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Discussion Starter #1
I struggled with the wording to the title. Basically, I am curious how many people truly hold nothing back from their spouse. You share everything with them...good, bad, ugly from the most mundane to your corniest jokes to your deepest fears.

If you don't, please share why and what about being this vulnerable with your spouse makes you uncomfortable? Did they do/say something to you that makes you second guess talking to them about certain things? Or are you largely that way with everyone?

Are there any of you who find that you are happier, more carefree and less stressed when you are away from your spouse? If so, do you know why that is? Is there anything that your spouse could do or not do to provide a happier/safer environment for you, or is it destined to always be that way?

I hope that's not too vague of a question. I can provide some examples that relate to my marriage if needed, but just wanted to poll the audience really.

I am particularly interested in men who withdraw from their wives, and why they do it. I have read a lot about a mans "shame" dynamic and I am curious if there is a certain reason your wife in particular brings out this reaction in you, or if your like that in every close relationship you have.
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I've been married for 21 years to my best friend. Yes I am myself with him and he knows it all.

Early in our marriage my husband withdrew but it was because I was controlling and unknowingly hurtful.

He has since checked back in but it's taken some serious love, hard work and patience on my end to get that to happen.
 

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I am more myself with my W than anyone else. I don't share everything with her. Some of my insecurities or uncertainties stay internalized either because I don't want her to worry or more often that I don't want her to see me as weak.

I will tend to withdraw when I am angry or hurt, but she knows this and also knows that is not the time to push. When I'm ready to talk about it, I will. But if I don't bring it up, she won't either. Sometimes I wish she would. There are times I want to ask her things but don't, because I'm not sure I want to hear an honest answer or because, by asking, shows I'm not sure. I don't know if that's a shame thing, maybe so.
 

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100%, yes. She sees the good, the bad and the ugly. I would like to think it applies the other way too, but I am not in her head so can't say for certain :p

We met online, and although we opened up and talked at length almost from the beginning, we didn't truly see everything about each other until we had been together a few months, and then lived together a while. After 10 years of marriage, I'd say we know absolutely everything about each other and know each other inside and out.

We didn't get to this stage easily though. During the tough times, we really had to learn to communicate effectively(this included some counseling) and not let our own issues and insecurities affect our marriage in a negative way. I was actually the more open and honest of the two of us, my wife found it harder to open up and share exactly how she was feeling. So glad we got through the tough times and are where we are now :)
 

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I struggled with the wording to the title. Basically, I am curious how many people truly hold nothing back from their spouse. You share everything with them...good, bad, ugly from the most mundane to your corniest jokes to your deepest fears.
I feel your wording was
... and this IS about Vulnerability. Many struggle with this.

I have been who I am... the good, the bad, the ugly, the mushy, the impatient, the bi*chy, the sweet, the feisty, the emotional, the nasty, the sensitive, the frightened, flaws & greatest weaknesses & fears.... all of it layed bare in front of my husband from the very beginning....

I RARELY go on about the "mundane" - as I don't want to bore my listeners.....I want to pull my hair out when some of my GF's go on about boring stuff like that
.....but I do share the JUICY~ the
~ the SHOCKING ~ the EXCITING....If I am UPSET, hurting, emotional...that sort of thing.

My husband, being more the sensitive "Nice Guy" type.... has always given me a receptive listening spirit & ear ....this surely enabled me to open up completely - feeling accepted / loved for just being "ME" at my core. It didn't seem to matter what the hell came out of my mouth (God help him) ~~ I've had my moments. :eek:

So He made this "EASY" for me. He seemed to get a charge out of my "piss & vinegar" personality......he's told me he's always LOVED the honesty, even if it STUNG at times. Cause when it was GOOD, he also KNEW it was REAL...and could be trusted explicitly.

I did a thread on Vulnerability here ~~ it has a 20 minute video (EXCELLENT -so worth the watch) in explaining it's value... also why people fight against it so vehemently - even she did! ....I tried to give a little outline here >>>

http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/29460-vulnerability-fear-power-its-pain-its-beauty-how-vulnerable-you.html

Brene Brown , the speaker...IS the "SHAME researcher" .... love this book >>>

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are: Brene Brown:





I am particularly interested in men who withdraw from their wives, and why they do it. I have read a lot about a mans "shame" dynamic and I am curious if there is a certain reason your wife in particular brings out this reaction in you, or if your like that in every close relationship you have.
My husband was NOT as vulnerable with me -as I was with him over the years... he struggled with feeling I didn't love him AS MUCH as he loved me. Due to hurting him in the sexual in our past (started with infertility), plus I took him for granted for a time...getting caught in "Mommy mode".

Part of that was refusing to show weakness as a MAN. Also not wanting to "rock the boat" - because although it could have been better, he knew others had it worse, so he was happy "enough" to just go along ~ with the flow.

Now, he realizes I HATE when he hides anything like that...I've joked if he ever does that again, I am going to put his balls in a vise.... I want him to share & bare it ALL... which I believe he has been doing just that for the last 3 yrs. It has brought us closer than ever before.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I think depending on who you are as a person will determine how you act in front off your spouse, yoru boss, your minister, priest, neighbors, etc.

It is not the spouse as much as the person who brought that behavior into the marriage.
This is interesting because I am often asking myself -

Is it him? (He had this "closed book" relationship with his mother, that I desperately don't want to replicate. But he seems so open and happy and at ease with pretty much every other person but us.)

Or, is it me? (Am I unintentionally doing something to make him uncomfortable? Do I come off as b!tchy, judgmental, condescending, rude, pushy, annoying...all of those things? )

I cycle widely back and forth as to where the problem lies. Probably a mix of both, but without truly understanding why our dynamic is this way, I feel powerless to change it. There's also the little problem that he claims to see absolutely nothing wrong with his behavior and I am bat-sh!t crazy for suggesting it.

How did you come to your conclusion so concretely?
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No. Not really. In fact, I don't think I'm really totally myself in front of anyone.
Could you elaborate why you think you can't be yourself in front of anyone?

I don't know if this is a problem for your relationship, but I believe this is how my husband feels (can only speculate because he wont talk to me about it, so I am forming hypothesis based on observation).

I am very much the opposite, very vulnerable to really almost anyone, not afraid to bare my soul to him...and I have done so on many occasions, but his response is discomfort and stonewalling. To bare your soul and be met with a wall of indifference and seeming disinterest is well, crushing.
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SA - I would have quoted you, but I am working on my phone and its a bit tedious. I believe a part of what is happening here is what you mentioned - refusing to show weakness (shame about it) and being happy with the "good enough" marriage that we have. Meanwhile I feel ready to walk away because mentally & emotionally I have been operating as a single person for years now while he ignores, avoids, escapes any attempt I make at connection. I truly feel that leaving would be less frustrating at this point than trying to force this man out of his shell.

Such a shame, too. We also met online as someone else shared, and spent a couple of years having some really deep conversation which is really what ultimately led me to marry him. Little did I know I would feel like s victim of "bait and switch" a few years later!
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Could you elaborate why you think you can't be yourself in front of anyone?

I don't know if this is a problem for your relationship, but I believe this is how my husband feels (can only speculate because he wont talk to me about it, so I am forming hypothesis based on observation).

I am very much the opposite, very vulnerable to really almost anyone, not afraid to bare my soul to him...and I have done so on many occasions, but his response is discomfort and stonewalling. To bare your soul and be met with a wall of indifference and seeming disinterest is well, crushing.
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The deepest darkest places in my soul, the places where sexual fantasies live, the place where my biggest fears and dreams live are pretty much off limits. Honestly I've been more open about things on this website than anyplace else, but it's still only a fraction. Over the decades with my wife I've occasionally sent up "test balloons" but more times than not they're met with judgement or confusion from her. So over time I've learned to be what she expects and wants rather than freak her out. And anyway, what she sees is at least 90% me. It's the 10% of weird/perverted/sadistic/voyeur that I hold back and she's shown that she doesn't want to see it anyway.
 

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I'm with Liam.... we also met online. We had a great friendship before it ever got serious or sexual. There was already a deepness and accepting there.

I've opened up completely with him.... because he allows it. And it works both ways. We both come from marriages where it was soooooooo judgemental, so stifling..... NOT anymore! I think we are completely authentic now, and it's so freeing, so amazing, and so (....gosh what's the word???)..... not necessary, but BENEFICIAL? to the whole connectivity issue.

Hope that makes sense.

You can't make someone open up.... or be authentic, (again with the ex.... he may have THOUGHT he was being open and authentic... but he never was, and I knew it. I could see right thru him.... he didn't know how transparent he was... which is sad in itself.)
 

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I don't hide intentionally or unintentionally "myself" from my wife. I opened my heart to her and it's been that way for 27 years.

Too bad she smashed it. Maybe that's why some people don't open their hearts out too easily.
 

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I am particularly interested in men who withdraw from their wives, and why they do it. I have read a lot about a mans "shame" dynamic and I am curious if there is a certain reason your wife in particular brings out this reaction in you, or if your like that in every close relationship you have.
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kag123,

A husband who withdraws from his wife (typically his kids too) is almost always modeling his father who did the same thing. This is especially potent where a man picks a mate that has personality characteristics in common with his mother, it will always be a challenge not to fall into the character of his father
 

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Yes... I'm nothing but myself in front of my spouse. He has seen all sides of me.... from the sweet, to the seductive, to the downright b1tch.
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Yes, I've been myself since day one. I may have changed since the day we married, but I'm always looking for ways to improve myself. I always make sure I have goals to reach.

I am more comfortable with my husband here, I feel more complete. This really surprises me because I never needed a man to make me happy. I do need my husband though. When we first married I was independent and now I'm much more dependent then I'd like to be, but its out of my hands since I'm now disabled.:/

My husband is wonderful. He always has been. I couldn't ask for a better man to be married to.
 

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SA - I would have quoted you, but I am working on my phone and its a bit tedious. I believe a part of what is happening here is what you mentioned - refusing to show weakness (shame about it) and being happy with the "good enough" marriage that we have. Meanwhile I feel ready to walk away because mentally & emotionally I have been operating as a single person for years now while he ignores, avoids, escapes any attempt I make at connection. I truly feel that leaving would be less frustrating at this point than trying to force this man out of his shell.
I hear you, this would be very very difficult, I will say my husbands "stuffing" in some ways... caused me to be less interested in him... ya know, the whole taking the man for granted...a little "apathy" there (a subtle feeling of indifference).... but I was very content just being MOM & us watching our movies at night together -we always had "US" time & still did everything together... we didn't really flirt & laugh as much as we do NOW... I recall us going out to eat without the kids once... my great Aunt offering to baby sit for some "date nights"....and this thought came over me...

"Geeze, what in the world do we even talk about -if not the kids"... ya know, I should have woke up right then
... but I didn't. My mind was focused elsewhere -had he started some arguments about what he wanted more of, or opened up with me, that being vulnerable business ... yeah.. I could have been MOVED much earlier...I know me.... and it just would have been a good thing.

Such a shame, too. We also met online as someone else shared, and spent a couple of years having some really deep conversation which is really what ultimately led me to marry him. Little did I know I would feel like s victim of "bait and switch" a few years later!
That IS a different Bait & switch, not the normal once talked about here at TAM ...but one none the less, I would feel similar as you in this...

If It was ME... I would plan something , have a letter written in my hand (spend careful time gathering your thoughts, what you need from the relationship but also being humble to your shortcomings -so he will not be on the defensive) and share how deeply these things mean to you..... what you once had/shared in this way.......take that walk down memory lane with him.... get off somewhere alone....no interruptions/ no cell phones ringing.... I would go to great lengths to assure him.....

....That no matter what he shares with YOU... you are not going to flip out, turn it against him, put him in the dog house, or use it in future fights... that you understand HUMAN NATURE, that it is not always pretty... but in it's own way, it can be beautiful, many times humorous even -(or so I think so)...

This is leading into the whole Transparency thing... Did a thread on that too >> HERE .

Most can never achieve this -due to feeling judged/ fear of criticism... what Working on Me was talking about here >>>

WorkingOnMe said: The deepest darkest places in my soul, the places where sexual fantasies live, the place where my biggest fears and dreams live are pretty much off limits. Honestly I've been more open about things on this website than anyplace else, but it's still only a fraction. Over the decades with my wife I've occasionally sent up "test balloons" but more times than not they're met with judgement or confusion from her. So over time I've learned to be what she expects and wants rather than freak her out. And anyway, what she sees is at least 90% me. It's the 10% of weird/perverted/sadistic/voyeur that I hold back and she's shown that she doesn't want to see it anyway.
Let's face it --NONE of us want to throw our pearls before swine, so they can be trampled, even I wouldn't do that.. not if I had to live with that person! Even if we are the best of spouses....this level of sharing may always be a problem -due to past hurts where one simply REFUSES to ever allow another in -like that again...or it was how they were raised, brought up to believe --we are never meant to go that deep with another ....Privacy is golden.....and /or the whole "weakness" thing.

WorkingOnme.... not that your wife would EVER read this book... but had she... she might not find you so weird & freakish after all ....just a normal man.

Men in Love: Nancy Friday: Books ... about the book >>>>

Men In Love develops a startlingly honest portrayal of what it means to be a man in contemporary America. Here are the unexpurgated dreams, fantasies and fetishes that excite and obsess men today. In creating this historic study, Nancy Friday listened -- without disapproval, apology or censorship -- to the candid responses of thousands of men aged fourteen through sixty.

She gave them a legitimate arena where they could share their "secret gardens" -- the hidden and forbidden but nonetheless real and true. Much more than a litany of erotica, this unique volume doesn't tell us how men should love. It tells us how men do love -- a stunning insight into the desires that dwell within men's psyches... and their hearts.
 
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