault for not voicing the problem yet resenting you for not fixing it. This happens a lot. The whole "well, if he can't figure it out I'm not going to tell him mentality". But that is not the husbands fault both parties are at fault.

Honestly, living with someone in chronic pain can be a real downer. Note I said "can be". I know 2 men in chronic pain one does not go a single day without mentioning his pain. The other is in worse pain and never says a word about it. The wife of the man who talks about his pain is irritated with him all the time. The pain is a given so deal with it and stop dwelling on it and the negativism that comes from complaining. The wife of the man who never says a word about his pain, is completely caring toward him and does things to help alleviate the pain without being asked. I believe the she respects her husband more than the wife of the man who is vocal about his pain.

Your wife and you are in a terrible lonely place it would take a lot of work and underhstanding from both of you to fix it. Finding out if she wants to fix things would be a good place to start.
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You should say " sweetie, I am in pain and this is the most effective treatment I have found so far to ease it. I'm sorry that it hurts you but if I were to stop taking my prescribed medication I would not be able to fully enjoy our lives together. I know you are trying to support me and I love you for that. However, it hurts me that you cannot see how far I have come in regards to my addiction. I am not the man I once was and I wish my pain relief didn't interfere with our sex life. You're sexy"

Be calm and hopefully she can understand that. She may be weary and want to keep her eyes on you. Don't take this personally. Given time hopefully she will she you are stronger than the addiction. BECAUSE YOU ARE AND DON'T FORGET! Show her how much you love her and everything will be okay!

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
A few things about my post. I do understand better than most about chronic pain. My point about how long you will be on meds was not meant that you will take them forever. The point was have you a course of action to eliminate the meds AND does your wife know that. If she is left to guess how this will turn out then of course she has cause for worry. Even if she knows you have a plan taking the meds concerns her. Honestly, no matter how "good" you have been with taking them as prescribed she will worry, she will not like you taking them. With the past history there just is no way around that. It's not your fault it just is the situation and I don't think anything you do can take away the concern except not take the meds.

I didn't say your wife resents you and that's your fault. I'm sorry you took it that way. Resentment can easily be put on your wife as well. You see if there are things she is unhappy with and she doesn't say anything for a variety of reasons and the problems are not fixed, resentment can still build. She is equally at fault for not voicing the problem yet resenting you for not fixing it. This happens a lot. The whole "well, if he can't figure it out I'm not going to tell him mentality". But that is not the husbands fault both parties are at fault.

Honestly, living with someone in chronic pain can be a real downer. Note I said "can be". I know 2 men in chronic pain one does not go a single day without mentioning his pain. The other is in worse pain and never says a word about it. The wife of the man who talks about his pain is irritated with him all the time. The pain is a given so deal with it and stop dwelling on it and the negativism that comes from complaining. The wife of the man who never says a word about his pain, is completely caring toward him and does things to help alleviate the pain without being asked. I believe the she respects her husband more than the wife of the man who is vocal about his pain.

Your wife and you are in a terrible lonely place it would take a lot of work and underhstanding from both of you to fix it. Finding out if she wants to fix things would be a good place to start.
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Thanks for the post coffee... My previous reply to you was a bit harsh, sorry about that. I'll try to address these comments as best I can. I do try to just "grin and bear it", and not create an atmosphere of negativity about the pain. My wife though, knows me better than anyone and knows when it's bad, even if I'm trying to not show it. I do understand that it must not be a picnic for the people around me, but I try very hard to live as normal a life as possible, and not be a burden.

I think my wife and I are both very aware of what our issues are, we've verbalized them quite well I think, to each other. I told my wife just the other night that I am going to be taking steps to get off the meds, and will be acting on that shortly. Sadly, I don't actually think its going to make any difference in her level of attraction for me, or help to mitigate any of her other problems with me. I'm committed at this point to addressing each one of her concerns over the next weeks and months. I like to refer to it as eliminating excuses. I'm going to work on each issue she has with me, so at the end of the day, when I've done everything she wants me to do... And she still isn't attracted, and she's still not happy, maybe then she can finally look in the mirror and start owning up to her part in this.

I'm a good man. I treat her great, love and care for her greater than anyone else ever could, and she's lucky to have me. I'm hoping that eliminating the problems she has will help her to realize that. And if not, then I can walk away knowing I've done absolutely everything I could do, even to my own detriment.

She does claim to want to fix things, and there has been some signs lately that she's starting to recognize her own faults. I don't sense any urgency from her, and she's certainly not miserable like I am. I think that's due to two main things really... She's getting what she wants, insomuch as she doesn't want to be intimate, and I'm not pressuring her or attempting to initiate. I believe she also is convinced that I won't leave, no matter what. Put these two things together and I think she's pretty comfortable. I believe it will be a shock to her if and when I actually walk. Either that, or that's exactly what she wants and she's trying to force me into doing just that. Either way she's clearly not as affected as I am... At least outwardly. The hurt she knows she has inflicted on me just doesn't seem to really bother her all that much, sadly.

Thanks again for the words.
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I'm going to work on each issue she has with me, so at the end of the day, when I've done everything she wants me to do... And she still isn't attracted, and she's still not happy, maybe then she can finally look in the mirror and start owning up to her part in this. Posted via Mobile Device
I think you are doing the right thing as long as you are doing it for yourself first, and not just for her. You will also need to give a reasonable length of time for her to know and love the new you. If she's jaded because of past experiences, she will be weary that you will backslide, so won't jump on the bandwagon too quickly. She won't want to be make herself vulnerable and open to be hurt again. But eventually, you are right, she will own up to her part of it all, as long as you give her time to get there. [This is the stage that I am at right now] This will level the playing field on which you can rebuild. And if she doesn't come around, then it's her loss, and you can be satisfied that you gave it your best and you will be ready to move forward with a new outlook and disposition about what you have accomplished. Good Luck! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I think you are doing the right thing as long as you are doing it for yourself first, and not just for her. You will also need to give a reasonable length of time for her to know and love the new you. If she's jaded because of past experiences, she will be weary that you will backslide, so won't jump on the bandwagon too quickly. She won't want to be make herself vulnerable and open to be hurt again. But eventually, you are right, she will own up to her part of it all, as long as you give her time to get there. [This is the stage that I am at right now] This will level the playing field on which you can rebuild. And if she doesn't come around, then it's her loss, and you can be satisfied that you gave it your best and you will be ready to move forward with a new outlook and disposition about what you have accomplished. Good Luck! :D
Thanks for the reply Debster...

You're very right. I'm in the (admittedly lengthy) process of bettering myself in a number of different ways. It is for me, and if it has the pleasant side effect of making my wife want me again, then that's great... And if it doesn't then that means I'll be that much more valuable to the next woman who comes in to my life. Thanks again for the wise words and advice.
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Why don't you go to MC together and have them write the receipt in just one of your names? That's what we do, and we alternate names each appt.

You can't call it MC if you aren't in it together.

There are a TON of good relationship building books. Gottman's 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work is excellent - we started with that one and it helped us both SO much.
I would add another book: Improving your marriage to newlyweds again - you can get it free here
 

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Thanks for the reply Debster...

You're very right. I'm in the (admittedly lengthy) process of bettering myself in a number of different ways. It is for me, and if it has the pleasant side effect of making my wife want me again, then that's great... And if it doesn't then that means I'll be that much more valuable to the next woman who comes in to my life. Thanks again for the wise words and advice.
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Awesome! Don't forget to give her enough time to come around. :p
 
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