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#464305 - 04/20/14 09:36 PM Privacy - a question
Cam76 Offline

Registered: 06/26/13
Posts: 18
I was wondering how you balance your partner's need / desire / right to privacy with other people's concern / your need to talk about things / people's questions.

My husband is in the hospital right now and I will be seeing my family for Easter. When we got married my family took a little while to warm up to him, but now they do care about him and want to know why he isn't at Easter dinner, if he is ok and so on. I give them the bare minimum, but people are curious and worry and telling them that "B is in the hospital for a while" just sets the stage for more questions. On the other hand, I don't want to lie about where he is. I could use my families support about this, and I don't want to treat his hospitalization and mental health issues like they are something I am ashamed of.

Similarly, when friends ask why he is in the hospital or why he acts a certain way, I want to be able to tell him about his CSA history and other issues, but I feel it's not my place. It leaves me searching for the right thing to say that respects that my husband doesn't want everyone in his business, but at the same time allows my friends to know my business.

I feel like there is no way to separate myself from his issues. They cause problems for me, and then I can't talk about those problems without disclosing his issues too. I want more than anything to be able to support him and be someone he can trust, but it gets hard when I need support and I feel like I can't get it without getting in to his issues.

#464329 - 04/21/14 12:09 PM Re: Privacy - a question [Re: Cam76]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4287
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
have you asked him how much he wants to share with others? is that something he is able to discuss with you? have you asked his therapist what would be appropriate?

as a male survivor, when i first started treatment - not in a hospital, but weekly counseling sessions - i was very fearful that other people would find out. for others to know would have felt like another violation. i was ok with saying that i was dealing with depression - which was true, and was a big element in my life, but i did not want anyone to know about the CSA.

other vague answers could be - "he is dealing with some difficult issues" or "substance dependency" if that is part of it - or "family issues" or "emotional problems" or "past trauma." the important thing is that you not say more than he is comfortable with. most people should have enough decency that if you give an intentionally non-specific explanation, they will realize that they should not press for details. you can even say, "thanks for your concern, but it is not something he wants to make public."

my therapist advised me to have a plan based on a target. the bull's eye is the smallest group of people - just 1-3 that you trust completely and that you can tell anything and everything to without fear of "leaks." then have an inner circle of several more who can be discreet and you feel free to share more - but not everything with. then have the next larger group to whom you give a very generic and non-detailed statement to. the largest group is those to whom you do not owe any explanation at all. he said to decide in advance who is in which group and what you will say to each. that was very helpful to me.

at the same time, it IS important that people realize that it is a difficult time for you, too and that you have the need for support as well. i hope you can find a way to satisfy both his privacy and your desire for empathy.


Edited by traveler (04/21/14 12:12 PM)
How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#464348 - 04/21/14 08:56 PM Re: Privacy - a question [Re: Cam76]
Esposa Offline

Registered: 10/19/11
Posts: 811
Loc: NJ
I always said "He didn't have the nicest childhood." - that was a way for me to deal. But I think the acting out (if there is any) is kind of your decision. I never felt like it was my right to speak of his abuse, but I certainly found support for my trauma given the situation. Lee is right, if it manifests as substance abuse, then you can talk to people about that. If it manifests as infidelity, you can talk about that. Of course all of that is hard when you can't give the reasons behind the behavior. I am pretty sure my friends and family who knew of the infidelity but not of his CSA thought I was INSANE for a long time. That, however, is not my problem wink Building a support system for yourself is essential and it can be done without violating his trust.

#464360 - 04/22/14 12:31 AM Re: Privacy - a question [Re: Cam76]

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 3856

You were not insane, you were caring and knew the root of the issue. I know it had to be hard for you to hear and live with--the infidelities and the lack of compassion and support--people do not know the shoes your husband or you have walked.

You were wise to build a support system with people who supported you and tried to understand the pain your husband lived with for a lifetime and your pain. It takes special people not to judge and be critical of others--maybe they should take a look at their own lives.

Your response to others is understandable--but people are critical and no matter what you would have said, they would have twisted it to their liking. I admire your courage to stand bye and not let others take away from you.

Keep going, stay well and I hope you are finding happiness.


#464393 - 04/22/14 03:02 PM Re: Privacy - a question [Re: Cam76]
HopeDiesLast Offline

Registered: 01/15/13
Posts: 62
I like the bull's eye description. For myself, I got my husband's permission to share his complete story (not the details, but enough to understand the full extent of our marriage struggles and my own struggles) with my bull's eye group (2 people) and then a more generalized description with only mention of physical violence in childhood as well as PTSD due to war experiences as a soldier (which are both also true but don't carry the same burden of shame for him) to a broader circle including my family.

My husband understood that it was really important for me to have a safety net of a few friends who know about everything and I understood that for him it is really important to have control over who knows how much. So I asked him specifically what it was ok to tell to whom and he gave me permission to tell to my most trustworthy friends. Everyone else knows just enough to explain a few behaviours when necessary and we chose the least complicated, least shame-associated version of the past for that.


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