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#480709 - 04/13/15 11:56 PM Will we ever be "us" again?
coffeelady Offline


Registered: 05/18/14
Posts: 7
My husband is a CSA. We have been married for almost 16 years and together for 18. He has been going to therapy for two years now and is really doing much better. The problem is that we have not been intimate in almost a year. His therapist and our marriage counselor have suggested that we try first with some touching and then move on as he feels more comfortable. He has not tried anything the therapist has suggested. Yesterday I brought it up that we really need to start somewhere and that I am really feeling very insecure about myself. This little talk almost put him into a panic attack. He says when he starts thinking about being intimate his chest begins to tighten. I am getting at my wits end and don't know what to do anymore. We haven't had a good sex life since shortly after we got married. We had no idea back then that all his problems stemmed from his abuse.
What am I to do? I love this man so much and just want our lives back. Everything else in our lives is good except for the intimacy. I just feel like we are never going to get back to what we once were.

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#480711 - 04/14/15 12:26 AM Re: Will we ever be "us" again? [Re: coffeelady]
PhantomMuse Offline


Registered: 02/17/14
Posts: 16
Loc: Chicago, IL
Dear coffeelady,

I can hear in your writing how this pains you. I am sorry.

I have had the opposite experience in my relationship. My guy is highly sexual, and sometimes that is a challenge as I need to just talk with him or explore other forms of intimacy with him.

We have talked a great deal about it, and he tells me he is willing to pull back a bit (he would engage in sexual activity daily for long periods of time if I was willing) as we discover what is best for BOTH of us. For me, I love being with him, but I also love holding hands, foot massages, and the like.

Have you tried anything like that? Even just sitting close together with arms touching can be special and a step toward greater intimacy. I am teaching my guy to play the piano, and I must touch his hands/arms/shoulders to do so. He is beginning to find that sort of simple intimacy appealing. Maybe you can take walks holding hands? Maybe even try laboring at a chore together-- like cleaning up the yard-- where you have to be in close physical proximity as you work? Clearly, he cares so much for you, too, as you mention all else is good.

Sending strength and hope as you navigate this journey.

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#480712 - 04/14/15 12:54 AM Re: Will we ever be "us" again? [Re: coffeelady]
coffeelady Offline


Registered: 05/18/14
Posts: 7
We have always held hands. We also do many things together. It's like our life is good except for the intimacy issue. About two to three years into our marriage he started having erectile problems with me, little did I know that he was not having those problems with anybody else. He was "acting" out with other women (not actual sex) but everything else. I have tried to initiate but I get immediately shut down. I only hope the situation gets better.

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#480731 - 04/14/15 08:50 AM Re: Will we ever be "us" again? [Re: coffeelady]
Mishka95673 Offline


Registered: 01/03/15
Posts: 196
Coffee lady,

I think some of the guys will chime in to offer their perspectives. I too hope things improve for all of us. My man is highly sexual and he has issues with physical intimacy. He says he loves to touch me but he often has trouble with me touching him and his neck is a "no go" zone for reasons unknown to us both.

To me our physical intimacy problems worsened after he began therapy but that makes sense...he's working through some serious memories instead of suppressing them. I am confident that with time, those memories will have less of a hold on him. I also know that he could turn off his emotions and just have sex with a woman but he wants to be present with me, to make love with me, but that is hard for him because people he loved used sex to hurt him. He's afraid.

For now we have a baseline of physical intimacy, a starting point where we both feel good and both want more. We speak openly about it and we try many different approaches. For example, I know that he does not want me to initiate sex with him because initiation is a trigger for him. I have no problem with this because it is easy enough to entice him to initiate.

I love the simple intimacy of taking a bath together and he has really learned to love it too. Just hanging out in the bath tub, relaxing. He used to only be able to do about 10 minutes but now he can enjoy himself for maybe 30 minutes. Hugging and kissing are tough...he wants badly to be able to do those, and he tries, but because I can feel his disgust, I make him stop. Sometimes he doesn't feel disgust and during those times, I let him place my arms around him...I never touch him without invitation. And when I want to give him a love peck, I ask for a body part which is comfortable and he usually takes a moment and offers me his cheek without feelings of disgust. I will see him again next month and will try something new...letting him hug me from behind instead of face to face. We will see if that is more comfortable for him at this time.

You aren't alone Coffee Lady and all of us supporters experience and understand your pain. Try taking the 5 languages of love test to see how you best perceive love and see if he is able to focus for now on the non physical touch love languages - this approach helps my man and me a lot.

Best wishes

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#483024 - Today at 08:40 AM Re: Will we ever be "us" again? [Re: coffeelady]
trishy Offline


Registered: 03/09/15
Posts: 1
Loc: Australia
Hi Coffee Lady

It was a while ago that you posted, and I wonder how things are going. I ask because I'm in a similar position and wonder how you are dealing with your needs for comfort, care and attention, if you dont mind sharing? Or anyone else who may comment. We dont have 16 yrs of history thou. My hubby of 4 years sleeps on the lounge most nights has has done for so long I can't say when that started.

He disclosed when I was ready to move our relationship into separating. He is the bravest, most courageous person I know. We argued alot before I knew his story as we'd have fun perfect date nights, to be left on my own (felt like abandoned) once we got home while he just finished watching the end of a movie on tv, or a doco etc. Or he'd get angry and defensive due to his anxiety etc in a number of avoidance / protection responses we all do.

We've had periods where our intimacy would be fantastic, great or ok, to then stop again. He's been in T, and we're in T. He no longer has night terrors and he's able to feel stuff and know he's going to be ok as he lets it wash away (his words).

I dont put my need for physical comfort forward anymore, because he'd get angry and feel shame and also to allow him control over his space in a new way as he is claiming himself in a new way over the last few months.

We do lots of things together. I have an active social life with support, fun and wise women around me. He's joining me in more and more activities. We have standing up hugs, maybe in the morning before work. We text during the day but we have little physical contact. there has been great progress, but he's irritable, struggling I guess, and it seems so relentless that I fear this is all we will have, and question selfishly or selfully is it enough and can I live out my marriage with a great friend, but not with the intimacy and support I need in a primary relationship?

It feels shallow, after all he has survived and how hard he works. We have a great love and he is facing this stuff after 40 yrs of not doing so as its his time. some of it he says he'd not need to do if he was on his own because his demons are much more manageable now for his single life. He pushes himself as he wants to be in a relationship, or our relationship as he values it and me, rather than saying and meaning 'put up with it, cause this is how it is'. there are important unmet needs for me like being able to express joy naturally and not irritate him, or get an irritated tone and expression from him. Never mind being held close, stroked and comforted nonsexually.

This is my first post after many years of reading posts and taking comfort from other people's experience in these forums. It helps when I'm lonely, and feel helpless or hopeless about how things are and that pull of its his story, his right to choose now when he couldnt then vs the old what about me feelings. The posts from survivors are also helpful to gain understanding and help my compassion and empathy when the pain of unmet needs and feeling invisible overwhelms me.

Any advice is appreciated smile

Thanks

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#483044 - Today at 01:49 PM Re: Will we ever be "us" again? [Re: coffeelady]
Mishka95673 Offline


Registered: 01/03/15
Posts: 196
Hi Trishy,
I really understand the sense of loss you are feeling. I have asked myself the same questions...am I willing to forego the physical touch to be in this relationship with him.

What helped me is to realize that the physical touch aspect was not his problem...it was our problem. For me, I didn't think that he should be the only one to have to change. It must be so hard for a person to look at crawling down a ten mile road to the kind of relationship the masses have. How dispiriting to believe that just one person had to make the journey alone, despite the scrapes and bleeding from crawling along the road. That's a lot of work and many hands make light work. What can I do to help? I can shorten the road by changing my perspective, by being flexible and realizing that we could build a healthy relationship which may not be right for the masses but may be right for us. I focused on generalities about what I wanted and needed in a relationship...characteristics instead of specifics. I need to feel loved. I need to feel wanted. I need to feel like a priority. I need to feel like he is committed. Those were the big things for me.

The process I used was to turn my attention inward...what did it really mean to me to receive the physical contact. Not intercourse, but just the hugs and caresses. I asked myself how do they make me feel? I figured if I could answer that question, then maybe it would be easier to accept some of the other love languages as a frequent substitute. Physical touch is my primary love language but luckily having a diverse group of friends has helped me to be proficient in the others too. In fact I have one friend whose primary love language is acts of service so whenever there was an issue between us, he would give me more work to do. He sees someone helping him as affection so by creating the opportunity for us to work together more, his view was that we were exchanging love. It took me a while to understand that.

So in my perception, physical touch represented my man's desire to be close to me and to have a union between the two of us. I visited him a couple of weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised when we were sitting on the couch that he wanted me to sit right next to him so he could hold me while watching tv. It's been 3 years since he has been that comfortable. I was not ready for it and actually I was the one who couldn't sit so close to him for long. It actually became hard for me to breathe for some reason. He held me at night and let me hold him too, which was great. And of course we hung out in the bath tub together. But now that I have worked so hard on building new pathways in my brain, at being open to other demonstrations of his desire to be close and his desire to be unified with me, his non-physical demonstrations actually held more meaning to me. I had successfully re-wired my own brain. He took me to a party where his whole family was there, introduced me around, and stayed with me. When the family was trying to decide on a movie to take the mother the next day, he stood up for me and said we needed to go late morning instead of in the afternoon. And when he was challenged with a "why", he told them because Mishka can't go in the afternoon - she already has other plans with her mother. He NEVER stands up to these people...people who he also holds responsible for some of his abuse as a child...he did that for me and the looks on their faces were pure shock followed by understanding of my importance to him. ( I will make a special note here because I want to draw attention to it again...he stood up to some of his abusers.) Then when the landscaper and plumber came to his house, I was introduced as the lady of the house and everything was about what "we" were thinking about doing. I live thousands of miles away but my preferences at his place are important to him.

I worked hard to diversify the way I perceive demonstrations of love, to make me more open, and I don't regret it one bit - each of those actions means more to me than the time on the couch in his arms. The physical touch is now the icing on the cake and the pressure is off of him to show me his love for me through just that one pathway, the pathway which is most difficicult for him. By my being willing to examine myself and to change myself, to develop new wiring, we have now found a place where we can love each other comfortably. The substance of our relationship is now based in the other four love languages and we will enjoy the 5th as often as we both feel comfortable.

The survivors brains are not the only brains which can develop new neural pathways, breaking long standing perceptions and habits. There is half as much work for our survivors to do if we can do some work ourselves, so that we can meet somewhere in the middle, a place which is healthy for us both.

Someone once said the key to happiness is to not want anything - it's true. As long as I was focused on what I didn't have (as much physical intimacy as I was used to), I was going to miss out on everything else he could give me. Standing there with him as he stood up to his former abusers, insisting that the movie time be chosen so that I can go too, was amazing to watch. I have spent years now encouraging him to stand up for himself, to not allow people to exert control over him, and what does he do...he exerts control over his abusers! And he did it that time specifically for me, to protect my feelings and to protect our relationship. Wow

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