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#392676 - 04/08/12 12:55 AM Rethinking the value of marriage reconciliation
Esposa Offline

Registered: 10/19/11
Posts: 811
Loc: NJ
I often feel that my husband gets distracted from his own healing by the desire to reconcile our marriage. I think that I purposefully have put the marriage on hold with the hope that he will figure himself out a little. This distresses him. Many of us have discussed this question right here on the boards. But then I came across the following today in a book on attachment disorders:

"The most challenging couples to change (referring to connection, attachment) will be those where one partner has experienced a "violation of human connection" and has not only been deprived but also abused in close relationships. These traumatized partners have a greater need for a safe, close relationship. However, they are also likely to show an entrenched inability to trust those that they need the most. They face a paradox: their partner is at once the solution to and the source of danger. Such partners may particularly need couples therapy, since, without the safe haven provided by a positive relationship, healing from previous abuse will be difficult. In addition, present relationship distress will tend to exacerbate the effects of such abuse and maintain symptoms such as numbing and angry hyperarosal. If safe attachment is the natural antidote to such traumatic experiences, providing a natural healing arena, couples therapy may be a particcularly crucial component of treatment."

Any thoughts on this?

#392705 - 04/08/12 07:11 AM Re: Rethinking the value of marriage reconciliation [Re: Esposa]
whome Offline

Registered: 05/07/11
Posts: 1743
Loc: Johannesburg South Africa

All true.
I have been through this and am once again going through this. As all know I was asked to move out of the house. This although painful has been a blessing.

Last year, through the meaty part of my recovery, I isolated myself from all and spent most of my life on these boards. It was a necessary evil, I needed this time to heal and find out what the hell I was, or at least am.
It has been a worth while sacrifice. I have no doubt that it impacted on my family, but not as much as my bad behaviour had over the last 19 years.

As for the couples therapy, well that's a tough one. I think that the H is in therapy overload, and needs to work on recovery first. Once this is done he needs to go through a period of self discovery, then YOU need to go through a term of self discovery to deal with this bomb that shook your world Once this is done, then a bout of couples therapy would be helpful.

The important part in all of this is that the H is really doing his best to heal, and is embracing all.

Great post though, food for thought.

Heal well
Matrix Men South Africa
Survivors Supporting Each other
Matrix Men Blog

#392741 - 04/08/12 04:21 PM Re: Rethinking the value of marriage reconciliation [Re: whome]

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 3855

I hear your words. I am healing and going through my own self discovery. I have reflected on my life for hours and days, trying to reconcile the abuse with my own loneliness and distrust and choices in life. Never feeling life as a valued person.

I also think the spouse needs to enter into their own self discovery and receive appropriate and competent treatment. By not doing so, the past and their own internal perceptions will hinder their own progress and life. They will hold in the anger and not properly display it. Living with a victim of CSA creates many issues that cannot be ignored. But if there are other dysfunctional aspects in the family they also need to be addressed, if both are to heal--together or separately.

I have my perceptions of where I have stood in my marriage for years. Marriage is complicated and involves many--spouse, children, parents and siblings, etc. I believe with CSA I was distant and detached and acted out in ways that is not me but I cannot change it.

But I always sought approval--I realize as I self discover I became a doormat--I only say this because when I needed help who was there? I never spoke those words that you should be thankful for what I did etc--I was there at everyone's beckon call--did the best I could--morning, noon or night--I made mistakes but I only wanted the best for the children. However, when feeling worthless one can be taken advantage of and who stands by you tells you a persons true character. In my marriage of me (spouse), children, parents and siblings, I perceive the order of my importance to the spouse is not what one expect. I was at the bottom and who was at the top would be surprising, in my perception.

When the memories were surfacing I lost my father. External hurtful actions of others and their words so reminiscent of the perp would not let me bury the memories any longer. When I saw my father before his passing, he said I do not want you to sit around and sulk and talk about me dying or how I died but rather think of something he did that put a smile on my face and have a good laugh. He said he could see that in my own family that illness and death obsessed ones' life and it was not healthy for anyone. He came from a family of immigrants and always saw laughter as the escape from hardships. His mother buried two children but never stopped living--she always knew life was for the living and there is always someone who had it worse then they.

The memories of the abuse became so strong after my father's death, I started to attend grief sessions, lectures on death and grief, impact on families when adults take on caregiver roles that separate families when I was trying to come to terms with my own nightmares of the abuse. I learned I was not the one suffering from extreme grief but rather was living with someone who was. Grief is complicated--the groups and lectures talked about relationships with the deceased--parent or child. Was it sudden, tragic or a prolonged illness. In the case of prolong illness the caregiver is the one who suffers and gives up the most. It is not until the caregiver and family members open up about their feelings of having to leave their families when other family members may be close by, have no children, or do not sacrifice their personal life (social, travel, trips, dining out, etc)while one always seems to give up the most and in the end looses the most, as do their spouses and children. It is through counseling people learn who they are and how their actions and words have impacted others. They warned the caregiver may feel hurt when the hidden emotions and feelings of others are finally revealed and may be hurt when others dismiss their feelings. But to bottle it up only destroys. From the sessions I attended I was told I did not need grief counseling because I had taken a healthy approach to living and dying (boy if they only knew about the CSA). I was hoping grief would be my answer to the CSA, but it made me realize I may need help to address the CSA--but I did not seek the help until I hit bottom.

It is in therapy that we open up, let go of emotions we have bottled up for years, we face what others have done and what we have done, it allows us to heal and let go of the anger and control of others, and for us the perps. It does not differ inside families--guilt governs many families and it can destroy. It needs to be expressed and not repressed.

So I agree we need to self discover as do others who have been impacted. So first we must heal and decide through self discovery our future. I am moving ahead and rebuilding my life. Like your Martin, I see the need to feel whole and build a life with someone who I can share and open up to without fear and she can feel the same towards me.

#392742 - 04/08/12 04:28 PM Re: Rethinking the value of marriage reconciliation [Re: KMCINVA]
SamV Offline

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 5972
Loc: Sunnny, South East USA
That is a powerful statement:
They face a paradox: their partner is at once the solution to and the source of danger

Until the survivor recovers the trust he has lost in the abuse, it is a danger, a peril, a source of pain. IMHO Esposa, individual therapy needs to find the ability to trust in the survivor. Without the "ability" to trust, there can be little long term trust in a relationship.

Couples therapy is healthy and rewarding, but it has to be in relation to the recovery of the abused. The therapist who is treating the abused may need to consult with the couple's therapist.

MaleSurvivor Moderator Emeritus 2012 - 2014

#392748 - 04/08/12 06:17 PM Re: Rethinking the value of marriage reconciliation [Re: SamV]
GoodHope Offline

Registered: 07/05/11
Posts: 428
Esposa, I interpreted what you posted to have the emphasis on how the survivor with attachment disorder is different than anyone else.

My question is do other sources about attachment disorder address this and do they say the same thing. If the general consensus is that that is the case, then you may have to go with it. In general, with CSA, adaptations have to be made to what couples who aren't dealing with CSA. Even though all the external stuff looks the same, the internal issues associated with CSA change how we approach things. With attachment disorder, based on this description, it seems like those modifications need to go even a step further.
Wife of a survivor

#392783 - 04/08/12 11:49 PM Re: Rethinking the value of marriage reconciliation [Re: Esposa]
phoenix321 Offline

Registered: 09/26/11
Posts: 912
Loc: USA, FL

Just an observation and I could be totally wrong. Maybe one big thing that is being forgotten here--perhaps hooking up with a person that isn't really close in a relationship in the first place is an issue? Why did you marry an emotional cripple in the first place? Think about it. Most of us have no trust, share things we could care less about anyone knowing (I like the Stooges and would tell anyone), we fake feelings a lot, we lie (innocent things or adultery), etc.

Say you marry an alcoholic. He's nice looking, fun. You dig those things. Then, he goes to rehab and comes back boring and not fun like before. Maybe in a way a spouse that doesn't want to lose the reason they married in the first place are an issue?

Since you have no idea what the change coming is gonna be, what if it isn't the change we want? It's gonna be a huge change. Maybe he married you for the wrong reasons? Maybe changed he decides, well, I'm fixed, she's great but, after finding out what I really am and what I really like, I just don't love her. I certainly saw that happen with alcoholics and drug addicts after recovery. I married my mom instead of a wife.

I know all this sounds shitty but relationships aren't exact science. Love can change. People fall out of it. Many couples go into marriage counseling and sometimes they find out they don't really love each other, they made a mistake, they move on (or they go to war).

It's probably something a married couple needs in addition to CSA counseling and counseling for the spouse. That gives both a pulse on how they both are doing together or not doing.

A guy opens the front door and sees a snail on his doorstep. He picks up the snail and throws it across the street in a neighbor's yard. A year later, the guy opens the front door and the same snail is on his doorstep. The snail says, "What the f*ck was that about?"

#392800 - 04/09/12 01:35 AM Re: Rethinking the value of marriage reconciliation [Re: phoenix321]
Esposa Offline

Registered: 10/19/11
Posts: 811
Loc: NJ
Lots of things to process in these responses. Thank you all.

I married my husband because he was cute and sweet and he needed me and I need to be needed... I am a fixer after all wink I was raised by a woman who only noticed you if you did something for her. That's my mission in my own therapy, to develop boundaries and to not obligate myself to other people as a way to garner security or love. And he probably married me because I am one of the most reliable people you will ever meet. If I tell you I will do it, I will do it.

GH - you are right. My post is specifically about attachment disordered people. People who suffer from an inability to form a secure attachment because of the nature of their attachment with the primary caregiver, mother in this case. One could argue that anyone who suffered abuse will have attachment and trust issues - but as we see on these boards, not all people who suffer abuse were also neglected, unloved and abused by the very person who was supposed to have loved them unconditionally. It provides an additional layer of complication to trust.

And yes, what I read seems to contradict what I have felt all along - there is no healthy marriage without two healthy people in it. Maybe I am misunderstanding, but this quote is saying that the marriage can serve as a tool for developing trust.

#392825 - 04/09/12 05:46 AM Re: Rethinking the value of marriage reconciliation [Re: Esposa]

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 3855

Definitely need two healthy people in the marriage. No marriage is perfect. I am in a very hypersensitive period of healing. My emotions are on the surface. I was told this would happen. I am recalling so many hurtful memories, the abuse and how I have been treated. I was always silenced, but now I hurt from the memories. I cannot stop feeling, singing, yelling and crying. The bad is all pouring out. Tonight the marriage issue hit hard, feeling used and thrown to the side. Yes I yelled the specifics but realize I was not the only one used but the other person will not acknowledge-husband or siblings whose marriage is it- I always was the last in line. I fear the children will have learned this and their spouses will also suffer from this. It is all learned behavior. I cried uncontrollably for my brother tonight feeling my silence about the CSA may have hurt and killed him. I see silence and denial of using people to get their way as part of control. I know I may be too sensitive now, but I am discovering my hurts so I can heal. Marriages that do not share the pain or allow the past or family interference to create gaps and separation are not strong relationships between a husband and wife. Part of healing is to love self and each other. My journey of healing is taking me there, but also making me discover where I ever fit in the marriage.


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