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#59758 - 05/12/04 12:51 PM How long can silence from spouse go on?
wifenneed Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 91
Loc: Michigan
Anyone else's spouse/partner go silent (and I do mean silent, no eye contact either, nothing) for extended periods of time? It has been 2 1/2 days now. All I can do is wait. It is hard with 2 small children in the house, I try to explain to them why Dad is quiet, he needs time to think....while not bursting in to tears myself. This has been a hard spring, this year feels more difficult than others. I'm struggling dealing with this, you'd think I'd be used to it. He'll come around, I know, and this is his way of coping, but I feel abandoned too. \:\( \:\( \:\( Others of you may experience this too? Maybe for weeks, or months? How can I prepare myself for this, again. I feel like I have to detach from my husband in order not to be a hindrance to his coping method. Where does that leave us, as wives/partners/loved ones? My empathy turns into a pity party for myself, which I'm not proud of at all.
Kathy


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#59759 - 05/12/04 01:02 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
swartzhund Offline
Member

Registered: 04/08/04
Posts: 61
Loc: Michigan
Hey Kathy, I'm sorry about the hard time you're having right now. I do the same thing....usually only when I'm really angry about something and can't think of a way to discuss it without saying things I don't really mean. I usually come around too but I always feel terrible about shutting my loved ones out because I know it hurts them too. I guess its just the only way I know of to deal with myself. I isolate myself to avoid certain things but it gets pretty lonely being all alone in my head like that. I don't know if this is of any help but I'm can tell from the things you've said here that your hub loves you very much and appreciates your support.....hang in there!

_________________________
Brian

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#59760 - 05/12/04 01:56 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
kolisha54 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 475
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Wow! Every time I read a post like this I realize that it may be a blessing in disguise that my Friend & I don't live in the same household or even in the same part of the Borough! I cannot imagine what it must be like!
But I DO understand the Pity Party all too well...

I think this is difficult for anyone - men and women - but it is harder on women bec. we are so "relationship-oriented" in the first place.

I am beginning to understand that these times of extreme stress/ desertion/ loneliness etc. are probably just cyclical. We just have to learn how to wait them out without doing lasting damage to ourselves or our loved ones.

I do have a question for the guys, though: when you are going through these periods of isolating from those closest to you, do you also pull back on all of your superficial relationships as well? Would a casual friend or colleague notice that your behavior had changed in any way?

_________________________
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now... when? --Hillel

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#59761 - 05/12/04 03:32 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
Caetel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Paris, France
This is such an important question !
It seems to me that women tend to take this silence for a lack of love while men need it to sort themselves out to be able to love fully their partner.
I tend to accept more these times of silence. An act of love and faith I guess.
I must had that my relationship with V has been blown (hiroshima level in terms of disaster)

_________________________
Mitakuye oyasin ! We are all related !

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#59762 - 05/12/04 04:08 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Kathy--

This must be so hard on everyone in your home. Two days?! Is this all day with everyone around him, at work etc., or just at home with you and the kids? Has he told a therapist or anyone that he spends days in silence, making no eye contact? Some time alone can be therapeutic certainly, but like swartzhund mentioned, the little corner where you go to be alone can turn into a big lonely cave and you wouldn't know it until you try to get out and can't.

I think survivors force isolation on themselves sometimes as a form of acting out. I mean "acting out" in the sense of trying to seek out and recreate feelings of guilt/worthlessness/shame, and of course this is a coping mechanism of sorts but not a healthy one that you should feel that you have to support.

There is control, and satisfaction (esp. with small kids in the house!) and a kind of defiance, in choosing to be alone--"Now no one can reach me, now I can do what I like, I can finally RELAX" -- but it's easy for that control to slip into despair--"I'm alone now just like I always am and always will be alone, no one can FIND me, no one will ever understand or come to help me" (not very relaxing)-- and from there it's just half a step to brand new guilt feelings and blame that come from the act itself-- "Look at me all alone here when my wife and kids need me, I'm pathetic and worthless, can't even be a good dad/partner, can't even make friends, I don't DESERVE to be found or understood..."

I think this is a particularly dangerous kind of acting out too because on the other hand, there is a healthy need that we all have for 'quiet time' and it's hard to draw the line between productive time alone and damaging time alone. It's not like down time is something you can try to stop doing. And just like any other acting out behavior, I don't think there's a way to stop it until the survivor decides that feeling bad feels bad and he is ready to stop feeling bad.

Kathy, I wish I could be more helpful. I don't have time or the mental clarity to say much more right now.

SAR


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#59763 - 05/12/04 04:18 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
wifenneed Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 91
Loc: Michigan
Caetel I am sory to hear about the blow up with V.

It is confusing for me in that he was ale to talk on the phone to a contractor (our roof needs a repair), but it seems all his anger is directed at me. We were talking the other night and things were going along very nicely. During this time I asked him about this past weekend when he left without saying anything to me Sat. morning, that I wish he would not do that, and wished I could support him as I feel like a fail him in this regard, when we have had numerous discussions about him and how he says my greatest support is to just "be there". Things got too intense I think while talking about this and he just ended the talking, when straight to reading and dismissed me, as he said our conversation wasn't "going anywhere", but I thought it was. He also told me that I seem to focus on what I don't have rather than what I do have (meaning when he is not himself I focus on it??) I told him I definitely know what I have (a great husband, father to my children, lover, friend, supporter, you name it) Maybe he felt on the spot durin this conversation? Maybe I was asking too much, I don't know? I do know that I feel awful, again like I am the reason this happened when things were going so good in our talk. Ugh..... And now nothing since. Won't even sit by me on the couch, no interaction, no eye contact, just a big old ball of nothing. Brian - I thank you for your reply that helps me to hear. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so much of a person who needs that conversation/touchy/feely stuff. Then when this happens (his withdrawal)I wouldn't miss him so darn much, I wouldn't know any different. I don't think I'll make any attempt to establish any coversation with him, just let him make the first move, I guess. Here goes the "dance of withdrawal" again. Guys, is this what we partners should do, or rather what you might want us to do when you have withdrawn/shut down? Just stay the heck out of you way? I know everyone is different, but so many of the things that happen in our relationships seem so similar.

I'm hanging in there but feeling totally crummy. Wonder what he's feeling. One never knows..... \:\(

Instead of wifenneed I'll sign off as wifewiththickhead.


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#59764 - 05/12/04 05:46 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
>>>>I wish I wasn't so much of a person who needs that conversation/touchy/feely stuff. Then when this happens (his withdrawal)I wouldn't miss him so darn much, I wouldn't know any different.

Dont apologize for being anything other than who you are. I would not like this situation one bit either. I cannot stand it either when I get the freeze out.

On monday night I got treated to the opposite reaction - the OVERLOADED ANGRY WOUNDED CHILD PURSUIT - ugh.. still getting over that. Sore back from stress.. ughgughghghg...

I have found that when I try and chase my partner when he pulls away, to try and plead with him and dig him out now I realize that there's no use chasing. It can be kind of dangerous for me to follow him into the "catatonic lion's den" - I sometimes get bit. I made this error on Monday night and got called some nasty names. NO EXCUSES for that though he has been called to task on that.. things just got really out of control.. ayoyee...its so stupid when I give him space he chases me down and does not want to give me the space he demands from me.. and so he pursues me, I tell him I need space, he drops a bomb on me, runs out, then I get upset, chase him, do the same thing in reaction... its the most ridiculous dance I've ever seen. Blah.

Anyhow in my saner moments I try to remember that when he engages in pulling away I should just carry on as if I was alone for awhile. In my saner moments I will also remember all about appropriate behaviour and say something eloquent like "I dont like when you do this, I understand why you may be going where you are going but this is not good for us, this behaviour hurts me, and I think you need to talk to someone about this. This is NOT healthy"... but alas I forgot to be so "up" on Monday. Ugh.

I was watching Dr. Phil last night (no matter what you think of him he has good points) and he did indicate that the "pulling away" that some wounded people do in relationships was the emotional equivalent to a slap in the face.. so dont discount the pain that you feel when he pulls away.

>>>>I don't think I'll make any attempt to establish any coversation with him, just let him make the first move, I guess.

Best plan. Sooner or later he's bound come around. At least you will still be going about your business, living life, not letting this state drag you down too.

Women and men at the best of times in non SA relationships tend to engage in a pursuer (women) - distancer (men) dance..

Try to break the dance. Remember - if you continue to do the same thing and get the same dissatisfying result, try someting different.

Its scary, sure, but give it a try?

P


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#59765 - 05/12/04 05:57 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
MikeNY Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/07/04
Posts: 927
Loc: NY
Ummmmm, to simplify some psychology. Are any of you familiar with schedules of reinforcement? What many of you are going through is not much different than gambling. Random schedules of reinforcement of what you want and is "good" for you thrown in amongst a lot of other not so good stuff. This is part of why I have started keeping my mouth shut more. I know more than I should about a lot of things and it can be "bad" many times. I don't like thinking that the things that I say may be having direct results on people's lives. Sometimes "bad" effects. I put it in quotes because it is a relative term.

_________________________
"Every child asks the questions which hold the answers to the secrets of the universe, WHAT?, and WHY?". --Me

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#59766 - 05/13/04 09:27 AM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
wifenneed Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/20/02
Posts: 91
Loc: Michigan
MikeNY-

Would you please elaborate, if you are willing. I would appreciate it. PM me if you'd rather.

I was able to ask a few questions of him yesterday evening, about car repair, and a doctor appointment. I did get a nod and a shake of the head. No other interaction now going on 3 1/2 days.

He has said before that he gets himself in to a hole and doesn't know how to get out, and won't/can't ask for help. He has gone to counseling in the past, years ago. The person he used to see does not practice now, and he doesnot want to start the process all over again with someone new.

I'm at a loss. I left him a few notes these past days telling him I love him and appreciate all that he his and all that he does, and apologized if I invaded his space conversationally. I am going about my life/work/home situation as best I can. That's all I can do...I'm afraid that if I say "what you are doing is hurting us and is not healthy", that I will be reinforcing him feeling bad about himself for trying to cope with what's going on inside as best he can. All I can do and have done in those small notes is thank him for who he his, how far he has come, and tell him I love him and miss him. \:\(


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#59767 - 05/13/04 12:50 PM Re: How long can silence from spouse go on?
MikeNY Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/07/04
Posts: 927
Loc: NY
The only elaboration that I am comfortable giving right now is that you and the children are important too. He needs to work WITH you on this. He needs to respect you and what you want and need also. You do have a right to speak. He does not have a right to use his SA against you. The two of you NEED to communicate. You need to know that you can't "fix" him. You can help him "fix" himself. He already knows that what he is doing is hurting you. It is making him feel worse already. Something should be done about it. As for the reinforcement stuff that I was talking about, you are being emotionally blackmailed and becoming addicted to it and accepting it as normal. You have to be careful with all of this. I caution you on any move that you take. But, can you stand on pins and needles for the rest of your life? I cannot tell you what is best for you or what approach to use. You know that better than anyone here does. It is very difficult to give any real advice from here. There are always different factors involved. Every time that you go through this, it can be something different helping to cause it. Nomatter what you tell him, it will probably make him worse inside. He needs help, or he might lose everything. You might lose everything. Unfortunately, he might think of that as an option that would be good for you, to no longer have to deal with him.

_________________________
"Every child asks the questions which hold the answers to the secrets of the universe, WHAT?, and WHY?". --Me

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