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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My husband and I have been together for 4 years now, married for almost 1. We're going through some really tough times now.

The one dynamic we have is that we're dancing the Pursuer/Distancer dance. I'm the pursuer and he's the distancer...only when we have fights.

In my past relationships, this has never happened to me. I don't have any abandonment issues during childhood or in my adult life until I met my husband. I believe my husband's distancing traits have caused me to become a pursuer when we have conflicts.

We have always been arguing from the beginning of our relationship and when a problem came up, he would get mad at me and then abandon me and would start his silent treatment. If I call, he would't pick up..he would turn off his phone and become unreachable. If he did pick up, he was mean and condescending and would say things like "this conversation is over" and would hang up on me. I feel I deserve so much better than this but he would somehow made it feel like it was my fault.

I was able to handle it well at the beginning because I was emotionally healthy until it started to become the norm. I can't seem to stand the thought of his being cruel, stonewalling when we fight, and I don't even know why I need to just be around him to not feel anxious. I was never like this before our relationship. I'm not this needy type of person..but I'm not sure what happened to me.

We don't talk about any problems because my husband is avoidant. If I bring up a problem during calm times, he will shut me down by blowing up and turning everything against me, blaming everything on me, calling me names and assassinate my character in the process. If I do it during a fight, the same thing happens.

So the last couple of days, I'm hitting that point and learned about this Pursuer/Distancer dynamic. I'm not going to lie, I have often contemplate about divorce and did file for an uncontested one 2 weeks ago, but the process was stopped. I have started to stop pursuing him. We are not talking anymore again.

I want us to work out but I'm tired of being emotionally starved during tough times that I've become the pursuer. The only way for me to be emotionally safe during his silent treatment is for me to detach myself.

It's hard (but becoming easier) for me to not communicate and try to resolve our problems but it seems so easy for him to not talk to me for days. I have learned to stop loving myself emotionally and it's time I stop that now.

I don't want to be a pursuer anymore because I know how it's adding to the fire. What can I do to stop this dynamic if my husband will not cooperate, not even a little bit? He doesn't think he is doing anything wrong and he feels justified to resolve problems this way, treat me this way.

I really with all my heart feel I deserve so much better than this. I'm not doing this to myself anymore. And I want this dance to end, whether it means we have to divorce or he has to change. I'm changing by not pursuing anymore.

Do I outlast his silent treatment and call his bluff to everything he has said (like he will file for divorce and move out, to which I'm cooperative and let him know it's okay for him to do both--he has done neither).
 

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Sorry about all this.

You are in an emotional & abusive relationship & will only get worse as you know...you are slowly leaving behind the emotionally healthy person you used to be.

Who knows why he is like this? Anger issues from childhood, narcissist, mental illness....I guess you could try to get him into therapy to deal with all his issues but he probably will not go.

1 yr. marriage, no children (I'm assuming), I would be gone yesterday.

Good luck.
 

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I, as usual, agree with Emerald. This form of communication from him is definitely mental/emotional abuse. I mean, look how you are so beaten down from it.

All I can say is that I was with someone just like this. He was narcissistic and whenever I'd want to talk about something that was bothering me he would blow up, say a bunch of hurtful things, blame me for having feelings about something, storm out and leave me hanging. I'd try to call or text and he'd ignore me. I eventually got to the point you are. I stopped talking. I literally just shut down. I dreaded coming home to him. I would be sick with worry about when (or if) he would be coming home after a fight. I felt like a dog in a cage. I was being treated like a dog in a cage! I knew I had to implement the 180 so I could protect myself from further hurts. I moved out of our bedroom, I stopped cooking, I stopped doing his laundry, etc. Not to punish him, per se, but because if he couldn't give to me I couldn't give to him. At least not without it building up a ton of resentment.

I realized that I was happier living this way. The silent treatment hurt me less. I eventually moved out. And I have never been happier!

Stick with the 180 and see what happens. He will either come around and want to save this marriage or you will realize you don't. It's like a game of chicken, isn't it? But in the end one of you is going to swerve.
 

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I, as usual, agree with Emerald. This form of communication from him is definitely mental/emotional abuse. I mean, look how you are so beaten down from it.

All I can say is that I was with someone just like this. He was narcissistic and whenever I'd want to talk about something that was bothering me he would blow up, say a bunch of hurtful things, blame me for having feelings about something, storm out and leave me hanging. I'd try to call or text and he'd ignore me. I eventually got to the point you are. I stopped talking. I literally just shut down. I dreaded coming home to him. I would be sick with worry about when (or if) he would be coming home after a fight. I felt like a dog in a cage. I was being treated like a dog in a cage! I knew I had to implement the 180 so I could protect myself from further hurts. I moved out of our bedroom, I stopped cooking, I stopped doing his laundry, etc. Not to punish him, per se, but because if he couldn't give to me I couldn't give to him. At least not without it building up a ton of resentment.

I realized that I was happier living this way. The silent treatment hurt me less. I eventually moved out. And I have never been happier!

Stick with the 180 and see what happens. He will either come around and want to save this marriage or you will realize you don't. It's like a game of chicken, isn't it? But in the end one of you is going to swerve.
Good for you for getting out!

I also had to leave an abusive husband (22 yrs.) & it saddens me to read these types of posts. It is no way to live.
 

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I really with all my heart feel I deserve so much better than this. I'm not doing this to myself anymore. And I want this dance to end, whether it means we have to divorce, or he has to change. I'm changing by not pursuing anymore .[/B]
Like you are saying you have a choice to make for you to not be part of that dance no more.

You are saying as well that your husband doesn't seem to see anything wrong with the way his treating you, so he won't work on your relationship...
I guess what I wondering is do you know how committed your husband is to your relationship? Just imagine asking him that question tonight, what may he says? Or even, what respect mean for you? Can you see that I'm unhappy?

Yes....I think some communication around those questions will determine if he's willing to work on this relationship with you.
If it seems like he does give a crap, he needs to know that you prefer being happy no matter what.

Can you see yourself within 3 years down the road?
 

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OP, the silent treatment is a classic form of emotional abuse, and is designed to keep you walking on eggshells around him. It sounds to me like the payoff your H is deriving for this sort of behaviour, is you playing pacifier / peacemaker - and I'd stop giving him his 'fix.'

My only advice is MC, but on a 1 year marriage I'm afraid things don't look good. You also need support for yourself, because coping with a spouse who behaves this way will eventually chip away at your self-esteem and have you questioning your own sanity.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you for your replies everyone.

I know my H has abusive behaviors (due to a very bad childhood/upbringing involving being abandoned by his mother at the age of 3 and then later on being emotionally abused by her throughout his adult life until I came along and helped him get out of his abuse)...and in the 4 years I have been with him, he has made tremendous changes. However the one thing he can't shake off is the distancing behavior involving our problems and being extremely explosive and emotionally cruel while angry...and not being able to emotionally connect with me on a stable basis...it comes and goes with him.

I know I have been adding to the problem by enabling him--being the "peacemaker" as you put it.

He's very much committed to our marriage in all areas except for the emotional part. He's an exceptional person, very kind and generous, takes really good care of me in all areas...when it comes to his emotional capacity, he is very very selfish. I think it's stunted by his past hurts and trauma.

IrishGirl, my hubby is just like what you described. And I'm at the same point you were...I just stopped. But it's hard sometimes, bc I've been beaten up emotionally..but like you, I DO feel better mentally and emotionally stronger now that I detached myself.

I do need support to remind me not to run after him to pacify things anymore. I need support to remain calm and separate myself from it all...as when I'm emotionally involved, it's so painful for me.

I thank everyone for your support. Even though we're strangers over the net, it does help me.
 

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It's sad but I feel I'm too weak to overcome my H's emotional abuse all by myself.

I want to be emotionally stronger than him so that when he does his silent treatment, I'm no longer hurt by it and no longer in desperation when he decides to leave me all by myself in emotional distress.

I don't want him to be able to play with my emotions and have so much control as he does by making me smile or cry all at once.

How can I take better control of my emotions? I don't want to be affected by him anymore. It's really sad that I feel I have to harden my heart but that is the only way for me to survive. This is my husband, the one person I want to feel safe emotionally and feel vulnerable with..but I can't and it breaks my heart.

I really feel he won't work on that one area that hurts me the most. I feel this is the core of our problems and if this one is resolved, everything else will fall into place.

I don't know what I'm doing right now and how things will turn out. Maybe we will divorce, maybe he will change for good? I don't know, I'm sad that things are this way when they don't need to be. I'm not a bad person or am I trying to hurt him...I just want to be a wife, have a husband, and build a life together and have that strong, unbreakable partnership...but I don't think it'll happen anymore.

Since I posted on here and read your replies, I've become a little stronger. Thank you for reading.
 

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I can relate to everything in your first post.
Is he open to counseling?
If not, get thee to an individual counselor. To help get your own strength, so you can either hold your own with him, set boundaries, or take steps to leave.
I'm in a similar boat. One foot out the door because I can't take his behavior anymore.
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Individual counseling was necessary for me to heal whatever it was inside me that was allowing me to pursue and chase him.
And it made me strong enough to leave.
I did come back after he started to make some changes, but sadly those changes didn't last.
So I'm contemplating divorce (again).
Take care of yourself FIRST.

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OP, whilst I understand everything you say in your post, and can to a large extent understand where your H's behaviour stems from, only he can undo that behaviour by learning a healthier way of communicating. It's not only in both your interests that he receive counseling for this, but that of any children you may have.

I grew up in a dysfunctional family, and I learned the unhealthy art of distancing myself from people when they peed me off. I was perfectly aware of what I was doing, and I can even remember the feeling of power/control it gave me when they played peacemaker/pacifier. Thank God I chose to seek counseling and rid myself of this destructive behaviour, because in close relationships (which is where it usually rears its ugly head) it can be extremely damaging to all concerned.

I hope you can get your H into counseling OP.
 

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OP, whilst I understand everything you say in your post, and can to a large extent understand where your H's behaviour stems from, only he can undo that behaviour by learning a healthier way of communicating. It's not only in both your interests that he receive counseling for this, but that of any children you may have.

I grew up in a dysfunctional family, and I learned the unhealthy art of distancing myself from people when they peed me off. I was perfectly aware of what I was doing, and I can even remember the feeling of power/control it gave me when they played peacemaker/pacifier. Thank God I chose to seek counseling and rid myself of this destructive behaviour, because in close relationships (which is where it usually rears its ugly head) it can be extremely damaging to all concerned.

I hope you can get your H into counseling OP.
I agree with everything you said. This is why I'm not going to be the peacemaker anymore. Hopefully with enough distance and detachment and letting him live in his own "distanced" world by himself, he will come to understand the damage it has caused and is causing...and go to counseling. I don't want to convince him to go anymore, I don't want to chase after him anymore. He's all on his own emotionally.

I wrote in one text to him that he needs to learn how to communicate and the first thing he said was "You put me in this position and you're talking about my behavior." Blaming me for his actions, yet again. I wrote back and said "you need to be honest with yourself and realize how you've also contributed to us being this way." He has not responded to me and it has been almost 24 hours. A couple hours ago, he came down and slept in our bed after 5 days of sleeping on the couch upstairs...guess he hasn't been sleeping at night. I immediately got my pillow and moved it to the kitchen couch.

I don't trust him emotionally anymore and I want to stay as emotionally far away from him as I possibly can...I feel this is the ONLY way for me to finally cope and not lose myself any longer.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Individual counseling was necessary for me to heal whatever it was inside me that was allowing me to pursue and chase him.
And it made me strong enough to leave.
I did come back after he started to make some changes, but sadly those changes didn't last.
So I'm contemplating divorce (again).
Take care of yourself FIRST.

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I'm sorry to hear that it didn't work out again for you. But at least you gave it a second chance and now can walk away without any regrets and know that you've given it all you have.

I feel much stronger since I have distanced myself and stopped chasing him for emotional connection..is this normal? I will need counseling if we "reconcile" because with him, I don't feel this strong.
 

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I agree with everything you said. This is why I'm not going to be the peacemaker anymore. Hopefully with enough distance and detachment and letting him live in his own "distanced" world by himself, he will come to understand the damage it has caused and is causing...and go to counseling. I don't want to convince him to go anymore, I don't want to chase after him anymore. He's all on his own emotionally.

I wrote in one text to him that he needs to learn how to communicate and the first thing he said was "You put me in this position and you're talking about my behavior." Blaming me for his actions, yet again. I wrote back and said "you need to be honest with yourself and realize how you've also contributed to us being this way." He has not responded to me and it has been almost 24 hours. A couple hours ago, he came down and slept in our bed after 5 days of sleeping on the couch upstairs...guess he hasn't been sleeping at night. I immediately got my pillow and moved it to the kitchen couch.

I don't trust him emotionally anymore and I want to stay as emotionally far away from him as I possibly can...I feel this is the ONLY way for me to finally cope and not lose myself any longer.
OP, you're simply protecting yourself from his game of push-me-pull-me. A person can only take so much of this sort of behaviour before they start doubting their own sanity!

In most situations we have a choice how we are going to react to it, and good for you for not letting him place the blame on you for his choice to manipulate rather than communicate like an adult.
 

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I want to be emotionally stronger than him so that when he does his silent treatment, I'm no longer hurt by it and no longer in desperation when he decides to leave me all by myself in emotional distress.

I don't want him to be able to play with my emotions and have so much control as he does by making me smile or cry all at once.

How can I take better control of my emotions? I don't want to be affected by him anymore. It's really sad that I feel I have to harden my heart but that is the only way for me to survive. This is my husband, the one person I want to feel safe emotionally and feel vulnerable with..but I can't and it breaks my heart.

I really feel he won't work on that one area that hurts me the most. I feel this is the core of our problems and if this one is resolved, everything else will fall into place.

I don't know what I'm doing right now and how things will turn out. Maybe we will divorce, maybe he will change for good? I don't know, I'm sad that things are this way when they don't need to be. I'm not a bad person or am I trying to hurt him...I just want to be a wife, have a husband, and build a life together and have that strong, unbreakable partnership...but I don't think it'll happen anymore.

Since I posted on here and read your replies, I've become a little stronger. Thank you for reading.
Is it really what you want not to get affected by is silence treatment? You want to be able to be strong to his treatment?
Even if you were that strong person, what may be the benefices? Would you be happy even if you're strong that he is still treating you that way?
I just feel that you want more than that....Don't you want to be respected?
What may be some ways for you to make understand your husband that it is VERY important for you to see him work on it....What would be the reason why it would be important? You said you may divorce him if he doesn't want to work on it....Does it know how close you are of just letting him be the way he wants to be? How serious does he think you are?
 

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The pursuer - distancer dance is a very complicated one. You are on the right track to stop pursuing. Put your energy into friends, hobbies, etc. Reassure your husband that you miss him and would love more closeness but don't want to pressure him. Practice "constructive confusion" - meaning try to confuse his picture of you by not putting any pressure on him whatsoever. Anxiety will increase in the relationship. One of two things will happen: either things will improve, or you will realize that nothing is going to change and you will have to make difficult decisions. We talk a great deal about the Pursuer-Distancer dance in the "Couple's Survival Workbook"
DrDavidCOlsen
 
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