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#56712 - 12/16/03 12:04 AM Needing a helping hand...
AB Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 11
Loc: N. America
My husband and I have been married for almost a year and a half(together 3 and a half years)and he has finally opened up to me about the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. It turns out, also, that he was married before me, and was to afraid to tell me because he thought I would think less of him. He has kept so many secrets...we are in counselling now, but he is having such a hard time changing his life patterns...like pretending that everything is always perfect, when our marriage is literally falling apart. I am trying to educate myself as much as possible because I love him more than anything and I want to help...but sometimes the struggle seems overwhelming. What can I do to help him learn to trust me and stop keeping things from me?

_________________________
AB

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#56713 - 12/16/03 06:34 PM Re: Needing a helping hand...
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
In my experience the best thing you can do is keep helping him on the journey of this therapy, stay open and be patient... be open to hearing things he may say that you do that make him feel unsafe, at least ackowledge the fact that you may be unwittingly contributing to him not feeling unsafe at times.. even if you dont want to hear that......

With time and therapy and patience generally this situation starts to resolve itself over time.. but you do have to be patient... and be ready to listen.. and listen... ask him what you can do to help him feel safe, if there are areas where you dont make him feel safe, and make a real commitment to doing those things.. (within reason of course - it is difficult when he is still fighting with the ghosts of his abusers with you who did NOT cause the abuse!!!)


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#56714 - 12/16/03 10:16 PM Re: Needing a helping hand...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
The secrets have been hard for me too. The SA, the online affair, the letters he was keeping in our bedroom... those things were hard for me to hear, hard for me to discover, but I can understand how he was afraid to talk about them, and I know that they are all related and not really a reflection on me or our relationship.

It was the other secrets, the not-so-big ones: stuff that happened to him every day that I never got to hear, saying he'd been in one place when he was somewhere else, hiding money, etc., that really got to me. I wonder if this is what you meant by "life patterns" or if this is behavior that anyone else has to deal with. I can figure out that these behaviors are also related to wanting to feel safe and in charge, but it's harder not to take them personally because they're about our everyday life and how much he wants to share with ME. It's hard not to feel like I'm failing somehow when I know that he's keeping the truth from me, personally, because he's had a bad day, and he wants to, and he thinks that he can, without consequences, because I'm the person in his life who understands and forgives. Yes, I am the person in his life who understands and forgives but that doesn't mean that the little things don't pile up somewhere.

He has been doing this less and less. One of the ways that I know he's becoming more able to trust is that I've just been hearing more of everything, from co-worker's names to when he's really coming home. And I also have to say, I don't think it's an accident that the busier I am with my own life, the more he wants to share. Standing around expecting him to talk about his day gets me nowhere, but as soon as I say "have to work on my thesis" I can't get him to be quiet... I'm saying it jokingly but it really is true. Let him know that you're not going to go digging up his secrets and they'll come out easier.

good luck
Sar


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#56715 - 12/16/03 11:46 PM Re: Needing a helping hand...
AB Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/15/03
Posts: 11
Loc: N. America
Thanks you so much to SAR and PAS for their advice, my husband and I have such a long way to go, but knowing that I have people (besides the counsellor, who is only once a week!)to talk to makes the healing that much easier. I have made the revelation this week that it is not about me.His disconnection from me had recently made me feel that there was something I could do to make it better-lose weight so he is attracted to me, try to help him manage his stress, anything. My counsellor has kept at this, but I have started to feel and know that it is nothing to do with me and have felt much stronger because of it.In counselling last night he said all he needed was patience and I have connected with that. My husband has done the same things as yours, SAR, in that the secrets before were little and big, little being anything from not letting me see e-mails or leaving the room for phone calls, to the biggie which was not telling me that he was married before. Obviously this is due to him wanting to pretend that everything was always perfect.He is a very successful man, maybe driven in part by the abuse from his past, always wanting to acheive more to make other people happy and create this illusion of himself of being in control.I have discovered more strength in myself ( and strength in our marriage) than I ever thought possible. I know it will be a long process (he has barely scratched the surface of the abuse in counselling) but the mere fact that he chose to be honest and admit the problem is of great comfort to me. You both are amazing people to have gone through what you have gone through with partners and on your own. Much admiration and thank you for your helpful words.....

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AB

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#56716 - 12/17/03 04:36 AM Re: Needing a helping hand...
Leosha Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/18/03
Posts: 3614
Loc: Right here
Speaking as a male survivor, it is a strong desire, that to remain in denial. It is like if we are in denial of what happens, or what affect it has on us, it is to not have to trully feel it. Feeling it is horrible, scary, and just a terrible thing, but I do think that to feel it is necessary to heal. No one can make him do that, it is going to have to be on his own timing. No one can force him to heal faster, or do anything until he is ready for it. Even therapy will not help him until he is open to it. We do not change unless what we are doing no longer works for us. Just try to remain true to yourself, and take good care of yourself during this. You as a separte person are equally important.

leosha

_________________________
Avatar photo in memory of my younger brother Makar.

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."~~~Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

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#56717 - 12/17/03 11:08 AM Re: Needing a helping hand...
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Man can I totally relate to this thread!! For so long my partner has tried to pretend everything was ok.. but in a very obvious way I KNEW that things weren't ok!! Its pretty obvious when someone is lying to themselves...

However, I have BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!

See my post on "breakthrough"!!


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#56718 - 12/17/03 11:51 AM Re: Needing a helping hand...
outis Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/27/03
Posts: 2260
Loc: Maryland USA
AB,

Counseling together is a great start. My wife and I started about a month after I first mentioned the rapes to her.

Later I found though that I needed to work with someone else, specifically on the abuse issues. Too many times in our sessions I would want to discuss something that was really all mine, even if it did influence our marriage. For me, at least, there came a point where I needed to start working on these issues separately. We still do the couple's therapy together, and I pass "updates" on each process back and forth because they are related. I just mention this in case your husband gets to feeling the same way, you will know that at least one other survivor does things this way.

You know, he might benefit from finding this site and coming round here himself. Just a thought.

Thanks,

Joe

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"Telemachos, your guest is no discredit to you. I wasted no time in stringing the bow, and I did not miss the mark. My strength is yet unbroken…"—The Odyssey, translated by W.H.D. Rouse

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#56719 - 12/17/03 03:40 PM Re: Needing a helping hand...
Caetel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Paris, France
I can relate also with you ! V. never tells me when he is not ok. Sometimes I just KNOW he is suffering, he is dealing with heavy stuff but he would just say that everything is fine ! When things are so bad he can't really say he is fine, then he goes on about work (studies + part time job) and him being tired...He can escape invitations with a smile saying "since I have done nothing today (meaning I have been with you all afternoon but in public so I feel safe)I have to work tomorrow on my essays (meaning I am shit scared to be alone with you but I don't want to say no bluntly because I don't want you to be hurt).
I am so accustomed to the pattern !
I hope we will be able to be true to each other very soon !
Warmest regards
Caroline

_________________________
Mitakuye oyasin ! We are all related !

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#56720 - 12/17/03 07:38 PM Re: Needing a helping hand...
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
AB
If there's only one word that I was allowed to use to describe what brought my wife and back together after 25 years of lies, it's "trust"

The first time I told her that I'd been abused was just before out 25th wedding anniversary, and she trusted me.

That was a new experience for me. Yes, we both 'trusted' each other in many ways to have lasted that long, although it was looking more like divorce by the day.
The important bit of trust that was missing was the deep, emotional trust. And once I recognised that she was giving me that unconditionally ( more or less anyway ) I could move on.

Now we do have two way trust, and we got there by talking, not asking each other questions and judging the answers, but having deep conversations about how we felt about what I'd done and experienced, how she felt an bout it all.

Then, the details crept out. But it was as and when they were relevent to our conversation.
It was, still is, a gentle and somehow natural way of dealing with it.

Instead of me saying "I feel shitty today" and her just asking "why ?" - she'd probably say "how do you feel then ?" and we'd talk about my emotions and how I felt. But to explain them I'd start to disclose bits about my abuse and later acting out.
It was on my terms though, I didn't ever feel pressured into answering questions, I was encouraged to talk - in a trusting atmosphere.

Dave

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Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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