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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can't describe the feelings of loss I'm experiencing right now. Had another IC session today. My therapist completely gets what has transpired in my marriage that has made me withdraw emotionally. Living with someone for 19 years who has a mental illness but only makes half-hearted attempts to treat it (along with other medical conditions) has made me emotionally numb. In my husband's mind, my needs don't exist apart from his. I told my therapist that it's not so much that he doesn't care about my feelings, but that he can't care. He's so emotionally fragile and self-focused, he has no capacity to reciprocate the emotional support he has gotten out of me.

My therapist feels that if I don't at least give my H a chance to change and acknowledge how much his emotional issues have overwhelmed our marriage, I will feel guilty leaving him. I agree with that, but when I think about spending the next several months putting effort into saving our marriage, I just don't know if I have it in me. In a way, I'll have to force myself to try to emotionally reinvest in this marriage. The thought of that makes my stomach twist in knots.

As I talked to the therapist today, he commented that I am going through a grieving process. Grieving the loss of the kind of marriage I always wanted and hoped ours would be, for the loss of a spouse with whom I share a deep connection with, who makes me feel safe and valued, for the loss of many years of my life that I foolishly sat quietly and waited for things to get better.

So...do I grieve the loss of this marriage as it is and force myself to accept a new reality and try to reconnect with my H in a new way? Can you emotionally reconnect in your marriage when you just feel tired of having to work this hard at it? Please...no lectures about "marriage is hard work for everyone". No one knows that better than I do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Does his "mental illness" prevent him from making rational decisions about his "mental illness" and/or his marriage?
No, he's a high functioning Bipolar 2, chronic depression, and probable BPD. He's acutely aware of his emotional issues as far as his anxiety and his fear of losing me, but he's in denial about his depression. He has no capacity to see how it affects our marriage or me personally. To those who only know him on a casual level, they would never guess he had Bipolar.
 

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I used to be like your husband and there is NO way mine could have checked back in until I got healthy first. It takes two to put a broken marriage back together. Your husband isn't interested in doing anything. I've read your posts. Your therapist is overly optimistic at best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You mentioned your therapist, does he go? What does his psychiatrist say?
He doesn't know I'm going to therapy. I mentioned wanting to go to deal with some feelings of depression (I didn't say it was because of our marriage, even though it was). He got angry and basically told me a I have no reason to be depressed and a counselor would just tell me to get divorced. So, I'm going anyway. He just doesn't know it.

He's not treating his Bipolar right now. He got tired of taking the meds...didn't think they helped much. Hasn't seen a psych in years. Didn't like the last one he saw, and has kind of written them off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I used to be like your husband and there is NO way mine could have checked back in until I got healthy first. It takes two to put a broken marriage back together. Your husband isn't interested in doing anything. I've read your posts. Your therapist is overly optimistic at best.
What convinced you that you needed to make drastic changes in order to save your marriage?
 

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He doesn't know I'm going to therapy. I mentioned wanting to go to deal with some feelings of depression (I didn't say it was because of our marriage, even though it was). He got angry and basically told me a I have no reason to be depressed and a counselor would just tell me to get divorced. So, I'm going anyway. He just doesn't know it.

He's not treating his Bipolar right now. He got tired of taking the meds...didn't think they helped much. Hasn't seen a psych in years. Didn't like the last one he saw, and has kind of written them off.
Sounds like my dad when it comes to MDs. But anyway, if he thinks a "counselor would just tell you to get divorced", then ask him to see one and maybe they will tell him to divorce you. We both know they wont but use the reverse psychology on him. Thats a little humor to lighten your mood, but it could be fun.

In all reality, sounds like an ultimatum might be in order here. Let him know how much it means to you for him to go and you want it to save the marriage. And maybe he should know that YOU WILL "divorce" him if he does not seek the proper help to maintain a healthy marriage which means he must get proper help by therapy and/or medication.

It sounds like you are not going to get anywhere until he does this so I say strong arm him the best you can. You need to be assertive and firm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sounds like my dad when it comes to MDs. But anyway, if he thinks a "counselor would just tell you to get divorced", then ask him to see one and maybe they will tell him to divorce you. We both know they wont but use the reverse psychology on him. Thats a little humor to lighten your mood, but it could be fun.

In all reality, sounds like an ultimatum might be in order here. Let him know how much it means to you for him to go and you want it to save the marriage. And maybe he should know that YOU WILL "divorce" him if he does not seek the proper help to maintain a healthy marriage which means he must get proper help by therapy and/or medication.

It sounds like you are not going to get anywhere until he does this so I say strong arm him the best you can. You need to be assertive and firm.
I can't argue with your logic, and many other posters have said similar things to me. My issue with it is...if I have to give him an ultimatum, then he's only going to do what he thinks will appease me so I'll withdraw my threat to leave. I want him to be motivated by his own genuine willingness to improve himself and thereby improve his relationship with me, not just snap into compliance out of fear of losing me. The latter, IMO, is not likely to be lasting, and I'll find myself another year from now in the exact same place I am today. I'm tired of working so hard just to maintain a barely acceptable marriage. I want a happy marriage, not just a tolerable one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It was either this or divorce. I loved my husband enough to want to work hard to get him "checked back in". Wasn't easy but he's worth it. Are you?
I think I would need to see my husband work hard to get me checked back in. I guess, why should I have to force myself to check back in? Shouldn't he be the one to prove to me that he cares about my mental well being this time? But even if he did try, I question whether my heart has become so walled off that I won't be able to allow myself to be won back. So giving him a chance to win me back (if he could acknowledge the need on his part) might just be leading him on in a way. I just don't know what to think anymore.
 

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I can't argue with your logic, and many other posters have said similar things to me. My issue with it is...if I have to give him an ultimatum, then he's only going to do what he thinks will appease me so I'll withdraw my threat to leave. I want him to be motivated by his own genuine willingness to improve himself and thereby improve his relationship with me, not just snap into compliance out of fear of losing me. The latter, IMO, is not likely to be lasting, and I'll find myself another year from now in the exact same place I am today. I'm tired of working so hard just to maintain a barely acceptable marriage. I want a happy marriage, not just a tolerable one.
Ok....what you "want" is understandable, but you have to be realistic that what you "want".... he doesnt want. He doesnt have a "genuine willingness to improve himself and improve his relationship with you". So you are going to STILL end up "another year from now in the exact same place you are today" WAITING for him to have this epiphany of "genuine willingness to improve himself"......and then again the next year.....and the next.....and the next.

Pardon the expression, but again, it sounds like you are going to have to "biatch slap" him into your reality and make him realize how important this is with some sort of emotional club if he values any relationship with you. Its up to you to find out what type of club he is going to repsond to......
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Ok....what you "want" is understandable, but you have to be realistic that what you "want".... he doesnt want. He doesnt have a "genuine willingness to improve himself and improve his relationship with you". So you are going to STILL end up "another year from now in the exact same place you are today" WAITING for him to have this epiphany of "genuine willingness to improve himself"......and then again the next year.....and the next.....and the next.

Pardon the expression, but again, it sounds like you are going to have to "biatch slap" him into your reality and make him realize how important this is with some sort of emotional club if he values any relationship with you. Its up to you to find out what type of club he is going to repsond to......
The only emotional club he'd respond to is my threatening divorce. I get that. I guess what I'm struggling with is saying 'if such and such doesn't change, I'll leave', because I can't even say for sure I'm able to stick around long enough to see if he can even change these things. The main things are: getting intense therapy for not only his bipolar, but for his general anxieties and emotional immaturity stemming from his childhood; releasing me from the responsiblilty he's put upon me for 100% of his emotional support and happiness; losing weight (120 lbs) and behaving like a 41 year old rather than a 70 year old physically; working on building a satisfying sexual relationship, which for me can't happen until most of his weight comes off.

So, we're talking potentially YEARS to get to the point I want to be at with him. How do I know I won't be let down again in 2, 3, 5, or 10 years like I have for the past 19? I know, there's no guarantees for anyone. I'm afraid of wasting more time on this marriage if this is all there really is, yet I feel like I'm obligated to give him a chance before I leave for good.
 

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I want him to be motivated by his own genuine willingness to improve himself and thereby improve his relationship with me, not just snap into compliance out of fear of losing me. The latter, IMO, is not likely to be lasting, and I'll find myself another year from now in the exact same place I am today. I'm tired of working so hard just to maintain a barely acceptable marriage. I want a happy marriage, not just a tolerable one.
To be brutally honest, if you want him to step up and lead his own life for his own sake, you'll have to leave him, in my opinion. That may not even do it. He'll have to live on his own (without another woman stepping in to support him) for awhile. And, in addition to that, an act of God (or two) will probably be required, waking him up to the fact that things don't somehow magically work themselves out--it takes effort--and even every last effort isn't always enough. He needs to learn to appreciate what he has, to put it succinctly. It's called growing up, I guess. I don't mean to be snide. It just sounds like your husband is hiding behind you. If he's going to change, it's sink or swim.

I hate to say that, because it does seem like he will be destroyed if you go. And, if you do leave: By the time he really comes to realize what he had, if he ever does, you will probably have long moved on.

Threatening divorce may be a long shot but it also may be the best way to try to save your marriage. If you still want to.

I would guess he knows the truth about all this on some level...Whatever you decide, best of luck.
 
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The only emotional club he'd respond to is my threatening divorce. I get that. I guess what I'm struggling with is saying 'if such and such doesn't change, I'll leave', because I can't even say for sure I'm able to stick around long enough to see if he can even change these things. The main things are: getting intense therapy for not only his bipolar, but for his general anxieties and emotional immaturity stemming from his childhood; releasing me from the responsiblilty he's put upon me for 100% of his emotional support and happiness; losing weight (120 lbs) and behaving like a 41 year old rather than a 70 year old physically; working on building a satisfying sexual relationship, which for me can't happen until most of his weight comes off.

So, we're talking potentially YEARS to get to the point I want to be at with him. How do I know I won't be let down again in 2, 3, 5, or 10 years like I have for the past 19? I know, there's no guarantees for anyone. I'm afraid of wasting more time on this marriage if this is all there really is, yet I feel like I'm obligated to give him a chance before I leave for good.
Now you are going all over the place with this. Sounds like you dont really know what to do and your struggling with some future regret. Lets start with some basic decisions or questions to help with decisions.

Do you truely love him? And do you sincerely want to help him and make it work? Only you can answer those questions and if your honest answer to either of those questions is yes then you should find the club and get on with it. Take no prisoners. Then if it doesnt work, you can look back one day and feel confident that you tried everything you could.

You can help start this process by giving yourself an honest assessment of what your life would be like without your husband in it, and try to imagine if you would have serious regrets later on if you walked out tomorrow and made no other effort. If that is something you honestly feel you can live with without serious regret, then maybe that is something you have to consider.
 

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The only emotional club he'd respond to is my threatening divorce. I get that. I guess what I'm struggling with is saying 'if such and such doesn't change, I'll leave', because I can't even say for sure I'm able to stick around long enough to see if he can even change these things. The main things are: getting intense therapy for not only his bipolar, but for his general anxieties and emotional immaturity stemming from his childhood; releasing me from the responsiblilty he's put upon me for 100% of his emotional support and happiness; losing weight (120 lbs) and behaving like a 41 year old rather than a 70 year old physically; working on building a satisfying sexual relationship, which for me can't happen until most of his weight comes off.

So, we're talking potentially YEARS to get to the point I want to be at with him. How do I know I won't be let down again in 2, 3, 5, or 10 years like I have for the past 19? I know, there's no guarantees for anyone. I'm afraid of wasting more time on this marriage if this is all there really is, yet I feel like I'm obligated to give him a chance before I leave for good.
You keep saying you feel obligated to give him a chance, but haven't you given him 19 years full of chances?

Do you even know who this man would be if he did the years of hard work and therapy and were relatively in control of his issues? Have you ever known him when he's been mentally healthy?

Maybe a legal separation would be good for the two of you. It gives you some time and space to think. And for him to have his chance to work on his issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Do I love him? Yes, in the sense that I have known him since I was 15 and I know he has good qualities about him and he's the father of my one and only son.

Do I love him romantically? Do I miss him when we're apart? Do I look forward to spending time with him? No.

If I could walk out tomorrow knowing he was ok with it or even wanted me to leave, I'd have absolutely no regrets. The regrets I know I would face are really more of the guilt I would have for tearing him apart, as being the one and only source of emotional support and stability for him, for "rejecting him" like he feels that everyone else important in his life has (his parents and brothers). That's what I'd feel bad about. Right now, if I left, I can't foresee myself looking back and thinking I wish I had tried harder to make it work. I'd just feel bad that I was all he had and I took that away from him.
 

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Do I love him? Yes, in the sense that I have known him since I was 15 and I know he has good qualities about him and he's the father of my one and only son.

Do I love him romantically? Do I miss him when we're apart? Do I look forward to spending time with him? No.

If I could walk out tomorrow knowing he was ok with it or even wanted me to leave, I'd have absolutely no regrets. The regrets I know I would face are really more of the guilt I would have for tearing him apart, as being the one and only source of emotional support and stability for him, for "rejecting him" like he feels that everyone else important in his life has (his parents and brothers). That's what I'd feel bad about. Right now, if I left, I can't foresee myself looking back and thinking I wish I had tried harder to make it work. I'd just feel bad that I was all he had and I took that away from him.
Maybe that's what he needs in order to choose to address his issues. Maybe as long as he has you, he doesn't have to face them or do anything about his issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Maybe that's what he needs in order to choose to address his issues. Maybe as long as he has you, he doesn't have to face them or do anything about his issues.
You're right, and a number of posters have said the same thing. I am seeing a therapist who is helping me work through this flood of emotions. He reminded me that I have enabled my husband throughout our marriage by always doing things for him and by ignoring my own feelings and needs so as to not "burden" him with them. I've made it too easy for him to coast along, and to him, the marriage works. It meets his needs. He doesn't realize that it's been at the expense of my own needs, however. And that's why my leaving would be such a shock to him. In his eyes, the marriage is pretty good...he gets his needs met, he has a lovely, attentive wife who doesn't ask for much and will do anything to help him.

My therapist said really by enabling my husband, I'm doing him a disservice by not making him work through things on his own without me rescuing him from everything that might upset him. I need to step back and let him figure things out. I need to detach myself so we become less enmeshed. I struggle to do this because I can't even have my own hobby without him inserting himself in it so he can "be with me". If I try to do things on my own, he gets all hurt and feels rejected because I'm choosing to not spend time with him.

So ultimately, yes, I think a separation would be good for both of us. The torment of asking him for that, because he'd be devastated and wouldn't understand, is already painful just thinking about it. I need to develop some tough love. Ugh...
 
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