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Last night H and I had a long, honest discussion. We’ve been avoiding addressing the core issues in our marriage and it was a long time coming. He’s tentatively agreed to marriage counseling, and wants to get help for his drinking problem and learn to reciprocate and help care for me and the kids when I need him.
I’m hesitant to make any specific “demands” or mention a timeline, boundaries or ultimatums to him. I don’t want to be unfair or create any more distance between us.
However, because of the years of neglect and abuse within our relationship, I’m not really sure how to go about being more assertive about my needs or expectations. I’m afraid if I’m too “easy” on him, there won’t be any improvement and I’ll ultimately have to leave to protect myself and our kids. If I’m too demanding, I’m afraid he’ll get discouraged and stop trying.
Any advice?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I should also add that I don’t want to punish him or make him upset by withholding sex, but he’s got a habit of being too aggressive and there have been a number of fairly ugly rape incidents when he’s been drinking. In one hand, I want to please him and try to make him happy. On the other hand, I’m having a hard time coping with some of the incidents and am having a hard time wanting to be intimate. I’m sure it’s normal to be a bit standoffish given the situation, but I don’t want make things worse or have him upset with me when he’s finally agreed to make an effort. What would be the best way to handle this? My gut says I should suck it up- just be a good girl and give him what he wants. But at the same time, I don’t really see things improving if I don’t take some kind of stand. Ugh... the anxiety is killing me.
 

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I should also add that I don’t want to punish him or make him upset by withholding sex, but he’s got a habit of being too aggressive and there have been a number of fairly ugly rape incidents when he’s been drinking. In one hand, I want to please him and try to make him happy. On the other hand, I’m having a hard time coping with some of the incidents and am having a hard time wanting to be intimate. I’m sure it’s normal to be a bit standoffish given the situation, but I don’t want make things worse or have him upset with me when he’s finally agreed to make an effort. What would be the best way to handle this? My gut says I should suck it up- just be a good girl and give him what he wants. But at the same time, I don’t really see things improving if I don’t take some kind of stand. Ugh... the anxiety is killing me.
So, ONE rule -- you WILL NOT have sex with him if he's had even ONE drink (of ANY type of alcohol)-- PERIOD. You should not have to put up with that crap EVER.
 

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Last night H and I had a long, honest discussion. We’ve been avoiding addressing the core issues in our marriage and it was a long time coming. He’s tentatively agreed to marriage counseling, and wants to get help for his drinking problem and learn to reciprocate and help care for me and the kids when I need him.
I’m hesitant to make any specific “demands” or mention a timeline, boundaries or ultimatums to him. I don’t want to be unfair or create any more distance between us.
However, because of the years of neglect and abuse within our relationship, I’m not really sure how to go about being more assertive about my needs or expectations. I’m afraid if I’m too “easy” on him, there won’t be any improvement and I’ll ultimately have to leave to protect myself and our kids. If I’m too demanding, I’m afraid he’ll get discouraged and stop trying.
Any advice?
My first advice is to stop worrying about him getting discouraged or not trying. That’s his problem.

Focus on your problems and how he contributes to them. For example, your problem might not actually be his neglect. It might be that you feel lonely and unfulfilled. How he contributes to those feelings is by ignoring you, or having a drinking problem, etc. The point is to frame your problems clearly without jumping to what he needs to do to fix them because that’s his job to figure out.

As for boundaries, be clear, be simple, and be direct.

“Husband, I will no longer tolerate being around you when you’ve been drinking” or whatever. Be clear what you will tolerate in your life, with or without him in it.

You own your stuff. He owns his stuff. Don’t try to own or help him with his stuff. That’s on him.
 

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There are two books that I think will help you quite a bit. They are "Love Busters" and "His Needs, Her Needs". Read them in that order. The idea is the first identify and stop the love busters (like his alcoholism and anger). Once you both have done this you can identify you needs and start working to meet each other's needs. Read the books yourself first because you will learn a lot. Then see if you can get him to read the books with you and do the work together that the books suggest.
 

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I should also add that I don’t want to punish him or make him upset by withholding sex, but he’s got a habit of being too aggressive and there have been a number of fairly ugly rape incidents when he’s been drinking. In one hand, I want to please him and try to make him happy. On the other hand, I’m having a hard time coping with some of the incidents and am having a hard time wanting to be intimate. I’m sure it’s normal to be a bit standoffish given the situation, but I don’t want make things worse or have him upset with me when he’s finally agreed to make an effort. What would be the best way to handle this? My gut says I should suck it up- just be a good girl and give him what he wants. But at the same time, I don’t really see things improving if I don’t take some kind of stand. Ugh... the anxiety is killing me.
I change my advice.

You need to leave. Today.
 

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HSM, I cannot support any attempt at "saving" this, he is an abuser and you need to get out. I DO hope he gets help and gets himself on a better path, but you need to go.
 

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Last night H and I had a long, honest discussion. We’ve been avoiding addressing the core issues in our marriage and it was a long time coming. He’s tentatively agreed to marriage counseling, and wants to get help for his drinking problem and learn to reciprocate and help care for me and the kids when I need him.
I’m hesitant to make any specific “demands” or mention a timeline, boundaries or ultimatums to him. I don’t want to be unfair or create any more distance between us.
However, because of the years of neglect and abuse within our relationship, I’m not really sure how to go about being more assertive about my needs or expectations. I’m afraid if I’m too “easy” on him, there won’t be any improvement and I’ll ultimately have to leave to protect myself and our kids. If I’m too demanding, I’m afraid he’ll get discouraged and stop trying.
Any advice?
Boundaries are good. Responsibility is good. Requirements are good.

Your love and devotion are worth something. Remember you are the prize here. Hold him accountable.

If you feel better you can couch it with, "I want nothing more for us to stay together but this is what I need and I can't wait forever."

You are not asking for anything unreasonable, this is what any women who is married to him is going to want. Presumably he loves you right? It's not hard for him to start treating you with respect.


Edit:

After reading your second post I have to take this back as well. I can't in good faith say this when you say there have been Rape incidents. You should not be married to someone who rapes you. Not good.
 

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"...but I don’t want make things worse or have him upset with me..."

This is why you find yourself where you are. You're afraid of your husband (and, for good reason).

If he does decide to go to marriage counseling, and you start to discuss the rapes he will feel blindsided and betrayed. Then you really will have a reason to be afraid. He won't like being exposed.

You can start by taking sex off the table altogether until he has earned a right to be intimate with you by his new learned behavior.

I have to be honest; I can not figure out why you want to stay with a man who has repeatedly raped you. I also don't see this man becoming a husband worthy of the title.
 

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The first thing you need are some strong boundaries, and your short list of ultimate deal breakers. Then you need to be prepared to back them up when they're crossed. Drunken rape should already have been a deal breaker, but if you're going to give it one last try, that would be my ultimate deal breaker. The time line for that is immediately, and if he can't agree to that then you go file for divorce tomorrow. One more time and I'm gone for good.

I also think that you need to still get your ducks in a row in case this thing ends in divorce (I know you don't want to hear that, but most people in your situation would have left long ago). You need to have a clear exit plan that covers all the bases. That way if things do get worse then you are not playing catch up.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Ok, I’m starting to think I’m wording this poorly. Maybe “rape” is too strong a word. I mean, he’s my husband. For better or worse. It’s difficult to sort through all this, and I’m trying not to be emotional or dramatic.
I’d hate to throw my whole life away on a technicality.
 

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Ok, I’m starting to think I’m wording this poorly. Maybe “rape” is too strong a word. I mean, he’s my husband. For better or worse. It’s difficult to sort through all this, and I’m trying not to be emotional or dramatic.
I’d hate to throw my whole life away on a technicality.
Sex against your will is rape. If you dont want it and say no, its rape. If its done out of fear, its rape. Husband or not.

Leaving him isnt throwing away your life, its finding and reclaiming it.
 

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@sokillme I don’t think he has any idea how his actions affect me or the children. He has never been capable of empathy, or really considered anyone aside from himself. He is never at fault, and his actions are always framed as reactions to factors outside his control. So his drinking is my fault, my needs are unreasonable, if he’s late to work it’s because I didn’t get him out the door on time, etc.
My recent research indicates that he may be a bit of a narcissist?
 

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Ok, I’m starting to think I’m wording this poorly. Maybe “rape” is too strong a word. I mean, he’s my husband. For better or worse. It’s difficult to sort through all this, and I’m trying not to be emotional or dramatic.
I’d hate to throw my whole life away on a technicality.
He forced himself on you when you didn't consent. Being married or not being married doesn't change the definition of rape. You in your own words on all of your threads have clearly stated that it was rape. Why would you minimize that now? For your own sake please call it like it is. It's your marriage, so you can choose to attempt reconciliation if you want, but you really need to go through this process with eyes wide open. Be honest with yourself about everything that's happened. Anything less and you run the risk of major rug sweeping and letting your husband fall right back in to his old habits.
 

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@sokillme I don’t think he has any idea how his actions affect me or the children. He has never been capable of empathy, or really considered anyone aside from himself. He is never at fault, and his actions are always framed as reactions to factors outside his control. So his drinking is my fault, my needs are unreasonable, if he’s late to work it’s because I didn’t get him out the door on time, etc.
My recent research indicates that he may be a bit of a narcissist?

Be aware that no amount of counselling is going to really help someone like this. I can understand wanting to try to fix things, but realize that it's basically an impossible task. If he doesn't really commit to change and put significant effort into changing himself, it's not going to work. Please, do not accept that it's your responsibility to fix him. Please, do not accept the fault if he doesn't change. He is the one with the problem. He needs to be working the hardest to fix it. You can help him change, but he needs to be the one driving the change within himself.
 
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