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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
I'd like some perspective besides my own on whether a wife is supposed to put up with some things. I've been marriad 23 years and have 4 teenage kids. Almost a year ago, I asked my husband to go to marriage counseling because I had no feelings left for him and knew that something was very wrong. We are both christians and believe that intimacy is supposed to be one of the deepest expressions of our closeness and committment (well, at least I do). During counseling, it slipped out that my husband fantasizes about other women we know and pleases himself. This is been going on for our entire marriage. He also admitted that he does this for vengence and that he also imagines being with other women when we are intimate. He also admitted to intentionally refusing to initiate any sort of affection (hugs on up) for the last 10 years because I turned him down one night due to frustration and exhaustion. He has said he is sorry, but still treats me indifferently because I am having a lot of trouble being warm towards him at this point. I am very sad and want a separation. I want time where I don't have to interact with him so I can think objectively and also hope that a separation will help him realize how much he has hurt me. Is this unreasonable? Our pastor is also our counselor and thinks it is wrong to separate, so I am pretty confused. I'd appreciate any input. Thanks.
 

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Why does your pastor think it is wrong to separate? If you truly love God and believe God loves you, then you will know that your duty is to love and respect yourself as God does.
Yes you need some time and space so don't feel bad about giving yourself that gift. And if you decide to separate more permanently it will only be for the right reasons I'm sure.
 

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My therapist and divorce lawyer had the same view on this topic. People who want to save their marriage do not separate. People heading towards divorce and wanting to "ease" out of the marriage separate. I've been separated almost five years, and I really believe that theory has a lot of merit.
 

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Hi Decorum,
I am 52 and my husband is 61.

We already have sort of an in-house separation. The inital slip during counseling happened very early in the counseling. I couldn't handle the revelation that he was still continuing in his habit. He had made a "confession" early on in our marriage and had recently (during one of the conversations about starting marriage counseling) made a supposedly heartfelt, sincere promise that he had stopped since then. The acknowledgement during counseling that it hadn't stopped was accidental. He refuses to give any act of affection and recently, so have I. Pretty ugly.

There is no connection...has not been for over a decade. Back then I was a very needy stay-at-home mom of 4 kids...homeschooling and dealing with a toddler. He did not deal well with my neediness and shut down emotionally. I've been cut off emotionally since. My husband spends most of his free time on hobbies or in his "cave" behind a computer screen.

Perhaps you are right...separation is dangerous when a person is vulnerable. Or Pastor thinks it is wrong because it removes the opportunity for spouses to show love to each other. We are not doing much of that...he is "checked-out" since I can't be warm and friendly right now.

As far as committment is concerned, my husband is supposedly reading books and praying about being a better husband. He can talk the talk (he is very smart), but has not done much to walk the walk. Maybe I expect too much...

All I know to do is to keep praying for him and myself. It really seems like an impossible situation.
 

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All I know to do is to keep praying for him and myself. It really seems like an impossible situation.
That's the best approach. All things are possible through God and prayer.

You may find it very helpful at this point to read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The book really addresses the current issues you and your husband are having.
 

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Thanks LiamN...it is a continual battle to love and respect myself.
Thanks for the suggestion, 827Aug...I read that book years ago and should read it again.
 

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Wow, lots to think about.
Needy...I guess I would say more like chronically overwhelmed, exhausted, not very happy, frustrated because of lack of interest and involvement (wanted to veg infront of TV when he got home and I sure could of used help with kids...) maybe critical, but silent criticism. Definately not confrontational. Somewhat emotional...Very emotional when I asked for help and didn't get it. He grew up with servants and parents who thought showing anger or being upset is uncivilized. If I am upset, he gets mean. Anyway...I do battle a critical spirit (tend to think critical thoughts about myself and others) and depression, but try to keep it too myself. Long answer to a short question. I'd say most of the neediness was out of desparation. I was pretty overwhelmed.

I don't underplay the "night I turned him down". It was traumatic for me as well. He was consumed with work (deadline looming...) so I felt ignored and neglected. I supposed he wanted a pleasant distraction and I was upset and crying. He tried to force himself and I fought him off. Not a good night.

I think you hit the nail on the head. I know he blames me...for lots of things. I am not sure he feels inadequate...he is a proud person. But I think he blames me for any area he is not successful with respect to family. For example, he is not really engaged with the two kids at home (HS age), and somehow expects me to do that for him. (Accuses me of excluding him...I told him that I am not excluding him and that if he wants to be part of the conversation with the kids, he should put his computer away and come join us in the kitchen...didn't like that too much-maybe I was too blunt)

Do I want to fix this? I am not sure...I am so tired, it would be a relief if he just went away. I shoulder the bulk of family, home, finance responsibilities. He earns well, but I also work full time at a reasonably demanding job. I would be willing to put my heart into restoring our marriage if I could see him truly acknowledging some of my needs. Acts of Service is by far my primary love language and he ignores that. He complains that we don't spend time together (his need) and then sleeps most of the weekend while I do house work, pay bills and take care of kids. It is a vicious cycle...he doesn't meet my needs and expects me to meet his. I can't/won't meet his because I am exhausted and feel neglected...So, I guess the upshot is that I don't want to fix this the way he wants me to. i.e. Pretend everything is fine, be a happy and content and available little wife who takes care of all the mundane daily stuff without complaining. If I saw that he really cared...that he for once could enter into my world for just a little while and see that taking good care of kids (even the adult ones) and a home is really hard and that I could use some help and really need someone willing to share some of the responsibility, I would do whatever I could to make our marriage better. I don't see any of that...he sulks in our room because I don't want to listen while he "shares what he has been learning". I have done that before, gotten my hopes up and then nothing changes...(pretty words, but no changes in how we live)

I agree he laid down the reigns of leadership. He said he did that because I was too needy and he didn't know how to help, so he disengaged. I'm not sure it was out of fear, though. I'd guess more out of anger. He has a lot of unresolved issues with anger since he was not allowed to show any as a kid. (learned this during marriage counseling).

Anyway, sorry for the earful. What you say gives me good things to think about, so I appreciate the input.
 

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I confide in my best friend. My husband knowns this since her husband is his best friend and they have similar maritial issues. Also, my pastor's wife, who is one of our counselors. My husband is also aware of this. I've confided in my mother probably a little more than he would want, but she had similar issues in her marriage, so I really wanted her perspective. I had a friendship at work that got a little too close, which is now much more distant. He knew I was not happily married, but that was about it. The fact that this friendship got too close (daily chatting about kids, joking around, etc.) made me scared and aware that my relationship with my husband had grown so cold, so that's when I asked for marriage counseling. My husband is aware of this friendship and I have followed any requests he has made about cutting way back on any sort of contact. (no more chatting or texting, only work related emails, etc.) He was aware of the friendship from almost the beginning. I was sort of surprised my husband didn't say anything sooner, too tell you the truth, and I think that is part of the reason it got a little out of hand-didn't think I was doing anything wrong since I thought my husband was aware that I chatted with him but didn't say anything. (maybe I am making excuses...I don't know). I am glad this is Anonymous...it is nice to speak openly for a change.
 

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Well, when I learned that he had lied about his masturbation and fantasy habit, I got pretty paranoid and snooped around his emails, facebook, text messages, and skype. (felt awful afterwards and I don't do that anymore) There is a woman at his work that bothers me. She called him "darling", he told her she looked nice once and she asked to borrow several thousand dollars. My husband scoffed when I asked if anything was going on (I asked after I discovered he lied). Also, he forwarded the email asking for money...so I really think I am just being paranoid. If there is an EA affair going on, I am guessing it is one-sided. A bigger problem might be that he gets most of his emotional needs met by male friends at work. He is very close to one, feels weird when he visits...like I am the outsider. My husband has had some some sex relationships in the distant past...before becoming a christian. He has said during counseling that he is not attracted to men, so I believe him. Anyway...he also said in counseling that he is not addicted to pornagraphy. He has lied to a pastor before (once that I know of), but since he knows that the survival of our marriage depends on honesty...I am hoping he is not lying during counseling. He did confess to some hard things, so I am choosing to believe he is telling the truth.

I am not sure whether to move this to CWI. It was odd, my EA did not really phase my husband. He didn't like it and expected me to end it, but only seemed concerned with making sure it was not physical and that I hadn't said much about him. Unless I am clueless (which is a possibility), I am dealing with the after affects...guilt especially, but my husband seems to have pretty much forgotten about it.

The bigger problem is that I don't want to continue living with my husband if nothing is going to change. Decorum, the question “What would be an acceptable level of recovery for you?” pricked. I feel I could not put my heart into reconciliation unless there was some evidence that certain things would change. First, I want to be respected (especially in the area of intimacy and appreciation for what I do for our family) and secondly, I want some attempt to be made to meet my needs in a way I understand. (ie...my husband tends to think his needs are our needs and gets really mad that I have different ones and am not always enthusiastic when he tries to meet "our" needs in his way). Maybe this is selfish...but I feel like I can't come home to indifference any more. Need a little effort (maybe a lot) to show that he really does care for me. I gave my husband a letter trying to describe this...we were kind of at a stand still and thought I should at least let him know what I was struggling with. I've gotten the silent treatment since then...maybe I was too blunt, but I felt maybe it would at least start a dialogue...guess not. Maybe he just needs time...

In the past, I've felt responsible for making the first step ...husband tends to withdraw until I give in and apologize, but this time I have heard two pastors tell him to be a leader and take initiative in taking steps towards reconciliation. Once at a marriage conference and twice during counseling. I've prayed and really feel like my job is to wait and try to respond...hope I am not wrong. I want to reconcile, but I don't want to be a doormat anymore so I am not giving in this time...I think I would just melt though if he did anything the least bit sacrificial... I think then we could make some real progress and could implement some of the things you suggest. I so agree that you can't just MC and read to make a marriage better...you have to live differently. It makes my husband so angry when I say this. (I really believe in doing...my relationship with my kids reflect this...it is ALOT of work)

The comments about being fake also hit home. I really need to think about this. I think this is a GIGANTIC problem in our home...I am not much good at pretending, but have not entirely put my heart into my faith...partially due to my marriage, but that is a poor excuse. Don't understand my husband's faith at all...but that is between him and God.

Thanks for the input!
 

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I'd get counseling and try to go to someone other than your pastor. It may be easy to discuss intimate issues with an outside person. There seems to be some mutual anger that should be addressed.
 

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Keepsmilin, Sorry you are going through this. I think Decorum has given you a lot of good advise.
I know most people at our church have seen the movie Fire proof. The book The Love Dare is really great. If you havn't tried it I would suggest it. I noticed a change before I got half way through it. It was about changing myself and praying he would follow through my actions.

Good luck to you both. Speration leaves the door wide open for OP to enter the marriage. If you want to save your marriage I would leave that door closed until all other things have failed.
 
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